March 4, 2010

Privileges on Demand

Justin Katz

Yeah, yeah, I know it sounds all right-wing conservative to say, but it's difficult not to fear for the future of our country with this sort of thing in the news:

Students and activists have staged demonstrations in recent months at public colleges across California to protest deep budget cuts that have led to steep tuition hikes, enrollment cuts, faculty furloughs and reduced course offerings.

In Berkeley, about 50 people broke through a fence surrounding Durant Hall, which is closed for renovation, and about 20 entered and occupied the building, said Cpt. Margo Bennett of the UC Police Department.

The group smashed windows, sprayed graffiti, damaged construction equipment, knocked over portable toilets and hung up a banner promoting the March 4 rally, UC officials said. Others blocked police from entering the building.

So they're protesting budget-driven cuts by causing damage that the strained budget will have to cover. Worse, they're protesting something that until very recently was considered a huge privilege.

I can't help but wonder if part of the problem is that grown-up manipulators didn't fully understand the effects on subsequent generations of all of their "rights" talk, with regard to privileges, over the past few decades.

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Maybe they learned from a political culture where lies and character assassination are not only permitted, but encouraged. These kids saw the people who disrupted health care forums lionized as free speech heroes, and took up the torch.
This stuff never happened when I was in college in the early '80s, but Reagan was smart enough not to impose a draft. He knew he could do whatever he wanted as long as the campuses remained quiet. I was never the type to burn barricades, but I might've bummed a light for my draft card, and both parents would've abetted my kid in doing it if Iraq got to that point.

Posted by: rhody at March 4, 2010 10:14 PM

"These kids saw the people who disrupted health care forums lionized as free speech heroes, and took up the torch."

That's a stretch, even for you. Really? You think students from UC Berkely protesting public budget cuts were inspired by tea party activists? Really? That's what you really think?

Posted by: Dan at March 4, 2010 10:24 PM

Let's look at a little history. Berkley was the opening round of the "free speech" movement, what was that the early 60's? After that, Berkley was the epicenter of every form of student riot and protest.

To them, that was probably the "glory days"; and they want them back. No doubt they are certain that they are "with the people".

I went to a very conservative college, one might say red-neck, I'm not sure I understand.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at March 4, 2010 10:57 PM

A NO DEFERMENTS draft is the best idea.It's a great levelling tool among other things.It goes a long way to destroy the notion of a 'privileged class".I'd really like to see the Brown students,or a young Sheldon Whitehouse have to live like the people they take for granted.
Yeah,Rhody,I could've seen you avoiding the draft.You think it all comes free,don't you,you liar?
Make a few more of your bullsh*t accusations at me,why dontcha?
I will call it like I see it,and I really despise Cheney,Wolfowitz,Perle,Gramm,and many other so-called "patriots" for weaseling out of service.Almost forgot Clinton.

Posted by: joe bernstein at March 5, 2010 5:12 AM

There is much in what you say, although I am not sure that "levelling" is the word I would choose. Considering how low our manpower needs are, in relation to the size of the population, I am not sure a draft would have much effect.

I have heard it said that there is not much heard of "fragging" in the volunteer army. That may be true, but we do have our Ft. Hood incidents. I suppose it is all a question of what group is feeling most disaffected, and what means they choose to express it.

The "needs of the service" might alter the old standards of deferment. We might see people "exempt" (or not desired) for low literacy levels, rather than the old system of exemptions to continue higher education.

Posted by: Warrington Faust at March 5, 2010 7:40 AM

Actually, a couple of House members have asked for a no deferments draft, probably knowing the powers that be wouldn't go along with it.

Posted by: rhody at March 5, 2010 9:02 AM

Maybe I'm unrealistic about the draft,but the constant "recycling"(a horrible term but accurate)of Guardsmen and Reservists,now that there are just regular folks in those components is immoral.During vietnam,those were where the "special" people went and they were never called up.
At least we only had to do one tour in Vietnam unless we volunteered to extend.
I don't like the country being separated into those who serve and those who never even have to consider it.
The only deferment should be for medical students like in the Vietnam War.But they got drafted upon graduation.
Having some dislocation and discomfort in your life and reaalizing early on the world doesn't revolve around you is healthy and helps one cope with adversity down the road.Physical closeness and lack of privacy also breaks down stereotypes and makes people more comfortable around others of different socioeconomic or ethnic backgrounds.It is the one type of enforced diversity that is truly constructive.

