Compulsory Military/Civil Service Thoughts
This is something I think about from time to time, the idea of requiring every citizen with nearly no exceptions to have two years of compulsory military or civil service. It is not a 100% fleshed out idea, but has some strong merits though a few problem. this is the page where I will tweak the idea over time and say why I like and dislike the idea.
The Basic Idea
At the age of 17, or 18 if the person is still in school, they will enter into compulsory service. Their duties will be matched to their abilities. This means that someone will not be overlooked for a disability, their duties will be matched to work around it. A person unable to stand will work desk jobs. A person unable to read will cut grass.
While each person is granted the right to state preferences, the ultimate decision will be a combination of their preferences and the needs of the nation at the time. In cases where religious conviction are at odds with the best suited placement, as much due attention as possible will be given.
Immediately upon enlisting, the person is granted the full right to vote and is awarded full rights to all adult priviledges, vices and otherwise. During the service time, the person's ability to partake in various rights will be modified by the service which they are participating in. Military men and women in the midst of training, for instance, will not be free to travel at their own discretion.
Everyone will receive a standard pay. Military will receive a bonus if at time of war. Everyone will receive training at no cost to them, to do the job they are assigned. People who do well at their job will undergo promotion, pay increases. Whether part of the Civil or Military corps, ranks will be used to designate ability and general teamwork. Housing and food will be provided. If anyone wishes, they can put any amount of their paycheck forward to a college fund, which will be doubled or tripled at the end of their service. Alternatively, similar pay-forward accounts may be set up for small business and/or house loans.
All pay and benefits are directly related to the individual in question. If, by some early arrangement, the person is in a position to get married, the spouse will have to live off his or her own wages. If a woman gets pregnant in the service, all costs will be paid for, but she will be assigned a job fitting her condition. Any services pertaining to pregnancy will include training on how to deal with her own pregnancy and the pregnancy of others.
If anyone wishes to change out their service, they are allowed two swap overs in the two years. The first swap over can only come after six months of their first position, and will require a 10% paycut. The second will increase the paycut to 15% and is only possible after another six months. The obvious exception to this would be during times of war constitutionally voted for and approved by Congress. At this time, Civil corps can shift into Military with no penalty, and immediate increase in pay to Military payscale and are granted the rights of conflict pay. They do not change over their rank at this time. Promotion for them will follow the same course as Military standard.
At the end of the term, the citizen is granted full rights to vote and all adult rights permanently. They are allowed to extend their term of service to six years or more if they wish, as per standard. This will include the Civil corps.
They will be granted a finishing bonus, plus whatever they set aside in the pay-forward programs. Their rank, time in combat, medals of distinction, and similar will effect the size of their bonus.
If anyone is unable to finish their service due to injury or some incident wholly outside of their control, they will be able to retain what rights they had going in. They will be attempted to be reassigned into a position they can work after a suitable time. If this is not possible, then there will be no penalty against them and they will receive honorable discharge. If there is any call for a dishonorable discharge, various rights will be revoked including the right to vote, the right to drink, and so on.
Inside the two Corps, duties will be widely distributed based on skills. They can range from state and federal farms to highway clean-up to military action to foreign corps to data collecting to medical to accounting. There will be a huge amount of skills possible to be learned.
Reasons It is a Good Idea
There are several reasons why this is good idea or why it could be a good idea. The better ones are listed below.
Enter workforce with bankable skills and training. Every citizen will have some set of skills and some training that will help them to cope with whatever job they work. This will decrease training time and decrease unemployment time spent looking for a job.
And other skills. Training will focus a lot of other skills into focus. A better sense of discipline, a better sense of self-worth, and a better sense of teamwork will be the three key foci.
Stop-loss and draft will be needless. While the latter is replaced by an even larger system, those who have already served will have the freedom to leave if they wish.
Military will be composed of a wide range of people. Every citizen will be closely connected to any military action out there, meaning every citizen will be more careful about going into a war or at least will do so with the idea that they are definitely risking the life of their children and grandchildren.
Increases national identity. While pointless nationalism can be dangerous, this will do a different sort of thing by increasing a sense of a nation as a whole. People who have served have earned the right to vote and live a full life. They will be assigned to corps around the country. They will have seen how other people from all over act and live.
Decrease political corruption by putting the aftermath in the hands of the voters. While already true, voters will be even more personally involved with the decisions of politicians. Politicians dedicated to war for no purpose will not get elected. Politicans who try and screw over the two corps will be voted out as soon as possible. A good, real world example is how many terrorists consider the average citizen just as responsible for a government's actions as the government, while many citizens do not. In this sort of set up, it just seems that more citizens will demand to be informed and part of the decisions process.
A well-trained populace can better resist a foreign invasion and natural disaster. Not only are they more likely to have the skills to do it, but more motivation and better suited for team reaction. In the case of a foreign invader, the fact that 50% of the adult population might have military experience will be a serious motivator to not invade.
Some rights could be assigned based on training. Everyone with a firearm is trained in some small way to handle one. People who drive are trained to drive.
A well-trained populace, while nationally and socially minded, is better able to resist governmental tyranny. If the government attempts to remove any rights by force, the sheer numbr of well trained combatants who make up the civil population, who are resistant to most shock troop style tactics, will be able to fight back.
Where It Has Issues
I don't really have super good answers to these, or I would have already accounted for them, but these sorts of things will be a matter of fine tuning the law.
There are two large issues I see at present. The first is what safe guards will need to be in place to stop corruption? Corruption can range from large businesses draining the Civil corps as cheap labor, some businesses attacking the Civil corps as being unfair competition for possible payouts, rich people buying the children better positions, and more directly illegal activities like people abusing pay-forward systems to get money.
The second big issue is how do you keep the Civil corps from being a method to avoid military service, in which we end up with another stretched thin military? I know that I, personally, woud have opted for civil service. Most of my friends would, as well. How do you counteract that?
Other such issues would include Do you keep married couples together? and To what degree should religious convictions count?.
"The hidden is greater than the seen."