Friday, November 16, 2007

Two Years for a Hell of a Country

Originally Posted: 12:42am Thursday, Sep 13


2 years mandatory service for every individual, what da hell am I thinking? Then again, what am I thinking, thay's it! That's the step our country needs to take to start heading in the right direction.
Why?
Because our country is lacking one thing more than all other, a strong morale. When people criticize our people as being idiots for re-electing our President or for obsessing over Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, they're wrong. We are not a country of morons, it is wrong to expect people to make a decision on something they have no conception of.
A large portion of this country (especially the youth) is made of two damaging mentalities:

1. People who don't want to work hard and who just want a free ride (the "The Hills" mentality).

2.People who only care about their own self interest, and are bound to become greedy and corrupt. They fail to see that they're neglection of issues that don't directly effect them will come back to hurt them (the hustler and wall street mentality).

Our country is as now, headed in the toilet, we have a war that no one is willing to pay for, fight for, or even face the consequence of leaving. We have a democratic system that is saturated with corruption, and major media essentially controls the minds of the people through fear, commercials and entertainment. We also have an array of pressing issues that need to be addressed such as global warming, social security and health care. Yet, we have not came together as a country on any of these, oh and that war.

Why is this?

It is because we have no sense of what it means to be part of a country, we are disconnected from the reality that we are all connected.

What do we do to fix this?

If each person worked in public service, whether it be the military, public works, a hospital, a research institution, for the government, for 2 consecutive years of their life...We would see change. People would be more enlightened as citizens and would make better decisions in the poll booth. They would be willing to take upon the responsibilites they hold as citizens instead of avoiding them (actually voting is one). The morale of the country would be booming.

Now I've taken into consideration this is not a pratical policy, however it is pracitical in its design, but only inpractical because the public is not ready for it (they don't want to take upon the challenge).
Here are some frequently asked questions about my plan:
1. I want money, how will I be paid?
The government will pay you for your service, and give you free room and board. This pay may not be enough to buy a mercedes with, it will however be enough to keep you happy and healthy?

2. How can the government force everyone to do this?
Well there are a few ways. They could actually force you, send you to prison if you refuse, but I think there's a better solution. The government could offer you a major incentive that would be essentially impossible to refuse such as free health care, social security, college tuition and/or citizenship (which would probably be the best solution but it might be unconstitutional).

3. How could the government pay for this?
The service pays for itself. If millions of people are suddenly doing projects and work for the government, well that's going to cut a lot of taxes, and that's going to stimulate the economy and provide revenue for the government. Also, this would be more efficient than just paying taxes because the work done will most definitely be effeciently done, unlike a lot of government handouts which do public works/military projects.

4. What would my life be like?
Whatever you do, it would be in a military like living scenario. You would live in a government station, and you would be given assignments. Exercise and manual labor would be required for everyone though a lot of people, like in the military, would primarily be doing jobs that fit your specialty as a person. In other words, you'd basically be doing the work you want to do, but you would have government assignments instead of having to look for a job.

5. Why is this good again?
We as citizens would gain a stronger sense of nationalism, know what its like to serve our country and be better citizens and people for it.


No President would advocate this, but this is the solution to our countries problems. We must strengthen our countries heart before we can test its muscle.




Brian Liebman



2 comments:

theonlybman said...

