Two Updates + New Thoughts on an Old Topic – National Service


National service would be a fitting addition to the upcoming political season

First, a Look Back at Last Week

 I would like to revisit the idea of national service as a rite of passage. But first, let’s update two topics discussed last week

First- We discussed earlier a shameful 5-4 Supreme Court decision. The Court allowed Alabama to execute a man without a representative from his faith (Muslim) being with him at his execution. The rationale? He waited too long to ask, and the state did not have a Muslim cleric on its staff roster. So, they told him to go with a Christian chaplain or die alone. He chose the latter.

This past week almost the same situation came before the court, only this time the prisoner is a Buddhist. And he was timelier with his paperwork. We all know how important paperwork is. So, the court, again by 5-4, said he could not be executed without religious representation. Judge Kavanaugh (remember him?) was the switched vote. He actually said that we should not give the impression of fostering a state religion in Christianity. That would be news to the Muslim prisoner – were he still alive.

Second – I noted last week that Beto’s first day as a presidential candidate lost a bit of its shine. This was due to his “born to do this” statement; otherwise he had an excellent launch. Others noted the same concerns. There have been questions about whether he could transition to a national campaign. He has yet to do much in the way of concrete policy matters. But as the Washington Post noted, he has upped his game appreciably in recent days. Most importantly he is hiring a first-rate crew to run the campaign. This augers well and indicates he is likely up to the challenge before him. Check out the article.

I hope he does pull it off and does well. He has a lot to offer – and I can’t wait to see him and Mayor Pete (Buttigieg) share a debate stage.

Let’s Talk About Service

Now, a few reflections on national service. The idea of essentially everyone performing a year or two (perhaps more) of national service comes up every so often. I would like to see it become part of the discussion in this election season. There are plenty of good reasons to push for this concept. There are, of course, caveats.

I really like the idea of national service, for reasons I will share. But one caveat is that I am not so enthusiastic about making it mandatory. National Servitude has less appeal and takes out the noble quality of volunteering. I would prefer that we provide a long list of service options. Encourage people, especially young adults, to sign up for service. The more challenging the assignment you take, the greater the incentive.

Some Examples. You agree to serve two years helping replant forests. Noble and important work. In return, the government will give you a year of free tuition and associated costs. This would be either for your upcoming education or in payment on your student loan debt. If you take on even more challenging work, you earn 2- or 3-years of educational support for every year you serve. Think join the military, support first responders, medical support work in rural areas.

Such a plan pays major dividends for everyone. Valuable work gets done that now lacks the labor force to do it. A culture of service begins to become part of the national psyche. People get valuable experience and maturity before they launch their lives. Best of all, people will work, eat, rest with others that they would never have met absent this opportunity. Read the stories of those in the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression. These were life changing experiences. As a bonus, we got public works of exceptional beauty and utility that we still enjoy today.

Is This Doable?

Count me as more inclined toward candidates who advocate such a program. This is such a good thing for all concerned. National Service – what a concept! What do you think? Too “pie in the sky” or overdue?

    Bill Clontz

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1 reply to Two Updates + New Thoughts on an Old Topic – National Service

  1. National Service might be good for gap year(s) providing new experiences and introspection while serving worthy causes. It might also create new jobs for those not able or wanting to seek higher ed.

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