Service Guarantees Citizenship

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    Lines of Departure - Starship Troopers

    Service Guarantees Citizenship (Part I)1

    It would probably come as a big surprise in some circles but soldiers, at least American soldiers, read a great deal – much more, I think, than the civilian population at large. What do they read? They’ll read manuals, of course, if they must. Then, again, they’ll read matchbook covers in a pinch. I can recall, too, precisely seventy-seven of us, stuck for some weeks behind barbed wire at Cairo West Egyptian Air Force Base, in 1985, passing around and reading the one book we had among us – a Matt Bolan, the Executioner, piece, with all that implies – over and over and over again.

    Yeah…“The horror…the horror.”

    Besides reading the obvious things – Playboy and Penthouse, for example, for certain values of “reading” – they’ll read pretty much anything and everything: History, science, philosophy (yes, seriously), biography, fiction…and science fiction. Indeed, one science fiction novel, Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers, published in 1959, appears on the official reading lists of three of our military services: Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force.2 What, not the Army? Fear not, nearly everyone in the Army seems to have read it. And I can only recall ever running into one soldier who didn’t approve of the political system therein wholeheartedly. Even his objections seemed more along the lines of, “Well, it wouldn’t last forever so why bother?” which isn’t a terribly strong objection, really.

    I’ve long been surprised that our political and bureaucratic masters haven’t put their ballet-slippered feet down and demanded that the book be removed from the reading lists, removed from the shelves of the PX and BX book sections, too, for that matter, and removed from the military’s consciousness. It is, after all, suggesting that our system is deeply flawed, hence certainly doomed, and probably fully deserving of that doom. It is, after all, in opposition to unlimited democracy. It is, too, after all, a refutation of the liberal and progressive notion of easy, certain, and reliable malleability and perfectibility in mankind. It’s also a huge sneer at the Mammy Yokumesque (“good is better than evil because it’s nicer3) in modern politics.

    It’s quite revolutionary, really, not only in itself but in who it deeply appeals to, which is to say, those with the training to use force to impose political solutions they’d prefer, the military and veterans.

    Why the appeal? The very short version, for those who haven’t read the book, is that Starship Troopers proposes – or proposes by description – a political system not too different in structure from what we have, but with one huge policy change. The change is that nobody votes or is allowed to hold public office by virtue of having a body around 98.6, an age over XY or the absence of a criminal record. Instead, the vote and the right to run for and hold public office comes from demonstrating, through honorable completion of a period of arduous, ill paid and dangerous service, that one cares about society enough that we can be relatively more confident that one will vote the common good, rather than the personal. That, at least, is the theoretical appeal. I suspect the practical appeal is that most military types utterly detest the progressive politicians who are usually their masters, and would prefer to see them hanged, even as they’d prefer serving a population and system that understood and cared for them, because it sprang from them, and vice versa.

    Another set of factors in the book that appeals to the military is the logical pairing of dualities. In the society of Starship Troopers, rights are balanced by responsibilities, responsibility and authority go hand in hand, authority is not a given, but must be paid for or wagered for at considerably cost, real or potential.

    Of course, the left – liberals, progressives and outright reds – really, truly, thoroughly and completely hate the notion. They hate it so much, and have since publication, that they’ll attack the book, the author, the fans, the theories and their defenders relentlessly, tirelessly and rarely with any obvious integrity or insight. Note, here, that where the criticism has involved insight it has lacked integrity, and where integrity was on display there wasn’t a lot of insight. For an example of the latter, a colleague of mine, really a friend and one of whom I ordinarily think quite highly, once commented to the effect that, “It’s never been tried.” I find this criticism particularly not on point, since my colleague and friend is a devotee of a system, socialism, that, whenever and wherever it has been tried has proven a moral, economic, environmental and humanitarian disaster. We should prefer the known disaster to the unknown but possible redemption? Why?

    And why should they hate it so? I suspect it’s because they sense that the system would make evolution or revolution toward their leftist fantasy essentially impossible; that and that, as mentioned, it denies the prospect of much malleability in mankind.

    A cynic – which, of course, I am not – might wonder if the progressives understand that their fantasies can only become reality if authority can be freed from responsibility – if irresponsibility can be given free rein, in other words, rights be given gratis, in any case, and duties restricted to the presumed duty to support the progressive fantasy. That would seem to mesh closely with the modern fantasy of natural human rights, at least, and perhaps with some others.

    Personally, I am inclined to agree with the left about the system in the book, at least in some particulars. I think it does or would inoculate a society against progressivism. I think it does refute the notion of malleability in man and, once enacted, would prevent them from trying. Indeed, I often wonder, myself, if the system – some form of the system, anyway – mightn’t be our only possible salvation from progressivism, which is to say, decay as we slide into barbarism. It could even hold together a country rapidly fragmenting into mutually hate-filled factions and fractions.

    Warning: I’m going to talk about the details some more, in coming columns. I invite discussion. However, if you try to discuss the wretched movie, rather than the book, I shall piss on you. If you demonstrate that you haven’t read the book, and still attempt to pronounce judgment upon it, I shall piss on you. If you demonstrate a lack of integrity in commenting on the book…well, you get the idea.

    __________

    1 I take the title from a line in Verhoeven’s execrable movie, Starship Troopers. I would not suggest taking anything else from it.

    2 http://www.omgfacts.com/news/11461/60-of-the-US-Military-branches-have-Starship-Troopers-on-their-reading-list

    3 http://www.deniskitchen.com/docs/bios/bio_capp_characters.html. Look on the wall.

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    Tom Kratman is a retired infantry lieutenant colonel, recovering attorney, and science fiction and military fiction writer. His latest novel, The Rods and the Axe, is available from Amazon.com for $9.99 for the Kindle version, or $25 for the hardback. A political refugee and defector from the People’s Republic of Massachusetts, he makes his home in Blacksburg, Virginia. He holds the non-exclusive military and foreign affairs portfolio for EveryJoe. Tom’s books can be ordered through baen.com.

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                • treephrog

                  Colonel,

                  I wonder if you would comment on the comparisons to, say, Germany’s mandatory service system. It doesn’t seem to have stopped them from sliding into socialism. I realize there are some significant factors which may have affected the outcome (e.g., women are half the vote, reunification, etc.), but I wonder what you see as the most important causes of its failure.

                  Best regards,
                  Doug

                  • Tom Kratman

                    That it has no relationship to the system in the book might be it. There’s a difference between voluntary service and service at gunpoint.

                  • http://www.3guysupply.com Darryl Hadfield

                    “Young man, can you restore my eyesight?”
                    “Sir? Why, no, sir!”
                    “You would find it much easier than to instill moral virtue — social responsibility — into a person who
                    doesn’t have it, doesn’t want it, and resents having the burden thrust on him. This is why we make it so
                    hard to enroll, so easy to resign. Social responsibility above the level of family, or at most of tribe,
                    requires imagination — devotion, loyalty, all the higher virtues — which a man must develop himself; if he
                    has them forced down him, he will vomit them out. Conscript armies have been tried in the past. Look up
                    in the library the psychiatric report on brainwashed prisoners in the so called ‘Korean War,’ circa 1950
                    — the Mayer Report. Bring an analysis to class.” He touched his watch. “Dismissed.”

                  • Tom Kratman

                    Yes, but that’s not entirely accurate either. Some numbers have the requisite civic virtue, but don’t know it until the time comes when it’s tested.

                  • http://www.3guysupply.com Darryl Hadfield

                    It was In retort to your comment of “there’s a difference between voluntary service and service at gunpoint” The difference is whether or not someone does it willingly, or if they have to be coerced, or otherwise forced into doing something.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    I know, but the distinction is worth making.

                  • http://www.3guysupply.com Darryl Hadfield

                    Agreed.

                    I’m very much looking forward to your next piece on this topic. :)

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    “You would find it much easier than to instill moral virtue — social responsibility — into a person who doesn’t have it, doesn’t want it, and resents having the burden thrust on him.

                    Well, yes; of course, for the worldview presented in this book (because Heinlein was a complicated man, and assigning any set of views based on a single novel is a dangerous endeavour, unless the author flat out endorses it publically.) those people are allegedly in the majority, and the process is weeding them out.

                    While for many people, a moment of weakness (as I believe Heinlein put it) can result in loss of franchise — and what’s more, a moment of weakness under deliberately testing circumstances.

                    Starship Troopers alleges that this is what virtue is (apparently) all about — while anyone who looks at their own life, and the life of people they’ve known, would probably agree that people make mistakes, even *virtuous* people — and that what a ST-like system would actually reward is not “imagination and the higher virtues” but a sort of stolid indifference combined with a drive for political power — even if that power is just the ability to have the vote when one’s neighbors do not.

                  • http://www.3guysupply.com Darryl Hadfield

                    You misunderstand Heinlein’s piece – or, perhaps you need to read it again – as a “single moment of weakness” was not what resulted in the loss of franchise (I presume you’re referencing the protagonist’s monologue concerning his platoon mate who struck the training sergeant).

                    Just as the content of Heinlein’s work is predicated on the worldview contained therein, so is your later comment (“…even if that power is just the ability to have the vote when one’s neighbors do not.”) predicated on your own worldview.

                    Then again, what do *I* know. It’s not like I spent two years of intensive introspection under a PsyD’s tutelage learning about boring things like value-memes, personality types, and recognizing my own bias and asserting how to eliminate or at least minimize it when reviewing external data.

                    ;)

                  • Lone eagle

                    Heinlein once wrote in an essay about his works that people constantly misunderstood what his “Federal Service” was. He implied it could be many things for two years to get the franchise. But he did admit that if you were a young healthy male you’d probably learn about the infantry.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    He claimed it later, yes, and may have intended that it be in the book. Sadly, though, it is not in the book or, at least, not much. We do know Carl was KIA doing research somewhere. We don’t know whether he as uniformed or not. We know all kinds of things – “civilians, we buy ‘em like beans” – that were both useful to Federal Service but non-uniformed also didn’t count.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    (I presume you’re referencing the protagonist’s monologue concerning his platoon mate who struck the training sergeant).

                    I was referring to that; that’s the one textual example we have. Of course, we also nearly see our protagonist give up, and, indeed, save for a lucky mail drop, he would have.

                    A single moment of weakness is all it takes for someone to quit; for someone to make a mistake and strike an officer. And that single moment of weakness is the end of the franchise.

                    Just as the content of Heinlein’s work is predicated on the worldview contained therein, so is your later comment (“…even if that power is just the ability to have the vote when one’s neighbors do not.”) predicated on your own worldview.

                    Well, yes — nor do I deny it. However, when taking a work of fiction as a suggestion of a possibility for how to run a government, it’s worth examining the author’s biases and presumptions on the way to seeing if you agree with them. ;)

                  • Tom Kratman

                    Actually what SST calls civic virtue is nearly indistinguishable, if at all distinguishable, from the left’s prime virtue, altruism. The difference is that lefties seem to think it can be programmed into people, while SST holds that it is either there or not, and nothing you can do can give it to someone who doesn’t have it.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    I missed this earlier: I think that any system that puts a single virtue on a pedestal, whether it be “altruism” or the civic virtue Heinlein praises, is going to be a problem.

                    Though I will admit that yes, I tend to prefer systems that provide a hope of change to ones that divide the world into “those fit to rule” and “those fit to be ruled”, based on some single characteristic. I’m funny that way.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    What left wing delusion are you subject to that presumes that putting one virtue on a pedestal means that no other virtues will be present?

                    The system doesn’t actually divide the world, the people, by their own choice, divide themselves.

                    And you would prefer a world replete with Nomenclatura, thought control, and Gulags.

                  • Jono

                    Public Endorsement? Heinlein once said that you must know and like “Stranger in a Strange Land,” “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress,” and “Starship Troopers” to understand him and his philosophy. That public enough for you?

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    That’s fine — I was just being careful as not wanting to assign to Heinlein something he wouldn’t actually have believed. Not all authors wear their politics on their sleeve — or, indeed, keep the same politics throughout their careers.

                • http://otherwheregazette.wordpress.com sotarrthewizard

                  The problem is, we’d need to re-engineer the military to do this.

                  No more stress cards or social engineering, etc, and the powers that be would NEVER let that happen. . .

                  • BB

                    After the economic trainwreck that is coming arrives and post-system collapse the powers that be will no longer be a concern.

                • John Becker

                  I’m eagerly awaiting the rest of this series!

                • Iron Spartan

                  Starship Troopers is one of my favorite books. I reread it on a regular basis and was always struck by the way different parts stood out so sharply to me as my military career progressed. I got many of my subordinates to read it as well.

                  Its been a while so I will read it again

                • jimjenky

                  I read the novel twice. The first time as a kid in jr. high, and the second time at about the age of 30. Enjoyed it both times, and did admire the political system in as much it was described and explained in the novel. I have espoused that service to the nation in the form of military service should be one of the primary considerations for voting, if not the premier consideration. The old “skin in the game” argument, if you will. I found little to criticize in the system as it was presented in the novel, and I figure that something like that would be a direct result of a breakdown of our current political system due to factionalism, etc. Can you imagine the howling, the condemnation, that would be poured out by the media and the liberals if someone were to seriously propose making military service the entire reason for granting voting rights?

                  • Tom Kratman

                    Not a bug, that, but a _feature_.

                  • jimjenky

                    I enjoy anything that gets under the skin of a liberal/Democrat. The fact that liberals (and RINOs) detest Trump and Cruz is one of the biggest things they have going for them. I contend that voting rights should never be universally granted just because someone wins the birth lottery and is born here. While they should have protected rights, voting is not one of them. The continued expansion, by liberals, of who can vote, is one of maladies affecting the republic today.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    While they should have protected rights, voting is not one of them.

                    And what, pray tell, is to protect their other rights, save that right to vote?

                    The continued expansion, by liberals, of who can vote, is one of maladies affecting the republic today.

                    So, let’s see; who do you want to take it away from? Women? People who haven’t been in the country “long enough” (never mind that any of them who *are* eligible to vote have gone through a far more arduous process to get that vote, and are better-informed on civics, than most any native-born Americans)? Oh! Wait! People who weren’t fortunate enough to have won both the birth lottery to be born here *and* the birth lottery to have been born into a class where accumulated wealth allows landholding?

                    The classic argument against the expanded franchise is that “more people will just vote stuff for themselves”. However, it’s pretty clear that when the franchise is restricted, it’s simply “fewer people will vote just as much stuff for themselves” — thus undercutting the alleged “practical reason” for the restriction. It’s certainly not that, say, Sam Walton’s kids are more paragons of civic virtue than teachers who can’t afford to buy a house.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    No, Steven, it’s only clear that under every previous limited franchise system – not least that of the Reds and their various nomenclatura – it’s worked out that way. This is different. It isn’t property based. It’s never been tried before, in toto.

                    And, again, no; we would want to take it away from those who have failed to demonstrate civic virtue, and from no one else.

                    The same things that protect them now, the first and second amendments, which is why it would be very important to enact this before your sort have the chance to confiscate arms and further restrict free speech in your never ending attempts at tyranny over the human mind and spirit.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    No, Steven, it’s only clear that under every previous limited
                    franchise system – not least that of the Reds and their various nomenclatura – it’s worked out that way. This is different. It isn’t property based. It’s never been tried before, in toto.

                    I hate to break it to you — but it’s held true when it was divided along other lines, not just property. Gender, religion, national origin — every time the franchise is limited, people with it have used it to their advantage.

                    And, again, no; we would want to take it away from those who have failed to demonstrate civic virtue, and from no one else.

                    “Civic Virtue” and “obedience and the willingness to undergo hardship because the people who rule the state demand it of you” are not the same thing.

                    But I’m sure we’ll get back to that later.

                    The same things that protect them now, the first and second amendments

                    Really, Tom: relying upon amendments that can be repealed by popular vote in order to protect people who don’t have the vote? Come on. What if your “civic-minded” citizens decided that protesting against the system was inappropriate speech, and passed an amendment to that effect? All those without votes would have no choice in the matter.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    No, they can’t be repealed by popular vote, Steven, You are a failure at con law 101.

                    I’m sure it will not be a surprise to you, but much of the point of the exercise would be to keep you and reds like you out of power. Sorry, but your record – you entire movement’s record – is so unutterably vile that anything would be better. You have no standing to complain, you hands are too red with vicarious blood.

                    Note that we already restrict the vote from children and certain criminals. it doesn’t seem to have affected the right of the poor and women to vote. So you fail in logic 101, as well.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    No, they can’t be repealed by popular vote, Steven, You are a failure at con law 101.

                    I refer you to the 21st Amendment.

                    I’ll accept that I misspoke with “popular vote”. However, nothing in the Constitution is carved in stone, immutable and inalterable; so, no, an Amendment is not a protection against violation of rights — because it can be amended out of existence.

                    I’m sure it will not be a surprise to you, but much of the point of the
                    exercise would be to keep you and reds like you out of power.

                    I’m sure that’s what you want, because it’s already been established that no idea, no matter how contrary to the American ideals, or, indeed, human rights, that you think will keep “reds” out of power appeals to you greatly.

                    Of course, there is a part of me that would be highly amused to see waves of immigrants signing up to get their vote, while entitled middle Americans stayed home, or got kicked out a la Breckinridge (IIRC — I don’t have my copy on me) due to failing to understand the prioritization of obedience over liberty.

                    I’m not saying that would happen — only that it might.

                    Note that we already restrict the vote from children and certain
                    criminals. it doesn’t seem to have affected the right of the poor and
                    women to vote. So you fail in logic 101, as well.

