Much has been made by the new administration
of the idea of national service and volunteerism. While service to one's community
is certainly admirable, it is not the federal government's place to "encourage"
or promote volunteerism. Moreover, there are troubling signs that national
service could transition from voluntary to mandatory, or de facto mandatory,
such as the requirement of service in order to be granted a diploma, or something
along those lines.
Involuntary servitude was supposed to be abolished by the 13th Amendment,
but things like Selective Service and the income tax make me wonder how serious
we really are in defending just basic freedom. The income tax enslaves workers
for nearly four months out of a year by garnishing what amounts to all their
wages in that period of time. A military draft could demand your very life,
without your consent. This should be unthinkable in a free society.
Proponents of reinstating the draft claim it is needed to protect liberty
from enemies abroad. But what about the enemies of liberty right here at home?
I am convinced that there are more threats to American liberty within the 10-mile
radius of my office on Capitol Hill than there are on the rest of the globe.
If we get our troops off of foreign soil, those perceived enemies of our liberty
abroad are much more likely to stand down and let us be. We have more than
enough troops to mind our own business and defend ourselves. It is only for
world domination that we have a troop shortage.
Nevertheless, some think recruiting for our military is too low and that the
younger generation will not answer the call of duty willingly, and must be
drafted by force. I take extreme exception to this characterization of young
people today. First of all, I believe they correctly see that foreign policy,
as unpopular as it has been under Bush, is not significantly changing under
Obama, and has little, if anything, to do with defending the United States,
and certainly not the Constitution. Second, many see friends and acquaintances
who have voluntarily enlisted, and have taken note of how soldiers and veterans
are treated. Perhaps rather than blaming younger generations for being selfish,
older generations should remember their promises to those who volunteer for
military service and be mindful of how they are treated. Every homeless vet
by the side of the road, every suicide, every report of substandard conditions
in veteran hospitals is a sign of how we let our military down. Perhaps we
should look to those issues if we have problems with military recruitment,
rather than trampling freedom in the name of protecting it.
If that is not enough reason, consider that most in the military are against
a draft. There is a vast difference between serving alongside another volunteer
and serving alongside a reluctant conscript. Americans need to be on the lookout
for any propaganda trying to ease us back into the draft. Too often a flawed
foreign policy prompts the need for a draft. Abolishing Selective Service is
one thing we could do to counter those efforts.