I was alerted to this US bill by the operator of the Oactivists mailing list, Diana Hsieh. For more information on this mailing list see:
Here’s the opening paragraph of the bill:
To require all persons in the United States between the ages of 18 and 42 to perform national service, either as a member of the uniformed services or in civilian service in furtherance of the national defense and homeland security, to authorize the induction of persons in the uniformed services during wartime to meet end-strength requirements of the uniformed services, and for other purposes.
I am strongly opposed to national service on the grounds that it is involuntary and a violation of individual rights.
If a country is worth fighting for, the populace will generally fight and force is not morally justified to make them.
If the people of a country don’t understand the importance of their freedom (or even their partial freedoms) and are therefore not willing to fight, then you have bigger problems than just national defense. In that case, the country and it’s politics are ultimately stuffed anyway.
A response was made to Diana by an attorney on the mailing list whom I have decided to keep anonymous in case he/she doesn’t want their comments on my blog. He explained that basically, this bill has virtually no chance of advancing in Congress this year because it is an election year and Rangel is being investigated on ethics issues (NB/ Rangel is the bill’s author). However the same commenter notes that a bill that would require urgent action is one that has both Republican and Democrat sponsors. It would most likely include “universal “national service” with domestic peace corps, a teacher corps and other similar non military options”.
Is a national draft in the USA a fantasy?
In 1993, Clinton introduced the Americorps by the National and Community Service Trust Act. I’m not really sure what my thoughts are on this bill. I’m certainly opposed to contradictory altruistic ethics which I believe are the primary motivation for these typs of programs. But this program is voluntary.
Bush expanded this program and Americorps is popular amongst both Republicans and Democrats.
In 2008, both John McCain and Obama spoke at a forum sponsored by TIME at Columbia University in New York. The highly altruistic John McCain said:
“I’d be glad to reward [volunteers] them as much as possible. But you want to be careful that the reason is not the reward of financial or other reasons, but the reward is the satisfaction of serving a cause greater than yourself. … Finding new ways to serve. That’s what this next few years should be all about.”
In the same setting the now president Obama said:
“Let us renew that spirit of service and that sense of common purpose.”
What about individualism and individual rights?
President Obama supports mandatory community service. Something I am also vehemently opposed to. This is a possible precedent (in principle) to a mandatory military draft. Back in March 2009, the Democrats introduced H.R. 1388: Serve America Act. To refresh your memory, see this article:
“The House passed a bill yesterday which includes disturbing language indicating young people will be forced to undertake mandatory national service programs as fears about President Barack Obama’s promised “civilian national security force” intensify.”
“Under section 6104 of the bill, entitled “Duties,” in subsection B6, the legislation states that a commission will be set up to investigate, “Whether a workable, fair, and reasonable mandatory service requirement for all able young people could be developed, and how such a requirement could be implemented in a manner that would strengthen the social fabric of the Nation and overcome civic challenges by bringing together people from diverse economic, ethnic, and educational backgrounds.””
Update 30/7/10. Check out The John Galt Pledge site. Scroll down and there are more details on the US attempts at national service and a discussion of the altruistic ethics which ultimately drives this type of policy.