Rebecca Cweibel wrote
at 8:35am on September 13th, 2007
If I wanted to serve my country for 2-3 years after high school, I would become an Israeli citizen. Every time I hear about the mandatory service for all Israeli citizens, I am reminded of possibly the best thing about my country--the realization that I, Rebecca Cweibel, would be TERRIBLE in any war-type situation. As would most of the people I know, considering the fact that I live in WESTCHESTER COUNTY, one of the snoodiest in the US.
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Katie Perratore wrote
at 10:38am on September 13th, 2007
ok i totally see what you're saying, and you're right, Americans do need some kind of change, but this is so impossible to happen because of the way Americans are. you said it yourself - completely selfish. although i think that that 2-3 years thing would help a lot of American, nobody would ever let that happen in the first place....but seriously, I like what you say about Americans, and i think that you're absolutely right....btw have you read the Foubtainhead by Ayn Rand? i think yu'd find it interesting if you an get through all 700 pages.
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Theodora Skeadas wrote
at 12:34pm on September 13th, 2007
heyy brian...you said a large portion of our country (especially the youth) is made of two damaging mentalities? which one are you? and which one am i? (i kinda disagree with you a little bit)
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Kevin D. Ascher (New Hampshire) wrote
at 2:18pm on September 13th, 2007
I like your idea of giving incentives for national service, although some of the things you mentioned, such as free healthcare and college should, in my opinion, already be offered. I personally don't believe service should be mandatory because I don't believe in forcing people to do things, but I do think it would be great if the government offered extra benefits such as higher likelihood of getting a job after service is over, citizenship for non-citizens, free insurance for one's house or car, etc., since this would certainly make people more likely to want to do this work. I also think that helping out an NGO is just as noble a task, perhaps going to a third-world country to do humanitarian work. Aside from wanting our own country to be better, I think we should also be mindful of the condition that other countries are in, and to keep in mind that all 6.6 billion of us share the world together.
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Kevin D. Ascher (New Hampshire) wrote
at 2:18pm on September 13th, 2007
I'm not sure whether you agree or disagree with this, Brian, but I think that as Americans we have a responsibility to not only ourselves, but to the world. For example, I believe that we should protect American jobs from leaving this country, but at the same time I think that a humanitarian-type program overseas, regardless of whether it's government-run or an NGO, to help create sustainable communities in other countries less fortunate than us, would be a great thing to do. That's of course just one example, but I think you get the idea.
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Kenny Esman wrote
at 9:27pm on September 13th, 2007
yeah i agree w/ rebecca. Screw your plan, Isreal here i come! *this is why Israel is nationally very strong* Lol Oh rebecca did you hear about the late night bombing in syria *aerial assault* because they thought that Syria was trying to assemble nuclear weaposn to strike ISrael w/?
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Kenny Esman wrote
at 9:30pm on September 13th, 2007
btw i mean screw your plan as in a haha way, not mean way
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Dakota Jude Fontanello (North Salem High School) wrote
at 1:54pm on September 14th, 2007
Besides the obvious reasons people posted above in regards as to why ur plan wouldn't work, the whole, "live on a commune" type thing sounds way to stalin-esque. People working together on camps for a common goal, to benefit the nation. Is this brian or chase writing this note? Now don't get me wrong community service is a great thing, and I think having schools promote it and make it a mandatory part of our graduation is great, but to have the government step in and enforce it is just insane. And when would we have to partake in this "mandatory service"? Right now and like most kids at this point we're looking at entering college and pursuing our college careers. If we were to live the lifestyle of someone in the military we couldn't partake in school. After school we go and get a job. I highly doubt one would make as much money or be succesful going on these "government stations" as if we were to begin our careers. Then after that we go and try to start a family.
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Dakota Jude Fontanello (North Salem High School) wrote
at 1:55pm on September 14th, 2007
I highly doubt starting a family and working would allow anyone enough time to do this. So as interesting an idea as this is it's impossible and will never and should never happen.
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Evan Oto wrote
at 5:34pm on September 14th, 2007
Most of this plan sounds a lot like communism to me and over looks a small detail; people are people. Half the time there's going to be a group that won't agree with anything you say no matter what you do, and once you try to compromise with them, the other half gets pissed. Plus we're possesive materialistic Americans, this country's ideals are to start with nothing and end with everything, so almost no one would agree to work for the bare minimum provided by the governement. And once you impliment a work force made up of people who don't want to be there in the first place, what's making sure they do a good job? I highly doubt the phrase, "I'm doing it for the glory and pride that is America," will keep people working for long. It is true that the media owns everything, Congress seems as straight and truthful as a slinky and that at their core, ALL people are greedy.
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Evan Oto wrote
at 5:34pm on September 14th, 2007
But the world is in a slump and there are too many out there who are either too lazy to do anything or too afraid of change.
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Brian Liebman wrote
at 8:01pm on September 14th, 2007
I'll adress each comment 1 at a time.
Rebecaa:
I don't know if I made it clear enough, but I was trying to say that most people's service would not be in the military and that it would not be involved with war. It would be government but it could be any number of things, in fact it could really be anything. However, it would be for the government, and you would be paid by the government. You would some of your freedom in the way that a soldier loses their freedom, but only for 2 years.
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Brian Liebman wrote
at 8:03pm on September 14th, 2007
Kenny:
In your comment you addressed exactly why we need this plan. "This [mandatory service] is why Israel is nationally very strong." Exactly, and American nationalism needs to become very strong.
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Brian Liebman wrote
at 8:04pm on September 14th, 2007
Theo:
I said a large portion, not everyone. We're both neither, not that there is not stuff wrong with us. But, we don't fit into those stereotypes.
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Brian Liebman wrote
at 8:06pm on September 14th, 2007
Kevin:
I agree ideally these things should be offered as things are. Although irronically enough a major reason they are not is because our government is incompetent the way things are. So, with my plan we can get the government to become efficient and pay for these large expensive programs in one shot.
It's win win in that sense.
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Brian Liebman wrote
at 8:07pm on September 14th, 2007
Katie:
Glad you like the idea. Don't be afraid to mention it to someone else somehow it should fit into the conversation, even if its just "this crazy kid thinks we should all give 2 years of service."
I've never heard of that book, but I'll check it out. Thanks for the tip!
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Brian Liebman wrote
at 8:13pm on September 14th, 2007
Dakota:
I'm really glad you brought up all those points, because it would have been impossible to cover them all in my original note.
When the service would happen:
It would be after your education, whether it be high school or college. In a sense, this would really just be a 2 year extension of your education in which you basically put the skills you've developed to the test in the real world.