Posted by: joe bernstein at March 5, 2010 10:02 AM

A no-deferments draft would have the positive effects you mention, Joe. The only problems are that it is grossly immoral, it is wildly unpopular, it disrupts the fabric of our entire society, and it basically amounts to a form of slavery. Before the inevitable accusation arises, I did sign up for the draft and would go if called.

Posted by: Dan at March 5, 2010 10:15 AM

These students weren't "inspired" by the tea party movement, rather they've been egged on by the SDS radicals who teach their classes.. though "teach" is a misnomer, because, rather than teach substantive course work, they monopolize a great deal of class time to agitate for their agenda. The same thing is happening on RI campuses, there's a former SDS radical on staff at RIC in fact who does much the same. I'm sure these students have had the "good old days" of the sixties rhapsodized over them.

They refer to it as "our school", but don't extend that ownership to the citizenry who have funded state colleges and universities. These students have a plantation mindset, where the wider citizenry aren't the owners of government, but the slaves in harness whose sole existence, they believe should be to serve the government, and them by extension. They like to spout off about equality, but have no concept about what equality truly means, or the fact that it behooves all of us to have obligations as well as opportunities.

I do believe a mandatory draft should be brought back, with no exemption for higher education.. with a speedy deployment, though that might be because I'd love to see these left wing fascists given a taste of their own medicine.

Posted by: Mary at March 5, 2010 11:28 AM

No surprise that Joe Bernstein would be in favor of military conscription (slavery). After all, let's not forget that he's a big government guy. The guy worked for the federal government for years, and enjoys a nice government pension because of it. In other words, he eats at the government trough.

This guy has never said anything about the ridiculous benefits paid to public sector workers. All Bernstein knows how to do is demonize the undocumented -- which, by the way, is a huge loser at the ballot box.

Just a grumpy, old, pro-government guy I guess.

Posted by: Rasputin at March 5, 2010 11:29 AM

If the draft is reinstated, I would hope it would include women this time. Women have proven that they can be just as good of soldiers as men. They can do everything men can do, so they should be subject to the draft as well. If one is needed.

Posted by: Patrick at March 5, 2010 11:40 AM

rasputin-I am not for BIG government,but adequate government.i'm certainly not an anarchist.
I retired as a GS13-I don't make a six figure pension like some state workers around here.I also get a modest disability pension for Agent Orange related disorders from the VA.Including cancer,blocked arteries and diabetes.
I am hardly at a trough.I worked on the street my whole career and was never an office slug.
Now,as far as big government:the INS was an agency carrying out a legitimate Constitutional function of the federal government.Like Customs,or the US Marshal,and some others.
I don't believe the Depts.of Education,HUD,Energy,EPA,HHS,and a number of others are in any way justified by the Constitution.
I don't feel obligated to explain myself to you,but I thought it wouldn't hurt toset you straight.
I hope I gave good and honest service for the pension I receive(and BTW US retiree health benefits aren't all that great and NOT free)-I guess I'm perversely lucky to be 50% disabled so I get free VA health care.Pretty decent,too.Only NO choice of provider.Take it or leave it.
I actually liked my job,so I never kissed ass to move up.
That's it.You are really off base.
If you want to know about a draft that WAS slavery,my great grandfther Wolf Borgenstern(name change courtesy of Ellis Island)was drafted for 25 years by the Czarist Army.Now,THAT was a draft.

Posted by: joe bernstein at March 5, 2010 12:22 PM

Joe - question: Would you still be so anti-illegal immigration if we didn't have all the entitlement and welfare programs we have now? Suppose we let people come here to perform voluntary work and purchase goods and services, but we gave them absolutely nothing from the taxpayers if they were illegal. Would that be okay with you?

I am against illegal immigration only because we have a welfare state, and massive illegal immigration will bankrupt any welfare state within decades. In my opinion, it is the welfare state that is the problem, not these people who would otherwise have to engage in voluntary transactions that would make everyone better off by economic definition. I mean, yeah, there are other concerns like terrorism and spread of disease, but that is still a risk through legal travel and immigration anyway.

Posted by: Dan at March 5, 2010 12:48 PM


I think your position on illegal immigration is spot on. I have no problem with immigrants as long as they're here to work and improve our society. I have no tolerance for people who like to demonize people just because they look different than they do.

I can't stand welfare queens either way, whether they're undocumented or not, they still steal my money. (Speaking of stealing my money, how about those unions who legally bribe my politicians to raise my taxes via "Campaign Contributions".)

Mr. Bernstein,

I do deeply appreciate your military service and think you deserve every single cent you get in benefits that you derived from it.

