gtg947h wrote:Basically, the system would work as follows: at 18 or graduation from high school (whichever is later), you may elect to serve a term of service, defined as two years in a "hazardous" occupation (military, firefighter, rescue worker, etc.) or four years in a "non-hazardous" position (relief worker, Americorps, disaster relief, etc). Upon completing your term of service and passing a basic test (similar to the current citizenship test), you gain full citizenship (defined below). Additionally, everyone is given a full first-aid course on entering service, and upon leaving they get a first-aid refresher and have the option of completing a 6-week equivalent of army basic training. Should they elect the training, they are issued a rifle at the end of it, and are listed in the militia (similar to National Guard, but constitutionally prohibited from operating outside the country). It's kinda like Switzerland's system, in a way.
Anyways, if you drop out before your service is up, you may try again later on, from the beginning. Gaining full citizenship provides you with voting rights and other government benefits (including social security, welfare, or whatever may exist at the time). You may not receive these benefits if you have not completed your service (though obviously children, the mentally handicapped, etc are exempt). And as long as you are of sound mind and legal age, you cannot be denied your right to serve--a job will be found for you that is challenging but within your capabilities. (yes, I copied the idea from Heinlein--but I decided to be nice and offer second chances).
I'm not very fond of the idea that anyone can vote as long as he's a warm body that's been breathing for a given stretch of time. You should at least know what it is you're voting on.
That system sounds good on the surface, but there are a lot of problems with it.
1. You're effectively raising the voting age from 18 to 20 or 22. You're also adding a 2 or 4 year period between high school and college, which is definitely going to change the economy (college students skew older, you're older when you actually graduate and find a job, etc.).
2. Limiting voting rights to people who have been through the process essentially ensures the process's immortality, because anyone who seriously disagrees with the process won't do it.
3. Do we really need that many people in those services? We really don't need 300 million firefighters, soldiers, or charity-org paper-pushers. And employing that many people puts a lot of people at the mercy of the government. Alternatively, it puts the government at the mercy of the people--how do you fire someone for incompetence when you're essentially disenfranchising them?
4. Do we really need more guns? It works in Switzerland because people don't just start shooting each other with their officially issued rifles. In the US it would probably be disastrous.
5. There are plenty of people who don't have the time/money to just hold off and do a government job. Who takes care of the family store while they are away? A stay at home mother needs to care for her kids, etc. The poor--the ones who need more than anyone else a voice in government and things like welfare and social security--are the very ones who are going to have the hardest time fulfilling your requirements. It amounts to a poll tax.
6. As an aside, it's a logistical nightmare. Where will the government get the money to employ all these people? How does the government ensure that there are jobs close to home for everyone? Do you really want your government services bloated with people who are both incompetent and resentful of the requirement? I don't want my firemen to be there just because they want to collect Social Security someday; I want them gung-ho and ready to die for me, my dog, and my flaming stuff.
It is, in fact, highly possible that a forced sojourn into public service will act as a counter-incentive, so that no one later in life will choose to go into it of their own accord, which means that almost all public services will be staffed by inexperienced, unhappy 19-year-olds.
7. Continuing with logistical questions: how do you implement it? Does it apply to everyone now, so that nobody is a citizen anymore until they complete the program? I don't need to tell you how disastrous that would be economically and socially. Does it apply only to new kids? That skews the democratic process towards the elderly and away from young voters.
8. Finally, and most damning, not only is the process difficult to implement and theoretically troubling, it won't. bloody. work. There's nothing intrinsic to working a desk or a rifle or a firehose that makes anybody a better voter or a better citizen.