Families:
You bring up probably the most troubling issue here. I agree it would be ridiculous to ask people to serve if they've already started a family (though hopefully by 22 they haven't yet). In this case, I guess either two things could be done. Let this be an exception out of their service and have them serve in another way, or just drop it entirely. Or, you could have like family housing for the service, though I doubt that would be popular. I agree, this is a troubling problem, but its a small enough problem that it shouldn't seriously effect the general program.
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Chase HM (Hackley School) wrote
at 8:15pm on September 14th, 2007
Fear not, for the anti-Liebman cavalry has arrived, Comrades! Lemme just review this for a sec...
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Brian Liebman wrote
at 8:18pm on September 14th, 2007
Stalling your career:
This would not stall your career (except the fact your salary would be lower during the two years of your service, but with free room and board, you'd be alright). This is because your service would be job experience, plus your forgetting that if everyone has to do it, your not falling behind. But, in terms of our competiting with other nations, this would be an advantage, because people would start their careers with strong job experience and they wouldn't have college loans and health care weighing them down. Plus, they'd be better citizens in a better functioning society.

Stalin-esq:
This is an important point. This plan could easily be corrupted and abused horribly. However, if it its done right, its just what our country needs. I can't guarantee it will be done right, but I can tell you one thing everything that's done right now in our government is wrong. So, its not going to get much worse in any scenario.
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Chase HM (Hackley School) wrote
at 8:23pm on September 14th, 2007
"Because our country is lacking one thing more than all other, a strong morale. When people criticize our people as being idiots for re-electing our President or for obsessing over Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, they're wrong. We are not a country of morons, it is wrong to expect people to make a decision on something they have no conception of."