                    Tom, do please sell your straw-factory shares. I never said what you seem to think I did.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    That’s because, Steven, there is nothing more evil, wicked, murderous, and vile in practice than leftism.

                    But if you do agree that restricting by age and criminal record is fine, how about a mandatory draft that has only one penalty, loss of vote and right to hold public office. That work for you?

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    That’s because, Steven, there is nothing more evil, wicked, murderous, and vile in practice than leftism.

                    And in order to prevent it coming to power, you’re prepared to be evil, wicked, murderous, and vile. Methinks someone needs to look in the mirror.

                    how about a mandatory draft that has only one penalty, loss of vote and right to hold public office. That work for you?

                    The devil, as they say, is in the details. Because I can easily see such a system being turned into a “We weed out whoever isn’t like us, and then they don’t get to vote, so there!” environment. For example, I certainly wouldn’t trust such a system with *you* anywhere near the levers of power, nor, I suspect, would you trust such a system where *I* was in charge of what was coming next after the draft.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    One cannot be as evil, wicked, murderous and vile as the left. Even the Nazis couldn’t equal the left’s record. I have no such hope.

                    Fortunately, we don’t have to. There are many fewer lefties than there are the very innocents they routinely send to the labor and death camps.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    One cannot be as evil, wicked, murderous and vile as the left.

                    I haven’t seen you hold back from one thing you ascribe to the “left” — you’re indistinguishable from what you decry, Tom. You’d engage in indiscriminate murder for political allegiance, for example — you’ve *said* so — and yet somehow, “the Left”, this inchoate mass of people who explicitly disavow what you explicitly accept — is the evil and murderous bunch.

                    How you can’t see this, I don’t know — save perhaps thayt you’ve got so much invested in it, it’s willful blindness.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    The difference is quite practical and measurable, Steven. There are fewer of you to get rid of, on the one hand, you have all already self identified on the other, and maintenance of the status quo is easier, hence requires less mayhem, than revolutionary change.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    In other words, your mass murder is better organized, and more deliberate, and that makes it better?

                    Oh, and: and maintenance of the status quo is easier,

                    For someone who would need to destroy the status quo to get what he wants, this is rather an irrelevant point — and given that you’ve already said you’d throw the Constitution out the window to kill “Leftists”, you’re in no position to claim “maintaining the status quo”.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    No, Steven. In other words, my mass murder is smaller in scope and scale and defensive in nature.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    and defensive in nature.

                    Sorry, but once you announce it, it’s no longer “defensive”. Because now, I can claim, utterly justly, that in order to protect myself, I clearly need to render you incapable of killing me first.

                    And since I’m perfectly willing to accept “disarming, mocking, and, if needs be, imprisoning or monitoring” instead of “killing”, it’s no longer self-defense on your part.

                    Have you ever read “Creating the Innocent Killer”, by John Kessel? I recommend it to your attention.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    Nonsense. And we needn’t announce it, after all.

                    Addendum: you always seem to elide over something important here, whenever the subject comes up. Ordinarily, though I would not consider many lefties to be ornaments to mankind, they can think and say what they like. Killing them becomes legitimate self defense, however, when they start getting close to power, a power they invariably use for mass murder.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    And we needn’t announce it, after all.

                    But you already have. To me, and to many other people, you’ve announced that you feel killing “Leftists” to prevent them getting in power is utterly justifiable. And given how bizarre your notion of “Leftists” is, well, it’s easy to see how anyone to the left of the Republican party could see you as a threat.

                    Killing them becomes legitimate self defense, however, when they start getting close to power, a power they invariably use for mass murder.

                    So, anyone who *hasn’t* used their power for mass murder isn’t a Leftist, if they’ve reached state power? Or who has no intention of doing so? Again, your notion of “leftist” is truly…inchoate.

                    I also find “We’ll murder you all first because we think you’re going to murder us and therefore it’s self-defense when we do it, while it’s evil and vile when we think you might consider doing it!” rather…risible, to put it mildly.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    You can, of course, think it risible if you like. No matter; if you get close to power you will probably be killed in self defense.

                    It’s not, after all, Steven, as if the left doesn’t typically murder on the really grand scale.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    Well, you know, it’s funny; if you kill off all the people on one side who believe that you *aren’t* the enemy, the people you have left will think, with good reason, that you are.

                    And we are back to defining “the left” — since you seem to want to define it as “those people I disagree with who kill other people in ways and for reasons I don’t approve of”, while, say, excluding Social Democrats and Socialists who don’t go off and kill people.

                    And if your opposition is to people killing people (especially their own citizens) for political reasons, a) I’m in complete agreement with you, and b) you’re rather a hypocrite, but you knew that.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    No, actually I define it as that group of people who – whether they lie about their core beliefs or not – actually do have a kind of childish faith in magic, which childish faith materializes or is articulated as a belief that, as the original draft of the SDS’ Port Huron Statement had it, “man is infinitely perfectible.”

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    Well then, Tom, I’m not a leftist. It’s that simple. I don’t think people are infinitely perfectible, and I think that anyone trying to perfect people is going to cause a great deal of damage.

                    That said — do I believe that there are ways in which people can be helped to be better, to improve, and the like? Yes. I don’t accept your “Well, they’re rotten from birth (or so shortly thereafter there’s nothing we can do) so only We The Virtuous should lead them” nonsense, and the other versions of that we’ve seen.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    See other comment within the last minute or two.

                  • akulkis

                    Steven, when the civil war comes, and you find yourself up against a wall… remember this with your last dying breath… you EARNED your fate. And this long priggish thread of yours is merely a raindrop in your flood of lunacy and anti-humanitarianism.

                    You lefties sure do pretend to love the downtrodden, but for some reason, detest even the presence of those whom you pretend to champion.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    Steven, when the civil war comes, and you find yourself up against a wall… remember this with your last dying breath… you EARNED your fate.

                    I encourage you to ponder the fact that you may have to cope with the same realization, if you continue to insist on polarization rather than co-operation.

                    You lefties sure do pretend to love the downtrodden, but for some reason, detest even the presence of those whom you pretend to champion.

                    Wow. I am truly impressed at the depth and power of your surveillance, knowing who does or does not come into my presence, and how I feel about them. Most impressive.

                    Do you have any other random baseless attacks to throw out today? ;)

                  • akulkis

                    What part of “mandatory draft” did you not understand? That specifically precludes your paranoid delusion of “weed[ing] out whoever isn’t like us.”

                    And since you’ve never served in the military, you really don’t understand how any top-down attempt to “weed out” people based on their personality really would not work, at all.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    What part of “mandatory draft” did you not understand? That specifically precludes your paranoid delusion of “weed[ing] out whoever isn’t like us.”

                    Not one bit. Look at the history of poll taxes and IQ tests if you want a sample. Heck, I’m sure someone smart on the right or the left could design a civics test you needed to pass to stay in service — as opposed to being declared Politically 4F — that would weed *quite* effectively.

                    you really don’t understand how any top-down attempt to “weed out” people based on their personality really would not work, at all.

                    Then do explain, rather than simply assert impossibility.

                    After all, while it wasn’t perfect, the Army for many years did a pretty good job of eliminating homosexuals from within its ranks, and making those who were there hide it or deny it entirely.

                    Just to pick one example.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    In designing the system for the Carreraverse, I expended many sleepness nights on the question of equivalency and equivalent service, especially as regards women and the extremely important function of childbirth. (You could find some of that angst on Baen’s Bar, with a little effort.) Ultimately I had to reject it on two grounds. One is that modern women have kids for their own sake, not for society’s. The other is that two implies three implies four… In other words, you can have single source entry and it can last a good long while, But as soon as you have more than one, you set the precedent for continual expansion as pols sell the vote to others for power for themselves.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    making military service the entire reason for granting voting rights?

                    When you combine it with the people who don’t want to allow, say, women or sexual minorities in the military, one can start to see some of the problem here. Heinlein got around the first problem by handwaving “Oh, we’ll find some nasty job for you to do in order to make you serve your term” — but that would require a massive change in the culture of the “military” — really, the “suffering services”, we can call them — to implement.

                  • Tom Barbeau

                    In Heinlein’s book, the female issue was solved by filling the Air Force (Navy? I don’t remember exactly) with females because they were genetically predisposed to do the job better than men. Current pressures on the military in this regard have little to do with this common sense approach. The Left wants women in combat arms units because they are women, even though they still can’t carry the mortar’s base plate plus their basic load. It takes a 95th percentile woman to get to the physical proficiency of a 50th percentile man. The sexual minorities have been a non-issue forever. “Don’t ask, Don’t Care” was a perfectly good policy that worked fine until the left decided that their sexuality was some how so important that it must be embraced and celebrated. I had gay soldiers of both sexes under my command for decades. People knew, people didn’t care. It had no effect on unit cohesion. Immediately after the repeal of DADT, it was like a rush for this general or that soldier to quickly self identify as gay. And to what end? The majority of us in the military, who didn’t care in the first place, still don’t care. The only suffering in the military is when we have to listen to people who have never served tell us how narrow minded we are because we don’t believe the blue sky smoke they are blowing.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    Navy.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    Current pressures on the military in this regard have little to do with this common sense approach.

                    Funny how we don’t hear about that “common sense” approach suggesting that we put women in fighter planes *now*.

                    “”Don’t ask, Don’t Care” was a perfectly good policy that worked fine”

                    Actually, “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” wasn’t; it retained many of the same problems as the previous policy. It was perfectly good for the people who didn’t want GLBT folk in the military.

                    I had gay soldiers of both sexes under my command for decades. People knew, people didn’t care.

                    Congratulations! I’ve known plenty of GLB vets who were drummed out of the service for it. So glad it worked for you and yours.

                    The only suffering in the military is when we have to listen to people who have never served tell us how narrow minded we are because we don’t believe the blue sky smoke they are blowing.

                    It’s not “blue sky smoke” to say “Hey, look, military organizations have problems with exclusivity, mistreatment, and discrimination.” If anything, the ones blowing smoke are the ones going “Oh, it’s just fine here if *you people* wouldn’t complain about how we do things.” Funny how people who hear that don’t feel very good about granting extra power and privileges to the military or ex-military.

                  • akulkis

                    They weren’t drummed out for being homosexual. They were drummed out for being asswipes.

                    Just like nobody gets arrested for possession of marijuana, they get arrested for acting like stupid potheads.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    They weren’t drummed out for being homosexual. They were drummed out for being as swipes.

                    Clearly not, since you (apparently) managed to serve your full term and didn’t get drummed out.

                    But of course I’m supposed to believe you, who’ve already demonstrated several major flaws in your grasp of reality, rather than the testimonies and stories of people who were actually *in* the situation.

                  • jimjenky

                    No problem with providing a different path of service for those who want to serve the nation. Military service should be the first and premier path to citizenship. There could be other ways. What those paths could be would be a major debate, but not one that couldn’t find a way to fulfill the desire to become a citizen. Most military realize that they are placing their lives on the line when they serve. The potential for death is there. A different path to citizenship does not have to have the potential of death present, but should probably require a longer term of service. I think that would be supportable except for those people who have the liberal mindset of “fairness” as in the modern concept that each participant receives a trophy for participation and nothing more. Fairness does not denote equality except for the ability of all to participate and try to succeed.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    Not really. One means two, Two means four. They all mean that if there’s any other way, then pols will sell that other way to increase their own power.

                • Ray

                  I’m pretty well convinced that a universal franchise is a mistake. But like Heinlein I think that you have to have skin in the game to get a say. People who rent don’t have skin in the game. People who own real estate do. I’d go along with veterans and land owners being able to vote and veterans only being allowed to hold elected office.

                  However, why would veterans allow any non-veteran to vote when that would open a window to allow their lock on power to be taken away?

                  Heinlein said in the book that the only reason their system still existed was that it worked well enough for most of the people. Which is the only reason to keep a political system around. With that thought in mind I’m looking at our system and wondering why we’re keeping it around.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    People who rent don’t have skin in the game.

                    Yes they do — their own skins. Their own health, their own well-being. The fact that you consider that not “skin in the game” says quite a bit.

                    With that thought in mind I’m looking at our system and wondering why we’re keeping it around.

                    Because it works well enough for most of the people — which is why Heinlein had to base his switch to a “veterans-only” system on the back of a major catastrophe.

                  • Ming the Merciless

                    And that catastrophe is coming. For exactly the reasons RAH predicted.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    Perhaps. It’s amazing how many catastrophes have been predicted, and averted, or simply never came to pass.

                    I wonder if Heinlein was thinking of the New Model Army when he was writing Starship Troopers.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    I don’t think he was thinking much of an army or armies at all, except insofar as they were background to the political lecture.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    That would be unfortunate, because it means that he wasn’t thinking about the psychology of what comes *out* of an army vs. what theoretically goes *in*, or what armies have to do to remain effective forces, when he wrote it — all of which have a significant impact on the usefulness of the political ideas presented here.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    I am pretty sure he knew that what comes out of an army is 99 and 44/00ths percent of what went in.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    Which is why there’s no need for special veteran’s psychological services, or retraining, or anything — heck, no need to re-integrate veterans at all — just let ‘em go and be done with ‘em, right?

                    I mean, come *on*, Tom.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    We’ve had this discussion before, Steven, wherein I commented on the left’s fascination with the military for seemingly being able to do something easily and reliably that the left wishes it knew how to do, namely profoundly and permanently change character. You denied it then. You admit the left believes it now?

                    Once again you are, all lefty-like, mixing up phenomena, in this case the effect of normal military service and the effect of the trauma and stress of actual combat. I know you’ve tried to pretend you’ve had service before. This – your inability to see the distinction – is another increment of evidence that you were, as they say, full of shit. A simpler way to look at it is that we can’t do much to change people, given the limits we must operate under, and the enemy can only do so much, even though he really has few or no limits in what he can try to do.

                    I mean, come on, Steven, stop being such a dolt.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    I suspect you’re misinterpreting, as you usually do, what I actually *say* by running it through the lefty-filters in your head.

                    I have never denied that the military can change people; however, it often does so in ways that I don’t think are beneficial, and certainly not in the ways that my portion of the Left particularly want.

                    I have seen several studies (I can dig them out if you wish) about the effects just of basic training, let alone seeing actual combat — and they are significant.

                    A simpler way to look at it is that we can’t do much to change people, given the limits we must operate under

                    So you assert — this does not appear to be true, however, and is even less true given what appear to be *less* restrictive rules under which, say, the Starship Troopers universe operates.

                    You and the ST universe seem to believe that character is, at some point — which point? I’m curious! — fixed, and all you can do is discover it. There are at least two massive strains of Western thought that disagree with you, along with a huge amount of research into the subject.

                    I’m not liking your odds. :)

                  • Tom Kratman

                    Since I’ve both run and done basic training, and some particularly rigorous versions of it, too, I am highly skeptical of any such study.

                    It’s fixed before they ever come to the colors. Some of it is – horror of horrors! – genetic. Some is learned but learned and fixed early.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    Since I’ve both run and done basic training, and some particularly
                    rigorous versions of it, too, I am highly skeptical of any such study.

                    And I’ve known plenty of people who’ve been through it, and insist it did change them! Hey, look, we’ve both got anecdotes. You’re allowed to be skeptical — do you need references?

                    It’s fixed before they ever come to the colors. Some of it is – horror
                    of horrors! – genetic. Some is learned but learned and fixed early.

                    How early? I mean, you must have some theory, since you state it so firmly.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    And I’m sure the study or studies will depend on just those subjective self evaluations. Problem is, they’re horseshit. Nothing we can do is going to make a profound change in character.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    Problem is, they’re horseshit.

                    And we should take your word for this why? Given that it’s all you have, as well?

                    I mean, it’s all subjective, as people have shown, doing studies around post-service (for military and police officers) violence rates, which are entirely subjective, right?

                    You can say over and over again that we can’t change character — except that somehow, unless you believe it’s *all* genetic, it’s changed while people are children.

                    Of course, I’ll hearken to something you’ve said elsewhere: that it’s easy to tear things down, but hard to improve them — in which case, perhaps veterans are *less* suited to run a government, as they’re more likely to be broken by their experiences.

                    (Note: I’m not advocating this; I’m saying it follows from *your* principles.)

                  • Tom Kratman

                    Because I’ve done it, seen it, and run it from the inside.

                    I don’t expect you to believe it, Steven. The notion of easy, certain, and reliable change in human character is as near to a religious article of faith as the left has. There is no more convincing you that the notion is poppycock than there is of convincing the Pope to turn Jewish. But it’s still horseshit, and worse because that faith is what leads you all to your inevitable mass murders and show trials.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    The notion of easy, certain, and reliable change in human character is as near to a religious article of faith as the left has

                    Well, then that clears it all up! I’m not a Leftist. So I guess I’m safe — or that your “Leftists” are all in your head, leading you to mass murders and show trials of your own.

                    I don’t think that’s true. I think it’s hard, I think it’s often destructive, and I think it’s highly *unreliable*. But saying “it doesn’t happen” is simply contrary to observable fact.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    Yes you are. Steven you’ve just spent some fair amount of time demonstrating that this is an article of faith with you.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    Tom, let me introduce you to a concept you appear to have trouble grasping: the middle.

                    You have been asserting “personality change doesn’t happen”. I’ve been asserting “personality change can happen”. That’s not the same as saying “personality change is easy, certain, and reliable”.

                    So, if that last statement is “a statement of faith for the Leftist”, then I’m not one, because I don’t believe it.

