National Service, Rights and Responsibility

Ilya Somin has a good piece on national service legislation and why it is always targeted at young people, usually between 18-21. The reason, as Somin posits, is that young people lack the political force to obviate being picked on by Congress. It is a good point as far as that goes, but some language in Somin’s piece, equating national service to “forced labor,” needs to be addressed.

To be clear, I am not arguing for imposing forced labor on the elderly or the middle-aged; but I do believe that doing so would be no worse than imposing that burden on the young... And whatever the validity of the general view that the young should spend more time on political activity, I hope we can agree that forced labor is not a proper punishment for spending too little time on politics.
Why is it when we talk of national service, the concept of forced labor is always raised? Why can't we discuss national service in more positive terms?

Forced labor contains within it some dangerous connotations, namely "slave labor." But national service is not, and should not be confused with forced labor, even if such a program of national service became mandatory for any age cohort.

Many, many years ago, Robert Heinlein wrote that the converse of rights is responsibilities. In an age when our everyday speech, particularly our everyday political speech, is peppered with references to rights, is it so hard to remember that with rights comes responsibilities. We have our politicians talking about all sorts of "rights" we seem to find, the right to healthcare or high quality healthcare, right to an abortion, gay marriage rights, right to a quality education, right to this entitlement or that benefit. Indeed if you were to do a word search on the last 15 speeches given by all of the candidates for president of both parties, I would wager you would find the word or phrase "right to XXXX" occurs far more often that the word "responsibility to do XXXX." Oh, that is not to say that responsibilities don't come up in political speech, but they are almost always phrased a "a responsibility to our children" or a "responsibility to the old/young/sick/dying/(insert group here)" or my personal favorite "our responsiblity to the world." As election time rolls around, we occaisionally hear words to the effect that we as voters should "exercise our right to vote responsibly" as if the political parties really want us to do that.

In short, our leaders talk incessantly about our personal rights, but never talk of our personal responsibilities.

The practical foundation of a national service plan is to help the government by providing labor for a defined period of time. The problem is that most of the work that sponsors of national service plans envision fall into one of four categories, a) military service with its attendant risks; b) physical labor of varying degrees of difficulty and danger; c) occupations difficult to staff due to various working conditions not conducive to long-term employment; or d) labor so mind-numbingly dull that the government finds it difficult to staff. I can't fault the government from seeking labor for these purposes, even if it is "forced" through a legislative imposition.

However, national service has a moral foundation as well that cannot and should be overlooked. As noted earlier, the concept of rights must have a converse, that being responsibility or accountability. When our nation's Founders set out to build a new nation, they sought expanded rights, rights unavailable to them under British colonial rule. In doing so, they accepted the responsibility that their actions could lead to their imprisonment or death for treason against the crown. In short, the Founders risked everything in seeking the ultimate freedom, the right to manage one's own govnerment.

Today, we tend to think of our nation as conferring rights upon its citizens without ever asking what do we owe the nation in return. John F. Kennedy's admonition, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country," seems lost in annals of old film. But now, more than ever, we do need to ask ourselves if we have lost sight of responsibilities that come with the trappings of citizenship.

When less than half of the American citizenry votes in a presidential election, the connection between right and responsibility is lost. Perhaps a mandatory refesher of the connection may be of use. The theory of national service is not just about "forced labor," but about remembering that the privileges of citizenship carry a price and sometimes that price needs to be paid by more than a tiny percentage of Americans who choose to serve their country.

Posted by Matt Johnston at September 26, 2007 10:12 AM
Comment #234419

Theodore Roosevelt advocated strongly for something akin to the forced national service of which you write. He felt that everyone should spend some time as, indeed, all Israelis do today, in the military or in such consonant service as their conscience would allow. The idea is not a bad one, in that it helps the people to understand from an early age the kind of sacrifice is needed to make a nation work. There is your connection of rights to responsibilities.

