Let’s get that outta the way, shall we?
Kids these days, I tell ya what. Back in my day, we used to give a damn. HARRUMPH!
All the kids these days care about are those avocado toasts and Nintendo and TikTokToes, or whathaveyou. Back in my day, we stormed the beaches of Normandy! Well no, I didn’t storm the beaches, I wasn’t born yet, but the GREATEST GENERATION DID AND THEY NEVER COMPLAINED NOT ONE BIT!
Or, to dial it back a notch, mostly none of that is true, although there has been a trend that’s shown how civic engagement has decreased over time, and it does correlate to the rise in avocado toast. And Mean Old Publius Theyself is going to tell you why, about the former. The latter is for silly people in right-wing media.
For this, we start with the General Social Survey.
So, we know that for years the “Politically Correct” Machine of the New World Order has been seeking to dismantle the Good Old Boys Networks of yesteryear.
Something that is true about the decline in social and civic participation regarding those groups though is that people in general have less time to put toward them – we’ve written extensively about this here and elsewhere (forgive me for not finding the goddamn links right now) but the basic idea is as follows:
The implicit cost of time means that when wages stagnate but costs keep going up, individuals and households have to work more just to make ends meet. But, because they aren’t suddenly granted more time in the day, they have to make sacrifices elsewhere. The first things that tend to get cut are civic/social group membership, and church (but I repeat myself).
So, by virtue of the Economic Masters squeezing regular, everyday, normal motherfuckers harder, those same motherfuckers had less time to give back and participate. That’s the nuts and bolts of it. Frauds like Sen. Mike Lee from Utah have noted that because the government has more of a share in people’s lives than church or civic groups that Uncle Sam is taking over.
Far from the truth, but people like Lee always start with a conclusion and staff it with resources from there. The government always had a share in people’s lives, from education to taxation and providing essential services. That share only grew bigger by virtue of the other shares vanishing due to time limitations. But the “good” senator from Utah doesn’t want to face that conclusion. As times change and the ability to involve oneself does too, people engage differently, as Pew Research found out.
The silly progressive geese over at The American Prospect got a bit closer, finding conclusions similar to Mean Old Publius. Of course, they’re afraid of being called radicals so they stopped there. We are afraid of no such thing, so we continue forward.
It all shakes out in different ways, though. Boomers like to throw “Military Service” out there as a huge one, although most of those assholes didn’t serve to begin with and didn’t have a problem with others not doing so until it affected their defense stock prices. As truth would have it, it’s always young people who serve at higher rates than old people, because – get this – RECRUITERS GO TO HIGH SCHOOLS AND NOT NURSING HOMES.
For those Boomers that are steaming mad that I’m skewering their Millennial hate with universal facts, get ready for this one. You ready Boomer? Okay!
Two-thirds of our military was under the age of 30 as of 2015. Meaning most of the fuckin people who fought the Global War on Terror were Millennials, with the next demographic age group being X. So that whole “Kids these days don’t serve,” is as cold as your heartless hedge fund manager, Todd.
But this isn’t a story about civic and social groups. Nor is it a story about our military.
This is a modern tale of American Gumption. About what we can do if we roll up our sleeves. There’s a lot to be done, after all. So, I propose something humble. I’d say modest, but I already used that one for my idea concerning Toy Dogs.
I propose that, in order that we may fix our nation’s woes, re-engage our national spirit, get back to the business of greatness, and indulge in our national need to actually be exceptional, the following:
Two years of mandatory service under one of the following options:
- One of the five uniformed military services: Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines or Navy;
- One of the three uniformed first response services: community police, firefighters or EMTs;
- One of the three service corps: AmeriCorps, Job Corps, Peace Corps.
Now that you have sufficiently been given options, I’m going to tell you why.
There are a great many goddamn problems in our modern world that this would begin to address: Infrastructure; Student loan debt; Student swirl; College drop-out rates; Decreased civic involvement/voting; Lowered national pride.