Actually, no, we are a country of morons. A very important principle of economics is that you cannot consciously change people's preferences. People prefer celebrity worship and incompetent politicians for a variagated array of complex factors that can't be rectified simply by "improving morale" through some deliberate social programme.
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Chase HM (Hackley School) wrote
at 8:36pm on September 14th, 2007
As for the "two mentalities" you describe, they are essentially the same sort of persona: the self-centered (be it through laziness or avarice). More importantly, however, is the fact that ALL HUMAN BEINGS ARE SELF-CENTERED. It is absolutely foolish to believe that it is within human nature and capacity to hesitate on any action which is in one's own best interest, or to engage in any action which isn't. Call me an egoist, but this is the simple fact. It follows that any system that tries to change this fundamental feature of human nature will not yield returns; the better system is the one that acknowledges humanity's egoistic propensity and attempts to establish social goals which are parallel to it.
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Chase HM (Hackley School) wrote
at 8:38pm on September 14th, 2007
"It is because we have no sense of what it means to be part of a country, we are disconnected from the reality that we are all connected."

Actually, that explanation demonstrates a profound misunderstanding of politics and history. The war was started and is being prolonged because a few potentates and industrialists want to expand the breadth of their imperial ambitions, not because the American people suffer from "detachment." That's basically the same explanation for the erosion of what we Yanks call "democracy." As for global warming, education, and healthcare, do you think exploiting these services would be in the best interests of employers who manage to keep domestic wages deflated by purposefully lowering the standard of living?
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Chase HM (Hackley School) wrote
at 8:41pm on September 14th, 2007
"People would be more enlightened..."

Here's the problem: when you were writing this phrase, you had this image in your mind of some more responsible, dignified, moralistic person who had just planted flowers outside a retirement home or went out lodging bullets inside Iraqis' livers. But these people are not moralistic because they did military or community service; they did military or community service because they are moralistic. Mandatory services for naturally non-moralistic people - leaving aside the economic effects, the profound decline of personal liberty, and the opportunity for corruption - would simply not change anything!
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Chase HM (Hackley School) wrote
at 8:43pm on September 14th, 2007
"The government will pay you for your service, and give you free room and board. This pay may not be enough to buy a mercedes with, it will however be enough to keep you happy and healthy?"

Econ 101: Monopolies have no incentive to provide sufficient wages and benefits to their employees.

Econ 102: The government is a monopoly when it gets involved in the labor market because it uses tax revenues for unfair subsidization and its police force for unfair coersion of competitors.
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Chase HM (Hackley School) wrote
at 8:44pm on September 14th, 2007
"The government could offer you a major incentive that would be essentially impossible to refuse such as free health care, social security, college tuition and/or citizenship (which would probably be the best solution but it might be unconstitutional)."

Again, the government is not confined by the rules of the market, and so this would profoundly throw the entire economy off balance (depending on the scale to which it is implemented).
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Chase HM (Hackley School) wrote
at 8:48pm on September 14th, 2007
"If millions of people are suddenly doing projects and work for the government, well that's going to cut a lot of taxes, and that's going to stimulate the economy and provide revenue for the government."

The wages "incentives" for employment would cut any so-called "gains" made. If anything, they'll make taxes higher.

"Also, this would be more efficient than just paying taxes because the work done will most definitely be effeciently done, unlike a lot of government handouts which do public works/military projects."

Why would it be more efficiently done? Government handouts are more efficient because at least there is some semblance of a market force acting upon it; the private groups that are contracted have to perform quality services to attract government payment, and the government must pay the private groups adequately to attract them as well. If the service becomes mandatory, there will neither be incentive for quality work nor quality wages/benefits.
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Chase HM (Hackley School) wrote
at 8:49pm on September 14th, 2007
Government handouts are generally associated with inefficiency not because they have too much to do with the private sector, but because they have too little to do with it, Brian.
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Chase HM (Hackley School) wrote
at 8:50pm on September 14th, 2007
"Whatever you do, it would be in a military like living scenario. You would live in a government station, and you would be given assignments. Exercise and manual labor would be required for everyone though a lot of people, like in the military, would primarily be doing jobs that fit your specialty as a person. In other words, you'd basically be doing the work you want to do, but you would have government assignments instead of having to look for a job."

Can you say GULAG? And no, you wouldn't to "the work you want to;" that's what Stalin promised his workers as well, and he ended up just bossing them around because he had the POWER to. If you give government that much power, Brian, you can bet it won't be used benevolently.
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Chase HM (Hackley School) wrote
at 8:52pm on September 14th, 2007
"We as citizens would gain a stronger sense of nationalism, know what its like to serve our country and be better citizens and people for it."

