“Let’s Draft Our Kids”

Tom Ricks, at the New York Times, takes Stan McChrystal’s proposal to reinstate the draft and runs with it.

Americans still seem determined to maintain a serious military force, so we need to think about how to pay for it and staff it by creating a draft that is better and more equitable than the Vietnam-era conscription system.

A revived draft, including both males and females, should include three options for new conscripts coming out of high school. Some could choose 18 months of military service with low pay but excellent post-service benefits, including free college tuition. […]

Those who don’t want to serve in the army could perform civilian national service for a slightly longer period and equally low pay — teaching in low-income areas, cleaning parks, rebuilding crumbling infrastructure, or aiding the elderly. After two years, they would receive similar benefits like tuition aid. […]

And libertarians who object to a draft could opt out. Those who declined to help Uncle Sam would in return pledge to ask nothing from him — no Medicare, no subsidized college loans and no mortgage guarantees. Those who want minimal government can have it.

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2 responses to ““Let’s Draft Our Kids”

  1. A well reasoned draft plan, though I’m not sure how non-deployable conscripts painting rocks meets Stan’s intent of sharing the burdens and risks of a war.
    In other news, I’m not convinced that the reason for bringing back the draft is realistic, nor will it really change the climate of non-participation in America. In the end, all it does is make the military less effective. Are we trying to use the army to fix societal problems, or are we fighting and winning? The civilian service does seem to have merit, as caveated by the libertarian opt out, but as the government perpetually proves itself inept in all forms of execution, I hesitate to endorse.

  2. I can’t tell if he is serious or joking in this article: “It would be fairly cheap to house conscript soldiers on closed military bases. Housing civilian service members would be more expensive, but imaginative use of existing assets could save money. For example, V.A. hospitals might have space. ” So the V.A. system is so overflowing with resources that they have room to become the Holiday Inn Express? And he claims it would not be that expensive because we could pay the draftees less than current soldiers. There are some soldiers with families that qualify for food stamps. Does he really think we overpay soldiers?

    And finally his libertarian opt out would never work for the reason that health care is screwed up in this country. Millions would instantly convert to libertarianism at age 18 and claim they don’t want services. Then at 35 when they need them, they would clamor to not be forgotten by the rest of the country and we would give them Medicare because we are not so cold hearted to leave people outside the emergency room dying. Nobody wants entitlements when they have to pay for them, but they will want them when they need them.

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