Look at the political equations of those decades dominated by the W.W.II generation and you see a nation that understood the necessity of unflinching defense even as it felt a calling to use government as a form of charity. I don’t think mandatory service outside of a crisis would yield the same political balance, but you can certainly see why people on both sides of the aisle could long for such a program.

Posted by: Lee Jamison at September 26, 2007 12:08 PM
Comment #234426

How about instead of compulsory service so that Americans respect their freedoms, we just give Americans their rights and responsibilities back so they can be free again?

Posted by: kctim at September 26, 2007 1:05 PM
Comment #234437

kctim, that was a rather naive comment. There is nowhere in the world that freedom, rights, and responsibilities exist where they are not constantly fought for, defended, and vigilantly maintained.

Freedom has never been free, and will never be so. Freedom is earned through labor just as food, housing, and health must be labored for, protected and defended. America is growing fat and lazy regarding its freedoms, responsibilities, and obligations. Americans believe they can pay someone to do these things for them, as in, I paid my taxes now let those I paid defend my liberties, fight my fights, and protect the fruits of my labors.

This kind of specialization of labor and reversion to currency as token representation of due diligence inevitably leads to the complacency that allows the illusion that others are taking care of things for us. Our Congress is NOT taking care of our country’s or, our children’s future. But, who cares, we paid our taxes, they should; and if we vote them back into office maybe they will get around to it, eh?

Our representatives had an obligation to read the CIA Fact book of 2001 before voting to authorize invasion of Iraq. They didn’t. Our Representatives had an obligation to heed Greenspan’s warnings of the coming entitlement crisis, they didn’t. Our representatives have an obligation to heed Bernanke’s similar warnings, they aren’t. Our Congress has an obligation to remove Bush and Cheney for high crimes and misdemeanors in circumventing the FISA court laws and refusing to secure our borders in a time of war. They won’t.

And we the people won’t remove them from office with our votes. That is an abdication of the responsibility and due diligence of free people. Such abdication will not be long without severe consequences and severe curtailment of liberty and choice. One only need read The Grapes of Wrath to recognize what true absence of choice and liberty is really like.

We still have choice and liberty, but, not for long if we don’t exercise it responsibly and demand far more and better of ourselves, our politicians, and our government.

I lived through the marital law invoked in Detroit during the 1967 riots, when I was forced to walk the downtown streets to get to my midnight auditor’s job at a hotel. I was stopped, frisked, demanded to show my papers, and pushed, shoved, and slammed against walls every several blocks of the 14 block walk (buses were halted at 9PM). I remember thinking how lucky I was to even be allowed allowed to walk the streets after curfew to keep my job. Lucky? I felt lucky to have my rights and freedoms and liberties so curtailed. I was 17, and didn’t know any better.

I am older now, and know how my fellow Americans and government and politicians allowed and even fanned the fires that burnt my city outward from 12th Street and Clairmount. I wasn’t lucky. I was a victim of apathy, complacency, neglect, a racial history that never should have been, and an ignorance of the electorate which refused to hold its elected officials accountable.

And my 16 year old daughter faces a similar experience in her future, though far more protracted, in America as the entitlement and national debt crisis grows with no courage or will of the people or the politicians to avert the drastic consequences they portend.

My daughter faces a future in which America’s front and back doors are left wide open to our enemies, so the massive transfer of public wealth to private investors in military and security firms can justify and maintain their ever growing largesse and bilking of these fools and short sighted political party advocates we call our Representatives.

I demand more and better for my daughter. I demand more and better from my politicians. I demand more and better of my government. I demand more and better of my fellow citizens. I demand. But my demands are not joined by a growing throng sufficient in number to alter this devastating course complacency and apathy are steering us toward.

It takes but 20 minutes to contact a representative and demand responsibility for one’s vote. It takes but 5 minutes to make a donation to an organization that demands responsibility for their supporter’s vote. It takes but 30 minutes to register to vote. It takes but an hour or two to vote. It takes so little to change the course of history and preserve, peace, prosperity, and liberty. It takes so little.

