William L. Anderson
There are many enduring myths about government that the “elites” of our society continue to push upon one, and one of them is that those of us who are not “elites” have a duty to serve them – in the name of our “social contract” to the state, of course. Now, such demands (and they are demands, make no mistake about it) always are couched in terms of “service” to “our country,” and anyone who might challenge such thinking immediately is labeled as “selfish” or “unwilling to serve.”
Coupled with this demand that we engage in servitude to the state and those who run it is the everlasting Progressive belief that government can do things without there being an opportunity cost. (Indeed, the only time I ever see Progressives invoke the doctrine of opportunity cost is when someone suggests that tax rates be cut. Suddenly, we hear something like, “This country cannot afford to have a cut in taxes.”)
For many years until the spring of 1973, the USA had military conscription, and I remember taking my draft physical in December 1972 just a little more than a month before the signing of the Paris Peace Accords ending most U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. When the draft ended and I realized I would not be going to Vietnam or anywhere else the U.S. Armed Forces would choose to send me, I was relieved, not just because I was not going to die in a war, but also because I had my life back again.
Unfortunately, for the past four decades, Americans have been harangued by Progressives, both conservative and liberal, that some sort of conscription, be it military or “national service,” was necessary for all of the “right” reasons. The young must learn to “serve,” and the latest salvo comes via (What else?) the New York Times editorial page in which Thomas E. Ricks, a fellow at the Center for a New American Security, calls for yet another state scheme to wring forced labor from young people.