Upon the age of 18 years of age all people will sign up for the Selective Service, which will no longer have gender or able-bodied requirements. Once you have turned 18 and graduated high school (you will graduate high school) you will select your service of choice. After celebrating July 4 with your family, friends and community you will begin those two years of service.
It’s an easy assumption to make that most people are going to head for one of the three service corps, where they will either A) Learn and apply a trade right here in America (Job Corps); B) Help out in our depressed economic areas (AmeriCorps); or C) Go overseas and help in war-torn, economically depressed or developing areas (Peace Corps).
For those that choose the first two options above, they would have direct impacts on helping to maintain and upgrade our nation’s public infrastructure (roads, bridges, water/wastewater systems, ports-of-entry, dams, electrical grids and broadband access) from the D-Plus it scores now to the A-Plus it deserves to be. This wouldn’t have to take away skilled work from professional engineers and road contractors either, but the work just isn’t getting done and we could train and entire generation of people while fixing that problem.
See, every day, week or month (or year) that we don’t address these infrastructure projects, the cost of doing them in the future inevitably goes up because… costs have a tendency to increase over time. So throwing a bunch of low-skilled people at the basic work of infrastructure would lower the costs and literally pave the way for the professionals to come in and do the finishing work.
Or, those youth could choose one of the other routes that takes them outside of their familiar nest for two years, outside of familiar social groups and geographies, to understand that the world isn’t that scary. People are pretty much the same everywhere, in fact. Creeds and philosophies and languages change, but everyone’s basically trying to get through their day while getting fed, feeling productive and coming out of it unharmed.
Those who complete their two years of service will not only have gotten out of their home states and well away from their nests – many for the first times – they will have seen that the world isn’t so big and scary as it used to be. Completion of service will carry with it the entitlement – much like the current GI Bill – that would provide individuals with up to 24 months of education benefits to use however they saw fit.
In not forcing our young people to choose a college program or career well before their brains have stopped developing, long before they really know who they are, we would significantly lower the amount of people who would seek college in the first place. It would address “student swirl,” which is not some fancy new sex thing the college kids are doing or some flavor of weird ice cream, but the phenomena that happens when students go to college/university thinking they want to do one thing, and then ending up switching programs thereby essentially losing out on one or more semesters of school.
Young people doing their two years of service will have learned by the time they turn 20 or 21 what they like and what they hate, where they’d like to go and maybe what they’d like to continue. It’s even possible that they’d have gotten a solid trade under their belts and want to continue in it, or with that trade in hand (or under belt) expand their horizons by going back to school.
And, since everyone has now been out serving their country for two years, everyone (at least from this generation forward) feels their skin in the game. You inject that into a person’s life and it’ll take extreme shock to pull it away.
By the way, they won’t have become “Citizens,” see, that was just delicious bait to get your panicky ass to read this piece. Everyone is still citizens the way they always were – by birth or naturalization. But in this case, it takes on a new and more enhanced figurative meaning.
The real citizen was in your heart the whole time. ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥
After all, something has to be done. As has been noted elsewhere, democracy requires civic participation. It hasn’t completely gone away, but it’s diminished enough that we should be looking at ways to enhance it well into the future, and in ways that provide benefit and incentive to those who’ll be taking part.
Unfortunately, no one is going to do anything like this in the near future, because Individual Liberty (to do nothing) matters more than having people give back for two years. The “geniuses” at the Brookings Institute almost make the connection, but they leave it to the “private sector” of non-profits and foundations to do the heavy lifting, which has always been exactly as preposterous as it was lazy.
You see, churches and other non-governmental organizations have existed just as long, or longer than, the state. And if they have had all this time to figure it out and still haven’t, that means they don’t actually want to.
So once again it’s left to Publius Minimus, First of Our Name, Western Freedom Fighters and All-Around Most Congenial, to bring you not to the solution, but the solution to you.