                    Once you’ve grasped this we can go on to more complicated subjects.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    I actually don’t believe you, Steven, but do believe you’re taking this position, at this moment, for rhetorical points with neither honesty nor sincerity about it.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    Congratulations! You’ve reached epistemic closure! “I believe you believe this, and therefore object to you. If you say you don’t believe this, I won’t believe you, and will add lying to your list of wrongdoing, therefore not only are you bad, you’re a liar, because you say you don’t believe what I think you believe!”

                    Oh, and you’ll kill me if I get too close to power based on that set of “logic” above.

                    This would be funny if it weren’t so pitiful.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    Oh, I probably wouldn’t do it personally, no.

                    Once again, Steven, with your self evidently preposterous claim of having seen some service, while being ignorant of the existence of uniform regulations, which all services have, you’ve long since put yourself in the position of someone rhetorically adequate but integrity challenged.

                    Addendum: and that’s not even addressing your oftr repeated claims that a reasoned explanation of what some people – the original fascists – thought about fascism equaled a “vigorous defense” of fascism. Frankly, Steven, if you assured me the sun would rise tomorrow I’d try to get everything done that I could get done, today.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    Oh, I probably wouldn’t do it personally, no.

                    Probably not; you’d either lack the nerve directly or convince yourself that you were too important to do it and someone else should.

                    you’ve long since put yourself in the position of someone rhetorically adequate but integrity challenged.

                    And you, Tom, have demonstrated the same lack of integrity on more than one occasion — such as, for example, right here, where you blatantly misrepresent my past positions for your own rhetorical use.

                    I mean, I’d be perfectly happy if everyone reading here considers us *both* liars barely to be trusted, and goes out and does their own thinking and research — my purpose, that of neutralizing your nonsense, will be adequately served.

                    In the meantime, I will simply point out that your “logic” leads to you arguing with the version of me you have in your head, not to anything existing in the real world — and given your opinion of the integrity of the Left, likely doing the same there. Which is a really bad idea, when you start adding threats of violence in there.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    Oh, no, I’d have the nerve, Steven. It’s just that trigger pulling isn’t really my job. Organization, leadership, and training were my jobs, and would remain my highest and best use in the future.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    convince yourself that you were too important to do it and someone else should.

                    Organization, leadership, and training were my jobs, and would remain my highest and best use in the future.

                    As I said.

                    But, as we’ve determined below, I’m not a leftist, so it doesn’t matter.

                    Indeed, if someone with your definition of “leftist” were headed towards power, we’d both be fighting *against* them. I just have a bit more respect towards things like that Constitution you allegedly swore to uphold than you do in my choice of tactics and methods.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    No, you’re a leftist, Steven. You see these are not things the left actually thinks about. It merely accepts them, You accept them here, even if you won;t admit to it, your statements reek of the proposition. So spare us, would you, and just go back to discussing the column, like a nice future aspirant mass murdering commie?

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    See above about epistemic closure, Tom.

                    The fact that you’ve *decided* I am a leftist, and am therefore, despite any evidence to the contrary, a leftist, even when I don’t fit your definition, just goes to show how bankrupt your logic is; you have come to your conclusion, and anything that does not fit it is “lying” or not even thought about.

                    This speaks volumes about your reliability or usefulness, as well as your own personal integrity.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    The evidence, however, Steven, is not to the contrary. And you are an impeached witness.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    Here’s a quick clue, Tom: Other than wholeheartedly agreeing with you — and even there, I wonder if you’d decide I was a fifth columnist — there’s no way for me, in your system, to contradict your judgment.

                    You can say “A leftist believes X”, and when I say “I’m not a leftist, then”, you inform me that either I do believe X and am lying or do believe X but don’t understand that I do.

                    That’s not logic, Tom; that’s not evaluating evidence. That’s deciding by fiat, and is a dishonest way of treating the world.

                    I repeat my comment about your reliability and integrity — such as it is.

                  • akulkis

                    Self-delusion much, Steven?

                    95% of the leftists I’ve met insist that they’re not leftists, even though it’s obvious to everybody.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    What’s that line about 95% of statistics are made up?

                    My guess is that your “everybody” consists largely of people who think like you do, and therefore share your definition — and since those definitions, as Tom frequently demonstrates, have no bearing on reality, it’s easy to ascribe the result to people.

                    If your classification system can’t tell the difference between Pol Pot and Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King, you’ve got a bad system, especially if you want to have political discussions with it.

                  • http://batman-news.com Rick Randall

                    True. If someone like Tom is pulling the trigger, that means (by definition) he’s not DOING HIS DAMNED JOB.

                    Which would be ensuring people like ME have the information, training, supplies, equipment, personnel, etc., we need so we can have OUR people pulling the trigger (and I might get some trigger time in, too).
                    Anyone who actually did serve in any branch of the military would have known this, of course. . . ;-)

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    he’s not DOING HIS DAMNED JOB.

                    His self-appointed job in this non-existent resistance pseudo-military.

                    He’s the one who brought up, a while ago, killing people he disagreed with politically. Now he wants to be the one who points for other people to go do it.

                  • Jono

                    Hate to break it to you, but I find you slightly amusing, often irritating and usually frenzied. I suspect you find some validation for your existence by needling Tom, but it just makes most of us regret it.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    I’m sure you would be happy. The problem is that I tell the truth, and the harsher and more unpleasant that truth is the better I like it, while you lie like other people breathe.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    The problem is that I tell the truth, and the harsher and more unpleasant that truth is the better I like it, while you lie like other people breathe.

                    No, Tom. You think you tell the truth, and just as you can use your magic Leftist-seeking powers to tell “Leftists” what they really think, I can tell that you are clearly deluded or lying.

                    Or, at least, that’s what I would do if I felt it appropriate to do so.

                    Instead, I’ll just point out where your “truth” runs up against facts, and loses the collision.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    Steven, you’re long ere now self impeached as a man (or something) deficient in the integrity department. You have reached rock bottom and should stop digging.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    So are you, Tom, so are you. Why don’t we both drop the shovel, then?

                  • Tom Kratman

                    Not at all, Steven. Even the best case you could hope to make is that I am wrong. In your case, you’re not just wrong, you’re lying.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    Not at all, Tom: I’ve already pointed out you lying here, in this thread. And given all the chances you’ve had to correct yourself on many other points, your refusal to do so is either, as I pointed out above, either actual mental impairment or dishonesty. Your pick as to which, Tom.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    No, Steven, all you’ve done is show that you’re so detached from the truth and from placing any value on it that you don’t know what lying is and is not.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    Once again, Steven, with your self evidently preposterous claim of having seen some service, while being ignorant of the existence of uniform regulations, which all services have,

                    You can repeat this as often as you like — it still won’t make it true, Tom.

                    *You* felt that not knowing a specific reg *you* cited is a sign that someone “doesn’t know of the existence of uniform regulations”.

                    Frankly, Steven, if you assured me the sun would rise tomorrow I’d try to get everything done that I could get done, today.

                    If that’s how you feel:
                    Tom, you’re a good American. ;)

                  • akulkis

                    Everybody who has served KNOWS THAT *SPECIFIC* REG.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    Your American-service-centrism is showing. :)

                  • Jono

                    Getting a little hysterical, aren’t we, miss?

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    I’m not the one advocating political murder, so, no.

                  • James

                    You realize that what your saying is generally the same as women who keep going back to men who beat rape and abuse them over and over in some fantasy of just changing them enough to make them better.

                    Those men don’t change, those women often die.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    Actually, James, no, it’s not. That’s the straw man: “I can make him change! I know I can!”.

                    While “Hey, my partner hit me once, we’ve gone to couples counseling, and I think we’re working on it; things will never be the same, but I think we can make this work” — does that sound so unreasonable to you?

                    And yet, to the Kratmans of the world, that’s just crazy talk — the partner will never change, will always be the same.

                    I don’t think there’s a magical formula to fix people. I think there are lots of fairly demonstrably reliable ways to break a lot of people — not everyone, but a lot. I think that supporting people *can* help them, and that people are individuals.

                    I don’t write off much of humanity, again, the way TK or people who believe in the immutability of human nature do.

                  • akulkis

                    While “Hey, my partner hit me once, we’ve gone to couples counseling,
                    and I think we’re working on it; things will never be the same, but I
                    think we can make this work” — does that sound so unreasonable to you?

                    And yet, to the Kratmans of the world, that’s just crazy talk — the partner will never change, will always be the same.

                    It is crazy talk, and I can prove it: Steven, why don’t you name just one verifiable case where the offender has ACTUALLY stopped being a spouse-abuser.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    Before I go digging (since I’ll have to use high-profile public cases, to avoid violating people’s privacy) — are you going to accept “They’ve stopped abusing their spouse” as proof, or are you going to just go “We don’t know if they’re doing it now or not?” Because it’s the old problem of proving a negative.

                    Because, for example, looking at an organization with a political reason to exaggerate its facts — the VRFCA, which is not in the business of minimizing domestic abuse — the recidivism rate can reach as high as 60%.

                    Which means, in other words, that 40% of people *don’t* engage in the same behavior to the point where it’s reported.

                    That’s significantly greater than 1.

                  • Jono

                    One of the more amusing aspects of left-wing theology is their belief that they represent the middle-of-the-road. This is usually based on knowing that all of their close friends believe pretty much what they do.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    Oh, I know I’m not middle-of-the-road. And if you got that idea from what I wrote, you misread it.

                    I’m arguing there’s a middle ground between Tom’s extreme position and the one he ascribes to the Left.

                    (And, in general, most people think they’re closer to the middle than they are — Left, or Right. Because, as you point out, often a lot of people around them in social space feel the same way.)

                  • Lone eagle

                    I would like to inject a thought here. In the book Heinlein repeatedly called it two years of Federal Service. The story focused on military service because it was about 18 year old Juan Rico. 18 year olds make great soldiers. But he did note in the book that the recruiters could not turn down anyone except for psychological reasons. I believe he used an example of a deaf blind person in a wheelchair. The person wanted to serve so the statement was made that something would be found for them, maybe counting hairs on a caterpillar. The implication seemed to be that the service might not be exclusively military but something else perhaps dangerous and distasteful.

                  • Jono

                    The recruiting sergeant goes on to say that the service would make that, or any other job that could be accomplished by a civilian, as dirty and dangerous as possible in order that the person for whom the job was created would understand that the right to engage in the political aspects of his society was hard won and to be respected.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    Indeed.

                    I think the “dangerous” was more about the “you *could* be assigned somewhere dangerous, that’s the risk you take when you sign up” vs. “each assignment has to be dangerous.” — or, indeed, distasteful.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    After the event Heinlein tried over and over again to insist that by textev the majority of federal service was not of a military character. Maybe he intended that and it was edited out. Whatever the case, the textev is that federal service is overwhelmingly military but with only a small minority at the bleeding edge. That’s pretty much how things have been for quite a long time, already.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    Broken or not broken, even if true, isn’t really the issue (and you’re an idiot if you think many people are actually broken in any sense of character by service, But, once again, there’s that lefty meme of easy change you just can’t shake, can you?)

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    “broken” isn’t really the issue, when you’re promoting “only people who have served should have the vote”?

                    Really?

                    (And where you keep getting this notion that it’s *easy*, I have no idea, save from the inside of your head. No, it’s not easy to break a person. It can take a lot of work. But it does happen, and military service is often one of the things that does it.)

                  • Tom Kratman

                    Yes, you ninny. What do you think broken means, how common is it, and how does it stop someone from voting altruistically, which is to say, with civic virtue?

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    Broken can mean a lot of things. It can mean shattered with PTSD and paranoid. It can mean disgusted with the United States and angry at most of its inhabitants. It can mean that they’ve become a conspiracy nut. It can mean that they’ve decided that loyalty to their fellow soldiers is more important than loyalty to the U.S., or to any civilian. It can mean a lot of different things, and I’ve seen many of them.

                    And in none of those cases is there any reason to expect someone to display any more altruistic voting than anyone who *hadn’t* been through that service, and in several cases, *less* reason.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    These things happen from routine peacetime service much, do they?

                    You’re making another mistake, too, which is confusing the extreme individual, assuming there are any, with the average from the mass. Well.,..I might say, in charity, that it’s a mistake but you lie so continuously that, in good faith, I really can’t.

                  • http://themcchuck.blogspot.com McChuck

                    I have no doubt that studies have shown the salutary effects of basic training upon the trainees – the introduction of proper hygiene and personal grooming, and the concept that actions have consequences, just to name two. I myself appreciated having enough to eat of food that actually tasted good, wearing brand new clothes for the first time, and being yelled at less than I had at home. Oh, and those wonderful boots that actually fit.

                    I really must thank you, Steven, for commenting regularly here. You do provide a useful foil, and are such a wonderful example of the Communist apologist, or as they called them, ‘useful idiot.’ To summarize – “Your ideas may not turn out to be perfect in every detail, so let’s do the thing that has been proven to fail and cause mega-deaths in the past. We can all be truly equal in poverty, misery and death.”

                    I admire your swings of topic away from facts, logic, and history. You are a master of the dance of obfuscation and evasion. I salute you, sir. Please keep up the good work, so that I may provide my children with an easy to find exemplar of your type. After all, they must be taught to recognize the wolf in sheep’s clothing, the iron fist beneath the velvet glove, the dark heart hiding behind soothing words. You offer for them a sort of immunizing influence. Not to mention a wonderful primer in the logical fallacies of formal debate.

                    Please do continue – I sort of miss laughing at the East German news broadcasts every now and then.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    I am sure you know this, but just for the audience in general, what you are describing are the kinds of changes the military can do, changes in trivial surface behavior. It’s in changes of character were we fail pretty much completely.

                  • soft_water

                    By surface behaviour do you mean ‘habits’. ie waking up at 4:30am for the rest of your life.
                    Or someone points a gun at you and you hit the ground or (assuming you don’t shoot them first) find cover faster then anyone around you…. Just stuff I’ve observed of vets.
                    In reading the above thread I keep thinking about the difference between habit and character. (in-between slapping my forehead and deep sighs of despair)

                    On ‘Change’ it’s possible for an Individual to achieve some self-awareness of their character and then through inner discipline form habits to improve or make up for that character.
                    In the character of a group there is always a guy makes an ass of himself. If he leaves or is sick someone takes his place. This does not change until you get to three or less people.
                    As a race we have not changed in 2000 years. I think its the third paragraph of Tacitus Histories were he complains about the younger generations character and how they are going to destroy society. Just like old folks do today. Nothing has changed…

                  • Tom Kratman

                    Those sorts of things, maybe. Sweeping the floor and hanging your clothes in the closet a certain way, maybe.

                    Nearly anything’s possible, one supposes, but how is someone really going to change even his own character. If he sees the need and does X, isn’t that really because the seed of change was already sprouting within him?

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    .’ To summarize – “Your ideas may not turn out to be perfect in every
                    detail, so let’s do the thing that has been proven to fail and cause
                    mega-deaths in the past. We can all be truly equal in poverty, misery
                    and death.”

                    What I find highly amusing is that you’re not listening to me. You’re arguing with the Straw Leftist in your head, because that’s not what I say. It may be what you hear, because, to quote a member of the left, with whom I disagree: “What you are speaks so loud I can’t hear what you’re saying.”

                    This is particularly unfortunate when what you think I am, and what I am, are so different.

                    Not to mention a wonderful primer in the logical fallacies of formal debate.

                    Vagueness of allegation, while not a fallacy per se, is certainly not good form in such a debate. :)

                  • http://themcchuck.blogspot.com McChuck

                    Please, please continue to prove my point, Steven. I really should go back over all these comments you’ve posted to these columns in the past and compile them into a training aid.

                    I don’t have any videos from my time in West Berlin, facing off against the Red hordes, and my kids don’t really believe me how pervasive yet ridiculous all the Communist propaganda was. Why would any free man ever fall for that twaddle, much less help spread the lies themselves? It just goes to show that no person is truly useless – even if just to serve as a horrible example of what not to do. For this, I thank you.

                    You continue to inadvertently prove the point of the thesis, while declaring yourself to be the superior character – both morally and intellectually. What wonderful, delicious irony.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    Why would any free man ever fall for that twaddle, much less help spread the lies themselves?

                    Here’s your problem, McChuck: you appear to either a) accept blindly Kratman’s definition of me as a Communist, or b) have no clue as to what one actually is, despite your experience.

                    I’m not a Communist,. Not being right-wing to the point of exalting fascists because they were *lesser* mass-murderers than some socialists is not being a communist.

                    And, as usual, you’re managing to do an excellent job of remaining actual *evidence*- or *citation*-free. My congratulations.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    Steven, you’ve pretty well admitted it, long ere now. Course, if you can claim that you were in service, again without knowing that there are such things as uniform regs, or claim that an explanation of what fascists thought of their own movement is a “vigorous defense” of fascism, then I have to admit you may well have been lying when you said that you were a hard lefty. The problem, though, is that when you self impeach as a liar we can’t trust anything you say, then, now, or ever, we can only look at the evidence you provide, usually unintentionally, By that evidence, you’re redder than Lenin and Mao.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    Tom, you are a liar, pure and simple.

                    “Course, if you can claim that you were in service, again without knowing that there are such things as uniform regs”

                    I never did such a thing, and I defy you to prove it.

                    “claim that an explanation of what fascists thought of their own movement is a “vigorous defense” of fascism”

                    You’re whitewashing your own history — then again, why should I be surprised at that.

