Belated Gipper Birthday Post

I re-read Ronald Reagan's announcement speech the other day. Delivered November 13, 1979, these are the words that launched the greatest presidency of my lifetime.

Notice the natural humanity in Reagan's words. He didn't browbeat people with abstract concepts like the Constitution or liberty. Instead, he spoke about the real lives of ordinary Americans. And the everyday life of an America that lived up to its ideal. And notice the complete lack of pomposity, vanity, and vulgarity so prevalent in the frontrunners of 2016.

I wish our Republican candidates for president--at least one--could speak in tones that resonate with everyone the way the Gipper could. Well, one candidate captures Reagan's humble vision, but he's buried deep in the mist.

Notice, too, that so many of the problems that moved Reagan to run are still with us, or are they have returned.

Enjoy. Happy birthday, Ron. Your country misses you.


Good evening. I am here tonight to announce my intention to seek the Republican nomination for President of the United States. I'm sure that each of us has seen our country from a number of viewpoints depending on where we've lived and what we've done. For me it has been as a boy growing up in several small towns in Illinois. As a young man in Iowa trying to get a start in the years of the Great Depression and later in California for most of my adult life.

I've seen America from the stadium press box as a sportscaster, as an actor, officer of my labor union, soldier, officeholder and as both a Democrat and Republican. I've lived in America where those who often had too little to eat outnumbered those who had enough. There have been four wars in my lifetime and I've seen our country face financial ruin in the Depression. I have also seen the great strength of this nation as it pulled itself up from that ruin to become the dominant force in the world. To me our country is a living, breathing presence, unimpressed by what others say is impossible, proud of its own success, generous, yes and naive, sometimes wrong, never mean and always impatient to provide a better life for its people in a framework of a basic fairness and freedom. Someone once said that the difference between an American and any other kind of person is that an American lives in anticipation of the future because he knows it will be a great place. Other people fear the future as just a repetition of past failures. There's a lot of truth in that. If there is one thing we are sure of it is that history need not be relived; that nothing is impossible, and that man is capable of improving his circumstances beyond what we are told is fact. There are those in our land today, however, who would have us believe that the United States, like other great civilizations of the past, has reached the zenith of its power; that we are weak and fearful, reduced to bickering with each other and no longer possessed of the will to cope with our problems.

Much of this talk has come from leaders who claim that our problems are too difficult to handle. We are supposed to meekly accept their failures as the most which humanly can be done. They tell us we must learn to live with less, and teach our children that their lives will be less full and prosperous than ours have been; that the America of the coming years will be a place where--because of our past excesses--it will be impossible to dream and make those dreams come true.

I don't believe that. And, I don't believe you do either. That is why I am seeking the presidency. I cannot and will not stand by and see this great country destroy itself. Our leaders attempt to blame their failures on circumstances beyond their control, on false estimates by unknown, unidentifiable experts who rewrite modern history in an attempt to convince us our high standard of living, the result of thrift and hard work, is somehow selfish extravagance which we must renounce as we join in sharing scarcity. I don't agree that our nation must resign itself to inevitable decline, yielding its proud position to other hands. I am totally unwilling to see this country fail in its obligation to itself and to the other free peoples of the world. The crisis we face is not the result of any failure of the American spirit; it is failure of our leaders to establish rational goals and give our people something to order their lives by. If I am elected, I shall regard my election as proof that the people of the United States have decided to set a new agenda and have recognized that the human spirit thrives best when goals are set and progress can be measured in their achievement.

During the next year I shall discuss in detail a wide variety of problems which a new administration must address. Tonight I shall mention only a few. No problem that we face today can compare with the need to restore the health of the American economy and the strength of the American dollar. Double-digit inflation has robbed you and your family of the ability to plan. It has destroyed the confidence to buy and it threatens the very structure of family life itself as more and more wives are forced to work in order to help meet the ever-increasing cost of living. At the same time, the lack of real growth in the economy has introduced the justifiable fear in the minds of working men and women who are already overextended that soon there will be fewer jobs and no money to pay for even the necessities of life. And tragically as the cost of living keeps going up, the standard of living which has been our great pride keeps going down.

