Category Archives: Peace Corp

Mandatory Government Service

Ed and Mildred Reich were engaged December 7, 1941, the day the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. They were married a few weeks later. Dad enlisted and was stationed in Camp Campbell, Kentucky. Mom didn’t want to be away from him so she found a job in a nearby factory, assembling gas masks. He rarely talks about his military service, and mom died years ago. But military service was a major part of their young lives together. This Memorial Day weekend our thoughts are mostly with the brave men who served and have died for this country, but we should also honor the courageous women who have served and sacrificed in so many ways.

I also think we should revive the idea of two years of national service for all young people. What do you think? – Robert Reich on Facebook

I’ve long been of the opinion that service needs to be a part of turning into an adult. That requiring government service would underscore the truth of our reliance on each other, that none of us are truly islands. The proviso would be that service not be limited to military service. It would be preferable that social/health services and emergency relief be a larger portion of this effort than the military, since military adventurism is a large part of our current problems in the world. I don’t see any way to address issues like the need for weapons training before individuals are allowed access to weapons without reinstating mandatory government service.

The second amendment is a two-edged sword. A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. If the people tasked with keeping us safe deem that the requirement of a well regulated militia is impossible with the rules now in place, they can and probably should conscript all able-bodied persons into the military for the purposes of weapons assessment. That is one sure-fire way to make sure we know who should and shouldn’t have a weapon, and it is also an excellent way to instruct the average American on the necessity of putting the good of society into the calculations we make on a day to day basis.

This is a slightly tongue-in-cheek assessment since I myself would not have agreed to go into the military had I been drafted, but I would have eagerly volunteered to go work on construction projects just about anywhere had that option been offered to me as a teenager. I did work one summer weatherizing homes for the poor in rural Texas. I would have done it again had I been asked to.

This isn’t a suggestion of two years of slavery in service to society. Far from it. I think all service should carry compensation of some kind, I’m even in favor of every living person receiving a stipend to live on regardless of work, let alone mandatory work in service to society. The wealthy get tax breaks for hiring people to do their work for them, work that poor people like me have to do themselves. Nearly all of my limited productive time (a few hours a day) is spent doing household chores. Why does a wealthy man get compensated for making more free time for himself, while a poor man simply has that much less time to earn? Humans created all these systems, so why do we act like this is the way things have to be? Why don’t we just change them?

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