I do however, believe you're not a fiscal conservative. That's fine of course, but I don't have to like it. (I generally dislike people I deem to not be conservative fiscally.)

With respect to the draft, I believe it's the height of immorality to force people to fight when they see no legitimate reason to. All drafts are slavery. And oh, by the way, taxation is also a form of slavery!

Posted by: Rasputin at March 5, 2010 1:22 PM

"All drafts are slavery. And oh, by the way, taxation is also a form of slavery!"

Funny how many people will dispute this basic point. The definition of slavery is when somebody does not own the product of their own labor. A 5% income tax is 5% slavery by definition. Utilitarian or philosophical arguments justifying the practice are another matter.

Posted by: Dan at March 5, 2010 1:31 PM

rasputin-I don't "demonize"illegal aliens based on race-my wife of 39 years is of Honduran/Puerto Rican descent and absolutely non-White.My issue about immigration is mainly concerning national security and criminals.I don't have any personal dislike for individual illegal aliens-hell,I'd be doing what they're doing in their situation,but it just isn't good for the country.If they want to follow the rules,no sweat.
The employers who use them are the new slaveowners.
My dad was drafted for WW2 at age 30.He wasn't a clerk either-he was an artilleryman.My uncle Ralph(total asshole)was in the Navy in the Pacific,uncle Teddy was a Seabee,uncle Fred was at Omaha Beach.
I had two cousins in Vietnam besides me.Both Marines.
I'm just saying-freedom has its price.
The government has no business restricting firearms except from really dangerous people.Agreed?
I honestly don't know how fiscally conservative I am.Somewhat.But it is open to debate.

Posted by: joe bernstein at March 5, 2010 4:11 PM

"Fiscally conservative" is a relative term. Joe is obviously more fiscally conservative than most, so I would call him "fiscally conservative." Whether or not somebody is even capable of recognizing that the Department of Education is unnecessary and a waste of money is a good litmus test for this, as most people are totally incapable of questioning the utility of any current government agency or program (people generally just adopt whatever general status quo into which they are born). The fact that he supports some big government programs like a large and offensive military ("Republican welfare") doesn't change his overall relative position. He's not as fiscally conservative as I would like, but then again, when I meet somebody who is, I'll let you know.

Posted by: Dan at March 5, 2010 4:55 PM

Yeah, rhody, these thuggish, destructive CA college students learned their craft from all of the vewy scawy elderly folks and moms who attended town hall meetings to voice their opposition to Obamacare. There's a difference between our right to free speech and breaking and entering. But, hey, we know lefties don't actually care about the rule of law, as evidenced by the behavior of progressive's at their "protests" vs. the tea partiers at theirs.

Posted by: MadMom at March 5, 2010 8:01 PM

I'm basically with joe bernstein here. If we really deem a war as necessary, then all people of draft age should be available to fight in it. It's one thing to back the troops from a few thousand miles away and another to back them while on patrol.

The army I served in was built with conscripts and the citizen-soldier had significant affect upon the conduct, morale and thrust of the military. I fear that we may have left the door open to Janissaries, making what was a citizen army into an elite corps creating the danger of unduly influencing our politics.

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at March 5, 2010 8:25 PM

OTL-holy cow!!I think we are on the same page here.
Speaking of which,we shouldn't get into conflicts that aren't necessary.
I don't know why we have troops deployed in certain places-Japan,Korea,Germany,Sinai,Bosnia,Macedonia to name a few.Some of those countries have very competent armed forces.Some of the other places we need to let the people there work out their own problems.
I wouldn't mind deploying troops to the southern border in light of the escalating drug wars down there.The spillover to the US is happening as we speak.

Posted by: joe bernstein at March 5, 2010 9:29 PM

Dan-thanks for the analysis of what I said.I think you're being accurate.
We've GOT to cut non-essential spending,but little chance.That's how politicians stay in office.They forget why they were elected.
We have become spending addicted.It's like any other bad habit-hard to reverse.
Federal retirees didn't get a COLA this year and probably not next year.OK.But Congress needs to set an example and not get raises either.
If you want to throw up,check out the retirement perks judges get in RI.why?who the hell are they?Nothing but whores who became madams.To quote Martin Erdman,a legal aid lawyer from NYC.Erdman later became a judge himself.

