We are all on this site because our interests run far and wide, because our minds require more stimulation than cable TV can offer and because we seek
to commune -- or debate -- with other like-minded folks. But like the rest of the world, we are human and thus prone to tribalism and that leads us to
fight against each other, even within this community. The latest example is the "Message to all Americans" threads. A key criticism of many in those
threads has been the lack of concrete solutions offered by those of us who are extremely critical of our country (me being vociforously and
provocatively one of them). I would like to offer four simple changes that I believe would drammatically alter the United States for the positive. I
would like the community to flesh out and debate these ideas please. Now these changes may be simple, but they would face considerable opposition.
They may be simple, but their effects would be far reaching. I will do my best to explain my thinking and look forward to this community's
1. MANDATORY TWO YEAR DRAFT FOR NATIONAL SERVICE FOR ALL, INCLUDING CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTORS...BUT NOT NECESSARILY FOR MILITARY SERVICE
I should note I am a veteran. It is my belief that service to one's country makes one a much better citizen. You become more informed as to the rest
of the world and you suddenly have a stake in peace and sanity. Service teaches you genuine patriotism, not reflexive jingoistic patriotism, because
you end up learning respect or at least perspective relative to the U.S. to the places you visit, the people you meet. You learn not to fear people
who are different than you. Mostly though, it ups the ante -- if you are going to have to serve (zero deferments, save for mental instability) you and
your parents, your community are forced to experience the consequences of national decisions. There should be zero doubt that we'd be out of
Afghanistan right now if there were a draft, because polls consistently show the vast majority thinks the war is pointless. But since that majority
does not feel the pain, not in blood or treasure, they can simply flip the channel, so to speak, and ignore the costs. Everyone needs to feel the pain
because if so, they'll not be so apathetic. Importantly as well, if all share the pain, as a society we will be more willing (read: to fund) to
properly mend the broken bodies and souls of those returning.
Further, regardless of claims otherwise, mostly underpriviledged fight our battles. Not exclusively I know -- I came from an upper middle class family
and I freely chose to join -- but predominantly kids join because they see the military as a way to better themselves, to gain money for college, to
learn a skill, to escape crippling poverty or gangs. So in this sense, volunteer or not, the poor fight our wars while the offspring of the rest of
society by and large goes to college.
I know the military services actually do not like the concept of a draft because it results in a less motivated service. Fine, once in, let members
volunteer and be selected for those units that require the highest drive and motivation. Make the others serve the rest, clean their mess,
If you are a conscientious objector, fine, do as the Brits did in WWI and make them medics. There was a famous unit of Brit medics who were highly
decorated for their valor in battle, but none carried a gun. These were real conscientious objectors and had courage beyond most. They of course can
also serve in other units, like intel, maintenance, logistics and construction, etc. They can even be "drafted" into the Peace Corps. The object being
to instill a sense of national service, a sense of gratitude for the fortuitous miracle of your birth into this society and a goal of broadening
horizons and understanding of the world.
In my view, not all draftees should be carted off to military service. Some should be trained as community workers, baton carrying (but not
weaponized) support personnel to police officers and sent to different communities outside their state.
In any event, I think you get my point. What are your thoughts?
2. FULL REPEAL OF THE PATRIOT ACT
We all understand the concept of "self-fulfilling prophecy." If one reacts consistently as if something they fear is happening, then that thing will
often actually be caused to happen. Right now we allow our government to treat us with disdain and suspicion without cause. And in opening that
pandors box, it has permitted to steady and sure erosion of our rights and even our tolerance to that erosion (e.g. unprovoked and forced TSA body
searches, etc.). I do not know about you, but it makes me furious and has made me even more sour on our government. It granted authority to treat us
-- government's supposed masters -- as its subjects.
National culture and character are more fragile things than some might appreciate. There are things that historically have made Americans, well,
Americans. We value privacy, we have an acute sense of fairness and justice. We are supposed to be the land of "innocent until proven guilty." These
were sacrosanct concepts. These were high moral concepts that gave credence to American claims of some moral high ground in my view. But in allowing
our government to spy on us in the purported interests of public safety, we are eroding, nay corroding, these values. That corrosion literally changes
the character of us as a nation. It has allowed us to accept invasion of other nations without cause, to give a pass to our persons and our loved ones
being violated without cause, to make us suspect our fellows. When will we begin to ask ourselves, "At what cost?" Not only that, let's demand proof
of effectiveness before we blindly tolerate such massive encroachments and assaults on our national character. I am telling you, the Patriot Act and
the avalanche of other acts imposed on us for dubious claims of "public safety" are killing part of our national character. We must stop this now.
