Bravo, parliament of Norway!!!

November 1st, 2004

I get the impression it doesn't happen often that we as citizens commend our government or parliament for doing something good. More likely, we're complaining about all the pointless decision that they make. But in this case I am happy to announce that our representatives have applied common sense to a problem that was not all too complicated to solve and arrived at a meaningful and sensible solution. I may be giving these people too much credit here, as it almost seems like what happened is a result of the decisions they made rather than a target goal. In any case, common sense has prevailed and that's the most important.

In the space of the last decade, the national defence budget has been slashed considerably, thus causing Norway's armed forces to reduce the number of recruits in the mandatory nationwide draft from 100% to less than half the gentlemen age 19 who are declared physically fit. In other words, anyone eligible for the draft at 18 not willing to take part in the ordeal now has a fairly good chance of skipping it. In my case, in those days the draft was still all encompassing but certain exceptions were being made. I was drafted and set to sit out that one year in the woods like the vast majority of males my age when I signed up for community service in the 11th hour. (For those not informed, in Norway you may skip service in the army on grounds of strong conviction, in my case pacifism which isn't even a fictional stand, with the consequence of being shifted to community service and serving an equal time period there.) But for some reason the infrastructure responsible for offering community service for those not willing to serve in the army was being overrun by my peers and my "term of service" was being postponed several times. Finally, I was informed that enough time had passed for them to clear my name from their system in clear conscience (I believe the timeframe was 3 years) and I would not be doing any community service. In other words, the draft did not affect me at all.

So nowadays, it has become easier to skip out on the army for those not willing than it was for me and much easier than it was for those facing that situation 10 or 15 years ago. And since the infrastructure for community service is unable to process all the rest, a sizeable share of people will not be doing anything. And just today on the news it was reported that since the number of places in the army is now limited, there is actually competition among those eligible to be drafted because some really want to. And thus through common sense, one has accomplished the following two goals, which I advocated years ago:

1. The army is composed to a much greater extent of motivated individuals who find military service to be meaningful and a component in their future career (the army offers various educational programs which allow people to get a degree while working part time in the army and thus avoid considerable debt due to costly student loans).

2. Those of us who don't believe in the cause and have no interest in seeing weapons being fired aside from the occasional James Bond movie every couple of years are left the hell alone.

I raise my glass to you..

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