I Support Rangel's Bill

So many of the problems we face in today’s America stem from the virtual solipsistic existence we live (at least those of us outside of major cities). Between the Internet, television, cars, and malls instead of downtowns, public transport, and town meetings, it’s hard not to see that we may be out of touch with the sheer reality of our fellow man.

Not much can be done about those problems. We’re not going to dig up all of the exurbs and generica and replace it with mom and pop stores and housing blocks. Na ga happa.

But a lot could be done to stem this tide with a mandatory year of national service, which is common in industrialized nations. It needn’t be the military. So, when I finally read this money paragraph on the story about Rangel’s bill to reinstate the draft, I lost most of my reservations.

[Rangel]said having a draft would not necessarily mean everyone called to duty would have to serve. Instead, “young people (would) commit themselves to a couple of years in service to this great republic, whether it’s our seaports, our airports, in schools, in hospitals,” with a promise of educational benefits at the end of service.

We could shore up a lot of our infrastructure needs, build community and a sense of civic responsibility. And, hopefully, in return, those who come out of national service will get a free education or job training. Sounds like a winning idea to me.

Update: It’s overly simplistic to say that we wouldn’t be in Iraq if there was a draft. That might be the case, but the draft didn’t stop Vietnam–it just made it an even more divisive issue.