A Basic Income Alternative That Works
A Note From Andy: We’re reading a great book from a great man this week. Beyond Band of Brothers: The War Memoirs of Major Dick Winters is a fascinating tale of bravery, patriotism and, where we say it really shines, leadership.
In it, Major Winters recalls looking at a lonely American flag on the beach at Normandy. He reveals that, even more than half a century later, he can’t look at the flag without remembering that noble scene.
It makes us think of that oh-so-nasty debate over the national anthem protests that swept the country recently… and of the many men like Major Winters who didn’t only stand when it was time to fight for our Liberty, but ran forward with their heads held high.
They don’t make men like Dick Winters anymore. And as the essay below shows… that’s too bad.
But we think we know how to fix what ails us.
We originally penned this essay in September 2017. That’s when grown men were kneeling for America’s anthem… when cities were ripping out statues… and when cops were under attack.
Not much has changed since then. In many ways, the anger is worse and the dependence on the system has only increased.
It’s why we stand firmly behind the idea we proposed… and think you will, too.
Our great nation is under attack. What’s happening today is no different from an invading army taking over our streets.
Our monuments are falling…
Our national anthem is under attack…
And our flag is spit upon.
The enemy is here. And he’s got the high ground.
But we’ve got a solution. It’s a simple way to win this war.
In our mind… it’s now or never.
It’s time, we say, that every man in America be forced into two years of service.
Get to Work
Before we go on, know that our idea of service is unlike the traditional definition.
Sure, we’d love men to join the military. They’d surely stand for the national anthem after a few months in uniform.
But, sadly, the majority of today’s young men aren’t fit to fight. If you’re fat… a felon… a drug user (even of many prescription drugs)… or simply someone who can’t read well, you’re out.
Today that’s 71% of our nation’s young men. Fewer than 3 in 10 are eligible for the military.
That’s no good (disgusting, really), but our plan doesn’t care.
We’ll find work for those folks. They can get fit by blazing new trails in our state and national parks. They can get paid to see the country by following natural disasters and helping with repairs. They can nurse their softer side by working at a retirement home.
As long as they’re serving, we’re happy.
The truth is, all we intend to do is splash a bit of cold water in our kids’ faces.
What happened in dozens of stadiums over the weekend proved our nation is sick. We need to change direction. When a nation is more attuned to the actions at a game than what’s being talked about in its schools or – dare we say – in its churches… it’s in trouble.
By forcing young men to change their routines and to explore new horizons, we’re convinced we’ll change save America.
A lot of folks these days are talking about the idea of a universal basic income – where the fine folks in the government hand each of us a paycheck every year. It would supposedly level the playing field and keep all Americans out of poverty.
It’s a dumb idea.
It would be an unmitigated disaster.
Instead, our plan calls for minimum basic work for any man between the ages of 18 and 23.
The government will guarantee these men a job… and therefore guarantee they’re not poor.
But it won’t be a handout. They’ll work.
Again, many will join the military. Plenty more won’t. Those young men can learn a trade. Or perhaps find work in one of Washington’s many office buildings.
It doesn’t matter if they’re gay, straight, black or white. If men between those ages ever want to receive any form of government aid in the future, they must give two years to the country.
The way we see it, our plan does three things.
First, it breaks the cycle. It’s tough to join a gang or get drunk with your high school buddies when one is in the woods north of Seattle and the other is rebuilding roads in southern Florida.
More important, though, it gives our youngest generation of men an opportunity.
Many can’t afford bus fare out of the city, let alone four years of school. It locks them into a cycle of poverty.
This would be their chance to break it.
Second, our plan keeps kids out of college… the nasty trap of the middle class.
Oh, they can still go if they want. But first they’ll have to give two years to Uncle Sam. And if they play their hands right, they’ll realize they don’t all need a degree – and the massive load of debt that comes with it – to thrive.
After all, two years in the military can quickly turn into a 25-year career – and an early retirement.
And finally, our plan rebuilds the American spirit.
It wasn’t by chance that Alejandro Villanueva left his team in the locker room on Sunday to be the lone Steeler to appear for the national anthem. He’s a decorated West Point graduate who knows what it takes to serve.
He’s our kind of man.
If we broke the cycle and forced our youngest men to serve their country, they’d wise up. They’d see new things and learn new skills.
And, most important, they’d see the enemy who’s taken our nation.
The bad guy has the high ground. It’s clear he’s winning the war.
If we don’t do something drastic, he will win.
Our plan won’t be popular. But this is a war we must not lose.