The people have not created this disaster in our economy; the federal government has. It has overspent, overestimated, and over-regulated. It has failed to deliver services within the revenues it should be allowed to raise from taxes. In the 34 years since the end of World War II, it has spent $448 billion more than it has collected in taxes--$448 billion of printing-press money, which has made every dollar you earn worth less and less. At the same time, the federal government has cynically told us that high taxes on business will in some way "solve" the problem and allow the average taxpayer to pay less. Well, business is not a taxpayer; it is a tax collector. Business has to pass its tax burden on to the customer as part of the cost of doing business. You and I pay taxes imposed on business every time we go to the store. Only people pay taxes and it is political demagoguery or economic illiteracy to try and tell us otherwise. The key to restoring the health of the economy lies in cutting taxes. At the same time, we need to get the waste out of federal spending. This does not mean sacrificing essential services, nor do we need to destroy the system of benefits which flow to the poor, elderly, the sick and the handicapped. We have long since committed ourselves, as a people, to help those among us who cannot take care of themselves. But the federal government has proven to be the costliest and most inefficient provider of such help we could possibly have. We must put an end to the arrogance of a federal establishment which accepts no blame for our condition, cannot be relied upon to give us a fair estimate of our situation and utterly refuses to live within its means. I will not accept the supposed "wisdom" which has it that the federal bureaucracy has become so powerful that it can no longer be changed or controlled by any administration. As President I would use every power at my command to make the federal establishment respond to the will and the collective wishes of the people.

We must force the entire federal bureaucracy to live in the real world of reduced spending, streamlined function and accountability to the people it serves. We must review the function of the federal government to determine which of those are the proper province of levels of government closer to the people.

The 10th article of the Bill of Rights is explicit in pointing out that the federal government should do only those things specifically called for in the Constitution. All others shall remain with the states or the people. We haven't been observing that 10th article of late. The federal government has taken on functions it was never intended to perform and which it does not perform well. There should be a planned, orderly transfer of such functions to states and communities and a transfer with them of the sources of taxation to pay for them.

The savings in administrative overhead would be considerable and certainly there would be increased efficiency and less bureaucracy.

By reducing federal tax rates where they discourage individual initiative--especially personal income tax rates--we can restore incentives, invite greater economic growth and at the same time help give us better government instead of bigger government. Proposals such as the Kemp-Roth bill would bring about this kind of realistic reductions in tax rates.

In short, a punitive tax system must be replaced by one that restores incentive for the worker and for industry; a system that rewards initiative and effort and encourages thrift.

All these things are possible; none of them will be easy. But the choice is clear. We can go on letting the country slip over the brink to financial ruin with the disaster that it means for the individual or we can find the will to work together to restore confidence in ourselves and to regain the confidence of the world. I have lived through one Depression. I carry with me the memory of a Christmas Eve when my brother and I and our parents exchanged our modest gifts--there was no lighted tree as there has been on Christmases past. I remember watching my father open what he thought was a greeting from his employer. We all watched and yes, we were hoping it was a bonus check. It was notice that he no longer had a job. And in those days the government ran the radio announcements telling workers not to leave home looking for jobs--there were no jobs. I'll carry with me always the memory of my father sitting there holding that envelope, unable to look at us. I cannot and will not stand by while inflation and joblessness destroy the dignity of our people. Another serious problem which must be discussed tonight is our energy situation. Our country was built on cheap energy. Today, energy is not cheap and we face the prospect that some forms of energy may soon not be available at all.

Last summer you probably spent hours sitting in gasoline lines. This winter, some will be without heat and everyone will be paying much more simply to keep home and family warm. If you ever had any doubt of the government's inability to provide for the needs of the people, just look at the utter fiasco we now call "the energy crisis." Not one straight answer nor any realistic hope of relief has come from the present administration in almost three years of federal treatment of the problem. As gas lines grew, the administration again panicked and now has proposed to put the country on a wartime footing; but for this "war" there is no victory in sight. And, as always, when the federal bureaucracy fails, all it can suggest is more of the same. This time it's another bureau to untangle the mess by the ones we already have.

