The War President has a problem. It’s not likely to be one that will cause him to lose his political office, but it could — and it’s a serious problem nonetheless.
The War in Iraq is not going as well as expected. More money is needed. More troops are needed. More of your children (I have none, which is why I sometimes think I’m an idiot for not being a “get what I can and damn the next generation” Republican) are going to have to die.
On the other hand, our population is aging. There is already a recognized problem in that as the baby boomers age, there aren’t enough young people to support the Social Security program. There’s been talk about raising the age limits for Social Security benefits. And, since the government spends more of our tax dollars on fighting the rest of the world, those tax dollars cannot be used to support programs benefiting Americans at home.
The recent death of Pat Tillman — which was somehow publicized in spite of a Bush Administration ban on this kind of news — shows the heartache of the war caused by the death of the sons and daughters of America. Heartache is the inevitable outcome of war, but the death of our young does not have to be.
Instead, the President should consider changing the rules when the draft is reinstated. Instead of sending our young productive workforce to fight and die in Iraq, he should send aging baby boomers. In fact, the benefits would be even greater if he sends those already collecting Social Security. After all, they’re already used to living on lower incomes and it’s not like we’ll ever send the rich to fight the war they so desperately crave to run our military-industrial complex upon which they’ve built their riches. (More than half of our discretionary spending is military spending.)
This solution is even more important in an era where corporations increasingly profit from wars like this while simultaneously carrying less of the tax burden than they did in previous decades (in 1940, for example, corporations essentially split the bill with private citizens, paying almost half the taxes; today, they pay just 13.7%). It is increasingly important as we fail to listen to the warnings of the late President Dwight D. Eisenhower — himself one of our greatest Army generals during World War II; he was Supreme Commander of the troops that invaded France to throw out the Nazis — when he said,
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.
We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.
The time to heed such warnings is past. As Eisenhower feared, the military-industrial complex has taken over our government and the problem now is to figure out how to keep America functioning in the face of what they’ve done. Since we cannot maintain the balance Eisenhower talked about between military programs and national social programs, the question now is how best to keep from killing our sons and daughters and continue to allow our aging population to receive subsistence.
By drafting only people between the ages of 50 and 70, we can accomplish both of these goals. First, our young people will not go off to war only to die for the rich. Secondly, our aging population will. This will alter the balance between young and old in our country and make it possible to sustain the Social Security program indefinitely. And since old people (arguably) cannot fight as well as young people, we will have to send twice as many; the balance will be achieved that much quicker.
Lastly, this could be combined with a plan to solve our prescription drug problem. If, during the draft, we make no exceptions for those older people on medications — in fact, we may even wish to target them — we could stop giving them their medications. Many of them are going to be shot anyway. Those that collapse on the field because of a lack of medications can be deemed “war casualties.” Bingo! No more Medicare problem!
This is a win-win-win-win-win situation for the President.
Win Number One: Most older people tend to be altruistic (they probably learned this caring for their young) and are more likely to join the Democratic party. Young people tend to be more selfish, making them ideal candidates for the Republican party. Thus, a plan that keeps the young alive while simultaneously reducing the numbers of older people benefits a Republican President and his party.
Win Number Two: By reducing the numbers of older people, less folk collect Social Security. The program is thus cheaper to maintain.
Win Number Three: By not killing young people, we have more workers to support the remaining Social Security program. In fact, this is actually two wins in one, because young people also tend to save less money, since retirement seems so far away. They spend more. This drives our consumer-based society.
Win Number Four: Old dead people don’t have prescription drug problems. They don’t have to be bussed to Canada for cheaper medications. This will also reduce the FDA budget as less of these buses will need to be stopped and searched.
Win Number Five: With less old people — and particularly if we target those on prescription drugs as noted above — overall Medicare costs go down.
Best of all for the President, there’s no downside! With so many elderly out of the way, and so few young people who actually vote (and fewer still who think before voting), there’s no one to vote him out of office!
See? I can think like a Republican!