Another Modest Proposal

Rep. Charles Rangel is proposing a reinstatement of the draft as his first act as a member of the Democratic majority and chair of the House Ways and Means Committee.   He’s exactly right, of course, that the sort of mindless military adventurism that led us to Iraq would be far less likely if wealthy white people were at risk of serving; but there are other, broader reasons to support creation of a mandatory national service program.   If the Gentleman from New York will accept a friendly amendment, the Nonprofiteer has one to propose. 

Sure, expand the idea of national service to include occupations like teaching and fire-fighting–what better way to combat any impending labor shortage in the public and nonprofit sectors?  Some of the draftees will discover that their life’s work should be in the helping professions, and all of them will experience the pleasures and rewards of helping. A universal service requirement makes clearer than a dozen lectures about ‘community’ that we’re all in this together.

But don’t forget that we already have mandatory national service: we call it "motherhood." (For proof of its compulsory nature, ask any woman who’s failing to engage in it!)

By all means, extend the national service requirement to men. But first recognize those who are now doing the public task of raising children from birth to school age. For a start, we could pay them, just as we pay soldiers and fire-fighters and teachers.

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