But, where are the throngs who would give so little of themselves, to keep America sound, prosperous, and secure? Mired in doubt, confusion, and a sense of helplessness and isolation; precisely where the politicians prefer to keep them to insure their reelection. It’s worse than a freaking Greek Tragedy.

A democratic people who fail to remove power from office often and regularly, shall suffer the greed and abuse of that entrenched and corrupted power. And the longer the people fail, the greater the suffering they, and their children, shall endure.

Matt Johnston writes of national service. Matt puts the cart before the horse. This nation first needs a massive anti-incumbent vote in the primaries coming in 14 weeks, and in Nov. 2008, that hits BOTH parties with a massive blow they cannot refuse or deny, aimed dead at their incumbency. Nothing short of that is going to reprioritize the agendas of our representatives so that politics, corruption, and greed take a back seat to solving this nation’s looming crises.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 26, 2007 2:08 PM
Comment #234443

Naive David? How can you expect people to fight for, defend and vigilantly maintain their rights and freedoms when they no longer are aware of what they are?
Why force national service onto people so they can see and respect the rights govt gives them, when we could give the people their Constitutional rights back and they could see the freedom those rights give them first hand?

“America is growing fat and lazy regarding its freedoms, responsibilities, and obligations”

Yes they are and its only going to get worse unless they have a chance to taste them again.

Posted by: kctim at September 26, 2007 3:16 PM
Comment #234445

kctim said: “when we could give the people their Constitutional rights back and they could see the freedom those rights give them first hand?”

You put the cart before the horse. Government politicians will NEVER give the people more than they demand. The people must take back the liberties and freedoms they once had by voting out the politicians who deny them. This is the fundamental truth of democracy and our Constitution, that power rests in the people, and if the people choose not to exercise that power, then the government will in their stead. Which is precisely the situation we have now.

What is naieve is to think that government politicians are going to give the people anything the people don’t punish them for withholding. Power will greedily grab for and keep whatever it is permitted to. What possible incentive do today’s political parties and politicians have to give the people anything the people themselves don’t demand with their vote.

The whole point of this duopoly party system is to divide the electorate, so there is almost never a mandate upon the politicians to do anything they don’t want to do for themselves. This should be incredibly obvious, but, I know it isn’t, since, too few folks punish these incumbents at the Primaries and on Election day by voting for their challengers instead.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 26, 2007 3:43 PM
Comment #234450

Ah, I see David. My rushed wording got me. Sorry about that.

I totally agree, govt will not give back and that it is up to us to do something about it.

Posted by: kctim at September 26, 2007 4:00 PM
Comment #234454

“Why is it when we talk of national service, the concept of forced labor is always raised? Why can’t we discuss national service in more positive terms?”

I am sorry, but simply thinking of things in ‘positive terms’ does not make them better. To (loosely) paraphrase William Shakespeare and Homer Simpson… would skunk cabbage smell any better if we called it something like ‘perfume lettuce’? I think not.

Posted by: Doug Langworthy at September 26, 2007 4:22 PM
Comment #234468

It’s the notion that the government can demand people do ‘xxxx’. Apart from making sure that they don’t violate another’s rights, should the government have any say in how we choose to live our lives? Tell us we have to join a ‘national service’ organization? Tell us we have to obtain medical insurance? Tell us we have to do any number of things just to retain our right to liberty (not be thrown in jail)?

Posted by: Rhinehold at September 26, 2007 4:59 PM
Comment #234481

National compulsory service will not become a reality unless a significant majority of Americans agree with the concept that we all must contribute to our nation, society, and future through national service. If the Congress passes it, the President signs it into law, and the Supreme Court upholds it against challenges, then the democratic and constitutional process will have worked as intended, and America will rightly have a National Service.

