While one of the two most famous “response” books to Heinlein’s Starship Troopers (all three books depicting a galactic war against a hive-mind insect race, with major sociological consequences), Ender’s Game, may or may not get turned into a movie, it now looks likely that something even better will happen: Ridley Scott, after working for decades to get the rights, appears likely to make Joe Haldeman’s Forever War, the story of near-light travel stretching a war over multiple, drastically varied periods of future Earth history (including one phase where the governments encourage homosexuality to combat overpopulation, even in the military, which should get some critics reacting).
In related news, I recently spoke to an Institute for Humane Studies alum who said he thinks the U.S. should follow his native UK in adopting a policy that — without him being conscious of it — happens to be the exact opposite of one in Starship Troopers: in the UK, about the only people forbidden to vote are those serving in the military, the thinking being that the military should stay apolitical (in Troopers, you can only vote if, a la Plato’s guardians, you’ve proven your selflessness by serving in the military).
I don’t think GOP prospects would be helped much if the UK method were adopted here, for what it’s worth. Say, how about a progressive voter reform plan like this:
•No military votes
•Prisoners and felons can vote (and for Congressional apportionment purposes are counted as residents of the [blue] areas where they committed their crimes, not where they’re imprisoned)
•No proof of identity necessary
•Families of resident aliens can vote by absentee ballot from their home countries
•Two votes for each Bush, Clinton, or Kennedy family member
•DC statehood, because slavery is wrong
•No votes for people tied to private corporations, as they may be biased
•Union members’ votes to be cast collectively, by head of union
On a more serious and depressing note, Obama’s Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, may not want us all to become Starship Troopers but does want to make three months of servitude to government (receiving civil defense training and the like) mandatory for all eighteen to twenty-five year-olds (as described in his book and repeated in at least one interview online). I can’t help thinking that fanatical, knife-wielding Emaneul may have inherited such Spartan attitudes from his parents, his father having been in the arguably-terrorist Irgun in Israel and his mother having been a union organizer. Now we — and the new president — get to experience a little of his esprit de corps, though we can hope he has little impact on actual policy.
But given Obama’s popularity among the young, surely they could get plenty of volunteers for an Obama-corps. And while they’re serving, perhaps they should be forbidden to vote.
P.S. Speaking of voting, the guy I voted for in the primary (for strategic reasons lost in the mists of history now), Romney, pleased me by writing a New York Times op-ed yesterday entitled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.” Nice to see someone still taking the hardass position these days — and someone from Michigan. For property rights advocates, it should get easier and easier in the next few years to demonstrate our consistency by pointing with disapproval to more and more cases of businesses, not just poor people, being on welfare.
your first bullet point is subsumed by your seventh, you know.
query: is todd genuinely opposed to dc statehood, or just for the silly rationale given?
The Founders intended to diminish the capital’s self-serving political power slightly by having it be separate from the states. I see no compelling reason to change that but think it’s a fairly marginal issue. (I just want tax cuts, budget cuts, and deregulation, which is apparently far too much to ask.)
I would be willing to take DC’s status up an even greater notch, though, making it a separate, sovereign country — one with authority _only_ over its own geographic area. That would solve many, many problems.
I favor repatriation of as much of residential DC as is feasible to MD (mainly MD these days, I suppose) for reasons of fairness to voters– but, like Todd, think that the center of federal authority shouldn’t also be a state. To the degree that DC’s status as a neutral meeting ground and the site for the uppermost level of government has been supplanted by its status as just a place where a bunch of people live, the justification for the District as a separate entity has been undermined. We could fix that through repatriation of the residential areas; or we could fix it by abolishing the District altogether as a separate entity, repatriating the whole thing, and treating federal land within it like federal land within any other state.
I can’t see any justification for leaving DC intact and making it a state, and the Founders’ reason for not doing so (in effect, letting the central government count twice, once as the overarching decisionmaker and once by giving it two votes in the Senate and one in the House) still seems sound enough to me. The reasons for statehood are also just as good reasons for complete repatriation; DC’s separate existence was premised on it *not* being a state, and the two should rise or fall together.