3. TAX ALL CHURCHES THAT ENGAGE IN OVERT POLITICS
Your freedom to practice your religion must STOP at the point when it interferes with my life or seeks to impose its values upon me because then you
are interfering with MY rights to practice my faith as I see fit or not. For me, this is a biggy and it needs to happen soon before we institutionally
forget there ever was an intention that Christianity (an evolving concept with evolving values in itself) is not be the basis for law and order in
this country. In particular, the evangelical wing of Christianity has as a central goal the conversion of everyone to its claim of Biblical truth and
salvation, just as extreme Islam does. It uses this mandate as authority to justify imposition of its version of Christian values into everything. I
would argue it is NO different in concept than Sharia law, since it sees everything, from science to politics to social roles through the distorting
lens of religion. Read this interesting article for some explanation of why -- if it is does not unnerve you, than I'd argue you that you are a
Christian first, American second, just as a Wahhabiest is Islamic first. That's a problem for other Americans.
Just like in extreme Muslim nations, religious dominance of societal thought leads to dangerous ignorance that results in bad decision making because
it substitutes beliefs for facts, science with literalism, education with indoctrination. And indoctrination prevents us from seeing real solutions,
teaches us fear that keeps us from engaging those different than us. It has us thinking, "Gee something called the 'Muslim Brotherhood' must
necessarily be an extreme organization that wants essentially, ultimately, to impose Sharia, to kill or convert us!" when in fact it might be a group
made up predominanly of university eductated professionals who value rationalism, rule of law and democracy, just as the lay Christian does (or
should). Should the rest of the world see the Westboro Baptist Church as a correct representation of your Christian faith and your belief system? They
WILL, DO and SHOULD when American Christians see ANY and ALL Muslims as an existential threat.
If we tax politically-engaged churches, perhaps they'll give up their interference in politics. Maybe they'll revert back to what religion is at its
best, a social and moral construct that provides inward strength and community cohesion and acts as a social bulwark to trajedy and loss versus a
political radical wing that pits Americans against each other. I sadly suspect many such churches, such radical activist pastors, love their money
first and will dump politics in a heart beat if it affects the pocketbook. Perhaps it will help us nationally to once again consider our faith our
personal business, with your faith being none of my business and vice versa.
4. CONSITUTIONALLY ELIMINATE CORPORATE PERSONHOOD
...and make it a felony for business donate to a campaign in any way (soft or otherwise) AND shoot down the concept that money equals speech. Allow
them to lobby, but with strict sunshine laws and transparency, but not donate. Allow corporate officers to donate to the same levels as any other
citizen. This should be a no brainer and this may be the root of all evil in America, so to speak. Corporations are not moral constructs, they have no
civic or social value system, no conscious. They are purely fictional creations of law whose literal and sole purpose is make money. By its very
definition it does not and should care about issues of morality, life or death, decency, justice, etc. except to the extent such things affects its
profits. And of course it cannot die (do not try to argue that bankrupcy equals physical death). As such it must not and cannot be made a person. This
is especially true since its investing members are individually already persons, and so long as they are citizens, they already enjoy Freedom of
Speech, the right to vote, assemble and other INALIENABLE rights.
Corporations are NOT endowed with these INALIENABLE rights because they are entirely creations of law. They do not exist it the real world as much as
an insect or plant. We do not give insects and plants the rights to vote (though our votes may seek to protect them if we want).
Money must not equal speech. To say it does means logically and in reality that more money equals more speech. Corporations have so much money they
can dwafts all other interests (let's not pretend we as humans have no interests, we do and that's legitimate for us to organize in our interests).
That means its "speech" can drown out the speech of others, by literally buying up the capacity, etc. I really should not have to go into this at any
great length; I think we all intuitively know this to be both true and right. The Constitution does not say, "We the People and the Corporations..."
and the Declaration of Independence does not say "...that all men and corporations are created equal...they are endowed by their Creator with certain
So friends, these are my concrete things I think need to change and if are changed will take America back to a nation that is both prosperous and
just, where its people see themselves as fellows and not adversaries.
I'd like to read your thoughts. Thanks, Pajoly
edit on 4-2-2011 by pajoly because: edited for typos and grammar
edit on 4-2-2011 by pajoly because: made clear the call to
service is not just for military
edit on 4-2-2011 by pajoly because: edited title