Tuesday, March 15, 2011

It Feels Drafty

My cousin and fellow Episcopalian and blogger, Bebe Bahnsen, believes it's time for rich and poor to share the burden of defending our country. For one thing, she thinks we'd all pay more attention to decisions about where, when, and how military force is used:

And I believe it should be a universal draft—men and women. The new draft I envision would require one or two years of service from all young Americans. Many would probably be in the military but there might be other ways to perform required service—teaching or assisting in substandard schools where children are destined for failure without special attention, for instance. Or volunteering in crime prevention programs in high-crime areas. Spending a year or two helping to rebuild this country’s crumbling infrastructure might be a possibility.

It might be necessary to stipulate a certain number of draftees for military service. In that case, the draft would have to be a system such as the lottery during the Vietnam War.


John Whittaker said...

I like the idea, though I would prefer to keep it simply military service. Otherwise you'll have (or at least will be accused of) Senators kids getting the painting schools jobs, while those of the poor carry rifles in foreign lands.

I'm really more of a freedom guy though, how about an incentive based approach. As an alternative to forced service, how about rather than a draft, we remain a volunteer fighting force, but make serving in the armed forces a prerequisite to vote? If you aren't willing to risk your life for your country, you don't have a voice beyond your pocket book. Or, if we don't like the idea of taxation without representation, make the requirement for military service be applied to running for elected office. Either way, you will incentivize a broader spectrum of the population into service, improve the likelihood that those who advocate military action have at least some experience with what it means, and all without heavily increasing the cost structure beyond the additional size of the armed forces. (Something we are likely gong to need to do anyway, in a world with fewer natural resources and new powerful emerging state actors.)

Fr. John said...

Good thoughts, John, and apropos whenever we talk about government coercion. As you can imagine, since Nixon created the all-volunteer armed services, I've always been in that corner. But Bebe makes good points about the disproportionate burden borne by the less advantaged (a situation Nixon also noticed in '69, hence his adopting the lottery system).