But, this just won't work. Solving the energy crisis will not be easy, but it can be done. First we must decide that "less" is not enough. Next, we must remove government obstacles to energy production. And, we must make use of those technological advantages we still possess.

It is no program simply to say "use less energy." Of course waste must be eliminated and efficiently promoted, but for the government simply to tell people to conserve is not an energy policy. At best it means we will run out of energy a little more slowly. But a day will come when the lights will dim and the wheels of industry will turn more slowly and finally stop. As President I will not endorse any course which has this as its principal objective.

We need more energy and that means diversifying our sources of supply away from the OPEC countries. Yes, it means more efficient automobiles. But it also means more exploration and development of oil and natural gas here in our own country. The only way to free ourselves from the monopoly pricing power of OPEC is to be less dependent on outside sources of fuel.

The answer, obvious to anyone except those in the administration it seems, is more domestic production of oil and gas. We must also have wider use of nuclear power within strict safety rules, of course. There must be more spending by the energy industries on research and development of substitutes for fossil fuels.

In years to come solar energy may provide much of the answer but for the next two or three decades we must do such things as master the chemistry of coal. Putting the market system to work for these objectives is an essential first step for their achievement. Additional multi-billion-dollar federal bureaus and programs are not the answer.

In recent weeks there has been much talk about "excess" oil company profits. I don't believe we've been given all the information we need to make a judgment about this. We should have that information. Government exists to protect us from each other. It is not government's function to allocate fuel or impose unnecessary restrictions on the marketplace. It is government's function to determine whether we are being unfairly exploited and if so to take immediate and appropriate action. As President I would do exactly that. On the foreign front, the decade of the 1980s will place severe pressures upon the United States and its allies. We can expect to be tested in ways calculated to try our patience, to confound our resolve and to erode our belief in ourselves. During a time when the Soviet Union may enjoy nuclear superiority over this country, we must never waiver in our commitment to our allies nor accept any negotiation which is not clearly in the national interest. We must judge carefully. Though we should leave no initiative untried in our pursuit of peace, we must be clear voiced in our resolve to resist any unpeaceful act wherever it may occur. Negotiation with the Soviet Union must never become appeasement.

For the most of the last 40 years, we have been preoccupied with the global struggle--the competition--with the Soviet Union and with our responsibilities to our allies. But too often in recent times we have just drifted along with events, responding as if we thought of ourselves as a nation in decline. To our allies we seem to appear to be a nation unable to make decisions in its own interests, let alone in the common interest. Since the Second World War we have spent large amounts of money and much of our time protecting and defending freedom all over the world. We must continue this, for if we do not accept the responsibilities of leadership, who will? And if no one will, how will we survive?

The 1970s have taught us the foolhardiness of not having a long-range diplomatic strategy of our own. The world has become a place where, in order to survive, our country needs more than just allies--it needs real friends. Yet, in recent times we often seem not to have recognized who our friends are. This must change. It is now time to take stock of our own house and to resupply its strength.

Part of that process involves taking stock of our relationship with Puerto Rico. I favor statehood for Puerto Rico and if the people of Puerto Rico vote for statehood in their coming referendum I would, as President, initiate the enabling legislation to make this a reality. We live on a continent whose three countries possess the assets to make it the strongest, most prosperous and self-sufficient area on Earth. Within the borders of this North American continent are the food, resources, technology and undeveloped territory which, properly managed, could dramatically improve the quality of life of all its inhabitants.

It is no accident that this unmatched potential for progress and prosperity exists in three countries with such long-standing heritages of free government. A developing closeness among Canada, Mexico and the United States--a North American accord--would permit achievement of that potential in each country beyond that which I believe any of them--strong as they are--could accomplish in the absence of such cooperation. In fact, the key to our own future security may lie in both Mexico and Canada becoming much stronger countries than they are today.