Again, this is the same goal that Stalin had for his GULAG archipelago. It was meant to bolster patriotism, work ethic, and faith in the socialist cause. It turned quickly sour. Can you give me a good reason why this programme wouldn't wind up corrupted as well?
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Chase HM (Hackley School) wrote
at 8:56pm on September 14th, 2007
"Is this brian or chase writing this note?"

Screw you.

But I agree with Evan and Dakota.

I do think that this idea has some merit as either:

1) A programme in a Third World country that doesn't have the capital to get a functioning market started, and where the market cannot be relied upon to equitable and efficiently distribute resources. In such a case, government employment will be highly necessary, though the reason is purely economical, not "moralistic."

2) A core part of our public education programme. That way, we can instill these so-called "values" in our youth without destroying the economy.
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Chase HM (Hackley School) wrote
at 8:59pm on September 14th, 2007
"In your comment you addressed exactly why we need this plan. "This [mandatory service] is why Israel is nationally very strong." Exactly, and American nationalism needs to become very strong."

You're smart enough to know that everything is conditional, Brian. Necessity gives occasion to compulsory military service in Israel, so the costs are outweighed by the benefits. The costs in this country, however, would be too great; in fact, in addition to the economic and moral costs, it would make our politicians and generals more careless with their war strategy, since they have a greater reserve of troops at their disposal.
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Chase HM (Hackley School) wrote
at 9:04pm on September 14th, 2007
"You bring up probably the most troubling issue here. I agree it would be ridiculous to ask people to serve if they've already started a family (though hopefully by 22 they haven't yet). In this case, I guess either two things could be done. Let this be an exception out of their service and have them serve in another way, or just drop it entirely."

This will become a frighteningly complicated and staggeringly inefficient way to solve the problem. You actually expect government to sift through every single case and ascertain what type of service they're best fit for? Think of the costs of that alone!

"Or, you could have like family housing for the service"

That's housing that doesn't get spent on impoverished inner-city neighborhoods. Think about it that way.
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Chase HM (Hackley School) wrote
at 9:07pm on September 14th, 2007
"This is because your service would be job experience, plus your forgetting that if everyone has to do it, your not falling behind. But, in terms of our competiting with other nations, this would be an advantage, because people would start their careers with strong job experience and they wouldn't have college loans and health care weighing them down. Plus, they'd be better citizens in a better functioning society."

Simple answer: if people really did get the experience and advantage from these programs, they'd do it voluntarily, so why make it mandatory? And it won't make us more competitive at all...

AND, how would they not have college loans and health care weighing them down? Unless you're saying the government should just go ahead and pay for health care and college loans for every American citizen in full?
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Chase HM (Hackley School) wrote
at 9:07pm on September 14th, 2007
"However, if it its done right, its just what our country needs. I can't guarantee it will be done right, but I can tell you one thing everything that's done right now in our government is wrong. So, its not going to get much worse in any scenario."

