Monday, August 27, 2012



Every now and then, an idea comes along that is so logical, and contributes to solving so many problems, that you wonder why it hasn’t been done. 

I saw an idea like that a couple of weeks ago, when I read an op ed piece in the New York Times that would cut our military costs dramatically, improve the performance of military support services, reduce the probability of going to war, clean up some of our urban blight, solve some of our infrastructure problems, provide needed services we now say we can’t afford, make citizenship more meaningful to young people and go a long way towards diminishing the very different worlds in which privileged and less privileged young people live.

Let’s hope the idea gets some momentum.


  1. In the years leading to my 18th birthday, the war in southeast Asia was raging, and while young I followed much of the news. I was opposed to the grounds of that war.

    About six months after my "coming of age", the Secretary of Defense (I believe under Nixon's direction) ended the draft.

    As Thomas Ricks points out, with a mandatory draft, citizens would have more skin in the game. Clearly this would lead to more deliberation prior to military actions. If the sons and daughters of Congress were subject to military service during wartime, perhaps they would be less quick-to-draw.

    During peacetime, an army of citizens could do wonders for our country.

  2. Bob, Where is your outrage? You are a world class leader.Please come to the forefront. You have identified the problems,now we need leaders to provide solutions!

    Lee Iacocca Says: 'Am I the only guy in this country who's fed up with
    what's happening? Where the hell is our outrage with this so called
    president? We should be screaming bloody murder!
    The most famous business leaders are not the innovators but the guys in
    handcuffs.. While we're fiddling in Afghanistan , Iran is completing their
    nuclear bombs and missiles and nobody seems to know what to do. And the
    liberal press is waving 'pom-poms' instead of asking hard questions.
    Leaders are made, not born. Leadership is forged in times of crisis. It's
    easy to sit there with thumb up your butt and talk theory. Or send someone
    else's kids off to war when you've never seen a battlefield yourself. It's
    another thing to lead when your world comes tumbling down.

    We're immersed in a bloody war now with no plan for winning and no plan for
    leaving.. But our soldiers are dying daily.

    We're running the biggest deficit in the history of the world, and it's
    getting worse every day!

    We've lost the manufacturing edge to Asia , while our once-great companies
    are getting slaughtered by health care costs.

    Our schools are in a complete disaster because of the teachers' union.

    Our borders are like sieves and they want to give all illegal's amnesty and
    free healthcare.

    The middle class is being squeezed to death every day.

    These are times that cry out for leadership.

    But when you look around, you've got to ask: 'Where have all the leaders
    Name me a leader who has a better idea for homeland security than making us
    take off our shoes in airports and throw away our shampoo?

    We've spent billions of dollars building a huge new bureaucracy, and all we
    know how to do is react to things that have already happened.

    Name me a government leader who can articulate a plan for paying down the
    debt, or solving the energy crisis, or managing the health care problem.
    The silence is deafening But these are the crises that are eating away at
    our country and milking the middle class dry.

    I have news for the Chicago gangsters in Congress. We didn't elect you to
    turn this country into a losing European Socialist state. What is everybody
    so afraid of? That some bonehead on NBC or CNN news will call them a name?
    Had Enough? Hey, I'm not trying to be the voice of gloom and doom here. I'm trying to light a fire.

  3. Dear sir,

    I in a Bloomberg-article that your blog isn't, as you put it, 'a burning succes'. Why don't you open a Twitter-account, so you can tweet a link to every new blogpost. It will increase the number of your readers enormously.

    Kind regards,
    Arnoud Veilbrief

  4. I am sending this article to my daughter who asked me the other day that they were discussing this idea in her high school government class. It is an interesting idea that seems to have many potential side benefits.

  5. Bob,

    I also was led to this blog via the Bloomberg article and have added it to my RSS feeds and am delighted to see you out there talking about these topics.

    Seriously consider a Twitter account if you want to generate some more mind share.

    @NoRomBasic (Twitter) (IT Leadership Blog)

  6. Artificially cheap labor leads to a misallocation of that resource. Like Carter's price cap on gas. It might seem like a good idea at first, but the secondary impacts outweigh those. One of the author's utopian visions is if "school custodians were 19, energetic". I was 19 year old bus boy, and when I was in the Marines, knew many 19 year olds who were assigned 'custodial' duties for a week and cannot imagine armies of enthusiastic custodians, especially if they had been drafted. And now that I have a high school daughter, I would not let her attend a school with 19 year old custodians, enthusiastic or otherwise.

    As for the author's last comment, that a draft would cause us to think "twice about whether we really wanted to invade Iraq." - Heck, Saddam broke the treaty he signed after his army was kicked out of the country they had invaded and plundered, and bragged about his weapons of mass destruction, and becuase he had used them before, almost everyone believed him. We thought about it for months before the invasion happened. Having a draft would not have changed THAT decision.

  7. Mr. Crandall you ought to know better than to fall for cheap demagoguery from the likes of Stanley McChrystal and Thomas Ricks. Mr. Reitz makes an excellent point that artificially cheap labor leads to a misallocation of resources. As a businessman, you ought to know that.
    But there are more than just economic reasons for opposing a draft on young people. Mr. McChrystal is too young to have remembered Vietnam. Having a draft did not prevent presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson from escalating that war. In fact more than 10 times as many US soldiers died in Vietnam as in Iraq. Draftees are cheap and the officer corps treated them as if they were.
    Had a draft existed when McChrystal was a young officer, he might have died by having a grenade rolled into his tent, a technique called “fragging” employed by draftees. That might have been a good thing because we would not have to listen to McChrystal’s baloney today.
    The only way to avoid war is to elect leaders who know when wars are just and when they are not. Leaders and senior military officers need a moral compass. Few presidents in my lifetime have had one. Every voter must understand that the only legitimate use of military force is defense of the US from direct attack. By that standard, we have not fought a just war since World War II.
    It is not the business of the US Army to remake other nations in our vision of democracy and capitalism. It is not the army’s business to protect investments of American corporations in foreign nations. It is not the army’s duty to assure uninterrupted supplies of oil and minerals to our shores (and the Chinese, Japanese, and Europeans) now that we have squandered our own resources.
    If we adhered to moral principles, we would not have to worry about whether or not Americans would sacrifice to support our troops. They did in the past and they would again.

  8. I think in order to be a part of politics at the national level, one needs to have prior military experience. Most now have never stepped onto a military base until after they have been elected into office, and then it's just for a photo opp.

  9. Dear Bob,

    Thank you for standing up and being a voice to be heard. This a great country and currently needs leadership like what you expressed in the Bloomberg article. Please keep up the work for the next generation.