That said, I don’t foresee an across the board national compulsory service ever achieving public consensus. More realistically, if a national service is enacted it will be voluntary with significant rewards attached like government funded college education or significant tax reductions in return for service.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 26, 2007 6:39 PM
Comment #234483

Well… I am not sure about the ‘rightly’ word added into your statement, but you are correct, David, in saying that it is a long way off, if it all. It is not even really currently in the public debate… so I guess I have nothing to worry about.

Of course a form of your version is already intact with the GI Bill and various services’ college funds… of which I am a product (not sure that speaks positively of the program!). It would be interesting to see discussion of this extended into other ‘public service’ sectors and see what debate ensues.

Posted by: Doug Langworthy at September 26, 2007 6:48 PM
Comment #234489

Doug is right, national service is suggested, requested and rewarded. It is not nor should it be forced. I also don’t think it can uphold constitutional scrutiny, so it makes little sense to support it, IMO. When do we make exceptions? Does a quadrapalegic have to serve? How do they do that? What about a mentally challenged citizen? Seriously, I don’t see how it could stand up…

But I’ve been proven wrong before, I was certain that case history and the required ‘intention of the framers’ examination would prevent taking our land from one private individual to another private individual simply for an increase in potential tax revenue would be struck down…

Posted by: Rhinehold at September 26, 2007 8:01 PM
Comment #234491

Doug, same here. The GI Bill literally reversed the direction and course of my life by affording me the opportunity to go to and graduate from college. Even with the GI Bill, I had to work, mostly full time, to get through, since I had to provide my own housing, transportation, food and recreation, as well. Never would have happened without the GI Bill.

I am sure there are a few million other young people in the same boat I was in, who would consider national service for the GI Bill, a very fair deal.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 26, 2007 8:53 PM
Comment #234503

I think it’s a wonderful idea and would support it wholeheartedly.

The generations of Americans before and during WWII understood this—whether conservative or liberal. But since the Sixties we’ve been breeding Americans (left and right) whose only idea of “freedom” is selfish self-gratification. Far too many demand their “rights,” whatever they think that means, with no appreciation whatsoever for everything—the hard work and the sacrifice—that made those rights possible in the first place.

Instead of viewing America as a giant orgy of self-gratification that asks nothing of you in return, let’s ask everybody to give a little something back. This will give everyone a greater pride in their country and their place in it, as well as encourage a greater national identity and willingness to defend when necessary the country’s existence and what it stands for.

Posted by: Liam at September 26, 2007 11:35 PM
Comment #234504

Um, Liam…

Wasn’t it the 60s generation that signed up en masse for the Peace Corps? They wanted to server the US and help other countries that needed it but didn’t think that ‘killing ‘em all and letting god sort it out’ was the best approach.

Are you suggesting that there is only one way to serve your country? I’m a disabled vet and I would NEVER force anyone else to enter into the service, it should be someone’s choice. Just as I feel that it should be someone’s choice if they give to charity instead of having it forced as well.

I just don’t see the benefit to forcing someone into doing something we think they should do like this, how is causing them to resent the very thing you want them to appreciate and accept as a responsiblity going to make them do that?

Posted by: Rhinehold at September 26, 2007 11:44 PM
Comment #234506

Rhinehold, those who signed up for the Peace Corps in the sixties were doing just what I’d like to see more of—it was a very small number of people, however. It was hardly en masse. But I think that any larger nationwide program ought to concentrate on serving this country instead of other countries.
And I never said that only military service should count.

Posted by: Liam at September 26, 2007 11:57 PM
Comment #234510

Matt Johnson:
“But national service is not, and should not be confused with forced labor, even if such a program of national service became mandatory for any age cohort.”

Excuse me, but last time I checked, I was living in the United States of America. Therefore, “mandatory national service” is out of the question entirely.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Do conservatives want to crush these ideas out of existence too? Right along with our Constitutional rights that have been under relentless and constant attack ever since the Neocon Authoritarians took over?

