February 16, 2013 By Jack Jodell.
Happy Presidents’ Day weekend, readers. Today and this entire week we in America will celebrate the lives of two of our greatest Presidents: George Washington, the father of our country, and Abraham Lincoln, the savior of our Union. It is regrettable that, were each of these men alive today, they would be sorrowfully hanging their heads in utter shock, disbelief, and horror at the state of our government today. They would recoil from the way large multinational corporations have turned our once proud democracy into a plutocracy designed to overwhelmingly aid the very wealthy and powerful. They would be alarmed at the infestation of the Republican Party by tax and federal government-hating Tea Party rabidly-extremist fanatics. They would be appalled at this party’s obstructionist tactics: its refusal to aid victims of natural disasters; its utter refusal to raise taxes in the face of mounting debt; its refusal to curb reckless and wasteful spending on both a bloated military and on ridiculously unneeded projects like bridges to nowhere; as well as the contempt it has shown the current President for nearly four years now – from holding his Attorney General in contempt of Congress for groundless political reasons to refusing to allow a confirmation vote on a perfectly-qualified war hero candidate’s bid to become the President’s next Secretary of Defense during a time of war. They would also be greatly upset with the way this wretched party has liberally and routinely abused the filibuster to turn what was once settled by a simple majority vote into now needing a super-majority of 60 Senate votes to pass! Finally, they would NEVER have approved the perverted change of the Second Amendment from not impeding the citizens’ right to bear arms only as part of a locally-organized militia to this insane current misperception that everybody has the absolute right to his or her own personal handgun, semi-automatic, or automatic military-grade weapon!
These great Presidents would be completely justified in hanging their heads in utter disgust at how this nation they helped forge and preserve has deteriorated to its current miserable state.
A little more than two years ago, on Wednesday, June 10, 2010, I posted a piece called “The Un-tied States of America” over at my first, blogspot.com location for this site. I did this prior to my moving the site over here to wordpress.com. In this post I observed how politically fragmented we were becoming. This, of course, was long before the evidence of the disastrous influence of Tea Party infestation had become fully apparent. Judging from the number of dissenting comments I received from that piece, it was clear to me that a number of these dissenters had missed my point and thought I was referring to mainly geographical or economic differences, as we had undergone during the Civil War of Lincoln’s time. The points that were missed were that I was referring to the hugely prominent differences we are experiencing now socially, culturally, politically, and economically rather than geographically. Today, for example, many evangelical Christians have little time or use for liberals, minorities, Catholics, Muslims, or Jews, and vice-versa. The wealthy, with rare exception, avoid the poor and working class like the plague. It was abundantly clear from the 2012 election campaign that the major conservative Republican candidates not only didn’t understand those below them on the income scale – they looked down on them in utter contempt and disregard as well. Conservative Christians by and large view Muslims with deep suspicion and make little effort, if any, to try and understand the history, social mores, or the actual teachings of the religion of Islam. Altogether too many ethno-centric Americans look upon Europeans with disdain, and automatically assume, without even bothering to first investigate, that all things American are somehow or in some way “better” and that foreign-made goods and systems are therefore automatically inferior or suspect – and thus, so too must be their people. Those of us who reside in the real world know how baseless these beliefs are, and one need look no further than imported automobiles, electronics, or even European health care systems for abundant proof of the fallacy of such ignorance! This is especially true when it comes to politics and economics. Here, many Americans simply refuse to believe that our form of government and our economic system are not always the world’s best, or that they are often rife with corruption and economic policies blatantly favoring the very wealthiest citizens. Instead, many make absolutely no effort at all to learn about possibly better alternatives, and prefer to go on living in blind faith that all things American are always the world’s best and can’t, or shouldn’t, be improved upon. Worse yet, they often dismiss other possible alternatives by referring ro them as “socialist” or “fascist” without having the slightest clue as to what constitutes socialism or fascism!
Our country cannot remain a world leader in an increasingly competitive global environment while fostering such ignorant, narrow-minded, and delusional beliefs!
We have become an intellectually lazy people. We are immersed and inundated with entertainment and fantasy rather than reality. When the “adventures” of “Honey Boo Boo” are allowed to dominate our thoughts, we are ALL in VERY deep trouble! We constantly take the easy way out rather than allowing ourselves to be challenged and then successfully overcoming the challenge at hand. We claim to be the land of the free, but we quickly try to limit and sometimes eliminate the social and economic freedom of immigrants, minorities, or dissenters. We demand that poorer countries adopt our political and economic systems, even as we exploit them and even as we exploit our own labor force!
We CANNOT keep living like this – something MUST change!
We desperately need to broaden our horizons and re-establish our original tendencies of tolerance, innovation, dedication to learning, and community spirit. We must renew our tradition of civility to others and acceptance of new ideas which marked the early decades of the country. Failure to do so will inevitably result in a dissolution of unity and our collapse as a nation. We can no longer afford to be a warring, un-tied country of individual nation states with conflicting ideologies within its population. We must again become the truly UNITED States, with the federal government leading the way.
The best way to achieve this, in my opinion, would be to institute a program of UNIVERSAL, COMPULSORY NATIONAL SERVICE, in which ALL persons, regardless of race, background, or creed, would be required at age 18 to begin. This would be a two-year, government-supported tour of duty in either the Peace Corps, VISTA, or the military. This huge force of able, energetic young people could be used to clean up and renew our decaying inner cities, repair our sagging bridges and highways, help construct a much-needed new electrical grid, or help growers in the fields. They would be paid and taxed at a fair market value by either the federal government, a combination of the federal government and private employers, or the military. In each case, the participant would be awarded a specified number of school funds upon successful completion of the tour and participating employers bwould be awarded tax breaks once the participant had finished the tour of duty satisfactorily.
This is not my original idea. Democratic New York 12th District Congressman Charles Rangel has long supported such a plan, and various similar plans have been successfully implemented in Europe and Israel for many years. In our case, young participants would, over an extended period of time, learn teamwork, self reliance, proper work ethic, self discipline, self awareness, consideration and respect for others, knowledge of the world beyond that of their home, and a sense of community, among dozens of valuable and important other lessons in the process. Wealthy suburban kids would be paired with and forced to interact with various minority, inner-city, poor, and middle class kids. and each would receive an eye-opening understanding of the others along the way. Such understanding would continue well into each participant’s adult working careers and would completely dispel today’s tendency toward avoidance, self-indulgence, or arrogance. It would produce a country filled with intelligent and responsible employees for industry, rather than saddling business and government with an unsuitable lot of misfits, malcontents, dropouts, or loafers with no goals or future in sight. Instead, the entire nation would benefit tremendously from the civility, respect for fellow citizens, and instilled work ethic which would invariably result. It would also promote good, responsible citizenship.
I would strongly urge you to write or call your Representative and Senator – and even the White House – TODAY– and urge them to forge a successful plan of this nature! Let’s all line up behind and strongly endorse and support an idea whose time has definitely come: the creation of a universal, compulsory National Service program for young Americans!