Saturday, April 19, 2008

An entirely disposable proposal

One of the favorite observations of many Right-wing pundits is that the Vietnam protest era coincided with the Vietnam draft era, so that the major protests began to disappear around the time that Nixon began the transition to an all-volunteer military. This leads some Right-wing pundits to the further idea that the failure in Vietnam was caused by the birthing of a generation of selfish, shallow, cowardly weaklings who just couldn't be bothered to discontinue their self-gratification in order to serve their country.

In other words, these pundits view nerds as the most serious civilian-military problem in our civilization.

Here we have an instructive proposal for a reinstituted draft, in this case consisting of a universal social draft into a national "Work Corps" which would also be used as a pool of recruits for a volunteer combat military. The main purpose of a social draft will be to eliminate nerddom:
First off, it will get whiny American kids out of the house and introduce them to honest, sweat-of-the-brow work. For the benefit of their nation.

Drafted youth who don’t choose the military option will be assigned to Work Corps units dotted across the country, and as far as possible from wherever they are from, with a good geographic, social, and multicultural mix. The units will be sited on military bases or other federal land, convenient for busing to job sites but remote from temptations.

To help the Work Corps draftees bond and give them a running start on cooperation and work skills, their first task will be to build their own low-carbon-footprint plywood barracks. They’ll be heated by “green” woodstoves which will require details to chop and haul sustainable firewood, ultimately from forests planted by earlier Work Corps generations. They’ll have “green” composting outhouses, and also haul their own water, to encourage husbanding of water resources.

If they are ingenious enough to build functioning windmills out of packing crates and baling wire, then they get electricity. They may also have one pay phone per barracks, and free paper and mailing privileges, to encourage contact with family. It might be worth considering movies, projected onto outdoor screens, as a weekly reward for high-performing groups. But Internet, TV, video games, all verboten.

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