                    “By that evidence, you’re redder than Lenin and Mao.”

                    *snort* My congratulations on the screaming hyperbole, Tom.
                    By that standard, you’re a traitor to this country and a publically-admitted oathbreaker, at *least*.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    http://www.everyjoe.com/2015/04/27/politics/army-cadets-red-high-heels-walk-of-shame/#1

                    Tom Kratman Steven Schwartz • 6 months ago

                    By the way, Steven, _do_ you have any military experience?1

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                    Steven Schwartz Tom Kratman • 6 months ago

                    Yes.

                    And that’s all the detail you’re going to get; because I am not interested in playing Military Dick Size Wars with you.

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                    Tom Kratman Steven Schwartz • 6 months ago

                    What they are told to wear, as someone who served would know, is contained in AR 670-1. That regulation does not permit mixing.

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                    Steven Schwartz Tom Kratman • 6 months ago

                    ” as someone who served”

                    I hate to break it to you, Tom, but there are many military services not covered by U.S. Army regulations. A few moment’s thought might bring a few of them to mind.

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                    Tom Kratman Steven Schwartz • 6 months ago

                    Indeed? Quote me from your service’s regulations where they permit mixing civilian wear and uniforms and then explain how you, knowing that there are regulations, could be ignorant that they just might not permit the mixing.

                    But you never did, Steven.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    Hey, Tom, here’s a clue: I know you hang out with doxxers and have expressed a willingness to meet people violently. I keep some things private.

                    What you’ve done here is shown that I didn’t know a specific U.S. Army regulation, *as I said*. That’s not the same as “didn’t know the existence of uniform regulations”.

                    That’s like saying because someone hadn’t heard of, oh, a Ford Taurus that they didn’t know cars existed.

                    So, like I said, you’re lying.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    You didn’t have to admit a service, Steven, you only had to explain how you could have been in a service and not know they had uniform regulations which didn’t permit mixing. But you couldn’t because you were lying. Tsk.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    “You didn’t know that such a thing as uniform regulations existed” — your previous assertion.

                    “You only had to explain you didn’t know that your service had uniform regulations which didn’t permit mixing”.

                    Perhaps you can see that these two are different things — one far broader than the other.

                    If you can’t, you have far worse problems than I, or most anyone, can help you with.

                    If you can, then you know they’re different things, and therefore claiming the former when you meant the latter was dishonest.

                    So, which is it, Tom? Impaired, or lacking integrity?

                  • Tom Kratman

                    Steven, it won;t wash. You claimed service and couldn’t provide the smallest increment of evidence for how you could have service and not know something everyone who’s ever had service knows. You were just flat lying.

                    By the way, clever – and typically dishonest – redaction of my post. Where did that “how” go and why? That;s just so…so…so _you_, Steven.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    Tom, if your defense of your honesty relies upon someone else’s typo, you’ve sunk to new lows.

                    Your claim was I didn’t know what uniforms regs *were*. That’s what you *said*.

                    When called upon to prove it, you change your claim, and then go on to say “Hey, you made a mistake! It must be evidence of your lie!”

                    The point still stands, missed “how” or not — the two are different statements, you claimed they were the same. The lie is yours.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    Whatever would cause me to suspect an inadvertent typo where _you_ are concerned, Steven. As I’ve already said, you lie the way most people breathe, automatically.

                  • soft_water

                    He’s got to be ex airforce or army intelligence.. would explain a lot…. just trying to put some humour in..

                  • Tom Kratman

                    Even they have uniform regs, but he was apparently ignorant of their very existence.

                    You’ve got to expect this sort of thing from almost all lefties. There is no objective truth to them; it’s all whatever is expedient to the narrative of the moment and the momentum of their cause.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    I did once get mistaken for East German Military Intelligence by a trio of Soviet soldiers — that was an awkward situation.

                  • akulkis

                    Uh.. no. The air farce is even more hung up on uniforms than the army. Ask anyone who was in the air force about a “gig line”…and then ask anyone who served in any service, and note the difference in response.

                    The USAF pounds uniform regs into their enlisted, because, it seems, sometimes, it’s the only way to keep their enlisted convinced that they’re actually in a military organization.

                    Cue joke about drinking clubs, philanthropic organizations, fraternities, military organizations and the USAF.

                  • Jono

                    Heinlein got the basic idea from an actual occurrence (called the battle of Athens) when a large number of returning WWII vets took on the corrupt city government of Athens, TN, ultimately engaging in a fire fight to protect the ballots cast that would throw the old government out.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    Cool. I shall have to research that further.

                    Thank you!

                  • Jono

                    It says, pretty much, what Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison said: Democracy is a foolish and dangerous step towards mobocracy.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    t says, pretty much, what Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison said: Democracy is a foolish and dangerous step towards mobocracy.

                    I am reminded of Churchill, IIRC: “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.”

                    To say that people don’t have skin in the game unless they own land (or the equivalent) is to say that land is more important than people. Which is, to put it mildly, a terrifying position when you consider where it could lead.

                    What, pray tell, would you replace democracy with, Jono?

                  • Jono

                    What Churchill neglected to mention was that Democracy was the best possible system for charismatic politicians.

                    Steven, if I have a counterfeit ten dollar bill that I try to give you and you point out that it is funny money, you are not required to replace it with a real ten dollar bill because you did so.

                    Likewise, because I point out how badly Democracy serves the countries it is practiced in (on their way to creating an Ochlocracy) it is not incumbent upon me to provide a substitute which you can then use as a basis for more spamming of this thread.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    it is not incumbent upon me to provide a substitute which you can then use as a basis for more spamming of this thread.

                    I find it ironic that elsewhere in this thread I’m being excoriated for going “It might not be perfect, therefore we can’t do it!” (which I did not), while here, I am being told “I say it is terrible, but there is no need for me to provide an alternative.”

                    It is not incumbent upon you to provide a substitute. It is not incumbent upon anyone else to take your whining seriously.

                  • Ray

                    People who rent don’t have skin in the game. You’ve not shown how they have as much skin in the game as property owners. Defend your position.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    You can see my defense in my response to your other comment.

                  • akulkis

                    All you did was beg the question, and add inanities.

                  • Ray

                    This is the same argument under our current system “I pay taxes so I should get a vote” which ignore the counter argument. If you pay MORE taxes you should get MORE vote.

                    People who own also have their own skins in the game, their own well-being as you pointed out. And they are also the ones who suffer disproportionately if it comes to war as their investment, their time in a very real and tangible sense is what is at stake. Do you know that homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover acts of war? It’s in a property owner’s interest to promote a stable society.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    If you pay MORE taxes you should get MORE vote.
                    Why? I recall that bit in the Declaration of Independence about all people being created* equal — and to a very real extent, we all get one life.

                    Why should we design a system of government so as to ensure that people who have power get more of it?

                    And they are also the ones who suffer disproportionately if it comes to war as their investment, their time in a very real and tangible sense is what is at stake.

                    OK. I think I see what’s going on here. You’re using (and this is understandable) an absolute, while I’m using a percentage.

                    A person who owns a home and has it, say, destroyed by bombing, loses more in absolute value than a person who rented a home and had it destroyed by bombing.

                    On the other hand, the person who owned said home still, in theory, *owns* the land underneath it; they have not lost even 100% of what was bombed. A person who rented, whose home was destroyed? They have now lost everything that was there.

                    It’s in a property owner’s interest to promote a stable society.

                    And given that a renter is even more vulnerable to the exigencies of life, it is also in a renter’s interest.

                    *I admit, I tend to read “born” for “created”, but if you want to use “created’ for “formed a zygote”, that’s OK. :)

                  • Ray

                    “…A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy.” – Elmer T. Peterson

                    I am not trying to defend the “I pay taxes, ergo I get a vote” or the inverse argument. I don’t think paying taxes should entitle people to a vote.

                    The renters lose their recent investment, belongings, clothes, furniture, household bric-a-brac. That might represent 5-10 years of accumulation. A homeowner loses all of that and the sunk investment of their property, which is 5-30 years worth of investment. Who loses more? The 25 year old whose apartment building was bombed and burned down or the 55 year old who lost his apartment building, all his income from renters and is deprived of the use of his land, or even may lose it completely if the revolution succeeds and the new bosses decide to redistribute his wealth?

                    In tangible assets the landowner loses. Landowning is an investment. It’s also a vote for the system that is established. It’s saying I’m going to pay all the taxes everyone else pays and I’m also going to pay taxes on my real property. In my state only homeowners pay school taxes. I don’t have kids going to school. Why am I paying for your kids to go to school? Is that fair?

                    Don’t tell me about how righteous you are when you’re reaching into my pocket for my money. And the comment at the end, was that an attempt at an abortion argument? Weak.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    Your Elmer T. Peterson quote does not, in fact, appear to be correct — we’ve had democracies for generations, and many of them have *not* so collapsed. And we’ve frequently seen elections where the candidate who “promised the most benefits” was *not* elected, thus invalidating the larger point.

                    I am not trying to defend the “I pay taxes, ergo I get a vote” or the inverse argument. I don’t think paying taxes should entitle people to a vote.

                    It was unclear from what you said if that was a position you held, or you felt it was a position other people should hold to be consistent — if you don’t, fine.

                    The renters lose their recent investment, belongings, clothes, furniture, household bric-a-brac. That might represent 5-10 years of accumulation.

                    A homeowner loses all of that and the sunk investment of their property, which is 5-30 years worth of investment.

                    Well, to pick an example at non-random, the person with 10 years of accumulation who rented loses more than the person with 5 years of investment. :)

                    You’re trying the same game of total value as before, except instead of using absolute dollar values, you’re using “years of accumulation/investment”.

                    The result remains the same: One person may well have lost a much greater percentage of their total wealth than the other.

                    Who loses more? The 25 year old whose apartment building was bombed and burned down or the 55 year old who lost his apartment building, all his income from renters and is deprived of the use of his land, or even may lose it completely if the revolution succeeds and the new bosses decide to redistribute his wealth?

                    Who loses more? The 25-year-old whose rental property was bombed, but who still owns the land underneath it, or the 55-year-old who’s lost everything they owned when the rental property was destroyed?

                    The one still has assets — the other does not.

                    We can create cases back and forth for this argument; and the fact that it’s so easy to do so undercuts the very idea that there should be a clear-cut “people on this side of the line get to vote because they have ‘more skin in the game’ than people on that side of the line.”

                    Don’t tell me about how righteous you are when you’re reaching into my pocket for my money..

                    And here we get down to the gist of it; it’s not about “having an investment” in the country, it’s about not wanting to pay for anyone else. If you actually felt you had an investment in the country, more than anyone else, then you’d expect to pay for things that would make the country better — not just you richer.

                    You want the power and security that comes from having land, while not having to give anything more back to the society that protects said land, etc.

                    I should have guessed.

                    And the comment at the end, was that an attempt at an abortion argument? Weak.

                    No, that was me trying to cut off any “creator” religious nonsense coming into the argument. :)

                  • Ray

                    Did I bring up creationism? I think you’re projecting who you think you’re arguing with.

                    And again, that 25 year old who was bombed out has less investment. It doesn’t matter what total percentage of their belongings (i.e. accumulated labor) they have lost. The 55 year old landowner has lost a much larger percentage of their accumulated labor. These are not debatable. They are quantifiable.

                    Or if you want to turn it around, the 25 year old has a larger percentage of their accumulated labor left in their possession after they lose everything in their apartment. (Clothes, personal electronics and other everyday items) The 55 year old has a much smaller percentage of their accumulated labor left to them. It doesn’t matter if the land remains. It’s not in their possession and they cannot benefit from it when they are a refugee. And to reap a benefit from the land remaining they have to A) Come up with more capital to invest in putting a building back on the site. (Remember, insurance companies don’t pay off for losses due to acts of war)
                    B) Hope they can still pay their mortgage while they’re a refugee. (That’s right. The bank might not be affected by a local upheaval)

                    But I can see you want benefits, without effort. So, I’m done with this discussion.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    And again, that 25 year old who was bombed out has less investment. It doesn’t matter what total percentage of their belongings (i.e. accumulated labor) they have lost. The 55 year old landowner has lost a much larger percentage of their accumulated labor. These are not debatable. They are quantifiable.

                    I’m not comparing a 25-year-old renter to a 55-year-old renter. I was comparing a 25-year-old *landowner* to a 55-year-old renter.

                    But you’re missing the point: we can construct scenarios where renter or landowner has “lost more” — which means that any simplistic model of “landowners have investment, renters don’t” that you began with is useless.

                    But I can see you want benefits, without effort. So, I’m done with this discussion.

                    I find it interesting that the only thing you seem to think is “effort” is owning land — when large amounts of the land in the U.S. is inherited from parents. Some “effort” there.

                    But if you’re done, you’re done. Have a good day, and may none of the catastrophes we’ve been discussing afflict you and yours.

                  • dougloss

                    If they receive more money (or services) from the government than they pay in taxes, they don’t have skin in the game. Perhaps the franchise should be limited to those who pay more to the government than they receive from it.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    Perhaps the franchise should be limited to those who pay more to the government than they receive from it.

                    So, people who pay minimal taxes because their wealth is in land, but who receive the benefit of public services like roads, defense, etc, shouldn’t have the vote? ;)

                    That sounds ludicrous, but when you consider how much the government subsidizes, say, WalMart, the numbers make sense.

                    But we don’t see that as receiving “services” from the government because we presume that they’re there, and only count things we regularly see as handouts.

                    they don’t have skin in the game

                    So, instead of saying “land is more important than people” the way the landowner-franchise people do, we’re saying “money is more important than people” when it comes to voting rights.

                    I do not consider this an improvement.

                    Indeed, the whole argument about “skin in the game” implies that people who have a greater investment deserve more power — when, in fact, the things that give them an allegedly greater investment (land, money, etc.) are the things that give them power *outside* the government. The entire “skin in the game” as a distinguishing factor implies that the purpose of government is to serve the interests of the powerful.

                  • dougloss

                    Of course you don’t. Yes, people with a greater investment deserve more power. That’s intuitively obvious. If others want more power, they need to invest more. Again, intuitively obvious. What you seem to be assuming is that there are no limits on that power, that all government is totalitarian. That’s standard leftist-think, but it isn’t the reality of the world.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    Yes, people with a greater investment deserve more power.

                    That might be true if the nation were a business — but it’s not. And running everything as if it’s a business is not good for anyone except, perhaps, the business-owners.

                    That’s intuitively obvious.

                    Always a dangerous phrase. After all, it used to be intuitively obvious that the monarch was in effect parent and protector of the country, and that’s how it was supposed to be.

                    If others want more power, they need to invest more. Again, intuitively obvious.

                    And pretty darned ridiculous. What you’re saying, in effect, is that a wealthy heir (say, Paris Hilton) is inherently more deserving of power than most anyone in this country, because she’s “invested” more because she inherited it.

                    While someone who volunteered for service, was wounded in Iraq, and now is living on disability has nothing “invested” in this country and doesn’t deserve power.

                    What you seem to be assuming is that there are no limits on that power, that all government is totalitarian.

                    Not at all; goverment doesn’t need to be totalitarian, especially when it’s primarily serving the interests of those who have power by other means. There’s a reason that the wealthiest people often want the fewest government restrictions — they have access to power through other means, and don’t want governments getting in the way.

                  • akulkis

                    Then maybe we should stop ALL of the welfare, including the vast amount of corporate welfare that the Democrats just love, Love, LOVE to keep reintroducing into the tax code (for campaign donations) just as they write in other welfare for the purpose of vote-buying.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    I hate to break it to you, but by far and away the largest amounts of “corporate welfare” come from the Republican side of the aisle.

                    I happen to *agree* with you that we should reduce corporate tax breaks significantly; David Graeber points out that the decline of corporate-funded pure R&D came about when we lowered the tax rates, so that companies could pocket profits instead of re-investing them.

                    But you’re pointing your cannons at the wrong people.

                  • akulkis

                    Bingo! I”ve been thinking the same thing. And receiving from the government would ALSO include employees of government contractors. They may be employed in the private sector, but their pay comes from the government.

                  • Duffy L. Sauers

                    You are missing a great deal, especially with the idea for a poll tax (Property as the key to the Franchise). It was about the expectation that tin a Democracy, those without would vote themselves the property of those with. And this is exactly what happens. This is why most Democracies trend toward Socialism. And this why Democracies fail in the long run. Look at the recent Presidential Debates, both Parties, A lot of promises of Free Stuff, very little mention of the fact that we are 18 Trillion dollars in Debt, and will be 20 Trillion dollars in debt by the time the next president tales office. How long can that go on. The basic idea was that people with property would think longer term and act in their interest, and have a greater respect for the property rights of others, out enlightened self interest. Tell me how long you think we can go on spending a half a Trillion dollars a year we do not have, without ever even saying anything about paying down the debt. Oh yeah, I believe that in 5 years Democrats and about 10 Years for Republicans, they will be out with the Deed to Yellowstone National Park trying to get a loan from Title Max (China) just to keep buying voted to stay in power a little longer.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    those without would vote themselves the property of those with. And this is exactly what happens.

                    Then do explain why the top income tax bracket across the U.S. and UK has *fallen* in the last 50 years, significantly.

                    The basic idea was that people with property would think longer term and act in their interest, and have a greater respect for the property rights of others, out enlightened self interest.

                    There’s no evidence that this is *true* — save for the “act in their interest”, where “their” is “the people with property”.

                    In other words, the people with the vote voted in their own interest — but this is somehow *bad* when it’s people without land, and *good* when it’s people with land?