Posted by: joe bernstein at March 5, 2010 9:36 PM

For all the talk about a draft, let's face a few facts. Our army is smaller than Brazil's and we now have a population of over 300 million. Second, as suggested, a draft would now have to include women (there is a comment above that "they can do everything a man can do". That is just nonsensical, almost all of the physical proficiency standards have been altered for them. They don't even have to throw a grenade, they are allowed to drop it over a wall. Bear in mind that a Marines "basic load" is 80 pounds.)

With 300 million people, and a broad assumotion that there are equal numbers in every age bracket from 1 to 70, given 2 years of draft service, we would have about 9 million people "under arms" at any given time. What would we do with them, how would we pay them.

I do not regard this as "slavery" any more than I regard 10 years of compulsary education as "slavery". Unequal application may make it seem so.
Equal application would make it just a "rite of passage".

Posted by: Warrington Faust at March 5, 2010 10:16 PM

joe bernstein & OldTimeLefty,

I have to agree 100% with the both of you! I volunteered for military service. It was the best 4 years of my life! I volunteered for 1 year service in Viet Nam and extended my deployment for 2nd year back to back in Viet Nam during the height of the Tet Offensive! My bases was almost over run by the Viet Cong (It was the most stressful night in my life)! I was responsible for a system I personally hand wired into each aircraft and when I wasn't repairing, installing systems, I was part of a flight crew as an RO flying in country and out country. My days were very long but the personal rewards of accomplishment were great! The monthly accumulated pay perks were great! I am however classified with a 10% VA disability from my time in the service.

I didn't retire from the military service but my military experience opened a lot of private and government doors to me. For a time I was a federal GS-11 responsible for Information Systems Security across 11-states. I taught a class at the Naval War College and worked closely with Washington, DC being requested and filling an in-house consulting position TDY in Virginia for a year. I have worked closely with all branches of the military services and support branches. I am a vested Federal employee for retirement but I'm leaving my FERS retirement in till age 70 because I don't need it. (Total living costs over last 4 years are averaging 50% of RI costs due to property tax $100, exempted from state income tax, no property tax on cars, 4.5% sales tax and no winter heating bill). My personal investments are serving me well in retirement income and medical insurance coverage as a matter of fact, my medical insurance for healthcare, prescription drug coverage and dental at higher level with lower copays is $100 per month cheaper in Hawaii verses RI.

I spent the last 10 years working with the Army National Guard and have seen the military grow more dependent on the national guard and reserves for military action support. Not only are we stripping our core military forces and equipment fighting two wars with an all volunteer force but we are also rapidly degrading our normal homeland defenses using the national guard and reserve forces. A lot of national guard equipment is getting damaged and not being replaced as they rotate back to the states. There is such a lack of personnel that the contractor consultants are running a lot of the programs where military use to be in charge.

Joe as you worry about our military deployments here are some facts you might not know, there has been and ongoing build up of all military branches in the Pacific region. Of every 3 Virginia class submarines constructed 2 each are being deployed to Hawaii. The Hawaiian air national guard aircraft are being replaced with a full squadron of F-22 Raptor fighter jets and all the Navy AWS aircraft at Marine Corps Base HI are being replaced with new P-8A Poseidon aircraft plus a squadron of V-22 Osprey tiltrotor VTOL, 3 rapid deployment roll-on-roll off large ocean going advanced high-speed Navy catamarans are being deployed in Hawaii and the Army in Hawaii has one of the largest striker battalions.

For those who like to count who makes the most money, according to recent Bureau of Labor Statistics Federal employees are paid more than their private counterparts for same job and state employees are paid about 5% lower than private counterparts for same job and City and county workers are paid 2% more than their private counterparts for same job: USA Today newspaper article by Dennis Cauchon; March 04, 2010.

Posted by: Ken at March 6, 2010 1:57 AM


You dance around the subject. Bush's plan was to have a lovely little war where we'd move in, smash resistance and pave the way for a our idea of Democracy in the Middle East. It had to be painless, so no draft- the idea was that you and yours and me and mine need not be touched and it'll be over in a few months - It didn't happen.

So I repeat my question which I'd like you to respond to without verbal lateral arabesques -
"If we really deem a war as necessary, then all people of draft age should be available to fight in it. It's one thing to back the troops from a few thousand miles away and another to back them while on patrol."

If we had had a citizen army in place the war would never have been started, not after the Viet Nam experience. Also your numbers are way off. Who said we'd have to have 9 million men and women in arms. draft length of 2 years and next group comes in as old group leaves. That's how it was done after WWII until the draft was ended.

Posted by: OldTimeLefty at March 6, 2010 2:08 PM
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