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International | Government & Elections

This national service works -- American World Service Corps
by Dwayne Hunn
Thursday May 10th, 2007 12:13 PM
We need a unifying experience that:
1) Addresses needs of individual, nation, and world. 2)Deals with increasing natural and man-made disasters. 3) nvolves Americans and inspires other nations to battle ignorance, hatreds, and poverty with nation building tools rather than destroying nations with armor and nuclear tipped weapons. Peoples Lobby’s American World Service Corps Congressional Proposals provides that unifying experience.

Why build these cities beautiful,
If man unbuilded goes.
In vain we build the world,
Unless the builder also grows.

John Kennedy’s favorite Edwin Markham poem inspired many of his action-oriented goals, as Senator Harris Wofford, who helped establish the Peace Corps recalls:
"He told me he wanted the Peace Corps to reach 100,000 a year," Wofford recalled. "He said it would then be considered serious. In one decade, it would reach 1 million volunteers."

In 1961 President Eisenhower warned us how “Every gun that is made…” robs “the hopes of its children…” and stressed that:
“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”
Kennedy then deployed his Peace Corps to address those concerns and reverse the growing Ugly American image.

Unfortunately, Peace Corps Volunteers topped out at 14,000+ in the late 1960’s, with about 7.000 serving today.

Is Ike’s warning or JFK’s vision winning the day? Does the world see us as a corporate, military industrial state robbing children or Camelot builders? If you are unhappy with the State of the World, help is on the horizon.

Ed and Joyce Koupal were farsighted progressives who believed citizens could make laws, and created People’s Lobby to do just that. They taught us, “This country runs on laws. If you want to change the country, write its laws.” Consequently, Peoples Lobby has written legislation that puts Americans back into building, rather than bombing, beautiful cities and villages. http://www.PeoplesLobby.us

Recently the Progressive Policy Institute called for national service to serve as a:
“…catalyst for the civic mobilization we need to make headway against America's social deficits.”
Because we have:
“…plenty of vital public work for a swelling tide of volunteers to do.”
Because by doing so:
“…we strengthen the argument for liberal democracy against its latest rival, Islamist fanaticism.”
And because, as Sacramento Bee journalist Mr. Mott points out, national service would be a:
“Unifying experience (that) would serve needs of individual and country.”
Peoples Lobby’s American World Service Corps (AWSC) Congressional Proposals fulfills those needs and more. http://www.WorldServiceCorps.us

If enacted in this Congress, each year for the next seven years approximately 140,000 Americans would voluntarily choose to serve in their choice of the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, Habitat for Humanity, Head Start, Doctors Without Borders, Red Cross, International Rescue Committee, OxFam, Mercy Corps, State Conservation Corps, etc. By the seventh year one million American World Service Corps members of all ages, or less than .6th of 1% of those aged 20-60+, would annually serve for a year or two at home or abroad. After 20 years, Congress could consider sun-setting the AWSC legislation.

The financial incentives to encourage this “voluntary” service?

Upon service completion, AWSC volunteers receive two years of community college + two years of state college tuition (about $18,000), equivalent investment in IRA or medical savings accounts, or as tax credits.

The attraction to moms and politicians?

Most moms support their children serving under the AWSC’s umbrella. As Nadia McCaffrey, whose National Guard son was murdered by his Iraqi troop trainees, often says, “If the AWSC were around when my son were alive, he would have joined AWSC to serve his county and be alive today.”

Those politicians who look to “volunteerism” to answer our problems and want Americans to “earn” their educations will now have the AWSC to earn, learn, and cost effectively address America’s problems, security, and competitiveness.

The pay-go hurdle?

Much of the AWSC’s financing will come from public knowledge incentivized donations from the wealthy and import levees, which will engender dramatic military saving that will save more than not doing it will cost. Details at http://dwaynehunn.biz/world%20service%20key%20proposal%202yr%20volunteer.htm

About 15% of Americans take out passports. Most are for corporate, military, and posh Club Medish trips that add to the perception that rich America is a militarized behemoth.

Imagine today’s State of the World if millions had served under JFK’s vision. What if:
• John Bolton had served in India in the late 60’s, alongside Lillian Carter, the President’s mother who really did?
• Halliburton’s recent CEO, Dick Cheney, had built Habitat homes with his buddy, Don Rumsfeld, for a couple years?
• George W. Bush, whose pre-presidency world travel was limited to a London trip with dad, had shown up for his national service as a school teacher in the Middle East?
Armed with blisters and dirtied fingernails, today’s public policy would have seen less black and white and been more aware of the difficulty of directing a society much older than ours. Such practical experiences would have saved lives, limbs, and money today.

Global villagers don’t need the world’s deeply mortgaged superpower’s Star Wars troopers, mercenaries, and high tech vehicles reeking havoc. They want to see sandaled Americans:
• Serving in Pakistan, New Orleans, Indonesia, Watts, etc.
• Wining hearts and minds by erasing poverty housing, teaching in schools, dealing with ignorance, poverty, catastrophes, refugees, global climate change, etc.
• Working amidst the 910 million mostly Muslims who reside in the 21 nations of the Middle East, South and East Africa, and Indonesia, where today only 58 Peace Corps Volunteers serve.

Communism versus capitalism produced a Cold War and Doomsday Clock. With our economic, diplomatic, and military might, we contained communism, ended the Cold War, and stopped the Clock.

In today’s shrunken Global Village, we’ve ignited an endless Terror War. Our depleted economy, juvenile diplomacy, and exhausted military requires a smarter, more cost-efficient strategy that contains hatreds, ends terror, and again stops that rewound Doomsday Clock.

If millions had served in JFK’s vision, a worldly aware America would have rejected simplistic notions, in a complex world, that led our soldiers to war. With such productive service, odds are that we would not have:
• Lost 6,000+ American civilians and soldiers to ignorance-bred hatreds that trigger juvenile violent responses that cascades into hellish death and destruction.
• Served up wounds, amputations, and post-traumatic stress disorders to 25,000 + Americans and who knows how many Iraqis.
• Been directly involved with 650,000 Iraqis deaths and the hatreds it ignites among many grieving families.

Soon several California Congressional staffs will meet to discuss introducing the American World Service Corps proposals. You may not be among the 1% whose families are actively serving, but you probably have loved ones who will live in tomorrow’s world. Call your representatives at 866-220-0044. Ask them to lift Americans off the couch and into building “these cities beautiful” and ensuring that “the builder also grows.” Make your loved ones’ tomorrow safer.

Dwayne Hunn Ph.D., Executive Director of Peoples Lobby and its Education Foundation, has served in the Peace Corps, on Habitat Builds, and on the start-up team of the California Conservation Corps.