                    Not to mention — there are other rights than property rights, and by placing them on such a high pedestal you are making it clear that property is more important than people, at least to you.

                    Think about that for a second.

                    A lot of promises of Free Stuff, very little mention of the fact that we are 18 Trillion dollars in Debt, and will be 20 Trillion dollars in debt by the time the next president tales office. How long can that go on.

                    Well, it’s been going on for a long time — the National Debt, that is. And, of course, there are ways to reduce it — but they require people paying more in taxes. Once upon a time, this idea wasn’t total anathema — and, ironically enough, that was during the time when America was supposedly at its height.

                  • akulkis

                    Renters can pick up and move all of their wealth on a day’s notice. Land owners are stuck until they can sell their land — which means if they make foolish decisions which crash the economy, they are stuck with the consequences in far more damaging ways than renters. And welfare-recipients tend to suffer even less than renters when it comes to being able to perceive the damages to their own lot due to the stupid policies of the politicians they elect — since if they’re not working, they really don’t care if the economy contracts and the unemployment rate skyrockets.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    Renters can pick up and move all of their wealth on a day’s notice.

                    {guffaw}

                    OK — wait, wait, let me catch my breath.

                    I guess you’ve never lived in an area with a rental space crunch; or, for that matter, in a place where there are big apartments.

                    I live in a three-bedroom apartment with a lot of books; the only way I could “pick up and move all my wealth” on a day’s notice would be to be lucky enough to find professional movers I can hire to help with the packing and loading, a storage space it could all fit in — and that wouldn’t even cover where I would sleep the night after I moved.

                    Oh, and, of course, I’d need to have a significant chunk of money for payment of (up to) 3 month’s rent for somewhere else to stay, while also paying hotel bills (or crashing on someone’s couch, which no one can *count* on) and storage fees and mover’s fees.

                    And I’m not at all atypical for the place I’m living; like I said, a place with a rental housing crunch.

                    Land owners are stuck until they can sell their land — which means if they make foolish decisions which crash the economy, they are stuck with the consequences in far more damaging ways than renters.

                    More damaging than, say, losing one’s job and therefore the income one needs to rent, becoming homeless? As I said before, and perhaps you failed to read back far enough, you seem to think that all that matters is absolute dollar amounts; that losing $100,000 is worse than losing $50,000, even if the person losing $100,000 started out with $500,000, and the person losing $50,000 started out with $60,000.

                    And I’ll just note that lumping “welfare-recipients” into one giant class makes your argument even more useless — does unemployment count as “welfare”? Because those are most often people desperately trying to get *back* to work, who care very deeply about the unemployment rate.

                    I notice you make a great deal above of “certain jobs can only be done by military people, because they have the know-how”. Perhaps we should apply a similar test to political pontification, in which case many people, you included, would fail due to a lack of understanding how other people actually live.

                  • James

                    You mean like the rich slave owning land holders in the south in basically took over the politics in the south by just having the money and free time to politic?

                    And anyways Way I see it is if a man can get his right to vote from owning land why can I just not take his land and his right to vote? Or that’s the way people will see it if you did. Soldiers and others Sacrifice for their right.

                    Anyways your system ignores those land barons who would buy up all the land and then just sell it to those who they accept as worthy or who would vote the right way. In a generation or two you would have a feudal system.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    Well-put, James, well-put.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    Nonsense. You haven’t read the book OR this column, have you. Clue: property doesn’t enter into it in any particular.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    Perhaps you should read the comment he was replying to, Tom.

                  • Ray

                    Very simple solution. Make the requirement a minimum buildable lot. Which could still be gamed, but not on the scale you are talking.

                  • Jaro

                    What counts as “land”? As i remember, in some Scandinavian country in 19th century there was similar rule, vote for land owners only. Then the social democratic party bought useless swamp land and divided it among its members, square meter to every one.

                  • Ray

                    Minimum buildable lot. Which precludes wetlands, mountainsides and selling a square foot each.

                    Which interestingly, would also preclude condominium owners from voting.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    Which interestingly, would also preclude condominium owners from voting.

                    Which means it has nothing to do with “investment” or “having a stake” in society. It means “being rural or suburban” for the vast majority of voters.

                  • akulkis

                    Most city dwellers are socially destructive. This was observed even at the time of the nation’s founding, just as it is observable today.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    Why don’t you just come out and say what you’re using “city dwellers” as a code for?

                    Because that’s the only way this statement makes *any* sense at all.

                    After all, it’s those cities you so despise that are paying taxes so that the rural parts of the country don’t slide further back — paying for their roads, the military bases that provide a great deal of their employment, etc.

                    So, what’s “socially destructive” about city-dwellers?

                  • akulkis

                    Look at Detroit.
                    Look at any other large city in the United States.

                    I rest my case.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    Well, considering that urban areas pay *more* in taxes than they receive, unlike the rural areas, and that most of what we think of as “progress” and the like comes from such areas, your case rests on sand. BUt I’m not surprised you’ve come back to resume being a bigoted troll. Bridge get flooded out?

                  • akulkis

                    B.S. Detroit is a net tax-taker.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    As opposed to San Francisco, Seattle, New York, San Jose, etc., etc., ad so forth. Those are “other large cities.” Saying “Detroit’s bad, therefore urban people are bad” is the same as saying “Appalachia’s poor, therefore rural people are bad”.

                    So, care to make any more pointless generalizations in defense of an indefensible point?

                • Victor Bald

                  I think that the leftists hate Heinlein for demolishing the Marxist theory of value in 2 paragraphs.

                  The objection they always make is why only military, why not teacher, nurses, firefighters, name your selfless government service job. They never understand that it’s not about social utility, it’s about personal commitment.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    Or civic virtue, which will be much of the focus of the rest.

                  • Ori Pomerantz

                    Where “selfless” equals “dangerous and nasty”, this makes sense. Teachers and nurses rarely put their lives on the line. Firefighters and the police do. Then again, under this system those services might be provided by the military.

                  • Andrew E.

                    Well, in the book, policing was only open to veterans. Ace even mentions it offhand while talking to Johnny about plans for the future.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    After service. It didn’t count as equivalent service. And if police didn’t count, if the most soldierly and military of civilian jobs didn’t count, I am inclined to doubt there was much in civil life that did.

                  • Andrew E.

                    Precisely. Policing was a profession reserved for those who had already completed their Federal service.

                  • akulkis

                    That would be a good thing, too. We have too many cops who want to be a tough-guy soldier against an unarmed populace, but who are too pissy scared to join the military where the possibility of being in a REAL fight is more than a statistical outlier.

                  • Andrew E.

                    I spent a couple years as a reserve deputy for what was then my local Sheriff’s Department.
                    There were indeed folks as you’ve described–some of them even ended up on SWAT and other teams.
                    Fortunately, by and large the Deputies I was around were guys (and some gals but very few of those) who were actually interested in being a good, everyday cop.
                    Unfortunately, one of the less-than-stellar examples I knew was a pretty proficient ass-kisser and politicker. I’m sure he’s in line for some kind of promotion by now, despite being something of an egotist and not much of a thinker. In fairness, he wasn’t bad at a lot of the policing basics, but it was my opinion then that he wouldn’t think his way through a problem, and that he was definitely quick to try ingratiating himself with “the in crowd” even if that meant being the Blue Falcon sometimes.
                    (Full disclosure: I was an outlier for being, to quote one of the county judges, himself a very sharp guy, “a member of the [Sheriff's Department] intellectual underground. Heck, I spent court breaks reading history books and the like. My perspective on who was a “thinking cop” may therefore be skewed.)

                  • BigGaySteve

                    There are plenty of felons willing to attack cops. Until WROL or NIgapocalypse I wouldn’t try to beat up a known cop in uniform if pulled over.

                  • BigGaySteve

                    The biggest threat in the first gulf war was our own unexploded ordinance all over the place. I used to be a healthcare traveler, I have worked in inner city hospitals that I joked(not openly at the faculties) that if I got shot in the parking lot I would tell the ambulance to take me elsewhere so I wouldn’t get caught dead there.

                  • Stephen Brian

                    I haven’t read the book, despite meaning to and having a copy of it, so my question might seem really dumb. Why would committing to years of training and engagement in teaching, nursing, diplomatic work, emergency service-work, or some other service be seen as so much less of a commitment?

                    I understand that there are jobs in the military which during wartime carry a whole lot more personal risk, but the bulk of any modern army tends not to be on the front lines. It just seems strange to me that maintaining tanks would carry so much more weight than the same work for ambulances. They’re both about protecting vital national interests.

                  • Victor Bald

                    Everyone in the military has a job, called an MOS, and they almost all have civilian analogues (the exceptions that don’t are very important, however, such as infantry, tankers, artillery, sappers, etc). It’s not about the job. It’s about being the kind of person who volunteers to give up part of their freedom for the benefit of the whole society. It’s about living under military justice, where the good of the individual is less important than the good of the group.

                  • jimjenky

                    And do not forget the fact that a person in military service also volunteers to subject themselves to both military discipline and military punishment. Granted, some punishments might have equivalents in civilian life, but there is a big difference between being a civilian and a person serving in the military.

                  • Duffy L. Sauers

                    Yeah, if it were easy, everyone would do it just for the GI Bill. But it is not easy.

                  • Jono

                    The difference is simple. A soldier has signed a blank check for anything up to and including his life in order to defend his countrymen. No teacher, diplomat, or EMT has done so. It doesn’t have to be cashed, it doesn’t even have to be in danger of being cashed. It just has to be signed.

                    In the book, Carl – the protagonist’s H.S. friend – is killed by the enemy while doing scientific research on Pluto.

                  • Doc Krin

                    Jono: Tell that to the EMTs in New York on 9/11 who ran *toward* the sound of crashing planes…And the various Ambassadors who have lost their lives over the years.

                  • Luke Falk

                    Yet no one could ORDER those EMTs to “run to the sound of the guns”, their sacrifice was COMPLETELY voluntary.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    The Heinleinian model insists that virtue consists of submission to the whims of the state, rather than any particular selfless act. :)

                  • Doc Krin

                    Luke and Steven: you are both correct, and both wrong. Many of those medics were with the FDNY ambulance service…and were tasked for rescue operations in the hot zones around a fire. They could be ordered into dangerous situations…

                    As far as ‘whims of the State,’ Steven, I’ll point out that Rico was given a ‘wish list’ of things he wanted to do…and it wasn’t until his last intake interview that he found out that he ‘only’ qualified for the MI. OTOH, Carmen ended up as a hot pilot… Would you expect that someone with the qualifications to be a corpsman would be turned into a line doggie under most circumstances?

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    Would you expect that someone with the qualifications to be a corpsman would be turned into a line doggie under most circumstances?

                    That depends on the motivations of the assigning officers, as Kasimir brought up.

                    In theory, people are matched to that for which they are best suited.

                    In practice, people might get matched to, for example, “easier” services if the people matching them want to succeed, and harder ones if they want them to fail.

                    And what the actual volunteering tests is not “submission to the optimal functioning of the state” but “submission to the will (and whim) of the state” — whether that’s in terms of assignment of duty or orders (legal — but that’s clearly a broad swath) given from above.

                    To paraphrase a different Heinlein novel” “Thy will be done — there it is; a greater invitation than any Muslim ever offered as a slave to Allah.”

                  • BigGaySteve

                    See Steve Sailor’s posts about women firewatchers and NYC first black female firefighter ,Choeurlyne Doirin-Holder, who after 10days on the job fell off the truck parked in the garage to go on workers comp for the rest of her life.

                  • akulkis

                    They were under no obligation to do so. If you’re in the military, there are times when such valiant acts are NOT based on whether an individual feels like acting heroic or not — the orders are to go out and be heroic, and either come back having completed your mission, or at the very least, grievously wounded.

                    EMTs are never given a “Die in place” order.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    I find it interesting that you seem to think that following orders to do something is more valuable than doing it because you think it’s the right thing to do — this rather completely undercuts the Heinlein notion upon which this post is based.

                  • akulkis

                    EMT’s ALWAYS have the option of saying ‘uh, that’s too much shit for me.. I’m gonna wait for things to die down a bit.” An 11B might not have such a luxury.

                  • akulkis

                    I find it interesting….no… appalling to a level which staggers the mind…. that you cannot comprehend the difference.

                    Oh, when you’re in the midst of a situation, do you know ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING??
                    Did it ever occur to you that hierarchal command structures exist for a REASON.
                    So, yes, following orders, from superiors who have more information about what’s going on (because they are on site, but not directly engaged, as their whole REASON for being their *IS* to organize the efforts of their subordinates).
                    Joe Private might be thinking, “I’ve got to get the hell out of here!” but his platoon sergeant sees, “If we keep that team in place over there, and this other team moves over here within the next 5 minutes, then the danger will be eliminated.”
                    Joe Private can’t see the big picture, because he’s too focused on the danger that’s right in front of him.
                    What distinguishes an army medic from an EMT is that the army medic has sworn to TRUST his superiors enough to obey their orders, even if they don’t make sense to him, personally, at that moment, where as the civilian EMT retains the option to say, “fuck it, I’m outta here” — REGARDLESS OF WHETHER HE EXERCISES THAT OPTION OR NOT, HE IS RETAINING IT.
                    The EMT is *NEVER* writing a blank check and signing it with his life the way an EMT is. If an EMT gets killed, its on his own volition.
                    Remember, the whole purpose of the service confers citizenship is that the soldier is SUBSUMING his individuality for the perpetuation of the society — regardless of whether the danger to his life is on “his terms” or not. The EMT risks his life ONLY when he wants to.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    I can comprehend the difference.

                    You’ve managed to lose the larger thread of the argument. Of course, in a military situation, following orders is important, indeed required.

                    My point is that as a measure of “civic virtue”, blind obedience to orders is a very, very bad one — and by valuing soldiers above EMTs for voting rights, etc., that’s just what you’re doing.

                  • dirk gently

                    If you can comprehend the difference, then why are you using the equivocation fallacy, by trying to equate “choosing to do the right thing at the moment, knowing your supervisor, the situation, etc.” with “signing a blank check one’s life, months before ever meeting the people who will be your officers and NCO’s, ALL of whom will literally have the power of life and death of you.”

                    They are not in any way comparable.

                    If an EMT has a lousy supervisor, more than likely, he’ll quit, and work for a different ambulance service. The soldier has no such option. If his commanding officer is one who is both stupid and industrious, then his unit has a VERY high probability for being chosen for a suicide mission, if a unit is needed to perform one (i.e. last-ditch die-in-place to save the rest of the force…. because the commander the next level up certainly is NOT going to waste more useful and/or less-damaging officers than the stupid-and-industrious one…. and if he’s chosen for such a mission… his unit goes with him, REGARDLESS of how good his men are).

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    They are not in any way comparable.

                    They both fit under the rubric of “placing yourself in potentially great danger for the benefit of others” — which is what Heinlein cited as the thing that demonstrated civic virtue.

                    One is doing it with the ability to judge the situation, and suffers fewer penalties if they withdraw, while the other is not (one can *always* refuse to do something; one risks death doing so, but one cn always refuse)

                    Now, I’m asking you what makes one so much more *virtuous* than the other, such that one should be rewarded with the vote, as opposed to the other?

                    Yes, it’s obvious — the two are different. I’ve never argued they were the same. What I’ve been arguing is that one of them is not more virtuous than the other, unless you are arguing that obedience and submission to the State is the definition of virtue, which is certainly an odd argument to be making.

                    And if giving up one’s judgment is a sign of virtue, we can see easily where that might lead.

                  • JonathanD75

                    It’s been some years (and this is obviously a mostly dead thread), but I think you’re both missing the point. If memory serves (which sometimes it does) the labor battalions major requirement was that they be unpleasant. Hence, it’s not the signing of the blank check or any such thing that earns your citizenship. It’s suffering. You have to suffer for the thing so that you’ll value it, and having learned to value it, you’ll use it carefully and well. The respective nobility of soldier versus emt is beside the point.

                  • BigGaySteve

                    Oddly no female first responders died or suffered injuries on 9/11. While NYC is to PC to explain why Katrina let the cat out the bag as women abandoned their posts running away like little girls except for the 2 black girl cops seen on TV looting Wallmart in uniform.

                  • http://blog.timp.com.au TimP

                    A couple of issues:

                    1. The military of SST includes a lot of non-combat, but dangerous tasks as well. The recruiter near the start of the book specifically states that you can earn your citizenship by taking part in potentially dangerous scientific experiments (still technically part of the military).

                    2. My memory is a little vague on this point, but I’m pretty sure many of the logistics and similar support positions in a modern military are done by civilian contractors.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    Recently, which is to say, since Weinberger, it’s tended to go that way, However, most of the contractors are ex- or retired military, themselves, so it’s not quite the same as “buy ‘em like beans” civilians.

                  • http://blog.timp.com.au TimP

                    I messed up; I meant to say that SST military had replaced a lot of our logistics and support units with civilian contractors (perhaps a continuation of our current trend).

                  • akulkis

                    True. But many of those contractors are ex-military. In some jobs, they are exclusively ex-military. I was a radio-operator assigned to an ammuniion battalion in Saudi Arabia, during the post-Desert Storm retrograde operation (Desert Farewell) was on. The battalion was a skeleton organization. Companies the size of platoons. But augmented with a LOT of civilian contractors. Hmmm… who is going to be handling ammunition (which includes identification, safe handling procedures, etc.) other than a bunch of ex-military ammunition handlers? Every single one of those contractors was ex-military.

