Collectivists of all stripes, from right to left seem to love the idea of a military draft. While we can almost expect this from the political right, it’s sad to see from the political left.
Milton Friedman famously opposed it. From AntiWar.com:
“In the course of his [General Westmoreland’s] testimony, he made the statement that he did not want to command an army of mercenaries. I [Milton Friedman] stopped him and said, ‘General, would you rather command an army of slaves?’ He drew himself up and said, ‘I don’t like to hear our patriotic draftees referred to as slaves.’ I replied, ‘I don’t like to hear our patriotic volunteers referred to as mercenaries.’ But I went on to say, ‘If they are mercenaries, then I, sir, am a mercenary professor, and you, sir, are a mercenary general; we are served by mercenary physicians, we use a mercenary lawyer, and we get our meat from a mercenary butcher.’ That was the last that we heard from the general about mercenaries.”
– Milton and Rose Friedman, Two Lucky People, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998, p. 380.
In this NYT piece Thomas Ricks calls for a reintroduction of the military draft. Those who serve would get “free” college and other benefits.
Let’s Draft Our Kids – NYTimes.com: A revived draft, including both males and females, should include three options for new conscripts coming out of high school. Some could choose 18 months of military service with low pay but excellent post-service benefits, including free college tuition. These conscripts would not be deployed but could perform tasks currently outsourced at great cost to the Pentagon: paperwork, painting barracks, mowing lawns, driving generals around, and generally doing lower-skills tasks so professional soldiers don’t have to. If they want to stay, they could move into the professional force and receive weapons training, higher pay and better benefits.
There’s a sort of escape clause for libertarians and those not interested in being slaves and killed for politicians. David Henderson’s response is a must-read.
Let’s Draft Our Kids – NYTimes.com: Those who don’t want to serve in the army could perform civilian national service for a slightly longer period and equally low pay — teaching in low-income areas, cleaning parks, rebuilding crumbling infrastructure, or aiding the elderly. After two years, they would receive similar benefits like tuition aid. And libertarians who object to a draft could opt out. Those who declined to help Uncle Sam would in return pledge to ask nothing from him — no Medicare, no subsidized college loans and no mortgage guarantees. Those who want minimal government can have it.
The narrative here, and apparently the mindset, is that those pesky non-conforming libertarians who won’t bend to the power of the state must be marginalized and punished. But I wonder, I could in this scenario opt-out of the above programs like Medicare, etc. But I ask exactly what Art Carden asks:
“Would this also include the right to opt out of paying for morgage subsidies, subsidized college loans, and Medicare?”