Rep. Charlie Rangel
(D-NY 15) is again in the news for proposing legislation to require �Universal
National Service� for the �furtherance of the national defense and homeland
security, and for other purposes.� He�s been beating this drum for the past four
years (HR 2723, 2724, and 4752).
Despite the fact
that past attempts have gone nowhere, Mr. Rangel is at it again, and this time
he appears to be getting more support. The logic? Supposedly, if everybody
gives his 15 months for this great and noble republic, and nobody�s exempt,
then this will keep the president and the Pentagon honest. Mr. Rangel thinks
that George W. Bush wouldn�t have dared to send troops into Iraq under false
pretenses if every man and woman between 18 and 42 in the country could have
been called up to serve.
How well did the
draft work to stop the pointless 14-year Vietnam War? Why is Rangel proposing
to respond to the Iraq debacle -- proven to be initiated under false pretenses --
by sending more troops to �finish the mission?� How has Rangel managed to
convince himself that the American people can keep Bush honest, when he sits in
a Congress that is itself helpless before an increasingly powerful and
are promoting legislation for stupid reasons, it�s usually because the real
reason can�t be stated openly. So let�s think. What�s the current number one
taboo subject? That�s easy: It�s the true state of the U.S. economy. No public
figure wants to talk honestly about the economic debacle created by high
(though hidden) inflation, the collapsing real estate market, and personal and
In past times of
economic crisis, leaders have either created social programs or they went to
war. During the Great Depression, the government created work for people (the
WPA). This alone couldn�t reverse the downward economic spiral, even though it
did alleviate suffering. WWII came to the rescue and became the engine that
rebuilt this economy.
face an economic crisis on a similar scale as the Great Depression. To stave it
off, all means of desperate measures are being employed. The odious neocons
were given carte blanche to prosecute their wet dream of world empire, because
our leaders hoped war would provide an economic fix. Congress wrote Bush a
blank check made out to the �War on Terror� -- an endless war against a
faceless enemy whose only defining characteristic is a state of mind -- not
because it made strategic sense to do so, but because it made economic sense.
War provides jobs and income.
This economic fix
isn�t working because the problems are too large. Like a dose of heroin for an
addict, the economic activity generated by the "War on Terror" has
created short-term profits for corporations and hastened the inevitable
economic reckoning by adding to the public indebtedness.
Enter the Democrats
with the other half of the traditional economic fix: direct government support.
A National Service Program is the 21st century�s answer to the WPA. Laid off?
Can�t get a job? Foreclosed on your mortgage? Drowning in debt? Commit two
years of your life to Uncle Sam�s labor pool, and you�ll be assured of free meals,
a place to sleep, and perhaps even a reduced rate on your interest payments!
Sounds good until
you consider the fact that Uncle Sam is now a puppet. His actions are
controlled by people who are motivated by power and profit, not human needs and
values. The last thing we should want to do is to hand our military/corporate/government/banking
power elites a blank check for the only resource they don�t already own, tax,
or control -- our bodies.
Involuntary servitude is not a patriotic duty.
Enslaving ourselves to policies that have repeatedly been proven untrustworthy,
incompetent, rash and motivated by greed is not wise, and will not solve our
economic problems. Instead, Americans must take control of their own economic
well-being by working to build sustainable local and regional economies. A good
place to start is to join one of a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) group,
become active in local sustainability efforts, and join with others to pool
resources and provide each other economic support.