                    Same goes for things such as, years ago, the inspectors who went to Russian to monitor demilitarization of old Soviet nukes (and they had their teams in the U.S). I can’t imagine that a single one of those inspectors was not ex-military with some sort of nuclear weapons MOS in their background. For one — anybody on that assignment needed clearances, etc. Then you want to make sure that the people are going to fit the job in other ways, too — the sites were in isolated rural areas of Russia. Being on miltary bases, you would need people who understood basic military courtesies and adhere to them without thinking. It just doesn’t even make sense to even consider someone who isn’t ex-military. In this case, the ideal candidates would be ex-Navy who had served on patrols on nuke missile subs.

                  • akulkis

                    When you enlist…sure, you might be signed up as a supply clerk — but you can be turned into 11 Bushbeater infantry rifleman at the stroke of the pen. Key phrase: “Needs of the army” [or whatever service you're in]. And yes, even if you’re in the navy or air force… if the situation is dire enough, the supply NCO will be issuing you a rifle and the CO ordering you to man a perimeter to fend off an attack.

                  • ah64mech13

                    Except the book doesn’t say only military, but progs have never been prone to letting facts get in their way.

                  • ah64mech13

                    Bah, I misremembered the non combat options (testing gear and cleaning power plants and such) as being civil service, and not expressly military. Drat, hate it when I do that.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    It doesn’t say only military, but it doesn’t refute it, really, depending on how one defines military. Note it says labor _battalions_. Note as per above, that police didn’t count.

                • sconzey

                  The only problem I can see is that always and everywhere the structure of government is determined by the reality of power, which stems from the military exigencies of the level of industry and technology.

                  Democracy became at once both possible and necessary once firearm technology and industrialisation made mass mobilisation possible and militarily effective. Fascism and communism arose in the brief period when mass media did not yet exist, but industrialisation and industrial production was key to military success.

                  What determines whether a system of government is a success or failure is not primarily whether or not it makes good decisions, but whether it accurately formalises the power structures of society. If a government does not represent the actual power structure, then it means that someone can use their power to sieze control of the government and restructure it in their own interests.

                  In Heinleins vision this is true. The military is well trained, well funded, disciplined and internally United. In the Carreraverse, the LdC is likewise internally United under the strong hand of the Dux Bellorum until he retires. Although nominally subservient to the civilian government it quickly becomes clear that the government does not accurately formalise the true structure of power, and the government is restructured to reflect the growing influence of the LdC.

                  The trillion dollar question then is: what is the current power structure in our society? What changes are on the horizon? What kind of military and military technology are required for a formalisation of power to look like Heinlein’s vision?

                  • Tom Kratman

                    Well…no. Democracy became possible once the proletarian rowers in the Athenian fleet and Roman plebs realized that the state needed what they provided and bargained that into political power. It became possible again, after the western empire went under, once regular citizens learned to march in step again, learned the rudiments of close order drill, learned to trust one another’s courage and discipline, and learned that, with those things, they could beat the armored aristocrats bloody.

                    “Every communist must grasp this truth, political power grows from the barrel of a gun.”

                  • sconzey

                    We must be talking past each other, because that’s the precise point I tried to make above:

                    If a government does not represent the actual power structure, then it means that someone can use their power to sieze control of the government and restructure it in their own interests.

                    Athenian rowers negotiating for a place in the Ecclesia, and mobs dragging aristocrats through the streets to the Place de la Concorde are just examples of changes in real power structures effecting changes in government.

                    So the point again is that if you want a government that looks like Starship Troopers, you must first build the power structure which that government formalises.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    IN a way yes and in a way no. My comment was to the question of firepower, hence tech. No, it’s not nearly as important as softer factors.

                  • sconzey

                    Ah. I see now. I’m from a technical background, and “when you have a hammer…”

                    This would explain something I’ve always struggled with which is understanding the transitions, why different countries at similar levels of technology and industrialisation transitioned to democracy at different times.

                    It sounds like, to steal the Marxist term, what would be required is to build a ‘class consciousness’ amongst the rank-and file military.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    Not build, I think. It has to spring up more or less naturally or spring up indirectly from the military units you form them into. The history of deliberate social engineering is mostly a history of incompetence and arrogance leading to failure. (Though there’s a partial exception in terms of bending people to fit something – the United States, say – that is already solidly in existence.)

                  • sconzey

                    Weren’t you just last week talking about how the modern US military is ‘as if designed’ to crush individual agency and discretion, as well as promoting an officer corps for whom appearances are more important than reality?

                    I think the most likely scenario involves a massive demilitarisation by a left-wing government and an expansion of the PMC sector, although that may not end up with a world more to the tastes of the anarcho-capitalists…

                    I think you do need someone like Carrera– an idealist with a vision and a passion. A pseudo-messianic figure for foe and follower alike to mythologise..

                  • Tom Kratman

                    You can make things worse by design or incompetence, yes. Making things better is somewhere between extraordinarily difficult and no fuckin’ way.

                  • sconzey

                    I don’t disagree, but it happens and happens every day: piles of bolts don’t naturally turn into a car; children don’t naturally turn into productive members of society; mobs of young men don’t naturally advance in bounds into enemy fire.

                    With one notable exception, all the order in the world comes from the intervention of intelligent and wilful intent. Construction of a civilised society and an effective government is no exception.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    They do advance into enemy fire naturally, actually, if they’re the kind of people who can form emotionally compelling artificial families. The ability to allow that to happen is what the military can’t give, but only society can. No, not even genetics; this is something that has to be culturally conditioned.

                    What the military can give is the skills – not the character, but the skills – to do so and do so with some confidence, and put the group together in circumstances to allow that artificial family to form.

                • James Resoldier

                  FYI. While the movie was truly execrable, the book was fantastic. RAH was a true Sci-Fi Master.

                  • Jaro

                    The bugs were true heroes of the movie, brave fighters agaist Earthling imperialism.

                  • http://batman-news.com Rick Randall

                    As they were intended to be…

                • Luis Cedeno

                  Funny if it came to be in nearly the same way it did in the book…

                • Jono

                  I think that it would be appropriate to mention that another fictional service, besides Heinlein’s, uses the concept of service brings citizenship, and, indeed, has a manual for its officers entitled “History and Moral Philosophy directly lifted from Heinlein’s OCS course.” That one is headed by a guy named Carrera. ‘Tis, in my humble opinion, a superb book series, one that honors R.A.H. but stands on its own. http://www.amazon.com/Desert-Called-Peace-Carrera-Book-ebook/dp/B00B5HJOFY/ref=sr_1_11?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1446494366&sr=1-11

                  • jimjenky

                    LOL. Yes, the governmental system in the fictional Carrera system has some merits.

                • Hugh T. Knight

                  I think it interesting that Mr. Heinlein proposed several different systems for limiting franchise, from this superb idea, to a requirement that the voter must solve a quadratic equation before voting, to saying (I hope facetiously) that only mothers should be allowed to vote. Nor is this idea without historical precedent: The Founders considered making the owning of property a necessary requirement for franchise (a quite different proposition in the 18th century, of course). But the theme is constant: If you impose a (reasonable) requirement for franchise then people will work harder to exercise it rationally and intelligently. Note that no one suggests this as a guarantee, merely that they hope (rightly, I believe) that it would move the *trend* a little closer to the good side of the scale. Nor does the requirement have to be in any way *related* to voting well–there merely has to be one. Requiring someone to be able to pass a PT test would probably do as much good as requiring that he pass a civics exam; the idea is that there should be something that requires effort in order to make people work for the right.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    The problem with this — and perhaps we can come up with a way around it — is that franchise-limiters tend to be misused, and misused badly; a nation with a land-ownership-only franchise would, surprise surprise, tend (until civil disruption forced otherwise) to pass laws and elect representatives that supported that class against the others. I suspect the Motherocracy would do the same — indeed, we’ve seen SFnal versions of that, though I’d have to track them down (they come not immediately to mind.)

                    What is a “reasonable” requirement? We’ve seen poll taxes misapplied in the South, as well as “civics tests” — they serve as methods for those in power to ensure they remain in power, to disenfranchise groups that should be enfranchised.

                    If you can come up with a very-difficult-to-manipulate system, we can have this discussion further: but the realities of how such systems are *used* makes, to my light, a presumption against them.

                    in order to make people work for the right.

                    Except if you have to work for it, it’s not, in a fundamental way, a right; it’s a privilege.

                    (To see an example of this in action: Look at the howls of outrage when it is suggested that gun ownership should require at least as stringent a set of tests/regulations as driving a car.)

                  • Ori Pomerantz

                    The advantage of “military veterans get to vote” is that it co-opts precisely the people most able to overthrow the system. It has a failure mode, the military could refuse to recruit some people, or make it impossible for them to survive military service. But any human system is going to have a failure mode.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    is that it co-opts precisely the people most able to overthrow the system.

                    Historically speaking, this does not appear to be the case — plenty of mass movements to overthrow the system did *not* grow out of, or rely upon, veterans.

                    It has a failure mode, the military could refuse to recruit some people, or make it impossible for them to survive military service.

                    Among others, yes. And remember — militaries are *designed* to be top-down structures, implementing instructions from above.

                    But any human system is going to have a failure mode.

                    Absolutely; picking one where the failure mode is so easy to visualize, and with a history of recurrence, hardly seems advisable.

                  • Kasimir Urbanski

                    It would very quickly (relatively speaking) de-evolve into the state having the “Real ARMY ™” which is the one that gets you the vote, that’s really really hard to get into (curiously, it’s mostly only kids of previous Citizens who get in) but then has very light requirements of time or effort and never ever ever fights on the front lines, and the “Doesn’t Actually Count Army” where they send all those awful non-citizens to go fight and die for the Citizens but that doesn’t actually give you the franchise if you survive (because it ‘doesn’t count’).

                  • Tom Kratman

                    Kas, really; go read the book before you comment.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    Hmmm…I wonder here, Kas, if you’re not displaying the intellectual disease, which is to say reasoning only inside your own skull without reference the the wider world. In the first place, you can’t have the “Doesn’t Actually Count Army,” because if it’s maintained to any purpose at all, given the cost it must be able to fight, to use violence, hence _Must_ be counted. Secondly, with regard to reasoning inside your own skull, if a state has an army its because it has enemies and the potential for conflict. Given that, it must have adequate means of defense, which also means numbers. That’s the key check on the thing not reverting to a small hereditary elite, that the small elite can’t generally defend itself from outsiders, so must have more troops than it can provide, which troops are too dangerous not to bring into the system, at least after discharge.

                  • Doc Krin

                    Steven: If you analyze the ‘howls of anguish,’ you will find that they are not over the tests/regulations proposed, but that meeting those regulations will not only be multiplied times the jurisdictions, but will not allow the same level of actions as driving a car. I’ll also point out that many firearms owners meet or exceed the training requirements voluntarily- starting with anyone who has taken a Hunter Safety Class (required for many years in most states for anyone born after 1966 to obtain a hunting license) spending as much or more time in the class room as most drivers’ training classes these days.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    you will find that they are not over the tests/regulations proposed, but
                    that meeting those regulations will not only be multiplied times the
                    jurisdictions, but will not allow the same level of actions as driving a
                    car.

                    I’ve looked at them; it tends to be about anyone infringing upon a “right”, whether or not they’re reasonable restrictions or not.

                    And as for “the same level of actions” — I’m not sure what you mean here, as it’s rather hard to engage in concealed driving, for example. :)

                    I’ll also point out that many firearms owners meet or exceed the training requirements voluntarily

                    Many do; and many do not; it’s sort of like reading ballot guides or informing yourself before an election. :)

                    The point being — you don’t have to work for the right to own (and potentially use) a gun. You do have to work for the privilege of hunting.

                • Ori Pomerantz

                  I wouldn’t have the vote under this kind of system (yes, I did three years in the IDF, but I don’t consider myself veteran – I neither volunteered for service, nor trained for combat – I was just a cheap programmer). Having said that, it has a lot to commend it. I think people would rely on the government a lot less if politicians couldn’t sell them the idea of “the government is all of us”.

                  • Doc Krin

                    Ori:
                    Did you wear the Uniform? Could you have been pulled from your programming job, handed a Galil, and ended up on a truck heading for the Golan Heights?
                    if yes, then you ARE a veteran as such thing go- “They also served who stood and waited…”

                  • Tom Kratman

                    Ori’s got a point and it’s not unrelated to my own objection to letting _me_ vote. I sacrificed nothing; I wanted to do that shit and would have felt my life had been blighted and wasted if I hadn’t been able to. Ori, from his own POV, sacrificed nothing _voluntarily_, hence, just like me, proved nothing by serving.

                    Now who’s going to be the first moron to ask why I vote then? Steven, you up for it?

                  • Doc Krin

                    While Ori has a point that he was drafted, (Israel having universal conscription), you and I volunteered multiple times- both as enlisted and as Vol Indef Officers. RAH was also clear on that point- in times of peace, there was little inconvenience once you passed the initial training….beyond the idea that you could be sent anywhere at any time to perform any duties at the needs of the service for the term of your contract. RAH also pointed out that, in times of war, that contract could be extended without your consent, and you were expected to go into harms way.

                    It matters not under the scheme of SST that we enjoyed our time in….but only that for a defined period of our lives that we put the survival of our civilization ahead of our own personal survival and comfort.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    It may not be dispositive, but I think it still _does_ matter, because the core of the thing is evidence of civic virtue.

                  • Duffy L. Sauers

                    But notice something in that fact about conscription. The Justification for Conscription is you are a Citizen and it is a duty. Whereas in SST, in order to get full definition of Citizenship, the right to participate in Governance. I think the principle of Citizenship equals service v. you can’t make somebody serve against their will, they have to be volunteers. They use the same equation, it is just one of the two systems has made the right not to serve against your will a higher “right” than the right to vote.

                • maioranae1

                  That book is one of the reasons I joined the army in 71. I agree such a system would be better than the current mess we have now and closer to that set up by the founders.
                  You can find a similar system in Jerry Pournelle’s Falkenberg series on the planet Sparta. If you liked Troopers it is worth the read.

                • Jaro

                  Here, speaking as someone who never served in any army (only experience with “civil defence” training in old time socialist school, even bigger farce than you can imagine) and who would certainly run away at first opportunity if i ever had to fight, i do not think the Heinlein’s system will be any worse that what counts as democracy now in the western world. The worst case scenario would be veterans and their families stealing everything that can be stolen and extorting bribes from everyone, 100% unlike our current system ;-)

                  • jimjenky

                    I don’t believe the families of a citizen in Heinlein’s book were granted citizenship from the service of a family member or any other special privileges. The veteran was granted voting rights. That was the biggest right granted in that system, and it was not a hereditary thing.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    No, he’s touching on what will eventually kill this system. And, eventually, it will. So? Nothing lasts forever. The most we can hope for is good enough and LONG enough.

                  • Chris Schwehr

                    Any system as designed is perfect (even socialism) until you add the one variable…people. Considering that we as a species are still just peeking out of the cave, so to speak, this system is potentially another step along the road to a stable, just, form of governance. I first read SST as a teenager and had to agree with the sense it makes. Progressive/fascists will ignore the fact that this is a self selecting system without the overt threat of military tyranny, and discard it out of hand, naturally. Does it prevent abuse? No. We’ve seen examples of military members who were little better than common criminals at all ranks. We see corrupt politicians today who were former military members (one being a Vietnam Air Ace). One big advantage to the Heinlein system is the potential prevention of the cancer of socialism. But that also depends on the method of education….thus the mandatory class in high school which challenges the young “minds full of mush” to actually confront reality instead of mindlessly accepting progressive fantasy as fact….Perhaps the Heinlein scenario will eventually happen. I personally hope so…but it ain’t a gonna happen unless someone reshuffles the cards so to speak….Oh, and I too was at Cairo West….60 day deployment in 1980….back during the dark days of Carter.

                • Scott Connors

                  I remember the day in 1980 when I arrived at my basic training company at Fort McClellan, AL and received my first exposure of “shock and awe” at the hands of the drill sergeants. Having always had problems with my weight, I stood out among the new arrivals, and not in a good way, which bought me a certain degree of unwanted attention. At one point the senior drill, SFC Davey Jones (I still remember the names of my drill sergeants), asked me “What the hell are you doing here, Connors?” My reply to this set him back a bit: “To earn citizenship, Drill Sergeant!” “Aren’t you already a citizen?” he asked, puzzled. After a brief pause, I said, in a more conversational tone than would normally be prudent for the environment, “Drill Sergeant, somethings you have to earn even if they’re given to you.” He was quite for a moment, then replied softly “At least you have the right idea, son.” Thank you, Robert A. Heinlein.

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                • Jack Withrow

                  Col, I have whole heartedly supported this idea since I first read SST. And what a lot of Heinlein’s detractors seem to forget is that the path to citizenship and the franchise was open to anyone willing to work to get it, including the disabled. The left always seems to ignore that little point.

                  I just don’t know if there is a peaceful way to introduce a Timocracy based on service not property. While I foresee “A Time of Suckage”, to quote John Ringo, in our near future, I have my doubts if anything can keep this country together afterwards.

                • Kasimir Urbanski

                  The problem with this system is that it is fundamentally a Collectivist system. It doesn’t make sure that the best people get the vote, and while it does mean that maybe the absolute worst scum don’t, it will still amply allow for a psychopath or monster to have the vote while someone with excellent qualifications but who refuses to conform for reasons of conscience would not.

