Who owns you?
It’s a fairly simple question, and yet, for some it’s difficult to answer.
Do you own yourself? Does the State?
I just read a piece in the New York Times titled Let’s Draft Our Kids. In it, the author mentions that General Stanley McChrystal has called for the reinstatement of the draft. The author then goes on to paint a rosy picture about how such a thing could be good, and provide cost savings for the government, forcing young people in at low pay rates (with the promise of good benefits later).
The author even postulates that a draft could have potentially changed our minds on Iraq:
But most of all, having a draft might, as General McChrystal said, make Americans think more carefully before going to war. Imagine the savings — in blood, tears and national treasure — if we had thought twice about whether we really wanted to invade Iraq.
That may be true, but the question still needs to be asked: Who owns you?
Daniel Webster, on December 9th of 1814, gave a speech in opposition to conscription, in which he stated:
The administration asserts the right to fill the ranks of the regular army by compulsion…. Is this, sir, consistent with the character of a free government? Is this civil liberty? Is this the real character of our Constitution? No, sir, indeed it is not…. Where is it written in the Constitution, in what article or section is it contained, that you may take children from their parents, and parents from their children, and compel them to fight the battles of any war, in which the folly or the wickedness of government may engage it? Under what concealment has this power lain hidden, which now for the first time comes forth, with a tremendous and baleful aspect, to trample down and destroy the dearest rights of personal liberty?
Indeed, where is it written in the Constitution that a person may be drafted? Congress has the power to raise armies, but does not have the power to compel others to join those armies.
We must also ask: Are we truly free? If we are, then how can a government force us into service?
The article also highlights another issue: The “generational gap.”
People like me (< 30-somethings) face the reality that we will likely never see a benefit from years of paying into the social security system. It’s a giant ponzi scheme, but there won’t be a Bernie Madoff going to jail for this one… it’s been deemed legal under the government’s power to tax.
The article also seems to suggest that young people should become indentured servants – working for 18 months to 2 years for low pay, in exchange for promises of free education, etc.
Really? I mean listen, I’ve met many young people who feel a sense of “entitlement.” I’ve met young 20-somethings who feel they should be vice presidents of MegaCorp already (by virtue of having a degree in classical European literature). Something like this would certainly “put them in their place” so to speak, but I still couldn’t support such a plan.
But alas, I may not have much of a say in the matter. I suspect that in the next couple of years, ideas like these will gain more supporters (ostensibly supporters from the “50+” crowd).
So, who owns you?