Favor "Wars of Choice?" Demand the Draft
By Edward Shanahan
Here are a couple of promising ideas, one not exactly new, another very fresh.
The first idea: Bring back the draft. Modern U.S. Presidents continue to undertake wars of choice, not wars of necessity, relying only on those willing to fight (the volunteer army).
As a consequence, the terrible burden of death—crippling injury, and intolerable emotional stress, has been carried only by those who elect to be the nation’s warriors, not the rest of us.
As the admirable Bill Moyers editorialized in part on a recent Bill Moyers Journal program on PBS:
Let's share the sacrifice. Spread the suffering. Let's bring back the draft. Yes, bring back the draft -- for as long as it takes our politicians and pundits to "fix" Afghanistan to their satisfaction.
Let PBS Pitch in for Local News
The other idea: With the continuing decline in the viability of daily newspapers, there is much handwringing about who will have the resources to cover the news, local, regional, national and worldwide, a hugely expensive and complex challenge.
A recent study about the future of news commissioned by the Columbia University Journalism School and conducted by Leonard Downie, former editor of the Washington Post and Michael Schudson, of Columbia, offers several recommendations for a new approaches to the gathering, financing and dissemination of news.
As reported by David Carr in his New York Times media column among the proposals offered by Downie and Schudson, two are of unusual interest.
Writes Carr: First, the pair suggests reorienting public radio and television to provide local news, historically not a big interest of public broadcasters. The report says somewhat tartly that much of the money from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is spent on broadcast facilities and television production companies, with ‘very little money spent on local news coverage by individual public radio and television stations…
Continuing, Carr reports: The other recommendation that will kick up some dust proclaims that it’s time for government to start funding local news, much in the way it enables arts, humanities and sciences.
The Federal Communications Commission spends $7 billion a year collected from telephone bills to underwrite telecommunications services in remote areas and help schools and libraries get wired. The report suggests that some of that money, along with fees paid for broadcast licenses or auctions of bandwidth, should go into a Fund for Local News.
These are controversial ideas, certainly, but the importance of solid, well-reported, verifiable, in depth news and information, especially critical at the local level, in an era of shrinking private resources, requires new approaches.
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