Steve Gilliard had this up.
The Draft: No Solution to Social Inequality
By Steve Gilliard, AlterNet. Posted November 22, 2006.
Progressives are drawn to Charlie Rangel's call for a draft, but a draft only inducts people. Class determines what job they will be assigned once they are in the military and, often, how happy they will be.
"You bet your life," says Charlie Rangel when asked if he's still prepared to reinstate the draft. With the Democratic takeover of the House, the 18-term representative from New York is slated to chair the powerful Ways and Means Committee giving him a powerful seat from which to push his legislation.
As recently as August, word that the Marines were calling up their last line of reservists had reignited draft chatter for the first time since Rangel's previous draft push during the run up to the 2004 elections. "This move should serve as a wake-up call to America," said Jon Stoltz, former Army captain in Iraq and head of VoteVets.org, who called it "proof that our military is overextended," and "one of the last steps before resorting to a draft."
There's a temptation among progressives and liberals to view the draft as a potentially positive force, both in bringing about an end to the war and in evening the playing field in terms of whose children actually have to fight. Unfortunately, to the extent that it ever was true, this simply isn't the case anymore. The draft will only pull more unfortunate men and women from the ranks of the underprivileged and underrepresented.
The Vosges Mountains, Fall, 1944
They had been in classrooms only a few months ago, now they were tramping down some muddy road in a strange place, flinching from explosions. Annoyed by their flinching, someone would explain they were outgoing rounds, nothing to worry about.
Shipped overseas, sent to a replacement depot, greeted with indifference by their new platoon mates, expected to be dead or wounded in a few days, they were infantry and all their problems boiled down to surviving the German Army. Thousands would find themselves in Belgium, France, Italy, the Pacific, fighting on the front lines.
In the longer article here – which is well worth your attention -- Steve drops in what are perhaps the most salient paragraphs:
National Service would be worse than a straight draft. If given a choice of the Army or civilian work, the vast majority taken into the Army would be the poor and unskilled. The Duke Class of 2008 would be working in offices and the poor kids would be humping rifles. Anyone with an option to avoid the Army would and those who couldn't would be sent to the colors.
The military isn't a jobs program, and it isn't an easy solution for social inequality.
Why do people believe this? There are two factions, one who wants to see the risk spread to more corners of society, and others, who think that the Army can create social equality.
Well then sign me up as tiny, third faction. A Fraction: minority opinions at budget prices. Because while I do not believe in the draft as a apparatus for democratizing or destratifying our class system, it is also undeniable that the military is most definitely our National Jobs Program, and has been for decades.
Army ads and recruiters since I was little certainly mentioned duty and honor, but the real Hard Sell was always jobs and college. The guys I grew up with, the ones that joined did so almost universally because they were bright and poor and had no scratch for college.
Hell, when base closure debates boil over, the argument is virtually never about risking national security.
It’s about jobs.
It is always, always, always about the economic impact of yanking X-number of soldiers or sailors out of my district.
And let’s be crystal clear. I am not arguing that the military should be a jobs program; I am arguing that it is, and has been for as long as I can remember.
So let’s talk about jobs and service for a little bit.
Some time ago, owing to some very weird circumstances, I had occasion to listen in on some hotel guys talking about their business.
Some depressed hotel guys.
There are lots of problems in their industry, but a lot of it comes down to this: Ideally, the people you want to manage properties have to go through what amounts to a long apprenticeship before they to get to the top. And once there, they aren’t going to make a ton of money.
So basically candidates are being offered the chance to slog through years of long, hard labor for the chance to make a salary they could otherwise get the day they walk out of a decent MBA program or law school. Or so they believe.
The hotel guys’ “solution” so far as I could tell (It was dim. There was liquor.) circled around these dual propositions:
1. Salary isn’t everything, and
2. Service to others is an honorable calling that needs to be revived in this country.
My reactions were:
1. You’re right.
2. You’re screwed.
Because any business plan that begins “OK, first we’ll reverse American culture to make people want to work for us” is doomed to fail.
Doomed, I tell’s ya, because we have done far, far too good a job in this country explaining to people in every social class, using words of one syllable, that if you do your thing for love or the common good, you’re a mush-skulled hippy idjit destined for a work farm, or a cardboard box on Super Lower Wacker, or a pauper’s grave after your cherce meats have been harvested.
We don’t have hero teachers and RNs here. I profoundly wish we did, but we don’t. We have “Wall Street” heroes. We have rock star pro athletes and CEOs who are paid like pashas for what are basically culturally irrelevant skills, and then celebrated for their salaries.
We honor privilege and bling, not service.
We tell people here, in no uncertain terms, that you aren’t what you do; you are what you’re paid, regardless of what iniquities you may commit to make your nut. And if you don’t play our American Game knives-out, you ‘re stupid.
And stupid people deserve what they get.
It is a perfect, brutal little downward spiral that makes us less humane and more bestial every day. And you can take the measure of a man – friend of foe – quick and easy by finding out if he stands opposed to this perversion of honorable living, or if he is counseling that we grease the skids, crank up the RPMs and make the abattoir run faster and more efficiently.
In other words, downsize and outsource faster!!
The WalMart model of keeping everyone too poor to shop anywhere else, working three jobs and skimping on health care to afford even that -- increasingly practiced in industry after industry from Detroit to Denver -- is the apotheosis of this vision of America: A few at the top, tens of expendable millions at the bottom, and nothing but statistical freaks and outliers in between.
End Part 1.