Monday, April 03, 2006

The Shell Game

I try to keep away from "local" matters in this blog; I live in northeast Indiana, near Fort Wayne, and there is, I think, a surfeit of blogging about things Fort Wayne, most of which hold little interest for me anyway. In this case, though, I'd like to direct your attention to something from yesterday's Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, on the grounds that its appearance in "my" paper is the only thing especially local about it. The writer, Sylvia Smith, writes political stories from Washington, D.C. for the paper. I think it is fair to describe her as a fairly typical Democrat, in the traditional sense. Since a lot of her work appears on the editorial page, her opinions aren't much of a secret.

The piece interested me because it underlines the hopelessness of opposing optional, gratuitous wars from within the wonderful "two-party system." That, of course, is the system in which the Republican Caucus and the Democrat Caucus of the War Party offer marginal criticism of each others' management of our near-perpetual imperial wars. (I pause to note that the perpetual hopeful, the Libertarian Party, has failed miserably to offer any principled alternative to the duopoly.)

I'd suggest the interested reader follow the link and read Sylvia's entire piece. But, in the meantime:
The second question is both more complex and just as simple. The simple answer is: Yes, we should resurrect the draft. The complexity is what we should draft young people for.

Even though the draft was abandoned in 1973, all young men must still register with the Selective Service System. Of course, women also should be required to register, and the definition of “selective service” should be expanded. (We would have to drop “the draft” from our lexicon, given the baggage it carries from the Vietnam era.)

In my utopia, all young Americans would spend two years in service to our country, be it in the military, in the Peace Corps or domestically – as tutors, helping with the upkeep of national parks, working in low-income health clinics, giving a hand to homebound elderly people or assisting in any number of venues that would benefit from an infusion of voluntary muscle and brainpower.
Why, I wonder, does Sylvia's utopia pick on the young people? After all, it's not going to be limited to military service. It would include all sorts of involuntary servitude -- much of which might be done sitting at a desk. Why shouldn't it be cut off at around age 80 or so?

Oh, that's right ... because the grownups wouldn't be amused by a working vacation for Uncle Sam, at army-type wages. And they vote -- they vote ferociously -- and there's a hell of a lot of them.

The bottom line, once again: if you're interested in the fundamentals of human liberty, the "left / right" distinction, as practiced in the American politics of this century at least, is a distinction without a difference, no more substantial than the early-morning mist of a summer's day.

Meanwhile: draft Sylvia. And Marky-Mark Souder, too. Yesterday.

1 comment:

Craig said...

That was a different column for Sylvia. I wasn't sure what to make of it when I read it Sunday morning. Then again I was still ticked-off about losing an hour of my day. I'm over it though.