No one can say at this point precisely what form future cooperation among our three countries will take. But if I am elected President, I would be willing to invite each of our neighbors to send a special representative to our government to sit in on high level planning sessions with us, as partners, mutually concerned about the future of our continent. First, I would immediately seek the views and ideas of Canadian and Mexican leaders on this issue, and work tirelessly with them to develop closer ties among our peoples. It is time we stopped thinking of our nearest neighbors as foreigners.

By developing methods of working closely together, we will lay the foundations for future cooperation on a broader and more significant scale. We will put to rest any doubts of those cynical enough to believe that the United States would seek to dominate any relationship among our three countries, or foolish enough to think that the governments and peoples of Canada and Mexico would ever permit such domination to occur. I for one, am confident that we can show the world by example that the nations of North America are ready, within the context of an unswerving commitment to freedom, to see new forms of accommodation to meet a changing world. A developing closeness between the United States, Canada and Mexico would serve notice on friends and foe alike that we were prepared for a long haul, looking outward again and confident of our future; that together we are going to create jobs, to generate new fortunes of wealth for many and provide a legacy for the children of each of our countries. Two hundred years ago, we taught the world that a new form of government, created out of the genius of man to cope with his circumstances, could succeed in bringing a measure of quality to human life previously thought impossible.

Now let us work toward the goal of using the assets of this continent, its resources, technology, and foodstuffs in the most efficient ways possible for the common good of all its people. It may take the next 100 years but we can dare to dream that at some future date a map of the world might show the North American continent as one in which the people's commerce of its three strong countries flow more freely across their present borders than they do today. In recent months leaders in our government have told us that, we, the people, have lost confidence in ourselves; that we must regain our spirit and our will to achieve our national goals. Well, it is true there is a lack of confidence, an unease with things the way they are. But the confidence we have lost is confidence in our government's policies. Our unease can almost be called bewilderment at how our defense strength has deteriorated. The great productivity of our industry is now surpassed by virtually all the major nations who compete with us for world markets. And, our currency is no longer the stable measure of value it once was.

But there remains the greatness of our people, our capacity for dreaming up fantastic deeds and bringing them off to the surprise of an unbelieving world. When Washington's men were freezing at Valley Forge, Tom Paine told his fellow Americans: "We have it in our power to begin the world over again," we still have that power.

We--today's living Americans--have in our lifetime fought harder, paid a higher price for freedom and done more to advance the dignity of man than any people who have ever lived on this Earth. The citizens of this great nation want leadership--yes--but not a "man on a white horse" demanding obedience to his commands. They want someone who believes they can "begin the world over again." A leader who will unleash their great strength and remove the roadblocks government has put in their way. I want to do that more than anything I've ever wanted. And it's something that I believe with God's help I can do.

I believe this nation hungers for a spiritual revival; hungers to once again see honor placed above political expediency; to see government once again the protector of our liberties, not the distributor of gifts and privilege. Government should uphold and not undermine those institutions which are custodians of the very values upon which civilization is founded--religion, education and, above all, family. Government cannot be clergyman, teacher and patriot. It is our servant, beholden to us.

We who are privileged to be Americans have had a rendezvous with destiny since the moment in 1630 when John Winthrop, standing on the deck of the tiny Arbella off the coast of Massachusetts, told the little band of Pilgrims, "We shall be a city upon a hill. The eyes of all people are upon us so that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall be made a story and a byword throughout the world."

A troubled and afflicted mankind looks to us, pleading for us to keep our rendezvous with destiny; that we will uphold the principles of self-reliance, self-discipline, morality, and--above all--responsible liberty for every individual that we will become that shining city on a hill.

I believe that you and I together can keep this rendezvous with destiny.

Farewell, Joe LeGrand

Once upon a time I didn't like Joe LeGrand. It was 3rd grade. I was in the Epiphany Toppers Drum and Bugle Corps, and Joe was a bugler who stood right in front of me. He kept turning around and giving me dirty looks. So I decided right then and there that I didn't like him.

Joe was a year ahead of me in school. While our lives intersected a lot, we weren't really close. We ran in different circles in grade school and high school.

