Sunday, February 13, 2011

Camillo Bica: Rich Man's War and a Poor Man's Fight

"Rich Man's War and a Poor Man's Fight."
by Camillo "Mac" Bica


Despite the deep recession, not all segments of American society are suffering economically. Banking and corporate executives, for example, continue to enjoy lucrative salaries and bonuses. Under the war economy, Main Street struggles, Wall Street thrives and America suffers the largest income gap between its richest and poorest citizens in recorded history. Consequently, although the draft with its exemption clause may be gone, little has changed since the Civil War. The children of the privileged and the wealthy, uncoerced by economic need, feel no compunction to place their physical and mental well-being in jeopardy by enlisting in the military. As a result of this extreme economic inequity and the AVF's economic incentives, the modern equivalent of the substitution fee, once again the burden of fighting and dying falls upon the poor and working classes. Consequently, the AVF, not unlike the draft-military of 1873, smacks of classism and remains unrepresentative of American society. In fact, it may be even more insidious. During the Civil War, draft dodgers like Carnegie were at least required to pay the commutation or substitution fee out of their own pockets. In the AVF, it is paid for by the taxpayers. Ironically, given the system of taxation in this country that provides lucrative corporate tax loopholes and tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans, these economic incentives to military service (i.e., the pay raises, enlistment bonuses, GI Bill etc.) are paid for, not by those who are spared (i.e., the privileged and the wealthy), but rather by those who are required, by economic need, to make the sacrifice, enlist in the military and risk injury and death in war - the poor and the working class.


One final point, given war's extreme profitability for the privileged and the wealthy (the corporatists, bankers, politicians - the military-industrial, Congressional complex) and the fact that with the AVF, they and/or their children will never step onto the battlefield and suffer war's deleterious effects, it is not surprising, therefore, that our nation is embroiled in a quagmire with the longest and most expensive war in American history. As the wars and occupations continue virtually ignored except by the small percentage of Americans who are directly impacted by the killing and dying - members of the military and their families - voices from both ends of the political spectrum are calling for the reinstatement of the draft as a means of sharing the burden of military service, or to "reinvigorate" the peace movement. I have always opposed the draft as immoral and unconstitutional, but as the situation in this country has grown dire, drastic measures are required. Consequently, as much as it pains me to say, I think that the most plausible solution to what can only be described as war profiteering and a violation of the principle of universal obligation and shared sacrifice, is to reinstate the draft, but with a stipulation. Unless and until these gross economic inequities are remedied and educational and employment opportunities are made available to all, only those young men and women whose families earn an annual income exceeding $250,000 will be subject to mandatory military service with few if any exemptions other than REAL, documented and severe medical impairment. This "Fairness Draft," will accomplish three important goals. First, it helps furnish the manpower necessary to sustain the AVF and ensure the national defense. Second, it satisfies both the intent of the social contract and the principle of distributive justice by ensuring that the burden of military service is shared equally by all segments of the population, regardless of economic status. Lastly and. perhaps most importantly, as the cost-benefit analysis changes, that is, should the lives and well-being of the children of the privileged and the wealthy - the progeny of bankers, corporate executives, politicians etc. - be placed at risk, the frequency and number of wars will decrease significantly. By providing a fair distribution of sacrifice, with fewer unnecessary and immoral wars, and the eventual educational and employment opportunity for all, the Fairness Draft is a good first step toward creating a more perfect union and ensuring that the alleged struggle to end terrorism no longer remains a "rich man's war and a poor man's fight."

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