Let me ask you this question: what barrier is in place to prevent it from being done wrong? Why would it be in the state's best interest to do it right, rather than abuse its power?
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Chase HM (Hackley School) wrote
at 9:08pm on September 14th, 2007
iight I'm done, go ahead and reply.
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Brian Liebman wrote
at 9:38pm on September 14th, 2007
Evan:
Your question of efficiency is a good one. The military lifestyle will encourage efficiency. There are many ways to make sure that people do their job well, one way is definitly to make sure that there would be perks and advatages for when you get out of the service if you do your job well. A merit system, but I want to stress that it should not be strickly based on merit and a merit reward system should not be emphasized. Its obvious from schools that when there is only a merit system things fall apart.
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Brian Liebman wrote
at 9:51pm on September 14th, 2007
Chase you think people are morons only because you know them in today's current enviornment, one which promotes and creates idiots. However, people are capable of a lot more than you give them credit for. The Great Depression and WWII are perfect examples of that. Our country pulled together and accomplished a lot.
We need to do that, again.
The only way to do that is to restore the integerity of our politcians, citizens and principles. This is the first step to doing that.
The rest of your issues are theoretical ligistics, which we could go back and forth forever with, but I think we've both got better things to do. They are all legitimate concerns, but I am confident this system could work in our society. Things would change, and there would probably somewhat of an uncomfortable transition period, but in the long run most of its effects would be positive. Plus, there's not too many other options, and our problems aren't going away any time soon.
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Chase HM (Hackley School) wrote
at 10:16pm on September 14th, 2007
Brian, I raised the same issue as Evan regarding the productivity of workers under your system. Basically, this was one of the factors that discouraged me to continue being a socialist! Government does not have an incentive to maximize efficiency and profit, because it can use its police force and other revenues to bail out inefficient enterprises. It is not confined by the market. So even a "merit system" like the one you described would be an arbitrary and wonky means to reward and incentivize productivity.
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Chase HM (Hackley School) wrote
at 10:17pm on September 14th, 2007
As for your second post, your lamentation about my focus on "theoretical logistics," followed by your lofty philosophical ruminations, is an implicit signal of your acknowledgement that the system is not feasible, whether you look at it from a detail- or general-oriented perspective.
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Chase HM (Hackley School) wrote
at 10:19pm on September 14th, 2007
BTW, the Great Depression and WWII very easily could have certainly ended in abysmal failure for this country, as similar events have with others; the only reason it didn't is because we had people in charge who knew how to fix the problem. It was by no means the "character of the people" who rectified the situation. That's just poppycock.
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Brian Liebman wrote
at 10:25pm on September 14th, 2007
No, I just don't want to counter every possible flaw that could exist with it. First of all, because like I said, its a waste of time. Secondly, it would just be speculation. Even if you are right and it is not profitible, it may be necessary. Education is not profitable, but we definitely need it.
Chase like I said before, the military is very efficient (productivity per worker). So, it is possible for the government to be efficient. Whether that can be translated to public works and other services is questionable, but I think we both can agree that at least in theory it is possible.
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Chase HM (Hackley School) wrote
at 10:30pm on September 14th, 2007
Of course I didn't point out every possible flaw, just the main ones that make this programme HIGHLY problematic:

1) It is economically inefficient

2) It does not achieve its goal of promoting morality

3) It erodes on individual liberty

4) It takes tax revenues away from more productive programs

5) It is liable to corruption

6) It is unnecessary

No, it is not speculation (at least not as speculative as you are being).

Yes, education is not profitable, but it is necessary. That doesn't mean that everything that isn't profitable is necessary. This isn't.

The military is efficient because the government has a vested interest in its success. If it had a crappy military, how could it assert itself on the global stage? But it's different with civil service; government has no direct motive to encourage productive work and communal profit. Why do you think state experiments in education and healthcare are so poorly run, in the US and abroad?
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Chase HM (Hackley School) wrote
at 10:31pm on September 14th, 2007
Of course, the necessity of public education and healthcare absolves it from the accusation of inefficiency, but since your program is not nearly as necessary, nor does it even accomplish its stated goals, its inefficiency - which is still there - becomes more of a problem. I'm sure you can understand that logic.

Government is fundamentally inefficient. The end.
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Brian Liebman wrote
at 10:44pm on September 14th, 2007
"Government is fundamentally inefficient. The end."
Alright, for those who believe this, forget I ever mentioned the plan.
Anyone else, consider it.
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Brian Liebman wrote
at 10:58pm on September 14th, 2007
Dakota:
I got another reply to the Stalin-esq parrallel you pointed out. This is fundamentally different because Stalin put his people to work in persuit of mass industrial development. That was the goal, the labor was just the vehicle to bring that. However, this scenario is fundamentally different. Where the goal is gaining a strengthening this countries morale. The action of work by every citizen can bring that. There does not need to be huge sacrifice and instant lifestyle change, as Stalin advocated to do that. As I said, things will change, but in a positive way.
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Kevin D. Ascher (New Hampshire) wrote
at 12:37am on September 15th, 2007
This is turning out to be a very interesting discussion. Let me just respond to a few things. First, Evan Oto:

". . . at their core, ALL people are greedy."

