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Bringing back the draft, civilian style

Take a look at this, and scroll down for some of the comments. I still occasionally come across the sort of comments in the vein of “would it not be a good idea to stick all those yobs in the Army/whatever or make them do unpaid work?” etc, etc. These comments come up when there is a discussion about problems of our terrible young people. And this seems to be a viewpoint that transcends the usual left/right political divide: conservatives like the “get em sorted out” mindset while the left goes more for the “building a sense of community” approach. As usual, the notion that individuals are entitled to live their lives for their own sakes gets lost. I mean, that is just so damned selfish.

The issue is quite simple: if the problem is youngsters getting bored and into trouble, then the obvious solution is paid work, hence removing all the legal and tax barriers to said, such as minimum wage laws, restrictions on hiring teenagers, and so on. Acquiring the pride of getting a paycheque strikes me as far more useful in encouraging positive behaviours than some sort of conscription plan for young adults, as seems to be on the cards in the US.

And I’ll repeat my point that it is not enough just to speak out against plans to conscript 18 to 25-year-olds, for example. Proposals to make people attend schools (or whatever euphemistic words for such places exist) until they are 18, for example, is also wrong, and in many cases, counterproductive, particularly where non-academic youngsters disrupt the teaching of their fellows because they are bored senseless. Far better to encourage apprenticeships, with things like tax breaks, than keeping them in one damned education project after another.

If this idea of a young civilian corps in the US becomes fact, I wonder how many of all those young Obama fans will became disenchanted with him? But then I recall that Mr McCain, his vanquished opponent, was pretty keen on all this service stuff as well.

17 comments to Bringing back the draft, civilian style

  • I was going to write a long piece about how the reason the left and “conservatives” so often join hands is that the progressive left, the social reform side, are really just conservatives who’ve lost their God and both are motivated by fear of the masses, and stuff like that, and that’s why conservatives and libertarians aren’t, or shouldn’t be anyway, on the same side, but I’ve changed my mind and just decided to snarkily say that I await all those Americans continuing to go on about how Europe is socialist and the stupid Europeans have no balls and don’t rebel, and how they’ve got guns and aren’t scared to use them, while meekly allowing their kids to be marched off to the progressive madrassas run by Obama’s friends. I wonder if Mark Steyn is finally going to admit that the USA is in just as deep as, if not deeper than, socialist shit than Europe, for instance.

  • Ian B

    Then I’m going to go and learn how to construct English sentences grammatically.

  • apex

    Ah. The ObamaYouth. Great idea, it’s going to do much for the cause of liberarianism, long term.


  • Jay

    Until there is either a return to Federalism/Republic or a basic literacy test required for voting, I am going to have to stay on the side of mandatory high-school education.

  • Ian B

    Compulsory education: proof that better than nothing isn’t always better than nothing.

  • I’m more than happy to be part of this civilian corps.

    Infiltrate, Destroy, Rebuild.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    The real divide in American culture isn’t left-right but puritan-libertarian. The puritans of the left and right agree that government ought to herd the sinners to virtue at bayonet’s point, disagreeing only on who the sinners are and which direction virtue lies in. The libertarians just want to be unherded.

    Needless to say, the puritans are much more interested in governing than the libertarians are, and so end up running things.

  • Kevin B

    There is a stage in a person’s life between childhood and adulthood where that person must learn the difference between being a ward of their parents and being responsible for themselves. (And I’m sure that as good libertarians we all agree that the basis of personal liberty is personal responsibility.)

    There have been many ways in which ‘society’ has attempted to teach its young people these lessons.

    Apprentiships, military service, tertiary education and marriage, I’ve tried them all, (although the tertiary education was sporadic and incomplete). None of them taught me the lessons ‘society’ might hope, but all of them taught me a lot.

    I’m sure that whoever sold PEBO the civilian draft idea, (since for sure he never thought of it himself), had a beautiful presentation full of pretty graphs and bullet points, with expertly quantified results, and I’m equally sure that the results won’t be as intended.

    Since it’s Friday and I feel less cynical than usual, I feel that US society is still free enough to prevent the horrors of a Hitler youth or Young Pioneers taking hold and that Obama’s Boys and Girls will learn the lessons I learned in my military service. Skiving and Bludging.

  • Vinegar Joe

    “But then I recall that Mr McCain, his vanquished opponent, was pretty keen on all this service stuff as well. “

    John McCain was against the draft.