But he started working at Binder's Market in St. Louis Hills, and my mom and dad went in there a lot, so I ran into him now and then. Those encounters--about 1989--were confusing. He'd smile when he recognized me--like he'd been waiting for me to walk in because he had a great story to tell me. Just me, no one else.

He usually did.

Joe and his brothers eventually bought Binder's and renamed it LeGrand's. The store didn't accept food stamps, but the LeGrand generosity was unlimited. They donated everything, including their time and their infinite spirit. And their endless smiles.

I like all the LeGrands, but Joe ended up being one of the people I admired most. He gave my nephew a job when my nephew was very young. Taught him more about customer service than all the MBAs graduated in the last 40 years will ever know. Not that Scottie doesn't have a natural talent for sales and getting customers what they want--he does. But Joe LeGrand exposed that talent and helped teach Scottie how to let it shine. And Scottie wasn't the only student of Joe LeGrand's customer service school.

LeGrand's served simply the best sandwiches, brats, barbecue, and meats in South St. Louis for 30 years. And no one ever went in and out of LeGrand's without feeling they'd just spent time with good friends. Here's what Joe told Feast Magazine about knowing his customers:

“We know ‘em by name,” LeGrand says with conviction. “When they hit the door, we’re making their sandwich. I have customers who come in and we change the radio station. I’ll put on some Dean Martin. We know these customers that well.”

Yeah. Hear that, BoA? (Is the Deano for Scottie?)

Joe LeGrand passed away last week. He was only 52--one year older than me.

Joe's death leaves a big hole in this world, especially in South St. Louis. We can take some solace in the fact that Joe taught a lot of young people how to serve the public, how to give more to customers than customers expected for their dollar, and how to smile no matter how bad you hurt.

And he taught me a lesson I need to learn over and over again: when you decide you don't like someone, you're probably wrong.

I was wrong in 3rd grade. Joe LeGrand was a stand-up man who would change the world for many people.

Eternal rest grant unto him, Lord, and let the the perpetual light shine upon him.

How the chippies will miss him.

More reactions:

Riverfront Times:

Who is going to replace LeGrand at the market? "Nobody is going to replace him. We're still trying to decide what is going to happen," said Perry.

Instead of flowers, the family asked that memorial donations be made in LeGrand's name to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. We also suggest you have a great sandwich to honor him. His favorite was the "LeGrand Special" -- roast beef, turkey, corned beef, cheddar, lettuce and tomato.

Ted Drewes

The South St. Louis Community lost a very dear friend this past week. Joe LeGrand's pride and passion for providing us...

Posted by Ted Drewes Inc. on Monday, August 3, 2015

Joe serves an excellent steak. Image clipped from

Buckley vs. Friedman on Service-Part 2

This is part 2 of a series on national service and the Franklin Project. Read part 1 here. First, answer this for yourself: would you vote for William F. Buckley Jr?

Milton Friedman on National Service

My friend Lloyd Sloan points out that Milton Friedman disagreed with Buckley’s call for national service. It seems appropriate, then, to view the idea of a service ethos through the eyes of two champions of conservatism of the 20th century.


Let's start with this reflection on time spent skiing with Milton Friedman and William F. Buckley  in which A. Lawrence Chickering wrote:

Some of the most interesting conversations focused on the differences between Milton’s libertarian emphasis on individual freedom and Bill’s more explicit understanding that freedom depends on values of responsibility and order beyond the self. An example was their differences on the idea of national service, which Bill endorsed in his 1990 book Gratitude. Although Bill advocated voluntary service, Milton objected to the government’s sponsorship of it, which included subsidies for education. I do not want to give the impression that Milton did not understand this crucial point about the importance of both freedom and order (responsibility), which returns to Irving Kristol’s argument about integrating libertarian and traditionalist thought. Milton often said he was convinced that the greatest threat to freedom in the world was the decline of both personal and social responsibility. But this primal insight never (to my knowledge) found its way into his writing, and I think that is a great pity.

Assuming Mr. Chickering, a fellow at the Hoover Institution, was telling the truth, we can safely say that Milton Friedman was conflicted on the matter of national service. In other words, he agreed with much of what Buckley wrote in Gratitude about the benefits of a national-service ethos, but not with Buckley’s prescription.

