Tuesday, July 08 2008 @ 09:21 AM CDT Views: 1,076
Also known as "Mandatory National Service." A really, really bad idea. But Armed Liberal over at Winds of Change
floats the insidious trial balloon once more:
I'd like to see this principle extended, and based on raising my own sons, think that taking a year or two between high school and college to do some kind of public service would be a good thing for most kids. Some might choose to join the military. Others would perform other kinds of community service. Those who needed it might attend two years of an academic boot camp, designed to make sure they could read and calculate effectively when they got out. We'd have a surplus of undertrained 18 year olds afoot, and we'd have to figure out things to do with them. Parks need supervision, community organizations need workers, much of it - like the WPA - will be make-work. But to a big extent, that might be a better thing than paying universities to babysit them.
My response, as posted in the comments on Winds of Change:
Indentured servitude by any other name . . . evil ideas are no less evil because pretty names are contrived for them, or lofty aspirations are assigned to them.
"Hell is paved with good intentions." Welcome to Hell, here's your accordion.
The fundamental problem is that the entire underlying theory of the political system of the United States is that the individual citizen is sovereign, and all powers of the government derive from the sovereign individual. Indentured servitude (or "mandatory national service") completely inverts this relationship--to advocate it, you must concede that every individual's life belongs to the state. That leads directly to serfdom. (Now, it's given that almost everybody has forgotten this inconvenient truth about the American political system, but it still hanging on, if only by a thread.)
Practically, the assertion that "taking a year or two between high school and college to do some kind of public service would be a good thing for most kids" may or may not be true.
But is it important enough to you that it's worth advocating a form of indentured servitude?
And, also practically, no one can guarantee that all of these young serfs will not be used for purposes which are in the long run destructive to the body politic. Government has a pretty bad record of ignoring unintended consequences. I do not think that subjecting all people from ages 18 to 24 (or whatever) to two years of mandatory "service" will be nearly as beneficial as some may think it will be.
There are some ideas which reach the level of "horrifying" for anyone who believes that freedom and liberty are worth aspiring to. Mandatory national service is at the top of that list.