Todd, in the Starship Troopers polity, _serving_ members of the military are forbidden from voting. The only members of society who vote are _former_ members of the military. This arrangement preserves civilian control of the military.
One question all this should raise is why exactly we all believe that civilian control of the military is preferable to the alternative. To the extent we want to avoid hastily going to war, those who are the most risk of dying in one would seem to be, rationally, the least likely to vote in favor of fighting.
Interesting point — and for similar reasons, I think we’d see a far more peaceful world if there were never any conscription and, more radically, if armies had to be paid for voluntarily instead of through taxation. When you’re not spending your own money _or_ blood, it’s much easier to find reasons to go to war. When hiring your own mercenary army, you’re more likely to be cautious and frugal.
If Obama turned out to be a covert radical after all, and his radicalism took the form of dismantling the military-industrial complex, I could live with that. Instead, more likely, the Bush-era military/security apparatus will remain, and a stepped-up assault on the domestic front will begin.
in effect, letting the central government count twice, once as the overarching decisionmaker and once by giving it two votes in the Senate and one in the House [jacob]
this argument would carry more weight if the resident population of DC actually were the federal government. as it is, a) most federal government employees who work in DC are not domiciled there; and b) those who are make up a small fraction of the DC population.
i think you’d find stiff resistance against repatriating DC to MD at this point – DC citizens who want to be MD citizens already move to PG county sua sponte. (yes, this is a deliberate gross generalization and snide comment about PG.)
When you’re not spending your own money _or_ blood, it’s much easier to find reasons to go to war. [todd]
ahh, that must explain why so many of my libertarian friends were so gung-ho about sending my military friends & family off to the quagmire of iraq.
If it’s any consolation, I’m told New York is likely dispatching a carpooling quartet of _antiwar_ paleolibertarian/paleocon types to Maryland this weekend for a conference on Mencken, namely my girlfriend Helen, her roommate Richard Spencer, Taki Theodoracopulos, and John Derbyshire. If that doesn’t produce an anecdote, I will be disappointed. They may also foment secessionist feelings wherever they go. Complex world.
“this argument would carry more weight if the resident population of DC actually were the federal government. as it is, a) most federal government employees who work in DC are not domiciled there; and b) those who are make up a small fraction of the DC population.”
I know– which is why I think that repatriation is better than the status quo. That the DC residents don’t want it is kind of relevant, but cuts in more than one direction– if we’re to infer a deliberate consensual decision not to live in Maryland from their decision to live in DC, then why should we also not infer a deliberate consensual decision to live in a non-state?
Still seems to me that DC’s anomalous separateness is an artefact of its separate purpose and non-statehood, and that if it has lost the separate purpose and wants statehood, then its anomalous separateness isn’t entitled to any particular presumption of immutability.
[and re the rest: mea culpa.]
if we’re to infer a deliberate consensual decision not to live in Maryland from their decision to live in DC, then why should we also not infer a deliberate consensual decision to live in a non-state?
that sounds suspiciously like the “love it or leave it” argument, leaving no room for those who love it but want to change it. the native dc statehood movement should be reason enough to not infer a preference on the part of dc residents for their home to remain a non-state.
Against JTL’s point, one could say that, actually, DC seems a better candidate for statehood according to his own “separation of loyalties” argument than, well, most of our current states. Perversely enough, I suspect that DC’s anomalous political status, in addition to simply being an urban center, have generated a sense of place and community (‘taxation without representation!’) stronger than that of, say, New York *as a state* (NYC-dwellers probably feel more commonality with Chicagoans than those in, I dunno, those empty spaces by Lake Erie, whatever they are). Moreover, granting DC statehood would be advantageous precisely because it would diminish the overrepresentation of rural interests.
Clever, clever x.trapnel! Well done.
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