A National Service Draft?

by Richard V.L. Cooper

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Abstract

Explores motivations for and implications of compulsory national service draft in which all young men (and possibly young women) would have an obligation to serve their country, either in the military or nonmilitary activities. Proponents argue that this would encourage a "sense of commitment" among the nation's youth and would help alleviate high youth unemployment. This paper shows that the volunteer force has worked and can probably continue for the remainder of this century. Thus a draft is not needed to staff the armed forces. Some problems might be associated with such a policy: (1) equity problems in distributing individuals between military and nonmilitary service, (2) economic dislocations caused by such a policy, (3) the $25-50 billion costs, (4) ethical problems in using coercion to allocate labor resources in a free society, and (5) the constitutionality of a national service draft. There are better means for dealing with the issues raised during the debate about a national service draft.

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