In 1729 Irish-born satirist Jonathan Swift wrote a treatise in which he proposed a solution to twin problems facing many Irish families at the time, namely too many children and not enough money. His “modest proposal,” as he called it, suggested that poverty-stricken parents sell their young children to wealthier citizens as culinary delicacies.
”I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled …” he wrote
Needless to say, Swift was being satirical, not merely shocking—though he seemed to thrive on shocking those not quite quick-witted enough to understand his satire. It would take an understanding of history and conditions in Great Britain at the time to understand now what he was getting at. But since that isn’t the reason for this post I won’t indulge in a history lesson.
Rather, I have a more modern “modest proposal” which, like Swift’s, solves at once two problems confronting us at present.
It is no secret that the military is having trouble meeting it’s recruiting goals. There seems to be some ambivalence among the traditional pool of potential young warriors about whether enlisting right now is a good idea. So the military is turning to some untraditional sources. The other night the wife and I saw a TV program which talked about some of the unlikely people being called for military duty in Iraq; the focus was on middle-aged men and women who had served previously, left the military and were under the impression that they had no further obligations. Not so, evidently.
A middle-aged friend of mine, a weekend warrior in the Iowa National Guard most of his adult life, was sent over a month or so ago. He’s a fine guy, but frankly, he belongs in Iowa, not in Iraq.
There are accounts I’ve read of recruiters using tactics to enlist younger people that remind me of an encounter I had with the Moonies a few years back.
We know of a young woman with children, the youngest just a few months old, who was sent to Iraq. (Family values anyone?)
So, clearly, it is time for some creative thinking in regards to this problem.
The other day my wife came home from grocery shopping with an excellent idea that I think would go a long way towards alleviating the recruitment problem, and solve another problem at the same time.
It has always seemed remarkable to me how many of the homeless guys who stand around on freeway off-ramps, shopping mall exits and street corners soliciting money are veterans. “Homeless Vet—Please Help” say the signs. “Why doesn’t the military recall them?” my wife asked, still thinking about the other former soldiers being recalled. .
It seemed so obvious once she said it. They are homeless, hungry, and they have military experience. Some are even willing to work for food, if the signs are to be believed. .
Draft the homeless; seems like a no-brainer.
Like Jonathan Swift, I have no illusions that my suggestion, regardless how sensible, will be taken seriously by the government. But once the folks in charge of our Iraqi escapade have exhausted the pool of young mothers, naive teen-agers, and middle-aged weekend warriors and has-beens, maybe they will at least consider it.