  • Eric

    I seriously doubt a mandatory civilian force will come about any time soon in the US. When the “mandatory” part became public knowledge Obama had it scrubbed from his website and started saying “voluntary” in speeches. “Mandatory” didn’t really mean, well, mandatory, you see. There just isn’t any public support for drafting young people in the US for anything, military or civilian.

    Besides, it probably wouldn’t survive a court challenge. The (sometimes) necessity of drafting citizens in time of war is recognized by the courts, but they’ll take a dim view of drafting people to fill potholes.

    If the youth are indeed shiftless the reason is likely to be the extent to which their elders and government have allowed them to extend adolescence into middle age. It’s too easy for an able-bodied citizen to go on public assistance, and parents are doing their grown children no favors by allowing them to live at home “until they save enough to get a place”.

  • virgil xenophon

    “herd the sinners to virtue at bayonet’s point”

    LOL. I believe you used that same phrase (only you had the sinners being marched) over at Crooked Timber last June/July. I’ve always remembered the phrase. From whence does it come if not from your fertile mind? (I hope I’m not exposing my lack of erudition)You must be enamored of it’s descriptive power (as am I) or you would not use it frequently.

  • tdh

    I haven’t seen any rebellion among schoolchildren to their (compulsory) community-servitude requirements. I suppose they could get credit working for at least some organizations that support freedom, but I haven’t heard anything like that, either.

    IMHO there are certain ways that quasi-military conscription could be put into effect in the US with hardly a peep. The beginnings of this lie in colleges’ execrable community-servitude requirements/fondness in their admissions process.

    In my youth I did things that would nowadays be thought of as green or as community service, but I did them because I expected them to be fun or interesting, and because they fit my view of the world. But the greatest genuine service I performed for my community was a newspaper route, for which I expected to be paid.

    In contrast, organizations like AmeriCorps (aka Clinton Youth) are a net disservice to society.

    Ditto on compulsory schooling’s being worse than nothing. Thank heaven for home-schooling networks.

  • Zevilyn

    Unless the Federal Reserve is abolished (and the fascist crook Bernanke should be thrown in jail), America will be a ruined country within years. Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich seem to be almost alone in fighting against the Anti-American traitors at the Federal Reserve.

    Corporate Welfare is killing America; incompetent, stupid CEOs sponge off the taxpayer, enabling their shoddy businesses to

    And lets not forget the biggest crook in the US, Henry Paulson, who has stolen $700 billion of US tax payers money and not disclosed who he has given it to.

    Apparently he has given large chunks of it to his rich banker friends. Funny how he allowed Lehman Brothers (Goldman’s rival) to hit the wall then bailed out AIG and their bum chums Goldman Sachs.

    Goldman Sachs gets a $6.1 billion welfare handout, then spends $7 billion on bonuses. Obviously they didn’t need the taxpayer’s help; this is like you or me claiming benefits then going out and buying an expensive sports car.

    America is already ruined, the US taxpayer is being raped by the likes of Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan. The US constitution is dying.

  • PersonFromPorlock

    virgil xenophon:

    Yup, all my own, including the version at Crooked Timber. I’m a Devil for misquoting myself.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Vinegar Joe, McCain may have been against the draft but he is certainly in favour of organisations such as Ameri-Corps(Link) and has spoken repeatedly of the importance of “service” to the nation, etc. Go and google any of his speeches and see what I mean. His rhetoric is saturated with the word. McCain represents very much that part of the conservative tradition that is at best on nervous terms with the classical liberal one.

  • Nuke Gray!

    I came up with a better idea the other day, which I think of as Dole duty. Combine the dole and jury duty! Those who sign up first get onto a jury panel for a few weeks, and then have the same amount of time covered by the dole whilst they go and look for normal work. Then do it all again! I was on a jury recently, and I did not enjoy the experience, because it interrupted my regular routine, and my job. I don’t know of any juror who was eager for more, so this might give unemployed people even more incentive to get a job!

  • Laird

    I sympathize with the idea, Nuke, but unfortunately can’t endorse it. If I were a criminal defendant I doubt that I’d want my jury to be composed primarily of indolent slackers on the dole. No doubt many of them would enjoy the experience (or at least, would not dislike it as you did), since it would provide them something different to do and would also give them a feeling of power, so there would be no incentive to get off the dole. We could end up with a more-or-less permanent pool of “professional” jurors. I think the idea of using professional jurors is an interesting one, worth exploring, but if we were to do so I would want them to be people of higher caliber.