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Compulsory Service


It seems quite strange to me that even some of those more libertarian-minded can be in support of compulsory national service. Even the likes of Milton Friedman believed that compulsory military service could be defended on libertarian ground in Capitalism and Freedom. What seems to have become popular today is the idea of requiring some kind of community service, such as working in a nursing home. Problems abound with this idea, including unintended consequences. First and foremost is that no man has the right to force another to work, unless as recompense for harm done to person or property (including the breaking of contractual agreements) and, for whatever it's worth, the 13th Amendment outlaws slavery (but what else could one call the 16th Amendment?). Secondly, creating the apparatus for compulsory service and a culture that accepts such an immoral institution can lead it to be used for purposes differing from the original intent. Perhaps the "service" will become something less savory to the original supporter, such as being forced to work for extreme environmentalists, PETA, or some other organization with which one has disagreements. Once the door is opened for forced labor, it will be those in power who decide what the labor is used for. Thirdly, forced national service, as alluded to above, can easily become forced military service. The U.S. government is infatuated with foreign intervention and is itching for an excuse to reinstitute the draft, or better yet, have a standing army consisting of all 17-25 year-olds in America. What also is insidious is that those who are calling for this measure are above such an age for which they prescribe it (in the disgusting movie The Ides of March, the campaign manager for a presidential candidate suggested proposing such a measure for teenagers based on the fact that they cannot vote). Lastly, virtue cannot be forced. What makes volunteer work what it is is that it is voluntary, and should should remain so.

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