                  These types of systems will have a tendency to quickly mire in a rigidity and total resistance to any kind of innovation, not just the bad kind of ‘progressivism’. It also will quickly lead to corruption. In a world where being a soldier is the only way to get to vote, you’ll quickly find people manipulating the system to make sure _some people can’t get to be soldiers_ and that others get to who shouldn’t. You think “Fortunate Sons” were a problem in the draft days? Imagine what it would be like if you need Jr. to serve a term in order to get to be a Senator. In fact, one of the best arguments against this system is that you end up making the army about stuff other than being the army.

                  I like the idea on principle that a person should have a stake of some kind in order to participate in democracy; however the problem is any of these systems have shown themselves ultimately flawed. The idea of “you need property to vote” was abandoned for very good reasons (of the massive corruption and stagnation it engendered). Some people have floated the idea of a vote based on a test of some kind; this would end up being like what happened with the allegedly meritocratic tests for public service jobs in Imperial China: who designs the test? How do we rate the stuff that matters now (and not 300 years ago when the test was written, or whatever)? How do you stop people who got citizenship from later RIGGING the system to make sure their absolutely unmeritorious kids get it too, or to stop “those people” from ever having a real chance of getting it?

                  Sorry guys, I’m with Churchill on this one: democracy is the best bad system we’ve got. And as for a stake: we ALL have a “stake” in our democratic system. It isn’t property or service that gives us a stake, it is the fact that we are Citizens.
                  The real answer isn’t to change that to give our favorite group (whether its military people, intellectuals, property owners, D&D-players, or anything else) the exclusive franchise to rule over us all (because we know that every asshole in the world always thought they’d personally be the best rulers of us all). The real answer is to TEACH people to understand their Stake and value it. Civics.

                  • http://batman-news.com Rick Randall

                    I see you haven’t actually read the book. The *ONLY* way someone of “legal age” could be rejected for service was if they were deemed psychologically *incapable* of understanding the oath of enlistment by medical doctors with psychiatric specialties (who, it was seriously implied, WERE NOT service members *or* veterans themselves, but civil servants or contactors).

                    Period.

                    That is a *critical* component of the entire idea. It works precisely because it IS open to anyone (except those who cannot understand what they are committing to), regardless of age (so long as they were legally an adult), sex, disability, etc.

                  • Kasimir Urbanski

                    But I’m not talking about the book. The Communist Manifesto looks great on paper too. I’m talking about how it would end up panning out in real life.

                    See, in China, the exams for public service positions were theoretically open to everyone, but it didn’t work out that way.They were supposed to be fair too, but human nature ended up allowing a lot of functional illiterates from good families to end up cheating their way in.

                    Whenever you create an explicit class structure (in this case, citizens and non citizens) there will be a strong vested interest on the part of the class with more power to make sure their descendants keep being the ones in power and as few people as possible who aren’t from their background can come in and take a share of the pie.

                  • soft_water

                    “Whenever you create an explicit class structure (in this case, citizens and non citizens) there will be a strong vested interest on the part of the class with more power to make sure their descendants keep being the ones in power and as few people as possible who aren’t from their background can come in and take a share of the pie.”

                    Hmmm…. you mean like illegal immigrants? What do you think people with work visas are? Its already panned out.

                  • Harry_the_Horrible

                    I have read the Communist Manifesto – and it did not look good on paper.
                    I have also read Utopia and found it nightmarish.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    You really need to read what you criticize, Kas. Really. If you had, then you wouldn’t be caught suggesting that the system in SST isn’t a democracy.

                  • Kasimir Urbanski

                    It isn’t a democracy in the sense that we understand it today, where Universal Suffrage is a fairly key value.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    We don’t _have_ universal suffrage, Kas. We bar from voting or holding public office a large percentage of our populations, felons, the young, the foreign born, and yet _still_ consider ourselves democracies. Where, by the way, does it say that everyone present must be able to vote? Was Athens a democracy? They had non-voting slaves and women. Even Sparta, which treated women much more evenly, didn’t let them vote. Frankly, you’ve added a requirement.

                • Mike Harris

                  There has been talk about allowing the “dreamers” to gain citizenship through military service. Your thoughts?

                  • jimjenky

                    Has merit. However, such military service should come with stringent training/education in the national history, culture, national language, and how the governmental system works. You want to turn out educated, disciplined citizens out of the dreamers.

                  • Lone eagle

                    I seem to recall reading somewhere that much of the old Indian fighting army from 1865 to 1900, was made up of Irish, Polish ,German refugees from the European difficulties of the time. Don’t think they attended many classes on citizenship in those frontier posts. They learned the language by necessity everything else was incidental.

                  • akulkis

                    There was no welfare state back then, and the country wasn’t drifting into modern European-style feudalism-masquerading-as-altruistic-socialism. Therefore, they got with the system, and generally appreciated that they weren’t living in some land which was still essentially feudalistic, despite the Napoleonic code (The feudal system in Europe really didn’t start to come apart until WW1, and the death blow to its traditional form was WW2, but only to be start coming back in the Marxist form of feudalism)

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    Marxist feudalism? I’m really curious as to just what the heck you mean by that, since it doesn’t appear to mean “Marx’s definition of feudalism”.

                  • akulkis

                    Marxism is feudalism with a mask. Instead of land-owners, the new “nobility” are government bureacrats, apparatchiks, and legislators. While everyone else is disarmed and trampled.
                    As much as Marxists TALK about “the workers owning the means of production”, in actual practice, in a Marxist state, the workers have even LESS input into how a company is run than in a free market system, because the government bureaucrats, full of Bureacrat’s Conceit” think they can see every miniscule production-level decision which needs to be made 5 or even 10 years into the future.
                    If you can’t see the parallels between Marxism and Feudalism, you’re blind.
                    Or to put it more simply, Marxism is Feudalism in which the nobility is all Jewish.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    Instead of land-owners, the new “nobility” are government bureacrats, apparatchiks, and legislators.

                    Let’s see — do they have the kind of power and owe the kind of dues the feudal landowners did?

                    Why, no, they don’t.

                    So calling it “feudalism with a mask” just exposes that you understand neither feudalism nor Marxism.

                    As a side note; bureaucracy expands more under a classical liberal system than a Marxist one — go read Graeber’s Utopia of Rules for examples and explanation. :)

                    Or to put it more simply, Marxism is Feudalism in which the nobility is all Jewish.

                    Oh, right; how could I have forgotten — you’re the ludicrous anti-Semite.

                    Exhibit 1 in why “military service” and “civic virtue” possess no real correlation: akulkis. Any system which grants him more civic virtue than, say, Steve Maman, is one clearly and fundamentally flawed.

                • Mike Harris

                  In the book, it is implied that national boundaries have disappeared, and that the status of non-citizens, referred to as residents, was not based on geography. This is obviously different from the current situation in the US. How could Heinlein’s state be applied to our current illegal population, or should it?

                  • Tom Kratman

                    Not entirely disappeared. He talks about different percentages of citizens from different nations, “3% from some nations here on Earth….85% from Iskander,” for example.

                    I wouldn’t, I don’t think. The economic benefits of US military service are so much greater than the bulk of what can be had in most of Latin America that it more or less ensures that military service cannot be used as a test of pro-US altruism.

                  • Doc Krin

                    TK:
                    I would make one minor correction, Sir: Iskandar was a colony planet…

                  • Tom Kratman

                    I’ll have to go look. Nomenclature aside, my impression of it what that it was self governing, hence not really a colony, even if colonized.

                • Rocco

                  It wasn’t only military service that earned the right to vote and hold office, doing civil service of some kind also worked. It was showing that you were willing to serve a higher purpose than your own personal interests, that you, by your actions, put the welfare of the state and your fellow citizens on a higher plane. Also, you couldn’t vote while in active service, only after. It isn’t a bad idea, as long as the nation in question has a strong Constitution and Bill of Rights. Some of the most tyrannical governments were military in nature.
                  I have a great regard for RAH. I have read his works since I found “time enough for love” in a friend’s mom’s bookshelf at twelve. Anyone that has read him knows he was a great friend and promoter of the military, financially conservative and socially liberal. Not to mention a great and talented writer.

                • Harry_the_Horrible

                  I loved Starship Troopers and, to some small extent, it helped prepare me for basic – I knew it was going to be painful and nothing came as shock.

                  The political system of the Federation in Starship Troopers is as close to my idea of ‘perfection’ as any I have ever heard of (including the Smith’s North American Confederation). Problem is, I can see the government and the Citizens manipulating it in pretty severe ways. If nothing else ‘service’ gives the government a excellent chance to indoctrinate candidates.

                • Mark Andrew Edwards

                  I don’t know if I can easily explain just how big an impact this books had on me. It hit me at just the right age, I guess.

                  I do think this kind of society might work but I can see some possible complications. Especially if you have a large Civ population that never served but still feels entitled to all the good things citizens have. I wonder if you would have to restrict economic rights as well. In one of the novels I’ve been fiddling with, you couldn’t own property or a business unless you’d served.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    I would _strongly_ recommend against that. It ruins the whole purpose by substitution economic self interest for civic virtue.

                  • Mark Andrew Edwards

                    As a philosophy, I agree. Civic virtue should be the main motivator for service and citizenship.

                    My concern is with money. Cash talks. If you have rich Civs on the outside of political order, that seems to be a recipe for unrest. Maybe even subversion.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    Yes, and they can buy politicians now, too. The big difference is that an electorate full of people with more than ordinary degrees of civic virtue will probably be less tolerant of it, and more inclined to hang the pols and the ueberrich who buy their souls.

                  • Mark Andrew Edwards

                    I suppose something like the Office of Professional Responsibility might work, some sort of internal auditing would be essential. Maybe along the lines of Bujold’s Imperial Auditors.

                    But uberrich malcontents can hire armies. Armies of lawyers or armies of trigger pullers. I’d like to avoid that while I’m constructing my fictional society. I want to avoid Socialism or nationalizing industries. I really do think requiring your would-be Captains of Industry to serve as a mudbug first would be a better scenario.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    You bring up an interesting point — because, indeed, in a restricted franchise, votes become much more valuable as a commodity — and much easier to buy, as there are fewer people you need to corrupt.

                    If I were an “uberrich” who wanted to corrupt such a system, arranging for cushy jobs for vets who supported me would be far more feasible than it is now on the general electoral scale. I don’t recall if Heinlein ever gave a percentage of voters, but it’s something to consider.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    Really? Do the math. Bill Gates and Warren Buffet decide they want to buy an election with, oh, say, 30 million veterans out there at that future time. Can they do it?

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    oh, say, 30 million veterans out there at that future time.

                    More easily than with 300 million citizens.

                    And let’s not forget — there’s no reason to presume those veterans are evenly distributed — indeed, the tenor of many remarks upon here suggest you don’t think they would be. Which opens up the possibility for even more corruption.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    Still mathematically deficient. 300 million people are still not 300 million citizens. Moreover, 10 times impossible is still only impossible.

                    Personal suspicion is that under such a system we’d end up with about 90 million citizens, actually.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    1) Consider local elections — hence my point about evenly-distributed. Cities, counties, etc.

                    It’s not just about national elections.

                    2) I’m encouraged — you seem to think that 75% of the people who turned out to vote for president would become citizens. That’s a pretty high figure.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    Yes, but what’s most important is that little of the 20-30 % hard left would or could turn out.

                    Actually, the doesn’t say that local elections would be citizen only, though one would prefer that.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    Yes, but what’s most important is that little of the 20-30 % hard left would or could turn out.

                    Right now; it’s not as if historically, “the left” has never turned out for the military. You’re extending “the way things are now” on into the future, without adjusting much for the likely significant changes.

                    (for example: I certainly would have volunteered for Federal Service at 18 ;))

                    Actually, the doesn’t say that local elections would be citizen only, though one would prefer that.

                    No, though it certainly seems a reasonable assumption — after all, why should civic virtue be important on a national level, but not a local level?

                  • Tom Kratman

                    The historical left is not the modern western left, almost to a man, woman, and something in between, decadent, deficient, delirious, deranged, depraved, disgusting, and dangerously dumb.

                    WRT your paragraph 2, since you didn’t volunteer for ours, one doubts you would volunteer for theirs. However, if you did, good. And you could vote. And be wickedly outvoted, too, because you would be one of only a few.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    The historical left is not the modern western left

                    And, of course, if we make a *massive* change in philosophy of government, the left will stay exactly the same.

                    I was discussing this with a couple of vet friends of mine this morning and we agreed that, for example, in a suddenly SST-like universe, Huey Newton would have been a recruiter — because of the changed dynamic of power.

                    I find it interesting, and quite familiar, that your boogeyman is both so weak and yet so terrifying that we need to throw out the rule of law in order to prevent it coming near power.

                    And be wickedly outvoted, too, because you would be one of only a few.

                    Comfort yourself with that notion, Tom; you have little enough evidence for it, since textual evidence is not really valuable at that point — Heinlein can wave his magic fiction wand and say whatever he wants.

                    And there are plenty of diehard leftists in the past who provide ample evidence of what can be.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    Not textual evidence, Steven, evidence of elections, which is that about 22-33% of the US population will vote consistently left when it costs them nothing to do so. If it cost (given my personal observations that they’re mostly wimps, and the evidence they give themselves that they need safe spaces, thought and speech controls, and a plethra of special protections lest their ever so sensitive fearwings be hurt), I predict confidently that the numbers would be vanishingly small. Your movement is 99 and 44/00ths percent pussies, Steven.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    If it cost (given my personal observations that they’re mostly wimps, and the evidence they give themselves that they need safe spaces, thought and speech controls, and a plethra of special protections lest their ever so sensitive fearwings be hurt

                    While my “personal observations” of most hard right-wingers is that they’re a bunch of basement-dwelling cowards who talk big when there’s no real threat, and panic when there might even be one.

                    So much for the value of “personal observations”.

                    And you may predict as you will — fortunately the odds of such a prediction becoming relevant are very, very small.

                    As to your final line — aside from “boy, he really does love his Ivory Soap, doesn’t he?” — congratulations, you’ve proven you can throw around groundless insults. We knew that already.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    And yet somehow you still haven’t shown how the people so sensitive and delicate that they need safe spaces lest their ever so sensitive fearwings (sic) be affronted, still somehow manage to sign up for service. If they’re not so weak as to need to safe spaces, why do they insist upon them?

                    They provide the evidence of wimpery, Steven, I merely point it out.

                    Illiterate fool.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    And yet somehow you still haven’t shown how the people so sensitive and
                    delicate that they need safe spaces lest their ever so sensitive
                    fearwings (sic) be affronted,

                    Not unsurprisingly, you mistake “need” for “find useful and make their lives better”.

                    And it may be because there are people out there who will go out of their way to try and affront and assail those feelings, yet whose own feelings are so fragile that if you so much as declare they might not be the soul of honesty, they think they have the right to kill you.

                    If they’re not so weak as to need to safe spaces, why do they insist upon them?

                    Well, you know, Tom, I bet you could handle an outhouse — but I suspect you’d insist on indoor plumbing.

                    Illiterate fool.

                    Psychopathic twit. Wow — what do you know? Two people can play “derogatory adjective+derogatory noun.” Complicated game.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    Problem there, Steven, is that you _are_ a fool and, as far as anyone can tell, so incapable of reading or reasoning with discernment that “illiterate” fits.

                    Damn, I _knew_ there was something I needed in Ranger School, in the Panamanian Jungle, the Egyptian, Saudi, Kuwaiti, and Iraqi deserts, and the swamps of, well, Camp Swampy; _indoor_plumbing_! Who knew? Who the fuck knew?

                    You don’t understand how you’ve added another hefty increment of evidence that you were lying about serving, do you? “Fool” I named you, and named you well.

                    In other news, I have to do Monday’s continuation, so really can’t waste any more time on you. Thanks, really, for helping me write that column.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    Who knew? Who the fuck knew?

                    And once again you demonstrate that you can’t follow simple reasoning.

                    You don’t *need* indoor plumbing. But I bet if you were to buy a house, or go to a convention, or the like, you’d be very put out if you weren’t allowed any.

                    People have been going to conventions for years without safe space; so, clearly, they don’t “need” it the way you don’t “need” indoor plumbing.

                    Now can you follow the reasoning?

                    Or, more precisely, are you honest enough to do so?

                    I expect your next column will be filled with just as much straw, as much useless invective, and as much projection as this one. :)

                  • Tom Kratman

                    Again that lack of discernment, that unfailing instinct for the idiot analogy.

                  • akulkis

                    You’re assuming that military vets are as easily bribed as your typical self-centered welfare (in some form or another) recipient.
                    That premise would most likely be false.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    You’re assuming that the characteristics of military vets are the same when there’s a big extra prize at the end for service — a premise which is also likely to be false.

                    I note you are also, as many do, conflating “Federal Service” with military service. I see no reason to believe that a caterpillar-hair-counter is any less susceptible.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    Well..you can, if you like. I wouldn’t. Really and truly wouldn’t.

                • Leonid Panfil

                  As much as I like the book, I don’t think the system described therein will work for more than one or two generations, if at all. Here’s why:
                  A) According to the back story given, the system was first established as a military junta.
                  B) The members of the junta were not selected on the basis of civil virtue, but rather on the basis of being veterans – which does NOT guarantee that any particular individual has the best interests of the public in mind.
                  C) The franchise will expand – that’s part of the system. Complete a none too arduous term of service and you can vote and hold office.
                  And what do we have as a near cognate? A clique takes power and then greatly expands, while instituting a moderate entry hurdle. Where did that happen? The good old CPSU. That worked, for a given value of work, for 70 years.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    That’s really why it can only be single source entry. If you permit a second it will be parlayed into a third, a fourth, etc.

