Saturday, April 14, 2007

Endorphins and Social Equity

Just got back from a great run. Now, remember, when I say "great" you need to take that with a huge salt lick, because I really do not like running. I'll do it for heart exercise and so forth...but, it's really not my bag. A few things made it easier this morning, listed in increasing order of importance:

1) My freshly-installed Billy Squier mix. Newly-minted brother-in-law Joel, Purveyor of All Musical Oddities, recently gave me a copy of the two Piper LPs he burned into his laptop. I don't have a lot of good things to say about their second 1977 release, Can't Wait, but the original Piper album is outstanding! (I've had "Who's Your Boyfriend" stuck in my head for days.) Add to that all the hits you know from Don't Say No and Emotions in Motion, plus the random soundtrack single (Metropolis and Fast Times at Ridgemont High) and there were more than enough great tunes to push me along. Thanks Billy!

2) A recommitment to running. I didn't run all winter, and was amazed at how much I'd deteriorated, especially since I spent the winter months going to the gym. Now that I've been out a number of times, my stamina and lung capacity are coming back online. Feels good.

3) NEW SHOES! I didn't realize how beaten down last year's New Balance sneakers were until I got the new pair on. Whoof! Two runs in and I feel...well, not necessarily "light as a feather." But, you know...it's a big improvement.

But, the biggest propellant for me today was a newfound sense of social and moral outrage, directly related to last night's viewing of The U.S. vs. John Lennon. Presidential candidate Michael Passmore suggested I see the film, but of course it was de rigeur anyway since Dr. Tessmacher is a huge Beatles fan. I honestly did NOT expect to enjoy the film as much as I did! I also didn't expect to see exact political parallels between 1968-1973 and 2001-2007 (and counting). Everything Presidents Johnson and Nixon were saying about the police action in Vietnam is being regurgitated by President Bush. And I mean...EVERYTHING! From the "rationale" for the war to the sense of civic "duty" and idiotic "God is on our side" blathering, (as if Jesus would actually commend warring)...it's dej√° vu all over again. I actually had no idea about this, either...I'm what you might kindly call a political and social "neophyte," in that I didn't even begin to be interested in politics until my late-20's. So, I feel as though I have years' worth of indignation that is only now bubbling to the surface. See this film. Seriously.

And, having seen it, I now have a call to action. I feel like the current government has learned from past "mistakes" (i.e., not letting cameras film returning soldier coffins) and is orchestrating this war in such as way as to PROMOTE apathy and unwavering nationalism at the same time...and, wait, isn't that one of the 14 signs of fascism? Well, I'll save that for another post; for right now, I want to help correct the apathy that has so enveloped our society, especially our youngest adults. I think the one of the biggest reasons so many 18-25 years olds were organized against the Vietnam war was because of the immenent threat of compulsory military service. I therefore call on Candidate Passmore to include as part of his campaign platform: a return of the draft.

But wait! This ain't your father's draft! What I want to see is essentially an equity in military service. Right now, how many sons and daughters of Congress are serving? How many children of governors? While the number may not be zero...I'll bet it's pretty close. Pretty fuckin' close. No WONDER so many people have such boners to go to war: THEIR KIDS WON'T BE PART OF IT!! The inequality of a volunteer militia means that only the poor kids will go; only the underpriveledged and, let's face it, undereducated will enlist, because they're the only ones who won't have many other options. Enough. Enough, I say! It's time for everyone to have a stake. Here's how I see it:

1) Service is mandatory. Everyone serves...EVERYONE. Even physically and mentally handicapped folks can do SOMETHING.

2) Through a massive, bipartisan effort, the new compulsory service works at both the federal AND state level. It goes like this: every child, upon reaching his or her 17th birthday, will be given a number (like in the old lottery style draft). The Pentagon will say how many people it needs to fill the ranks of the regular service branches: Army, Air Force, Navy, Coast Guard and Marines. A random lottery will be held until those numbers are reached, and those folks do a mandatory year of service beginning on their 18th birthdays. Everyone who is NOT chosen through the lottery enrolls in their own state's National Guard. The commitment is for 1 year, but there are bonuses for re-upping for more years: college money, extra education, higher pay, whatever.

3) Folks are allowed to state their desired fields: if you want to become a doctor, you get first choice at the medical corps. That way, you're still furthering your education. But everyone goes through the same physical boot camp, and everyone at some point is given basic weapons training.

4) Deferments may be granted, but they are ONLY deferments. So, let's say a woman is pregnant when she's 18. She gets a deferment until, say, her child reaches school age. Then she goes. No deferments for college.

5) This results in a 1-year college reset. Colleges will just have a very small freshman class for that first year; I'm guessing this will save TONS of money in every state budget. That's a good thing, right?

6) Since every Senator's son will serve, every Congressman's daughter, even those slushy booze-addled Bush twins, there will be a MASSIVE societal re-thinking about the use of force as a political ultimatum. And in the event that the powers-that-be decide that force IS necessary, they won't be facing a passive electorate: they really will be forced to listen to the people they supposedly (all together now) REPRESENT!

7) Finally, everyone will have a much truer appreciation for American freedoms: we'll all learn about responsibly handling weapons, so that the need for gun control will fade away. We'll learn that sometimes, in order to protect the freedom of speech, you DO have to fight for it. That's what makes it precious. Like...blogging revolutionary ideas.

Vote Mike '08

7 Comments:

Blogger L*I*S*A said...

I still think the idea of sending Death Row inmates to fight on the front lines is the way to go.

Is there an age limit? I don't think they want my old ass out there on the front lines.

2:15 PM  
Blogger Gknee said...

42 is the age limit now. I get calls from the Army recruiters all the time because I'm a student.

3:55 PM  
Blogger RTO Trainer said...

1. Say goodbye to pay raises and standard of living programs. When service is compulsory any pay can be considered "fair" and no need to offer benefits to attract people to service.

2. 1 year is enough for many (not even most, however) troops to complete Initial Entry Training. If all you want is a corps of trained people 2 years would be a minimum, but skills are often perishable and you'd have no ready force. The current minimum total committment for initial enlistments is 8 years.

3. That's how it already is.

6:57 AM  
Blogger Kim said...

In Germany, all citizens that reach the age of 18 have two options:

1) Enlist in the military for 18 months
2) Volunteer in a social service for 18 months

You must do one of those two things, and you cannot enroll in college (which is government paid, btw) until you serve your time. I believe you must serve prior to your 25th birthday.

-K

9:24 AM  
Blogger Tess said...

All I have to say is...

THE WAR IS OVER.................









if you want it.

8:16 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

amen tess.

i'm not sure if my belief in civil liberties, can mandate what people must do.

How bout peace corp work?

8:49 AM  
Blogger L*I*S*A said...

How about City Year? Spend a year of your life volunteering with a cause that you personally hold dear.

I love the idea, and if I were more financially able, I would do it in a minute.

12:26 PM  

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