With the growing worldly unrest, the clear provocations that Hitler was foisting on
With this act, Congress had declared that an “adequate armed strength must be achieved and maintained to insure the security of this Nation.” Secondly, that in a “free society the obligations and privileges of serving in the armed forces and the reserve components thereof should be shared generally, in accordance with a system of selection which is fair and just, and which is consistent with the maintenance of an effective national economy.” The wheels were set in motion for the
This Act, more commonly known as The Military Selective Service Act created the obligation of a man of eighteen years to register for subsequent conscription into military service. Thirty years after
A few months before FDR signed this act into law, and half a world away, Hitler completed the “Great Polish Defensive War” and began the occupation of
A young boy about 11 stood with his mother in the falling snow, herded by the occupying forces with several hundred others onto the train into several cattle cars. He was burdened with all that he owned in a tattered carpetbag and his mother’s suitcase. There was no room to sit as he stared through the slats. It was bitterly cold and the snow drifted horizontally as the train slid out of the station.
My first year of eligibility for the draft was 1971. The Selective Service Department randomly picked birthdays and draft order. We were all assigned a number from 1 to 366, indicating the order in which we would be called up. There was no escape for those born in a leap year. In 1969 all numbers through 195 were called. In 1970, numbers through 125 were called to serve.
The war for the hearts and minds of
I was assigned my lottery number in August of 1971. It was 104. Even though I had obtained a student deferment to complete my college degree, it was quite disquieting to contemplate a life quite different from my current one. While I loved my country and all the freedoms that I enjoyed as one of its fortunate citizens,
In the fall of my junior year,
The drafting had slowed. Fewer and fewer numbers were being called each month. By mid December the draft board had called up to 95 and there were rumors that there would not be an additional call. I watched the news as intently as I could to try and ferret out the hidden meanings in the reports about the war and the draft. On December 21st I wrote a letter to my local draft office releasing my student deferment. I waited out that last week in December, fully eligible to be called to war and heavily burdened with even the merest possibility of it.
The world somehow became a brighter place when in a couple of weeks I received my new draft designation from the Selective Service. Spring came just a little bit earlier that winter. I had ridden out my eligibility requirement and was now truly free to breathe again – to buckle down and find new purpose. I changed my major to economics and launched into a course of study that would get me out of college at the end of four years. At least this war was behind me.
There were still young men dying in
A memorial to this war was dedicated in November of 1984. The social cost of warring against an ideology is almost insufferable. Many survivors today are still troubled by their experience and only marginally functional contributors and participants in their own life. The Vietnam War Memorial lists the dead. Men still cry at its walls.
In the spring I took a class in Macroeconomics, a branch of economics that deals with the performance, structure, and behavior of national economies. Its purpose is to seek to understand the interplay of aggregate trends in an economy with particular focus on national income, unemployment, inflation, investment, international trade and international finance. A course in macroeconomics looks at different types of economic systems and how they function. With our own economic system as a benchmark it was fascinating to see the efficiencies of Communism vs. Capitalism and the interaction of social policies and philosophical thought.
Our Professor led us through discussions and debates on which systems were more efficient and why. In our sterile class room, the consensus was that communism was more efficient for bootstrapping countries that were clearly third world, but that once a certain level of vibrancy and economic self sufficiency was obtained then communism became too burdened with the human element. There were some who disagreed and thought that it could work forever if people would just buy into the concept of working for the greater good.
It was Dr. Brzeski’s position that communism, as it was implemented in Russia's 5 year plans, become too complicated to track and perform against, and socialism saps the initiative of the human spirit. It had to collapse of its own accord – but there was no empirical evidence that it would. The experiment of communism was too young and our enemies didn’t run away just because we threw our blood at them.
As is true of many college campuses, the liberal leaning holds sway over the classroom and public forums. Many a conservative is shouted down at free speech rallies and the establishment is something to rail against rather than to appreciate for the freedom it allows us.
Likewise, college classrooms are isolated from the realities of life. Utopian ideas abound and fresh young minds grasp at the possibilities and potentials of a perfect world. In economics, the world is reduced to supply and demand curves with homage to interest rates and money supply. The pain of the loss of a family member rarely plays a part in a discussion of an investment frontier in which “guns or butter” is the most typical example of the concept of economic choice. Dr. Andrzej Brzeski did his best to instill in us some sense of reality when at the end of his course he told us about getting on that train.
I was long gone from the university when the
All Rights Reserved