Welcome to Perspectives, a blog of thoughts, commentary and observations ranging from autistic adolescents to intimate portraits of urban communities.


Fresh Blood: A Youth Congress?

Many of you have responded positively to proposals for universal service – and my friend Jock Hooper sent me his article, “Ten Reasons for a National Youth Service” (which notes that only 0.5% of America’s young people are engaged in any public service). The idea is getting national traction: it was the focus of Jon Stewart’s recent interview with Sebastian Junger, for example. But one place where nobody talks about it is Congress, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Libertarians hate the idea, and the Republican Party is so jumpy after Virginia’s primary that people predict no significant legislation of any kind before November – which  shows that Eric Cantor’s unexpected defeat changed little in Washington. Which gives me an idea. Our discussions of national-youth-service jobs include the military, Peace Corps, rebuilding infrastructure, fighting forest fires, restoring public lands, teaching in poor schools. What about Congress itself, where the average age is 55? Why not throw those 435 jobs into the lottery? This isn’t a new idea. Andrew Jackson believed that government is “so plain and simple” anyone can do it (or not do it, as we see today); and in New Hampshire men once served in the legislature, not to stoke their egos or line their pockets, but because it was their turn. A Congressional term is only two years, and if we make the pay and perks commensurate with those of army recruits, think how much money we will save the country and the Koch brothers.

Four Ways to Create a Community

Praying for Charity