Do We Need Mandatory National Service Requirements?

Do We Need Mandatory National Service Requirements?

In the wake of all of the rioting over Ferguson, and coinciding with the Thanksgiving holiday, op-ed writer David Ignatius put a spotlight on an old idea – and one that was recently re-proposed by Tom Brokaw and retired General Stanley McChrystal – having some sort of mandatory national service program in order to promote more common unity. McChrystal describes his vision as an introduction to the Franklin Project (which is being promoted through the Aspen Institute):

Ignatius writes:

What’s attractive about this approach is that it isn’t an old-fashioned draft that compels service but a modern, technology-driven network that matches people with jobs. The paradox of social networks is that they sometimes seem to fragment people into niche groups and political affinities. Here’s a social network that would connect diverse communities rather than reinforce dividing lines.

McChrystal specifically targets a ten year time period (between the ages of 18 and 28) to perform one year of paid national service. There are already many programs out there that would qualify, like Teach for America and AmeriCorps. Obviously, anyone who serves in the military would automatically fulfill their national service requirement. There would have to be some exemptions for the disabled, but I could see an entrepreneurial mind finding a way to create a new organization that would allow some of the mild to moderately disabled to work in a national service program.

We don’t need to be Israel or Switzerland (who both require mandatory service in their armed forces), but after seeing the divide between people recently in this country – because there IS a divide, and it’s one that the president has only exacerbated, not bridged – there must be a way to solve the “us versus them” mentality that doesn’t involve rioting, looting, vandalism, and the “soft bigotry of low expectations.”

Maybe mandatory national service is not only an idea whose time has come, but is now overdue.

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  • Dana says:

    “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” — Thirteenth Amendment

    • Deanna Fisher says:

      Is it slavery if it is paid? Also, if you watch McChrystal’s video, he is clearly hoping for more social pressure rather than government requirements.

      • Abelard Lindsey says:

        Would the pay be competitive with the private sector work that I currently do? Say I am a chemical or electrical engineer making, say, $60/hr. Can I expect similar compensation for this kind of work?

        Perhaps I am not interested in seeking “common purpose” with those who do not share my interests and objectives in life. Who is it for another human, especially someone who do not know me personally, to ever say how I should spend even a second of my time and life on something I have no interest in.

        • Deanna Fisher says:

          I don’t know many, if any, 18 year olds who could command a $60/hr salary. The proposed idea would span a ten year period, starting at age 18.

          And maybe if we spent a little more time seeking that “common purpose,” we might not be as Balkanized a society as we are now. I can’t tell you to care about your fellow man if they don’t share your interests and objectives. But the other side is probably saying the exact same thing.

      • Dana says:

        It is involuntary servitude, even if paid; you would be requiring someone to take a job he did not want, by force of law. It is little different, in that regard, from using the force of law to require someone to buy insurance that he didn’t want.

  • Frank says:

    Even if its paid its forced when you use force it is slavery. Gen McChrystal was one of the main conspirators in the Pat Tillman cover up debacle so F++K him and his high horse he also wants to end the 2nd amendment like most elitist high officers he was just a bureaucrat who did his time in exchange for the pay, benefits and power he never really served his country ever only made it weaker.

  • Steve says:

    The Reason Four Armed Black Ferguson Men Showed Up At A White-Owned Business May Surprise You!

  • Rebecca says:

    Hmmm. My first reaction was to wonder if the Obamacare website geniuses would be in charge of developing this technology-driven network.

    Perhaps this shouldn’t be universally mandatory, but mandatory for anyone who attends a college that receives federal funding, or takes out a federal student loan, or applies for other federal assistance within that age bracket.

    • Dana says:

      If you said that such service was required in exchange for federal benefits, I could agree; the applicants would have the choice of not applying if they din’t want to serve.

  • Dana says:

    An obvious question: how are we going to pay for this? We are already borrowing half a trillion dollars every year to fund the government; this proposal would add perhaps eight million people to the federal payroll.

    A second obvious question: what would you have these eight million people do for their service? What jobs would they fill, and whose current jobs would have to be cut to make way for the service?

  • Kaleiokalani Barela says:

    Dana nails it. Forced servitude is slavery no matter what pretty names it is called. In addition to being a violation of natural rights, as a Constitutional right it is only allowed as a lawful punishment.

    Perhaps they’ll use it to replace the tax… er… penalty on Obamacare.

  • Susan says:

    Hell no!!!!

    Will some jobs be better than others? You bet they will. Who gets the crappy jobs? The same people who ALWAYS get crap when the government decides what is good for them-the poor and the powerless.

    Will schizophrenic and other mentally ill people have to serve? Only if they take their medication, which means that they will not take their medication to stay out of government “service”.

    How about young unmarried women with babies? If the time period is 10 years, then they will just start having more babies to stay out of government servitude. There will be all sorts of behavior like this to get out of government servitude.

    Young people have spent 13 years in government-run schools being told how awful the country is. Why would they want to “serve”? There surely is a divide-brought to you by liberals.

    What is the penalty is a kid refuses to serve? Will he/she be thrown in the slammer? If the punishment for not going is refusing them government loans for college, then Mommie and Daddy will pay for little snowflake’s schooling themselves.

    Will illegal immigrants have to join up? After all, it is not their country (yet).

    This is nothing more than making liberals feel good; they have wrecked our country and see all sorts of things that need to be “changed”. Instead of doing the work themselves or sending their own kids to do it, they want to force others to do their dirty work for them.


  • Merle says:

    I’ll go you one better. Those who DON’T serve don’t vote.
    Let it roll!


  • Joe Miller says:

    I am sick and tired of people making other people do stuff. I didn’t like it in the ’60s with the draft, I don’t like it with Obamacare, and I sure as hell don’t like it with this. Can’t you people ever leave the rest of us alone?

  • Xavier says:

    If we’re going to channel young people’s energy into a cooperative project, we already have a framework in place: the military. As a requirement for graduation from high school, make every student attend a mini-boot camp. There they will learn what military service can do for them, and what it will require from them. This experience will allow young people to make better decisions about joining the military; both groups benefit because the military can woo or eliminate potential candidates based on real world performance.

    This is not the draft. This is not indentured servitude. It is simply exposing and clarifying an opportunity – and that’s good for students and good for the country.

  • OC says:

    So, how did my low draft number, back in the late 60’s get around the 13th amendment.

    Susan, I’m with you !!


  • GWB says:

    Deanna Fisher November 29, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    Is it slavery if it is paid?

    That’s why it also includes “involuntary servitude”. The point is “involuntary”. That’s not freedom. Period.

    The draft in WW2 was in accordance with freedom – a call-up of the militia to defend America from attack, which is your duty as a citizen. In Vietnam, not so much.

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