I commiserate with Chickering’s lament that Friedman kept this conflict to himself, publicly remaining pure to libertarian absolutism. It’s a shame, really, because that public absolutism serves as an example to many of us who avoid challenging our own beliefs and prejudices. Failure to acknowledge that we might be wrong is a surefire way to end up wrong.

Having just published Gratitude, on December 13, 1990 Mr. Buckley invited Professor Friedman to challenge Buckley's proposal on Firing Line. In that debate, Friedman argued that Buckley’s plan might be voluntary for the people who engage (or not) in their year of service, but the plan was involuntary on another level because everyone had to pay for it.

Friedman's Concerns Were Valid

We should heed Friedman’s concerns. The federal government bulges with programs that it should not run, funded with taxes it should not raise. As I mentioned in part 1, Buckley does allow Congress to establish and fund the administrative office to oversee the program. Buckley’s plan does not use federal tax dollars to fund the services themselves.

And, while Friedman acknowledges the lack of gratitude in America in 1990 (which has grown far worse since), he believes the cause of the decline in appreciation for our inheritance is government activism. “Everyone takes it for granted,” says Friedman, “that if there’s a problem, the government’s going to take care of it.” Again, I believe the Professor is on to something.

But Friedman seems to misunderstand Buckley’s proposal on a key point.

Friedman claims in the debate that the state would direct people to do its bidding. That's not what Buckley had in mind. While the government would be involved in the credentialing process, states, charities, churches, and possibly even businesses would choose the projects and direct volunteer efforts.

The Debate Continues

In the end, the debate is unsatisfying. Friedman's strongest argument is that government programs launched with the best of intentions tend to go horribly wrong. No one can argue, for instance, that the Department of Education made education worse. And the war on poverty wasted $22 trillion dollars and lifted no one out of poverty. And the many housing programs reduced the availability of affordable housing. Moreover, as sociologist Charles Murray has shown, the housing programs made life worse, not better, for those who passed through the system.

But Friedman ultimately conceded to Buckley’s observation that America’s ethos wants for a stronger sense of responsibility to our country and its people. Friedman believes that shrinking government will achieve that end, but he has no evidence that it will. Buckley believes that a year of national service will engender appreciation for what we have, and Buckley has some evidence: the World War II generation.

An Expectation of Service

Sane people did not want to go off to war in Europe or the Pacific in 1941. But they did, by the millions. And those who stayed at home, by and large, served the cause through rationing, material drives, air raid preparation, and more. There was a draft, of course, but the real consequence of failing to serve was the social stigma attached to able-bodied citizens who didn’t serve.

It is exactly that ethos of service that Buckley and the Franklin Project promote.

Buckley’s prescription may not be the best. We probably don’t need a big new government program to run this thing. And Stanley McChrystal doesn’t think we need one.

McChrystal told Business Insider:

Creating a big government agency isn't the mechanism to do this.

We're trying to take existing organizations like Teach for America and expand those. Then Cisco, the corporation, has donated money and helped to develop a digital platform that is going to give us a 21st-century ability to match opportunities and people looking for a service year opportunity.

I think we create a marketplace to do this that obviously starts slowly and then builds up momentum. And then once we get to the point where people really believe that service is not only a good thing to do — in an altruistic sense as citizen — but it also advantages them.

And McChrystal recognizes that social norms, not coercion, will be most effective in building this ethos:

Now, I can't prove this, but our sense is that if we get to 25%, you probably get the critical mass, because what we're trying to do is get this into the culture of America so that service is voluntary but it's expected. Meaning if you go to interview for a job, you go to apply to a school, you go to run for congress, people are going to naturally ask, Where did you serve?

Buckley went a bit further than General McChrystal does. His program would deny federal aid for education to anyone who failed to serve, similar to the selective service registration requirement most of us were obliged to meet in order to qualify for federally backed student loans. Buckley would also encourage states to deny driver's licenses to people fail to serve on the principle that society may withhold privileges from those who refuse to serve society's purposes.

