"Draft everybody for everything, in public employment," said Thom Hartmann's caller, starting the week, (Aug. 20). Wow. It caught my ear. An audacious idea, so novel it is not even focus-group vetted. How are the Party regulars supposed to know what opinion has been issued to them? Each of us must make up our mind for ourself.
My imagination picked it up right away. "Soldiers aren't our only public employees. Draft policemen, firemen, teachers, the entire public employment bureaucracy," Hartmann's caller went on. "Draft people for government office."
Draft someone to be President. Or Senator. Or Mayor, or Governor. Now there's an idea whose time should come. The more I think about it, the better it looks.
Everyone gets to spend two years in public employment. Have some choice in picking the years, sometime between high school and 30 years old. Public counselors could help show us our choices. Testing could match our aptitudes with opportunities, the way the pre-war Army created IQ tests to find their officer candidates. Appropriate training periods, or intern try-outs, could put the skills where the need is.
The notoriously slow wait for driver's licenses down at the motor vehicles department, or for post office services, might seem different after you spend time on the other side of that counter. Some people may like building highways, or flagging the traffic -- Stop; Slow. Two years wearing a police uniform might make a law-respecting citizen for life.
You would have to be over 21 for some entry levels. For example, a public school teacher starts planning on it five or ten years ahead. Some like to do their two-year hitch at a desk, or a filing cabinet, and with that work experience, go into the private sector. Others arrange to stay on and make a career of it. Like in the military. Oh, and yes, there is certainly military service, just one more option when you're ready to choose. Everybody does something in a universal public employment draft.
Park ranger. Emergency responder. Staff work, in the legislative, executive, or judicial offices; city, county, state, or federal. Make training and education programs available, and accordingly, people to be trainers are needed. Full benefits -- health and insurance and tuitions and memberships. Pay low, but enough, with vacation days and overtime, and wages could be tax-exempt, no deductions.
Postal carrier. Zoo keeper. Social security and retirement planner. Poll taker, election worker, village ombudsman. Maybe something in human resources? Who washes the windows on the Capitol? Who paints the Statue of Liberty? Who mows the lawns in Arlington Cemetery? What can you do for your country?
Butcher, baker, candlestick maker. Every type of employee the public expects -- and you are one. Somewhere, some day, your community wants You. And You want your community. We, the People, are number one.
"A cross between military draft and jury duty," the caller was saying, "learning our Civics, hands-on."