I think it's a lot more complex than that. I'm not making any personal claims on this topic, but could you really tell me that someone like Liviu Librescu, who shielded his students from the Virginia Tech shooter with his body so that all of them could survive, is a greedy person at his core? How about Wesley Autrey, who jumped onto NYC train tracks to shield a teenager from an oncoming train in the space between the tracks after the teen fell off the platform? Is he greedy? (Here's an article on this particular event): http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16444249/from/RS.4/

"Plus we're possesive materialistic Americans, this country's ideals are to start with nothing and end with everything"

How do you know that everyone wants to be rich? Have you met every single person in this country?
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Kevin D. Ascher (New Hampshire) wrote
at 12:55am on September 15th, 2007
Chase:

"A core part of our public education programme. That way, we can instill these so-called "values" in our youth without destroying the economy."

I was actually going to suggest that in my earlier posts, but for some reason I didn't. I agree with you 100% on that--I think that if we want a better society, it all has to start with education.

"That's housing that doesn't get spent on impoverished inner-city neighborhoods. Think about it that way."

Once again, I agree completely. I'm not sure whether or not you would agree with this additional point I'm about to make, Chase, but maybe this sort of optional service could be used to help out poorer people in this country. You did mention this as an option for third world countries, so maybe we could use it as a form of community development here in our poorer communities. I think it would be a vast improvement over the "backdoor draft" into the military that many young poor people in this country face.
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Chase HM (Hackley School) wrote
at 1:06am on September 15th, 2007
"Where the goal is gaining a strengthening this countries morale. The action of work by every citizen can bring that. There does not need to be huge sacrifice and instant lifestyle change, as Stalin advocated to do that. As I said, things will change, but in a positive way."

The government's goal is whatever is in their best interest. If you give them that much power over the economy, nothing will prevent them from saying, "mining coal on slave wages in Alaska is community service" and forcing people to do it. It's basically what happened in Russia. Please remember that the initial plan of collectivisation in Russia was to improve the lot of the peasants themselves rather than accumulate a surplus of grain to finance industry. And that collectivisation ended up causing a genocide in Ukraine which was at least as deadly as the Holocaust.
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Chase HM (Hackley School) wrote
at 1:07am on September 15th, 2007
Kevin, I can't really debate the egoism-altruism point with you, because it's a debate where neither party is going to be convinced. All I can tell you is that while there do exist exceptions, which tend to be highly publicized to give the illusion that they constitute a significant portion of society, humans - as animals - could not have survived if they genuinely cared about the improvement of others before themselves.
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Chase HM (Hackley School) wrote
at 1:09am on September 15th, 2007
I agree that Brian's policy would work for certain populations in our economy, but for an entirely different reason than this whole "morality" nonsense. I believe that in abjectly impoverished communities, government demand-stimulus is vital. Public programmes would create jobs, boost consumer demand, and thus encourage people to start businesses and form an economy. The downside to this is that, once those businesses are started (which is the ultimate goal), governments tend to continue the demand-stimulus programs, and this has inflationary consequences.
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Chase HM (Hackley School) wrote
at 1:09am on September 15th, 2007
But yeah, I totally disagree that it should be mandatory for the middle and upper classes as well, which is basically 70-80% of the country.
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Chase HM (Hackley School) wrote
at 1:10am on September 15th, 2007
And it should still be voluntary, even for the poorer communities.
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Kevin D. Ascher (New Hampshire) wrote
at 1:11am on September 15th, 2007
Brian:

"Why is this good again?
We as citizens would gain a stronger sense of nationalism, know what its like to serve our country and be better citizens and people for it."

