Wednesday, July 11, 2012

"Let's Draft Our Kids"???

I came across this July 10 NYT op-ed today, and I was almost blown away by the vast number of downright fallacious and inane assertions that the author (Thomas Ricks) puts forth.  It's almost overhwelming to try to address them all in one sitting.  So, it's better to pick a few and start from there.

Here, Don Boudreaux takes on the ludicrous idea that we would be better off by turning over tasks currently performed by older, experienced military members to younger, inexperienced conscripts.

Ricks closes his "Ode to Inanity" by repeating the tired (and historically inaccurate) argument of how a draft lends itself to "wiser war-making."  The draft didn't prevent the atrociously wrong-headed and ultimately tragic policy that was the Vietnam War.  It doesn't follow logically that a government that has reduced the cost of a military (or any of its agencies) is less likely to use it.  Ludwig von Mises wrote about how it is in the nature of a bureaucracy (of which the U.S. military is most certainly one) to try to expand its power base by spending all of its budget and making the case for additional responsibilities (and accompanying budget plus-ups) to be added.  The only case the U.S. military can make for additional responsibility is to attempt to justify it through finding additional wars to fight, additional campaigns to plan for, and additional "enemies" to preemptively attack.  There is also the compelling point that a conscripted force has no recourse in the event the government errs and enters into a misguided war.  With an all-volunteer force, the government must be more careful not to unwisely engage in conflict (else it risks losing its workforce).  One can see this in a simple and analogous thought-experiment:  Ask yourself which private company is more likely to treat its workforce better:  Company A, who must hire its employees, or Company B, who is permitted to own slaves?

My last point I'll make here is regarding the title, which is simply infuriating (and should be to anyone who abhors slavery as a human practice).  "Let's Draft OUR Kids"?!?  As if OUR kids belong to HIM (and others like him)!  If Mr. Ricks wants to sell his own kid into slavery, that's between him and his kid.  But to assert that he (and other Progressives like him) have a claim to anyone else's kid should be a huge flashing warning sign about the potentially unlimited uses Mr. Ricks and people like him sees for "our kids" once the government has them in its clutches.  It belies a downrigth scary view regarding the relationship between the U.S. government and U.S. citizens that is 180-degrees off from the principles underlying the United States's fouding.  This kind of policy is only logically supported by the view that we are slaves to the government, and by extension, slaves to our fellow citizens, devoid of any individual rights, most certainly those basic and inalienable ones proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence.


  1. OMG. That Op-ed enraged me. The part that really gets me though, is that they're going to create lots of low-skill jobs (painting barracks, cleaning parks) and pay people some very arbitrary wages. The author says it won't be much, but maybe the park doesn't need to be cleaned? This is a misalignment of resources! Talk about inefficiency! If the author thinks this is how you organize production, it's probably because he's studying war-time economies and socialism. This isn't how you want a peace time economy to work.

    Further, this opting out option sounds like a punch in the nuts. If you don't like libertarians, why not come up with some counter-arguments, rather than treating them like second class citizens? I'm not counting on government handouts in my future.

    I'm not really sure what this draft would accomplish. I have friends who have done America Corps jobs, including teach for America. They're not more patriotic, in fact, the majority hated it.

    How about a referendum regarding the next invasion?

    Until then, I'll continue to pay my taxes. As Walter Williams reminds us, that's pretty damn patriotic (or idiotic?).

    1. I decided not to comment on the libertarian opt-out option because it would require too much more space to fully address the enormous number of flaws in his idea, but I took exception to it as well. For example, how does one keep track of all the other government services that get paid for via other taxes which we don't get to opt out of? And do the libertarians get refunded all the medicare taxes they paid up to that point in their lives? And do libertarians get to not pay any taxes if they opt out, because opting out of the draft addresses part of the objection, with another part of the objection being that we should not have to *pay* for all this make-work hole-digging-and-filling. And like you said, it really is a punch in the nuts, as if we're second-class citizens because we think government doesn't belong in certain aspects of our lives or that it owns us from birth. I had the same reaction as made me so angry to even read such drivel.


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