Time Magazine (9-21-09) again interviews the Obamas on one of their favorite subjects, "Volunteerism," while headlining how we must become accustomed to high unemployment and underemployment.
America's decline --- shrunken middle class, concentrated wealth, dismantled economy" are the result of our recent paltry investment in volunteerism.
The Greatest Generation became so because they were called into the bravest volunteerism. The bloody lessons learned in defeating a corporate Fascist state taught them to keep nations from becoming so economically desperate that they turn to scaring, screaming rhetoric, parochial thought, and crazies to rebuild.
Presidents who tasted the Greatest Generation's World War initiated policies to create a saner future. FDR (32) lent more than a few helping hands with troops, tanks, and bombers. Truman (33) marshaled dollars and builders through the Marshall Plan. Eisenhower (34) warned us against falling under the sway of the military industrial estate. George H. Bush (41) taught the importance of building international support, gathering overwhelming force, and executing an exit plan.
George W. Bush (43) remained uninterested in such lessons. Instead of inspiring and involving nation and world, unaware George, "Either you're with us or against us" pushed the world to "Just go shopping (on credit)."
In 1961 John Kennedy (35) knit the Greatest Generation's lessons together by birthing the Peace Corps. He envisioned quickly growing it to a million, so it could then "become significant." When they murdered JFK, his brilliant vision of inaugurating millions to, "Struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease and war itself," died too.
Imagine today's world, had 20 million Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) completed two years of service rather than barely over 160,000. Imagine how smart our public policies would be, had that many Americans added PC experiences to those of the Greatest Generation. Imagine today's Pakistan (few PCVs since 1967) and Afghanistan (none since 1979), had 21,000 PCVs served there rather than 2,169. Imagine how few terrorists there'd be, had 20, 10, or 5 million legendary Americans added barn building to the Marshall Plan.
As "Rethinking Afghanistan" becomes today's punditry, hopefully sound thinking will lead us to do what works -- involving large numbers of regular Americans in working on and solving seemingly intractable political problems.
Involve them in Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Palestine, Latin America, Appalachia, Harlem, our schools, etc. Contain the world's crazy "isms," climate change, and ignorance. Have Americans work with other nations' volunteers to turn problems into opportunities before ignorance gets too large to reverse.
Twentieth century presidents from 33 - 41 believed in "Containment." Twenty-first century presidents must have enough vision to realize that today's containment cannot rely on guns alone.
The solution to what's outlined here lies in People's Lobby's American World Service Corps (AWSC) Congressional Proposals. President Obama knows this. After Senator Obama received a package about the AWSC Congressional Proposals, he responded with a letter saying, "Active efforts like yours (AWSC) make this journey worthwhile." His staff then called to learn more.
We've taken a small step toward an AWSC with the Kennedy National Service Act, but critical world and domestic needs require a much bolder program.
"How can we pay for that?" Senate staffers ask. The AWSC Congressional Proposals provides traditional and non-traditional (i.e. 2% Forbes Solution) revenue to cover the $700 billion investment in having 21 million Americans winning hearts and minds, solving problems, and growing wiser over the next 27 years.
With so much on his plate, President Obama needs your help to implement best solutions. Push Congressional reps to introduce the AWSC Congressional Proposals best solution.
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Former PCV Dwayne Hunn served in slums of Mumbai and is Executive Director of People's Lobby's www.PeoplesLobby.us sponsor of the AWSC Congressional Proposals and Fair Tax Bracket Reinstitution Act (FTBRA).