Sunday, October 30, 2005



I have followed your contributions for a better American over the last several years. Thank you. You have stated that you want to make a difference in changing our fractured America. I see only one way--a youth culture built around service.


For some time, I too have been concerned about our fractured culture. Recently, Readers Digest had an article about whether we are truly a "fractured America." It said "not as much as we think" but unfortunately, we let the left and right wings drive us according to the article. To be perfectly honest, I'm not so sure. I would like to think that most of us congregate in the middle but have my doubts.

The last presidential election is credited to the right wing fundamentalists of the Republican party for tipping the scales. However, they were only able to do this because a large contingency of who Democrats were counting on--the young people, simply didn't vote. To me, there's a great lesson in this. We have to have something other than politics to unite us. The benefits to an AllServe Universal Service are legion. One, above all, however, is the unifying factor. In our extremely polarized country, we need something to unify us. What better than youth, 18-26, with a common experience. An AllServe would provide such an experience.


What I am discovering is that many Americans will go for Universal Service if youth is given an option. When I first began my campaign ten years ago, it was just about the military draft. I could count on one hand those who mildly agreed, especially those with children. Thinking has changed and more and more parents of eligible kids see the advantage. Having a choice is the selling point. AllServe needs to be promoted, a formal organization created, and a build up of support in the country. Once this happens, the Congress will follow.

There are so many positives to this approach. First of all, it could be phased in over ten years and promoted among our youngsters now. A success story and the way AllServe could work is Teach America. They are getting top graduates who could be in medical school or Wharton business or wherever--yet choose to do something meaningful before they start their careers. Teach America sends graduates into poor rural and urban schools for two years. For many, it has become a next step after graduation. These kids want to contribute to improving society while keeping their options open. At Yale for instance, Teach America, drew applications from 12% of the graduates, 11% at Dartmarth, and 8% at Harvard. All told a record 17,350 applied in one year.

Are our present kids a post 9-11 generation ready to opt more aggressively for public service? I think so. Many of those volunteering for Teach America don't know what they want to do. The thought is that not knowing what to do, why not take some time to do something meaningful for a couple of years and think about the future. The military is only one of the options. Universal Service will work.

To be able to make something like this successful, we know that it is about marketing as much as anything. Consequently, a blitz of goals and an organized campaign over a five or ten year period is the secret. What think?

Sunday, October 02, 2005


Why? Many reasons: a war, economy good, resistance to the military by parents and zealots growing. Congress at leasts wants the Army to expand by 50,000 more while the military can hardly maintain the status quo. Where are they going to get these fifty thousand? In other words, the Army is in a hurt. Afghanistan and Iraq are long term commitments and there seems to be no let up in either war. The Generals give these rosy pictures but who believes them anymore. Not anybody I know. So, what to do!


In a perfect world, we would not need an Army but unless horses start to fly and the Democrats and the Republicans lay down together in the Biblical concept of Lions and Sheep, forget it. There's a real lesson for us here. I've been pushing the idea of AllServe for years and feel mostly like a voice crying in the wilderness. However, I am beginning to see a crack in the intransigent views. Congress, gutless as they are, will not even consider a draft. And, when the draft issue was raised, it was merely symbolic. However, all of this is missing the boat, big time. If we had an AllServe approach to Universal service, the draft, for instance, would be only one small aspect of the total picture. We would be limited only by our own imagination. We could have teachers corps, peace Corp, domestic service, minic many of the programs that the States or Cities already have in place. Military service would only be a small portion of it.

This idea doesn't even sound radical, merely practical. Would young Americans join the military in great numbers? Sure. We've already seen the evidence in crisis: in fact, many of our volunteer Army now were recruited after 9-11. The most famous recruit, of course, is the now deceased, killed in battle, Pat Tillman. A million dollar NFL contract would not deter him. And, despite many obstacles, it was his choice. Even though now, there is a question on how he died, this does not take away from his sacrifices. And, it would not deter many other Americans. All the AllServe would do for many is nudge them toward what they want to do anyway. There would be no deferments.

This idea is exceedingly more feasible than initiating a military draft which may become a possibility. And, we are at the point where we can give no credence to those like Rumsfelt or the Generals who run the recruiting program. They have failed and all their pronouncements are not going to make it any different. Our present military is woefully undersized for the commitments we have undertaken. We are incredibly lucky that we have not had to deal with a truly major conflict.

What if by some stretch of the imagination, we had to take on a major power like China with its unlimited manpower. They could easily overwhelm us, creating unthinkable options like nuclear. Without getting into strategy, an AllServe needs merely to think in terms of numbers. The benefits to an AllServe Universal Service are legion. One, above all, however, is the unifying factor. In our extremely divisive country, we need something to unify us. What better than youth, 18-26, with a common experience. An AllServe would provide such an experience.