In America, NO ONE CAN MAKE MANDATES against Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Period. We fought the Revolution to live in a FREE country, remember?

Damn, but this makes me angry. I cannot believe that we’ve gotten to the point where we would need to remind each other of what this nation is truly all about…

Posted by: Adrienne at September 27, 2007 12:51 AM
Comment #234544

Liam said: “But I think that any larger nationwide program ought to concentrate on serving this country instead of other countries.”

Liam, that was the VISTA program, a volunteer service program to provide aid and support where needed within the confines of American borders. The Peace Corps was internationally focused. VISTA was domestically focused.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 27, 2007 11:26 AM
Comment #234545

Liam, btw, the primary reason the VISTA program was discontinued was because it exposed young voters to just how bad things are in America, which did not reflect well on the politicians in office. VISTA sent volunteers to the poorest areas of America. VISTA volunteers became critics of American politicians and politics. Hence, the program was underfunded again and again into non-existence.

How much improved would New Orleans be in the aftermath of the Hurricane and today if VISTA were still vibrant and well funded?

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 27, 2007 11:31 AM
Comment #234551

Bring back the Draft, and make it no exceptions for race/sex or who you know. Everyone from 18-21yrs old, and if you want to go to college then you can do it after you get out. If you don’t want to be in the military then you can work in a hospital/government facility or public works, and you get the same pay/benifits as those that do work in the military.

Posted by: KT at September 27, 2007 12:05 PM
Comment #234569
In America, NO ONE CAN MAKE MANDATES against Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Period. We fought the Revolution to live in a FREE country, remember?

We sure did. And with conscripted soldiers.

Adrienne, it’s a mistake to think of “freedom” as something you’re entitled to with no effort or sacrifice on your part whatsoever. Nobody should think that others have the duty to provide it for them, but they have no duty to provide it for others or even give anything in return. This attitude towards freedom is exactly the Sixties-era mentality I was talking about. It’s as if freedom is a toy and our citizens are five-year olds who are going to hold their breath until their faces turn blue if Santa doesn’t put it under the tree on Christmas. In other words, the citizens who feel this way about freedom are spoiled brats.

Posted by: Liam at September 27, 2007 1:16 PM
Comment #234586

“We sure did. And with conscripted soldiers.”

No, you don’t know what you’re talking about. We didn’t have a government with the authority to conscript soldiers during the Revolutionary War. What we had were local militias. Coerced conscription by those local militias was no doubt forced on people in some areas — and any who refused would likely have been viewed as Tory sympathizers by their neighbors.
The first time we had a real attempt at a draft was by Madison during the War of 1812 — and it was rejected.
We did have attempts at conscription during the American Civil War in the North, though it was a very small percentage. Some of those people were paid substitutes for others who had been conscripted by the Union. There were also riots as a result of this attempt at forcing military service on the population. In the Confederate States they also attempted to conscript, and met with identical resistance and violence. The overwhelming number of people who fought in the Civil War were volunteers.
World War I was the first time we had a widespread draft during wartime. And it was in fact a draft, rather than an overall conscription of everyone. There is a big difference between the two concepts.

Matt’s article talks about mandatory conscription of national service. That concept has always been alien to the American people — and rightfully so in my view — because it is the antithesis of freedom.

“In other words, the citizens who feel this way about freedom are spoiled brats.”

If I said something like this, I would immediately be issued a warning by the Watchblog manager.

Posted by: Adrienne at September 27, 2007 2:18 PM
Comment #234594

Adrienne, it’s true that conscription wasn’t nationalized during the Revolution, but very little was—in fact, there was arguably no nation at all at that point. Certainly not one with much authority. That doesn’t mean, however, that all those conscripted soldiers weren’t conscripted.

Conscription during the Civil War happened on a MUCH greater scale than you’re letting on. Ever heard of the Draft Riots? They turned New York City into a virtual war zone. And it definitely happened on a large scale in wars after that.