Let's compare Buckley's proposal to the Franklin Projects.

Buckley vs. Franklin

Buckley wanted a federal agency; Franklin Project wants to expand existing federal projects. Buckley wanted 80 percent compliance; Franklin Project hopes for about 25 percent. Both Buckley and Franklin Project agree on the need for stronger national ethos of service to a cause larger than ourselves, namely, our country and its heritage. Buckley proposed material inducements to service, such as denial of privileges to those who don't serve. I cannot find a similar proposal from the Franklin Project.

On one point, I categorically prefer the Franklin Project over Buckley’s proposal: Buckley did not include military service as a form of service, but the Franklin Project does.

On the other hand, I categorically reject numerous points in the Franklin Project's plan--objections will address tomorrow in part 3.

The Question Continues

Back to my original question. I’ve seen a few people write that they would not vote for Eric Greitens because he, like William F. Buckley, advocates a renewed national ethos of service and gratitutde. Those who hold this position must also hold that they would not vote for William F. Buckley for the same reason. It's okay to prefer other candidates to Mr. Greitens on this or other grounds; it's logically inconsistent to say it's national service was okay for Buckley but not for Eric Greitens.

Now, one more question: would you vote for Ronald Reagan for governor?

Reagan seemed to understand the need for a service ethos. California in18283_lg 1971 was not the place or time for a program of service. It was the tune in, turn on, drop out capital of the world. That didn't stop Reagan from launching the California Conservation Corps (then called the Ecology Corps), which Buckley describes in Gratitude:

Its success is generally attributed to the leadership of B. T. Collins, an ex-Green Beret who lost an arm and a leg in Vietnam and did not return from Southeast Asia to America in order to suffer fools gladly. He gave the organization a motto ("Hard work, low pay, miserable conditions") as also a set of rules ("No booze, No dope, No violence, No destruction of state property, No refusal to work"). Needless to say such a regimen generated a considerable dropout rate (only one third of those joined the program completed a year. The Collins Rule or rehabilitation? If you drop out, you many not apply for reentry). Reveille is at five, a "quiet hour" begins at ten P.M., and lights go out at eleven. An interesting requirement: every California CC is required to write something every day; mostly, these have been journals of the day's activities. The design is to teach young people how to express themselves, how to externalize their thoughts in writing, the better to equip them to handle their work and their lives after leaving the CC. The work has been mostly ecological in nature: that, plus maintenance of the public places. In the opinion of Professor Moskos1, 'the California Conservation Corps stands as a preeminent example of how a comprehensive national-service program might operate at the state level." The cost, in 1986, was $19,000 per volunteer.

It seems to me that a service program informed by conservative principles, dedicated to improving the volunteers as much as the volunteers improve society, affords the best chance to infuse  our country with the ethos Buckley promoted. If Reagan could do it, why can't we? And if you wouldn't vote Buckley, do lament Reagan's two terms as governor of California?

Finally, it's okay to say we don't need a stronger service ethos, but saying so doesn't mean we won't get one.

Tomorrow in part 3, I will dig into the meat of the Franklin Project plan-- a plan that leaves much to be desired and includes much to be discarded. Part 4 will attempt to make the case for why conservatives would do well to involve themselves in shaping a service ethos rather than stomping our feet and saying "no." Part 5 will provide a new, conservative platform for service in the 21st century and ideas for bringing our vision to reality.

Thanks for reading.

P.S. I encourage you to read Mr. Chickering’s entire article for fantastic anecdotes and memories like this one:

One morning we went to the Alta Lodge ski shop to buy various trifles. I finished my shopping and impatiently waited for him [Milton Friedman] at the door of the shop. “Got everything you need?” I asked. “Nope,” he responded. “But I’ve got everything I’m willing to pay for.”

1 Professor Charles Moskos, then of Northwestern University, was the chief author of a bill proposed by Senator Sam Nunn of Georgia. While Buckley dismissed Nunn's bill as a typical Democrat spending spree, he referred to Professor Moskos's research throughout the book Gratitude.