With a PhD from George Mason University and the rank of Major in the Marine Corps, Chad W. Seagren has plenty of credibility to write about economics and national service. But his argument in his superb essay “Service in a Free Society” is so common-sensical that it doesn’t even need his ethos to back it up:
So far I have argued that when we rightly understand the nature of service, we must conclude that the millions of people in this country participating in the market serve their countrymen and the others around the world in a remarkably beneficial way. But, you may wonder, what about those truly in need of assistance from others? Aren’t government programs aimed at inducing youths to help them appropriate and righteous? No—because the ends do not justify the means. Yes, there are truly needy people in this country and all over the world, but helping them by coercing others is an inappropriate way to deliver charity. Besides, the aim of national service is most often to improve the servers and to inculcate in them a sense of responsibility to the State. The beneficiary of their service is of secondary importance. With private charities, the primary aim is more often to alleviate the suffering of the beneficiary. Charities that do so effectively and efficiently tend to attract donors, while donors tend to avoid charities that squander their donations.
Read the rest. I’ll confess that I’m biased toward this position. I am adamantly opposed to “national service” programs and even more vehemently against forced conscription into military service. If our country ever gets to the point where we don’t have enough able bodied men and women who are willing to voluntarily serve in the armed forces then we will have reached a time when we no longer deserve to exist as a nation.
(Via: Joseph Swanson)