Saturday, January 11, 2003

With war threatening in the Middle East, Rep. Charles Rangel (D - NY) has proposed reinstituting the draft. "A disproportionate number of the poor and members of minority groups make up the enlisted ranks of the military," he writes, "while the most privileged Americans are underrepresented or absent." He also hypothesizes that "if those calling for war knew that their children were likely to be required to serve.... there would be more dealing with Iraq."

Well, here's a modest proposal: Rangel's office claims that over 30 percent of military personnel are minorities, but according to Julianne Malvaux, "African Americans [alone] are about 11 percent of the labor market, but 28 percent of our nation’s postal clerks." Malvaux wonders if the deaths of postal workers during the anthrax-letter crisis might have been at least partly due to neglect on the part of the authorities for the safety of a poor, disproportionately-minority workforce. An obvious solution presents itself: the dangerous, soul-destroying, poorly-paid burden of moving the nation's mails must be borne equally by all Americans. If everyone, rich or poor, white or black, were required to give a few months of their lives manning the sorting bins and service counters of the postal system, Americans might have second thoughts, not just about the difficult working conditions of postal workers, but even about the wisdom of having a national postal system in the first place.

Wouldn't that be a breakthrough for all those downtrodden minority USPS employees!

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