If I were President I’d have a Department of Peace. The Secretary of Peace would be tasked with establishing a University of Peace and reinventing the Peace Corps. America’s best and brightest could choose between taxpayer paid, advanced educations in War or Peace.
The University of Peace’s funding, facilitates and faculty would have the stature of West Point, Annapolis, the Air Force and Coast Guard Academies. As a gesture and economic boost to the Heartland its campus would be smack at the geographic center of America, in a Kansas wheat field. A traditional liberal arts and sciences curriculum would be augmented to focus on worldwide human health, welfare and Peace. Each students would be proficient in the language and extensively training in a non-American culture. With the pay and benefits equivalent Military Officers, graduates would commit to six years working for world peace in a restructured Peace Corps.
From $38,000 a Military Academy graduate second lieutenant’s salary can grow to upwards of $100,000 plus benefits. Military enlisted personnel’s pay ranges from $20,000 to $39,000 plus benefits. Peace Corps volunteers receive “housing and a living stipend” and $8000 after two years service. That’s thirty-eight thousand to over $100,000 plus generous benefits for studying and conducting warfare versus three hots, a cot, a stipend and $8,000 working for human welfare and world peace. What’s wrong with this picture!
It’s outrageous when, as the only option for an advanced education, a Topeka mechanic’s daughter or a widowed Cleveland teacher’s son risks her or his life as a Marines while the Bush twins and Mitt Romney’s five sons—count ‘em five!—get free top-drawer educations and skate on without ever peeking inside a Recruiter’s office.
With a seemingly inherently aggressive aspect of “human nature,” arguments for a strong “National Defense” are put forth, and given the nature and urgency of their task, reimbursing military personnel well makes sense. At the same time, only an altruistic motivation seems appropriate remuneration for working to improve human life. After all, moral satisfaction is the missionary’s and human-rights worker’s pay. Even so, in a world where, from dishwashers and ditch diggers to CEO’s and baseball players, all who work are paid, why not those who work “doing good”? If we spent half of what we do promoting human health and welfare maybe we could waste less preparing for and perpetrating war.
Pursuing my preposterous propositions, to be fair we should re-instigate a draft of men and women. Bone spurs and cowardice notwithstanding exemptions should be held rigorously to those who physically or mentally cannot function. Based on needs, draftees would be assigned by lottery to the Military or Peace Corps with equal pay and benefits.
I’ll never be President. That’s sad, because I’m serious.