Friday, October 29, 2004

--100 Days to Wreck America--

DISCLAIMER: Due to the severity of this argument, I am providing links to any person or group that I used to compile my case. Unless cited during the post, they will be after the last paragraph. Check the facts, and if I'm wrong, prove it.
I've tried not to jump to conclusions in this election, but when I found this information, I was dumbfounded. This is from John Kerry's "100 Days to Change America."

MANDATORY SERVICE FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
Service Should Be a Graduation Requirement: John Kerry believes that knowledge of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship - including the duty to serve your community - are as important to American adults as knowing how to read and do math. Combined with a curriculum that teaches students about democracy, citizenship and civic participation, this high school service requirement will be a rite of passage for every young person in the country. As President, John Kerry will ensure that every high school student in America does community service as a requirement for graduation.


Strangely enough, this 'wonderful' bit of policy is no longer on John Kerry's website. Luckily, you can find the archived page by Googling www.johnkerry.com/issues/100days/. (Copy and paste the link, or you'll get a 404.) To heighten the craziness, try this article before continuing: http://comdsd.org/article_archive/JustasUrgent.htm

Although COMDSD is obviously going to spin some facts for their own cause, they make some good points. The part that concerns me a bit is their belief that Kerry will eventually "make all federal student aid contingent on doing either civilian or military service." The group, which is definitely NOT a pro-Bush organization, argues that this will lead to a new draft. Impossible? Not quite.

Kerry has said he "might use a draft if there was a massive attack on the U.S. resulting in a bipartisan-supported war" (Denver Rocky Mountain News), which he said after pledging to never reinstate the draft at a speaking engagement in Palm Beach, FL on Sept. 22. But consider this as well: He's planning to increase the size of the Army by at least 40,000 troops, probably more. Problem: How do you make such a substantial increase without a draft? Put guns to the heads of the 18-26 demographic and say, "Join the Army or else"?!? No...instead, you warm them to it by requiring national service in high school. Blogger Lancelot Finn had a good analogy on the subject:

Imagine. In May of your graduating year, the recruiters come to your high school, some from the military, some from the national service board. "So where would you like to do your service? Go to the military and you'll learn some valuable skills. You can be a hero. Or you can work on the highway. Which will it be?"

If this sounds like an alarmist argument, it's only because I'm alarmed. When you force people into anything, they're never as effective as volunteers. Think about it: If you want someone to bag your groceries, do you pick the guy who's standing there waiting to help out, or do you pick the guy who's willing to move to Canada if you so much as look at him? Therein lies the problem with mandatory service, both community and military.

And while Kerry doesn't seem to be going anywhere near the COMDSD belief on financial aid, he is offering college tuition in exchange for service. Not much difference, if you think about it.

The question then becomes, "Could Kerry ever pass a draft?" Well, probably not in the traditional sense. If Congress were to ever vote for a draft, everyone who cast a "Yea" would be committing political suicide. After all, what voter would re-elect those people? Instead, you'd have to make more incentives for joining the military. Enter scholarships and community service. Many lower-income students wouldn't be able to resist money for college, and the Army always sounds better when your alternative is something like cleaning up trash and litter on back roads in your hometown for months.

I agree with more incentives for community service, because let's face it: Very few teenagers like being forced to do anything. I resented having to get "Work-Based Learning Points" during high school to graduate. They were part of a policy enacted during the Clinton administration that required community service and/or extracurricular activities to graduate. Trust me, no matter how many clubs you were in, you still ended up having to do some service unless you played sports or were in JROTC. If I honestly felt rewarded with more than graduation, I might have wanted to do more service. That's the big problem here: You simply can't force teens to do much of anything and get good results.

This ties right back in to the current draft scare. President Bush has said, "We're not going to have a draft. Period." That hasn't stopped liberal 527 group MoveOn.org from taking out a half-page ad in Thursday's edition of WVU campus newspaper The Daily Athenaeum warning of a Bush draft if he remains President. I would have laughed when I saw it, but it was too sad to be funny. (If I could link it, I would, but the DA doesn't post ads online, and I don't have a scanner to run the ad through.) As I noted above, Kerry has also stated that he wouldn't reinstate a draft. He's being truthful. If his first 100 days were to go his way, a draft would be a formality.

More sources:
http://www.joshclaybourn.com/blog/archives/002603.html
http://lancelotfinn.blogspot.com/2004/10/kerry-flip-flops-on-draft.html
http://www.insidedenver.com/drmn/news_columnists/article/0,1299,DRMN_86_3240838,00.html

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