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Less Dangerous World
My two World Service Corp (WSC) proposals are being considered for Congressional legislation. The WSC bills would required naitonal service with a choice and address the root causes of terrorism, rasie our political IQ., and strengthen our national fabric.
A less dangerous world
Count heads as you march from Egypt through Israel, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Oman, Yemen, and Pakistan. After counting 420 million ask, “Are American policies winning hearts and minds? Are they producing people who will make the world safer or more dangerous? How many Peace Corps volunteers (PCVs) serve among those 420+ million?”
Poll after world poll reflects disdain for our policies. It is a short step from hating policies to hating Americans and igniting a much more dangerous world. And a whopping 39 Peace Corps volunteer serve in that troubling area.
That’s a long way from Kennedy’s cost effective, visionary goal of placing a million PCVs into world service each year from 1970 onward. If Kennedy’s goal had been implemented, would ethnic cleansing in Africa have been dramatically reduced? Would literacy, as the underpinning for democratic reform, have soared? Would a million annual PCVs been more cost effective in fighting the domino fear theory that cost us so much blood and dollars in Vietnam? Would today’s population of crazed fundamentalists been radically reduced? Would such service have likely erased 911 from history?
A recent military budget, including only one reported supplemental appropriation for Iraq, places the annual cost of maintaining an American soldier over $358,000. That does not include social, health and welfare costs that so many of our soldiers face upon returning, or the costs of dealing with the estimated 25-30% of vets who become homeless. The full, unhidden cost of maintaining one of our brave soldiers probably exceeds a half million dollars annually.
The cost of maintaining a PCV, including their readjustment stipend, is under $40,000 per year. PCVs burden budgets with few medical and psychological costs and few are homeless.
A soldier’s most pressing responsibility is to kill, and our soldiers are feared killers when pressed to be. Increasingly, however, today’s soldiers find themselves pressed to do civilian nation building. Often they are unprepared for these nation-building chores. Almost always they are uncomfortable with their killing chores – for they know that killing, particularly in today’s often confusing battlefields – multiplies your enemies by killing family, clan, and friends. And that is a hard way to win a war, let alone hearts and minds.
A PCVs most pressing responsibility is to help those they serve to build their own nation. Their American life and training prepares them for this chore, and they almost always win hearts and minds. As Sargent Shriver, the Peace Corps first Director, wrote:
If the Pentagon’s map is more urgent, the Peace Corp’s is, perhaps, in the long run the most important...
In today’s dangerous world, laden with bacteriological, nuclear and suicidists, bullying will not win the day. We need to cast the vision that Kennedy wanted to mould onto the world.
"And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country.
My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man."
Today’s America is becoming increasingly split economically, politically, and in its idea of service and values. The low and middle classes primarily place their lives on the line, while receiving relatively few tax, economic, and educational benefits. The extremely wealthy, on the other hand, use their increased wealth and power to enact further tax and economic benefits, while sacrificing little service against looming dangers.
The answer to some of this disparity of service lies in two Congressional World Service Corps (WSC) proposals for which I am seeking additional co-sponsors and support.
America needs a national service program that builds character and addresses our domestic and global village needs. The one-year WSC proposal requires national service by all 18-26 year olds in their choice of Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, Head Start, Habitat for Humanity, Doctors Sans Borders and the Red Cross. The two-year volunteer WSC proposal differs only in paying for two years of community college and two years of state college tuition (approximately $15,000) or equivalent vocational or graduate school fees upon service completion. Both call for placing one million into annual national service, thereby energizing Kennedy’s words that stirred the nation.
Over twenty four bipartisan Senators and Representatives have received the proposals. Congresswoman Woolsey (D-CA) has enthusiastically said, “It fits my progressive ideals perfectly. I will take it to the Progressive Caucus.” She, however, was firm in believing that House Republicans would not support it. Help prove that belief incorrect by signing the on-line WSC Petition at http://www.dwaynehunn.biz/petition and expressing support to your Congressional representative.
"What happens in India, Africa, and South America -- whether the nations where the Peace Corps works succeed or not -- may well determine the balance of peace."
Sargent Shriver, first Peace Corps Director