In any case, I’m simply saying that there should be military drafts only—far from. And it would hardly be forced labor. People could even work for left wing-friendly things like the environment, the poor, etc, and it would come with all kinds of perks—health care, scholarships, etc. Rather than interfering with the pursuit of happiness, it could be the exact opposite, and could concievably be done in a way that would make both liberals and conservatives happy.

Posted by: Liam at September 27, 2007 2:35 PM
Comment #234606


Great! I’ll spend my ‘national service’ time working on the RCO (Rhinehold Charitable Organization) where I do what I do now, helping poor and unfortunate, and receive a check while doing so!

Who gets to arbitrate who does what? What about a parapalegic? A mentally challenged person? Someone with Asberger’s?

Why do we think it is a good and acceptable idea that we should be able to tell anyone how to live their lives? It’s one part of the Republican/conservative agenda that, frankly, makes them as bad as the progressives who try to tell people how to live their lives as well…

Posted by: Rhinehold at September 27, 2007 3:04 PM
Comment #234610

“That doesn’t mean, however, that all those conscripted soldiers weren’t conscripted.”

Yes, it does. Coercion by ones neighbors to fight in a local militia can’t accurately be called conscription. There were people who refused that coercion during the Revolution, and as I said, they were viewed as Tory sympathizers. I’m sure that wasn’t much fun for those who refused to join the militias.

“Conscription during the Civil War happened on a MUCH greater scale than you’re letting on.”

According to my copy of ‘The Oxford Companion to American Military History’ the number of conscripted soldiers in the Civil War was around 2 percent, and about 6 percent were paid substitutes.

“Ever heard of the Draft Riots?”

Why yes, I just mentioned them in my last post.

“And it definitely happened on a large scale in wars after that.”

No, not mandatory conscription of military or other service among all citizens, but drafts during wartime have taken place (since World War I). That means people get a number, and they are expected to show up when that number is called, judged for ability to serve, and only then can they be sent off to fight for their country.

“And it would hardly be forced labor.”

Yes, it would. Mandated service is forced labor. The “unalienable right” to “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” would be negated under such a system, and would not be derived by “the just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Posted by: Adrienne at September 27, 2007 3:13 PM
Comment #234611

Liam, you get far better performance from young people when you invite them and they accept, than if you order them, and they resent. Voluntary service with incentives the young perceive a need for, will render far more productive and willing results from such service, than a forced program which drafts malcontents and the ill-equipped and unprepared.

The Army in the early 1970’s had far too many people in it with no education worth speaking of, with criminal and abusive histories, and who were an administrative headache of epoch proportions in relation to morale, unit integrity and proficiency. The Army’s standards were horribly lowered by the Viet Nam era draft, the Army’s mission capability was seriously diminished as a result as well.

We have been there, done that, and learned the lesson. Let’s move on with what works best, beginning with avoiding conflicts which our military and nation can’t or, won’t get fully behind, like Iraq.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 27, 2007 3:16 PM
Comment #234628

David is correct… (?!?!) A just war, one behind which the nation can solidify as it actually perceives our defense is at stake, likely no longer has the need for conscription/draft (or whatever we label it).

Our technology now allows us to recruit brighter individuals (don’t know how I ever got in!) to operate the most technologically advanced defense force on the planet. We are in a far different time than the single shot musket warfare of the revolution or Civil War and the trench warfare of WWI.

Posted by: Doug Langworthy at September 27, 2007 4:35 PM
Comment #234633

I wasn’t thinking about this from a national security standpoint—as in we need national service in order to build up our military.

I’m thinking about it from an educational perspective—i.e, extending high school for two years with something resembling hands-on vocational training and public service that would include health care and other benefits while also giving people a sense of service and the notion that the country isn’t just something you take from but give back to.

