Barry O got some pub recently for wanting to require kids to do mandatory public service in high school. This is a fundamentally fuzzy-headed liberal idea that approaches social problems with socialist solutions. Sure it would be nice if youngsters spent some time doing good deeds in their communities, but requiring them to do so as part of school is a type of education I don't want the educrats in charge of.
I have long believed that all Americans owe something to the common good/defense for the tremendous gift of living in our society. I just don't believe we should tie this service to the fundamentally flawed and overwhelmingly liberal educational bureacracy. I don't really want the folks who run this system deciding what types of projects our kids are required to do in order to graduate. I picture some sort of trans-gendered, vegan, pacifist, needle exchange program. If we owe something then let's make it a national service program for the useless 2 years most kids waste after graduating high school. Armed Liberal is on the same page, more or less.
I'd like to see this principle extended, and based on raising my own sons, think that taking a year or two between high school and college to do some kind of public service would be a good thing for most kids. Some might choose to join the military. Others would perform other kinds of community service. Those who needed it might attend two years of an academic boot camp, designed to make sure they could read and calculate effectively when they got out. We'd have a surplus of undertrained 18 year olds afoot, and we'd have to figure out things to do with them. Parks need supervision, community organizations need workers, much of it - like the WPA - will be make-work. But to a big extent, that might be a better thing than paying universities to babysit them.
Some kind of 'basic GI bill' provides educational benefits for those who have completed it, and some kind of extension of the VA provides some basic level of lifetime health care.
Should it be mandatory? Don't know there it gets tough. Would I give preferences to encourage people to do it? Clear preference at state junior and four-year colleges to those who'd done it?
I wrote this back in Nov. '06
On Veteran's Day I said we need a National Service Draft and have heard some excellent commentary pro and con. The main con seems to be that we would dilute the quality of our current all-volunteer force. That is a fair and prudent worry, but one that we can fairly easily overcome. But my question to all would be, since there is an obvious need for common defense, why would the default be that not all should share that burden? Shouldn't national service be the norm?
This isn't a call to lower standards, but an infusion of more talent into the mix. While the current make up of our military out performs it's civilian counterparts, significant numbers of very talented youngsters could seize the opportunity and strengthen the services overall. Plus most of us are well aware of the ability of military service and camaraderie to enable under performers to turn themselves around. Some would fail, and that would need to be dealt with. But many more would succeed and many more would them bring the values of military duty to their civilian life, or at least an understanding of it.
I, suggested two paths of service, a military or a Peace Corps option, but maybe a three headed one instead. Military for those who want it and cam meet the standards, a Peace Corps for those who want that and can meet the standards, and an Americorps style one for the rest.
The military is already able to deal with physically and mentally testing, classifying and training large numbers of raw recruits. Drawing from a larger pool would only help, and overall quality of the troops produced should increase. An expeditionary Peace Corps would offer young folks with a humanitarian bent the opportunity to actually make the world a better place. We spend bazillions of dollars on foreign aid that mostly aids the bank accounts of the corrupt scum bags who run the vast majority of countries worldwide. We should condition any aid and it's implementation on the presence and project control of this Peace Corps. A large complaint is always that we do little to improve our image abroad, well legions of fresh-faced young Americans building bridges, digging wells and immunizing kids couldn't hurt. An Americorps would take those who didn't qualify or desire one of the other options a chance to make things better here at home and the chance to earn their way up the food chain.
We should look at this initial service as a qualifier for the myriad benefits of life in America. Those who choose to make the military a career would have the knowledge that all of their fellow citizens have shared the load. Successful completion of national service would, be a requirement to enjoy the, many benefits including money for college, tax benefits, home loans etc. Right now most Americans feel entitled to their status as the highest-living hogs in history. Shouldn't we all earn that?