Conscripting High School Graduates

Bringing back a type of draft in today’s NYT

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. These conscripts would not be deployed but could perform tasks currently outsourced at great cost to the Pentagon: paperwork, painting barracks, mowing lawns, driving generals around, and generally doing lower-skills tasks so professional soldiers don’t have to. If they want to stay, they could move into the professional force and receive weapons training, higher pay and better benefits.

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.

It doesn’t say, but I’d imagine it would not be a true opt out, as I’m sure I’d still have to pay for Medicare, college loans and mortgage guarantees.

15 Responses

  1. To quote Joe Biden, “Is this a joke?”

    Normally, during a Presidential campaign, the Democrats try and gin up “Republicans will bring back the draft” and it’s still a little early for it.

    This seems like a weak tea sop for either the massive amount of unemployed younger people or a sop for the parents they’re still having to live with. Seems kind of pathetic.

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  2. “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.”

    Can we opt out of the taxes that fund these programs as well?

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  3. Clicked on the link and was disappointed to find that Thomas E. Ricks was the author. He’s usually better than this.

    Also, as far as I can determine, he never served in the military himself.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_E._Ricks_%28journalist%29

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  4. From the article:

    Those who want minimal government can have it.

    Wow. What an incredibly dishonest, or incredibly stupid, thing to have said.

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  5. Goofy idea that would never work. It would be an amusing fantasy to find out how many would opt out of all taxes and safety net and take their chances on their own, and what the results would be. Also, very glad I don’t need to read the Krugman piece as I have no time right now, sounds like he’s lost all the respect of most here, oh wait, he didn’t have it anyway.

    My life has turned into chaos temporarily so once again I’ll see ya when I see ya. If anyone wants to volunteer for the “Quotation of the Day” duty, or even every few days, feel free.

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  6. So teaching low income kids is a menial low-wage job on par with cleaning parks? I know a lot of dedicated professional teachers with masters degrees who would find that idea deeply offensive.

    The administrative effort needed to organize and supervise this program would be the mother of all make-work boondoggles.

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  7. The other thing is the juxtaposition between the original purpose:

    “IN late June, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the former commander of international forces in Afghanistan, called for reinstating the draft. “I think if a nation goes to war, every town, every city needs to be at risk,” he said at the Aspen Ideas Festival. “You make that decision and everybody has skin in the game.””

    with the recommended solution:

    “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. These conscripts would not be deployed but could perform tasks currently outsourced at great cost to the Pentagon: paperwork, painting barracks, mowing lawns, driving generals around, and generally doing lower-skills tasks so professional soldiers don’t have to. If they want to stay, they could move into the professional force and receive weapons training, higher pay and better benefits.

    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. ”

    How a revised national service program that specifically excludes the possibility of being deployed to a combat zone would serve to make everyone have “skin in the game” if the nation decides to go to war eludes me.

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  8. On a more worthwhile note, I always find Ta-Nehisi Coates a good read:

    “School as Wonder, or Way Out
    By TA-NEHISI COATES
    Published: July 10, 2012

    Last month, my 11-year-old son completed his first year at the Manhattan Country School without cataclysmic incident. My wife and I, both being dutiful Hennessy-sipping liberal elitists, were attracted to the school’s diversity of race and income, and even more attracted to the sliding scale for tuition, for reasons both societally broad and personally austere.

    The school was the sort I thought I would have wanted as a kid — small classes, a great deal of independence and myriad activities to stimulate the mind.

    But, in truth, from the first day I dropped the boy off, I was dogged by dark ancestral fears. School is the site of my most middling triumphs and my most spectacular failures. At the height of my powers I achieved the remarkable feat of being summarily tossed from Baltimore City’s best magnet school. Twice. When I departed the system of formal education my only possession was a fat mental dossier filled with report cards running red, and progress reports appended with comments like “conduct needs work,” “has trouble staying on task” and the dreaded “is not working up to potential.” ”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/11/opinion/coates-school-as-wonder-or-way-ou-.html?ref=opinion

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  9. Maybe there are some nuggets in this idea that are worth consideration, but I am doubtful. In theory, I’m not opposed to a national service requirement of some variety that might include military service, but am opposed in general to returning to a military draft. The complaint seems to be the same as it was when we last had a draft (Vietnam era), that military service falls disproportionately to the poor and lower classes and that decision makers and their progeny are insulated from the effects of war thus altering the decisions related to war.

    Most on this board probably are too young to have adult memories of when we last had a military draft. It did not change the situation complained of. Those of means still had ways of legally avoiding the draft. And in fact, my brother, who was career Army (Green Beret) and voluntarily served numerous tours in Vietnam, despised the draft. In his words, it only meant that in a combat situation he not only had to cover his own ass, he also had to worry about protecting an ill-trained draftee who was curled in a fetal ball pissing himself. He considered it a direct threat to his own well being.

    What do our vets on this board besides troll (who has already weighed in) think of this?

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  10. Goofy idea that would never work.

    That’s an understatement. It’s a complete and utter fantasy. Might as well suggest the answer to all the world’s problems are that we all have a flying unicorn.

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  11. I’d prefer to have a skittles-shitting unicorn.

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  12. taste the rainbow

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  13. Richard Cohen sums up nicely:

    “Alas, the article is far from convincing. Ricks would create three categories of conscripts of both sexes. The first “would not be deployed but could perform tasks currently outsourced at great cost to the Pentagon: paperwork, painting barracks, mowing lawns, driving generals around, and generally doing lower-skills tasks so professional soldiers don’t have to. If they want to stay, they could move into the professional force and receive weapons training, higher pay and better benefits.”

    Right there, the plan becomes a non-starter. It is not possible to take (steal?) 18 months of a young person’s life so that he or she performs such menial task. No one is going to write patriotic music for such tasks, no movies will be made — “I Drove for the General,” “Top Broom,” etc. — and young people are not going to put up with it. Instead of college or vocational training or merely searching for the perfect wave, the government is going to compel janitorial duties. This, Thomas, is not going to happen. ”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/post/should-the-us-revive-the-draft/2012/07/11/gJQAjnPscW_blog.html?hpid=z3

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  14. ““Top Broom,”

    I feel the need. the need to clean!

    Like

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