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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Emulate Roman Marian Reforms

In 108 BC Gaius Marius, uncle of Julius Caesar changed the course of world history. The Roman Republic was already a great empire, but it was often limited because there was a property requirement to serve in the Roman army. You had to have a certain amount of personal wealth, or you would not be allowed to join the army. While this preserved the army as a status symbol, it did little to aid Roman martial skills. In 108 BC, in preparation for a campaign in Numidia, Marius ignored the property requirement, and openly encouraged the lower classes to join his army. Adding to this, he said that every veteran who served him 25 years in the legions would be given a retirement pension of land in the province in which he served. In addition, after the battle of Vercellae in 101 BC, Marius granted all Italians who had allied with him against the Germanic invaders full Roman citizenship.

These actions gave raise to what would later be known as the Marian Reforms, which transformed Rome from an aggressive power to the greatest empire the world had ever seen. By getting rid of the property requirement, and in fact granting pensions in the form of land to veterans, Rome was able to offer life in the legion as a very attractive career choice. It was far better than what many lower classes faced on a daily basis, and understandably, enlistment soared in the new legionary system.

Today we face two very crucial issues. First of all, enlistment in the army is declining, and has been doing so for quite some time now. With potential nuclear threats such as Iran and North Korea looming, we need more volunteers than ever to serve. Despite offering great deals on college and financing, the army still faces a recruiting shortage.

South of the boarder, surveys show that 70% of Mexico wants to live in America. Immigration is a great feature of our society. But a tremendous problem lies in the fact that our porous boarders let across countless illegal immigrants a day. The current quota system isn’t working, and our border states are being flooded by these aliens.

Most of them are good, hardworking people, but they aren’t coming into the country legally. This presents a problem not only because our boarder states are inundated by them, but with all this unregulated traffic along the boarder, it is impossible to know if terrorists are sneaking across our very boarders with weapons that could do immense damage to our nation.

In a seemingly unrelated issue, Kansas, Nevada, North Dakota, and many other mid-western states face the opposite crisis of sorts. People are leaving, and their towns are drying up. Many towns are so desperate to restore life to their communities that they are giving away land for people to build houses on. You can actually sign up with several mid-western towns today, and they will give you a few acres of land, for absolutely nothing.

The solution to all these problems is simply to emulate Rome’s Marian Reforms. We offer immigrants full citizenship, teach them English, and give them land in Kansas and other communities that are drying up, in return for perhaps four years service in the army.

For Mexicans making as little as four pesos a day, army pay is ludicrously high, and these people are willing to cross large uninhabited deserts escorted by drug dealers just to get here – so they clearly have a sufficient amount of courage. Combined with the full benefits of citizenship, they get in fact their own piece of land.

We need to extend this offer as well to all illegal aliens currently living in the US as well. They sign up, and their being in the country illegally is forgiven.

What this will do is give Mexicans a great opportunity to safely come to America, and make some impressive benefits while doing so, give the army some much needed fresh manpower, help save countless ghost towns, thereby contributing to the overall economic health of the nation, and also help us better secure the nation by giving us a better idea of just who is in the nation.

While we do need to better secure our boarders, it’s becoming increasingly clear that every viable solution needs to include some sort of amnesty program. Well what better way is there to pave the way to amnesty than to have these immigrants become soldiers and defend us all?

The Army already has a program that grants citizenship to immigrants who join up, but more needs to be done. Better advertisement of the program, coupled with the substantial land benefits of joining, along with boarder enforcement to make illegal immigration harder will create a very attractive option for all involved.

Recent statistics show that illegal aliens are costing the US taxpayers $2,700 per illegal family. While much can be done to curb this, the obvious answer, and the smart one, is to start paying them to do something from which we will all benefit from.