For some, that could be the military. For others it could be something more like Americorps or FDR’s CCC program. There could be all kinds of options to suit everybody, and it could concievably pay for itself too… i.e, in improving the nation’s infrastructure and covering gaps in health, social services, public safety, and so on.

I don’t see any problem with making it voluntary to some degree—although nobody seems to see being forced to get an education, which is already required, as being involuntary slave labor.

People could opt out for reasons of conscience, religion, or whatever. Fine. But perhaps they’d also have to give up something down the road, i,e., reduced Social Security Benefits, eligibility for federal educational grants, etc. Maybe even an increased income tax rate would be appropriate.

If you don’t believe you owe the government or the fellow members of your society any public service, then fine—make that choice. But then don’t expect the government and your fellow citizens to give things TO YOU as if it’s your unearned right. Too many today see it as a one-way street.

Posted by: Liam at September 27, 2007 5:29 PM
Comment #234638


“…although nobody seems to see being forced to get an education, which is already required, as being involuntary slave labor.”

You shouldn’t say ‘nobody’ here, as there are those out there that do not agree with our compulsory education system.

“…don’t expect the government and your fellow citizens to give things TO YOU as if it’s your unearned right. Too many today see it as a one-way street.”

Couldn’t agree more.

Posted by: Doug Langworthy at September 27, 2007 5:58 PM
Comment #234665
there are those out there that do not agree with our compulsory education system.

Yes there are, and they can always opt for home-schooling, which many of them do. Opting for NO education, however, is not—nor should it be—an option. Any parent who would decide to keep a child illiterate, unable to do basic math, and devoid of any of the skills necessary to function in society, would be guilty in my eyes of child-abuse.

Posted by: Liam at September 27, 2007 11:36 PM
Comment #234727

When I become convinced that our government wages war responsibility, then I may support a reinstatement of the draft. Until then, I will oppose any legislation that has the potential of eventuality forcing my daughter to kill or be killed because of the whims of idiot politicians.

Posted by: Gerrold at September 28, 2007 1:23 PM
Comment #234749

D.A.R, you think the standards are better now then during Vietnam? You better check and see how many cat 4’s are allowed into the Army these day, let alone the guard/reserve. How do you think the Army is meeting it’s enlistment quotas.

As far as education of the enlisted, I think it is about the same now as during Nam.

Posted by: KT at September 28, 2007 4:02 PM
Comment #234757

Gerrold, my sentiments exactly. My 16 yo daughter insisted on ROTC this semester, despite my arguments to convince her otherwise. She knows her Dad was in the Army and being dad’s only child, she wants to be a lot like Dad. She didn’t reject my arguments, she just bought ROTC Gunnie’s (E-8) more. (Guess he outranked me, I was only an E-5). She thinks this is all fun and cool. Next year, she will have to give me 3 hours of her time in exchange for the cost of a class ring, yearbook, and Prom.

I will have her watch real footage of the carnage of war from Viet Nam and Darfur. Then I will work to get her in as a candy striper at our local VA hospital next summer. Then I will let her go on to make her up her own mind as a young adult.

I know this aspect of her education will be deliberately left out of her ROTC course. She knows and has been taught that if this country is attacked, there is nothing, including our lives, that is more important than repelling our attackers. But, that is a far cry from Viet Nam or Iraq. And I intend for her to know the difference before she is 18 and votes for the first time.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 28, 2007 5:12 PM
Comment #235630

I’d like to see selective service try to draft 30 or 40 year-olds.

Would you be willing to spread the word about It’s a site dedicated to shattering the myths surrounding the selective slavery system and building mass civil disobedience to stop the draft before it starts!

Our banner on a website, printing and posting the anti-draft flyer or just telling friends would help.


Scott Kohlhaas

PS. When it comes to conscription, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

Posted by: Scott Kohlhaas at October 8, 2007 9:40 PM
Comment #243727

I think that Mandatory National Service is not right and shouldnt be forced up 18 yearolds. People have to start making their own choices not other people making them for them.

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