                  • Leonid Panfil

                    By “single source” you mean service as the only route to franchise?

                    My point is different. Service doesn’t guarantee civic virtue. As long as the service gives benefits, not necessarily material, people will join to get those benefits, be they a bunk and three square meals a day or just a sense of adventure. And pretty soon you’ll get Corporal Joe Blow who served as a third assistant clerk, just to get a cushy reserved job.Or he has policical ambitions thinks that the Earth’s taxpayers should share more of their wealth with the colonies, or better, himself personally (by voting himself a larger pension).

                    Come to think of it, “civic virtue” is no guarantee of smarts or even sanity. There was a certain decorated Corporal…

                  • Tom Kratman

                    So you would prefer a perfectly sane and utterly corrupt set of rulers? From society’s POV the clever thief is superior to the stupid one?

                    Couple of nuances there to the system. One is that the person who signs up for whatever material benefits the service provides _in_service_ probably stays in..If he does, he doesn’t vote for 20 or 30 or 40 years, by which time his voting power, as a function of power times duration, is much reduced. Secondly, nothing is any guarantee of anything, especially not at the individual level. (One notable exception: Unlimited democracy is probably a guarantee of tyranny within 8 to 12 generations, though of course “one man, one vote, once” is more the modern world norm.) Thirdly, we are looking for average performance; a few percent of outliers doesn’t really affect the average performance much, if at all. (This is admitted in the book, “He may fail in civic virtue…”) Fourthly, the existence of a reserved job is not a guarantee of getting the reserved job. Cops in the SST universe probably stay close to the universal norm of 1 to 300 population. They also probably stay longer in the police, because the society is just like that. (I have the distinct impression that one of the cops who showed up after the bar fight was old enough to have seen more than 20 years of police service). We don’t have numbers to actually do the math, but surely there’s at least some reason to suspect that few or none are going to sign on for a post service job that isn’t very likely to be there.

                  • Leonid Panfil

                    Well, a sane and corrupt ruler is better than insane and incorruptible. And a clever thief, one who doesn’t leave traces nor flaunts his wealth is preferable to a stupid one – after all appearance count.

                    I agree, enfranchisement after demobilization feature is more important than appears at first glance. And only death is 100% guaranteed.
                    The question of what’s best for society – 8-12 (democracy to tyranny) or my proposed 2-3 (limited franchise to collapse of regime) is an interesting one. On balance, I’d say the latter – less chance of civil war.
                    The failures in civic virtues here “hurt” more, as they’re seen as failures of the system, not the individual.
                    Reserved jobs. I mentioned cop, only because RAH specifically referred to them.I absolutely guarantee you that the second type of reserved jobs, right after cops, is government bureaucrats. Why? They’re the executive, they should be recruited from trusted people. The judicial branch, BTW, was the right there together with the cops. Remember, they hanged a few veterans and decided noone else should do that, save other veterans. Given that the bureaucracy expands to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy, I foresee no problems with veteran employment in the public sector (including the military bureaucracy).

                    A way to mitigate some of the problems is to use your cohorts system for voting, coupled with enfranchisement only after the cohort suffered 10% losses. That should a)cool the enthusiasm of careerists b) balance various types of service – dangerous services get to vote earlier.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    Why? There are degrees and kinds of insanity after all. And, while we could have an insane ruler in an autocracy, the sheer numbers and size make it unlikely to have an insane electorate.

                    Textev says not. Textev says “you buy ‘em like beans.”

                    “If you take out all the aggressive sheep and make them sheep dogs…”

                  • TimWB

                    Late to the discussion, Colonel. My apologies.
                    I have read SST as have my progressive military veteran friends. We are all are fans.
                    Regarding an insane electorate, the electorate has their own reasoning and it can be gamed very well. Evil rises in every political system because evil people work outside any boundaries.
                    A trick to reducing evil in government is having media transparency and a willingness to challenge, and I do not recall SST having any but the most state controlled news media, nor any opposing political parties. Am I correct?
                    What would you suggest regarding investigative journalism and impeachment?

                  • Tom Kratman

                    I think you’re confusing the movie and the book.

                  • TimWB

                    My memory can be hazy, but I think I recall that in the book there is “freedom of speech” (a relative term in the US and presumably in SST) and news media, and punishment for corruption, but no details regarding methods or systems.
                    Who could regulate those watchmen and the media to address social ills? (No system being 100% effective, I realize.)

                  • Tom Kratman

                    Don’t recall a mention of corruption in the book, actually.

                    One of the things, by the way, that lefties and libertarians are sort of eliding over when they discuss this is percentages and process. Imagine that the system, in practice, of keeping lefties out, that those 22 million or so current American citizens who are fairly hard lose their vote, because military service is just so doubleplusungoodandnodrugsdoodandtheymademecutmyhairandbathe. Do we lose much there?

                  • TimWB

                    There was none in the book, nor any in the movie. I imagined the punishment for corruption in the book would match or exceed the punishments for violating SOP.
                    My experiences with my veteran friends gives me a different perspective. If I recall, a third of military ballots vote Democrat. Certainly my veteran friends (ranging from Gay Republican to Red Diaper Baby) could still vote that way.
                    My point being: a SST gov’t. would lose some feckless behavior, but would still have dissent due to the nature of people, individual and organized.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    Could have sworn I answered this. Less than a third, I think.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    I recall, a third of military ballots vote Democrat.

                    The most recent data I found put it at 60/40 for active+veterans, but note that the figures skew more Republican among vets than active service, (an older demographic), and also by the heavy gender imbalance.

                    So, there’s no real reason to suspect that if you changed the weighting of reasons to join the “Federal Service” that the current voting ratios would hold up.

                  • Leonid Panfil

                    Because sane and corrupt makes for safer living than insane and incorruptable. There’s less chance of a cannibalistic regime. I would, of course, prefer sane and incorruptible, but them’s the breaks.

                    I don’t necessarily agree with interpretation, as I understand it. The relevant duality is Citizen/Taxpayer, not Militaty/Civilian, Johnny’s father refers to himself as taxpayer, in the context of rights. The civilians are just that, civilians – not currently serving in the armed forces. Seeing as they’re employed by the local MoD, Militarbeamte by any other name, they’re probably veterans.

                    But you’re taking everyone who SAYS he’s an aggressive sheep, even the goats, and then make them sheepdogs. The usually short and not too arduous service has already, by Rico’s time, ceased to be a valid demonstrator of civil virtue. In the taxpayers’ minds the entrance barrier is too low. It’s not the “single source entry” it’s doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. In the long run, those wrong reasons will bite the system on its ass.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    No, in the long term safe disappears and corrupt is all you have left.

                    No, the textev is that there’s no necessary correlation between civilians working for the military and prior service.

                    In one taxpayers mind. In the minds of the people actually recruiting for and running the thing, it’s all made quite arduous and dangerous. So, no, not who “says,” who demonstrates.

                  • Leonid Panfil

                    One can argue that the incorruptible disappears too. I’d take Putin over Pol Pot any day.
                    Textev doesn’t rule it out, either.
                    I think Rico was supposed to be fairly representative. All along I’m quoting Reid – about the service being usually short and not too arduous. I still say that the conditions of franchise are just too easy.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    And “not too arduous” was in comparison to what? “Our caveman ancestors,” was it not? How easy was their life?

                    Too easy to do what? To weed out the absolutely least civic virtue minded? I think they’re adequate for that.

                  • Leonid Panfil

                    It was, I believe, more of an internal comparison between MI and others.

                    The absolutely least – yes. To separate the sheep dogs and the goats – no. Well, except for the matter of the Bug War – that helped.
                    The term of service needs to be long enough so that one can’t just coast through.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    Well…one could see a combat, combat support, service support, make work split of 2/3/4/5 years, I suppose. That’s somewhat implicit in the Balboan system. The advantage of that would be greater fairness in misery and risk, plus, potentially, a lot of reservist grunts, if one had a non-active obligation. Also, delaying the vote of those who risk and suffer less may be fairer.

                    Given the limited number of sheepdogs, the combat arms probably suffice to separate them out. That there are others who get in who are not sheep dogs doesn’t mean that the bulk of the sheepdogs haven’t still been separated from the true baabaa sheep.

                    However, for the same reasons I am reluctant to have more than one source of entry, I am reluctant to split the service requirement. This is an area where cookie cutting may be better than allowing nuances that can be manipulated.

                    (Addendum: note that the system really isn’t concerned with fairness, though, but with increasing the _average_ civic virtue of the electorate.)

                  • Leonid Panfil

                    The way to increase the effectiveness of separation of sheep and sheepdogs is to increase the percieved difficulty of the service. The most obvious way is constant LIC somewhere on the borders. Not too threatening to get a patriotic upswell, but still real enough. The other, in my experience, is a long reserve service obligation, agee capped – non of this total active service duration. Add a ‘trial period’ to the franchise for the duration of the reserve obligation with the same caveats as the federal service (the ‘term not completed satisfactory’ shtick).

                  • Tom Kratman

                    Why, beyond a certain point, increase the difficulty and the separation? I mean, is there a precise percentage you have in mind? If so, how did you calculate it? Is there a certainty that we get more and more concentrated civic virtue beyond some point? Are you sure you’re not stuck in the notion of longer and harsher service developing civic virtue on its own, rather than testing for it?

                  • Leonid Panfil

                    I’m pretty sure that the federal service in peacetime, as described, doesn’t reach that certain point.
                    I have a hunch the percentage is mostly a function of education and indoctrination and should be fairly constant, given the same educational system. The variation between 3% and 85% comes down to local societal norms.
                    The service is not the place to develop civic virtue, however, longer OR harsher service do better winnowing.

                  • http://aurictech.wordpress.com AuricTech LIC

                    Ah, but while Corporal Joe Blow may want to serve as a third assistant clerk, the Service ultimately decides where, and in what capacity, he serves.

                • Wesley

                  I think that another point that is often missed, or at least not explicitly discussed, is that all military service in SST was supposed to be essentially miserable, and preferably dangerous. Somehow, someway, every job was supposed to be full of suck.

                  Stephen seems to miss that point, repeatedly. It’s that universal suckiness that is one of the key aspects of the military service, the service must be something that requires continuous personal sacrifice, up to and possibly including ones life.

                  The Carerraverse does an admirable job of expounding on this concept, repeatedly.

                  • Steven Schwartz

                    Stephen seems to miss that point, repeatedly. It’s that universal suckiness that is one of the key aspects of the military service, the service must be something that requires continuous personal sacrifice, up to and possibly including ones life.

                    I’m aware of it; I do not consider a willingness to submit to arbitrary intentionally-inflicted suckiness to be a particular mark of virtue, nor do I think the “I suffered, therefore you have to as well!” is a sign of virtue either.

                    And I do not believe that such a system is particularly protected against the threats of oligarchy and concentration-of-power — in fact, I think it’s much less so than the system we have now.

                  • akulkis

                    It weeds out the slackers and the me-me-me-and-only-me types.

                • Duffy L. Sauers

                  Took two days for me to get here….and there are something on the order of well over 200 Comments. Hell of an article and about to hit my timeline, and possibly a certain Heinlein Face book page.

                • Doc

                  What about dissent? Military service is not a place for dissent. It is very good at training that out of people. Dissent is essentially to a democracy.

                  Would Martin Luther King qualify for citizen ship based on his work? Work that he knew was dangerous and ultimately cost him his life. Work that we have all benefited from.

                  • Tom Kratman

                    You haven’t read the book, have you?

                  • akulkis

                    Dissent is allowed in the military. And it often happens even when it’s not allowed. However, Dissent must be aired in a proper, respectful manner, or else the dissenter will get hit with a sledgehammer.

                    Officers are often taught: As long as your men are grumbling, things are OK. When they STOP grumbling is the time to be worried.

                • Andrew Foss

                  My criticism of the idea revolves more around the Marxist theory criticism part. I do like the idea that military service should be required for the vote, but there are sticky issues there.

                  Not least of which: Time and endgame. Say the idea wins out. (In 2016, even) You have a country run by people who’ve been in the military after our faithless and fearful leaves. Further, say the oncoming leader decides to clean up the messes in the middle east created by his predecessor’s policies. Want to bet it becomes state number 51 in 2026?

                  Iran wouldn’t like that. (State number 52 joins the union in 2035) and so on down the list until there is one government for the vast majority of the world and the remaining countries (Say, the Vatican, Monaco, Iceland, … and Switzerland) are irrelevant non-threats. (in, oh, 2216) So what then, will military service accomplish? The only reason for their continued existence will be to put down insurrection. So the result would be a massive, oversized, practically worldwide police force, where the use of would increase the discontent. Service in that probably wouldn’t show civic virtue.

                  Civic virtue is “the few” choosing to accomplish what needs done by “the many”. If that means growing food, building roads, shoring up levees, kicking ass, inventing and/or discovering new tools, procedures and medications… It’s the temporal aspect, most importantly: You don’t keep digging a hole for the sake of digging a hole. There has to be utility in doing so.

                  • akulkis

                    Why would those of us who made an oath to defend the constitution want to incorporate Iraq or Iran into the United States. That’s just insane.

                  • Andrew Foss

                    Wrong question. The better one is: “Why would those of us who wrote out and signed their own blank checks for Uncle Sam want to keep going back there every couple-fifteen years or so?”

                    A small scale example: Go relieve a force surrounded and held captive. Twelve days later after they withdraw to their own fighting positions under your intense fire, go kick the enemy out of one of their positions in two seconds. Establish an OP in it for ten days. Collapse it at the end, leaving your weapon, armor, grenades, explosives, ammunition and gear. Two days later, after resupplying with fresh equipment, seek to re-establish the OP. Does that make a lick of sense? No Not only is it a waste of money to do it that way, it’s a waste of lives and morale: Why not establish a permanent FOB, or at least a patrol base or a long-term combat outpost?

                    And this is the kind of thinking and opinion that the ex-military-now-a-full-citizen-talking-slash-lobbying-to-an-ex-military-now-an-elected-leader thing that may well cause it to happen easily under a system like that. The idea would appeal to a lot of the ground-gaining types. Nothing is more frustrating than to have to do things again because of another’s incompetence.

                  • akulkis

                    Germany’s a state of the U.S.A?

                  • Andrew Foss

                    No, they were demiled and split between us, the UK, France and the Soviets. For ten years *after* the fighting stopped until things were calm enough to start rebuilding a functional government.

                    The Sov-created DDR was an external influence that changed the equation. (Be nice or the reds will roll in in force. You don’t want that. Ask your brothers over the wall.) and galvanized the population. (Barring groups like Baader Meinhof, et al.)

                    Germany’s history reinforces my point. WWII was simply the military fixing the civilian interference in ending WWI properly. The military set up an occupation government after WWII. This stopped another “Treaty of Versailles”.

                    A strictly military government would end up going to war with Iran. (Don’t try to tell me that Iranians weren’t involved in Iraq’s insurgency.) Point in fact, such a government, as I have pointed out in my original post, would *require* an external enemy or a near-constant state of war. (It doesn’t have to be more than MOOTW, but don’t tell me Iraq in 2009 wasn’t war gussied up with the trimmings and *appearance* of MOOTW simply to appease the rabbits.) Be it against an internal or an external enemy. And it still wouldn’t show civic virtue after all external threats were eliminated. The military suffers from a lack of a rudder in peacetime.

                • CurtNewton

                  I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Mr. Heinlein in 1977. We spoke about Starship Troopers and the philosophy it promotes. After our meeting I re-read the book several times and saw subtle points he makes that are even more impressive after meeting the author himself.

                • Keith R

                  This assumes, in part, the rigors of a wartime military. A peacetime military can fade into a bureaucratic guard force, led by Courtney Massengales who recruit and promote their own kind.

                • RealityObserver

                  A note from a bit more research, Tom.

                  Starship Troopers is apparently no longer on the USMC Commandant’s Required Reading List (any of them, there are several depending on your rank). Ender’s Game is; in the “Primary” list (PFC, Lance, Corporal, WO, Lieutenants).

                  Further digging turns up that it was on the list as of 2014, for CWO4 / Captain rank. This apparently was changed, as the official current lists have CWO4 reading in the “Intermediate” list, and Captain reading in the “Career” list.

                  It is apparently still available through the base library (paper, e-book, and audible). Although a search there also turns up one of the “RAH the Fascist Pig” diatribes… (i.e., The Fascist Gleam of Starship Troopers).

                  Actually, the only list I can find it on now is the Navy list.

                  Sigh. I feel like I should apologize for raising your blood pressure again.

                • http://aurictech.wordpress.com AuricTech LIC

                  “I take the title from a line in Verhoeven’s execrable movie, Starship Troopers. I would not suggest taking anything else from it.
                  From what I’ve heard, if you take its title from it, and rename it Bug Hunt, it would be an entertaining movie. It’s the fact that it bears the title of one of Heinlein’s best novels that’s regrettable. I’ve heard it said that the movie’s 1997 release caused the 1997–1998 El Niño event, as Robert Heinlein’s ashes were spinning in their watery grave at such a rate that they warmed the Pacific Ocean.

                • Willi Silver

                  Utterly silliness. Most of the eligible voters in this country choose not to vote for whatever reason. Where’s the incentive in risking your neck to do something you don’t want to do in the first place?

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