I wrote on this subject earlier, but I may not have stressed it or made it clear enough. I don't have a problem with nationalism as long as it doesn't go too far. Excessive nationalism scares me. Making our country a better place is all well and good, but if nationalism goes too far, it won't solve a problem that I personally see in our society, and that's the sense that as Americans, our concerns are allegedly more important than everything else going on in the world. I actually think this mentality part of the reason there's so much apathy in our society--we are number one, so why should anything else matter? How could anything be wrong w/ our country if we're the best?
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Chase HM (Hackley School) wrote
at 1:15am on September 15th, 2007
Going parallel to Kevin's argument, I think the biggest manifestation of "excessive nationalism" is economic protectionism. Obviously, thinking like an international citizen, workers who are more productive should be compensated for it, wherever they happen to live. But for some reason, both the left and the right in this country feel that inefficient American enterprises somehow deserve artificial protection. What's scary is that, not only is protectionism keeping millions of people jobless around the world, and ruining American relations with China, India, Africa, and the like, but that it has far more support than, say, the Iraq War does.
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Kevin D. Ascher (New Hampshire) wrote
at 1:30am on September 15th, 2007
"I agree that Brian's policy would work for certain populations in our economy, but for an entirely different reason than this whole "morality" nonsense."

Since when is caring about other people and wishing the best for them "nonsense"?

". . . while there do exist exceptions, which tend to be highly publicized to give the illusion that they constitute a significant portion of society . . ."

Actually, my second example about the guy saving the teen wasn't that highly publicized in my opinion--I remember reading through the NY times and finding the article relegated to about one or two articles in the mid or rear section of the paper. I would say that these acts of courage are overpowered in our media by negative things that make the world seem like an even worse place than it is. I think this depresses people and makes them far less optimistic.
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Kevin D. Ascher (New Hampshire) wrote
at 1:30am on September 15th, 2007
I suppose you're right though, this is a divisional topic and it's impossible to convince someone dead set in another way of thinking.
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Kevin D. Ascher (New Hampshire) wrote
at 1:59am on September 15th, 2007
My objection to outsourcing doesn't come from the "they're taking our jobs!" mentality, but to the concept of moving a job because more profits will be made if the job is re-located to a lower-paying area of the world. I personally feel that's unfair both to the person in the US losing his or her job, and also to the person in the third world or developing country who gets the same job but at a much lower rate of pay. This is why in my earliest posts I advocated NGO or optional government programs to help create sustainable communities in other countries. This reverts back to the idea of education, and that's where I feel much societal improvement must begin.
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Chase HM (Hackley School) wrote
at 7:27pm on September 15th, 2007
You pity the foreign workers? They're making double what they would be making otherwise! And from an international perspective, I'm much more concerned about the fate of foreign workers than American workers, because I want global wealth to be more equitable distributed across nations.

I do agree that sustainable economies need to be developed in these countries, but I'm doubtful as to how NGOs or "optional" government programs would assist. Since these tend to be altruism-based and non-profit, they won't carry that much influence and their volume of money and labor will be quite small. I'd much rather you get governments in these countries that actually care about the people and have them create these kinds of long-term, sustainable economies themselves. The problem is that most governments in these countries are bourgeois, corrupt, and pro-America, and might require some pressure by the masses to do what's right.
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Kevin D. Ascher (New Hampshire) wrote
at 10:51pm on September 15th, 2007
"You pity the foreign workers?"

Please don't put words in my mouth. I never expressed contemptuous sorrow for workers in other countries. Maybe in a lot of cases they are making double what they would otherwise, but that still isn't as much as I would like to see them make, which is a pay equivalent to what a worker in a developed country would make. I remain firmly against the idea of moving a job because it'll be less costly to pay a foreign worker. I agree with your point that pressure by the masses in these poorer countries is required for change, although I would make the point that in many cases the companies that are employing these workers go along with these corrupt governments in oppressing the efforts of these workers to get higher wages and decent benefits, which makes it difficult for change to happen.

theonlybman said...

In the New Hampshire debates tonight, both Senator McCain and Governor Richardson hinted at a program that would exchange national service for college tuition.
This is an idea that I think will continue to grow and eventually that will be the issue that these politcians discuss, much like they discuss health care and social security now.