Ilya Somin, at the Volokh Conspiracy, has written an important post about proposals for mandatory “national service.”
I’m often disappointed to hear people, who otherwise seem to respect civil rights, argue that mandatory national service is a good idea.
As Ilya points out, mandatory national service is forced labor. It’s morally repulsive.
We don’t seem to be under an imminent threat of its passage, but unless there is widespread recognition of the nature of this awful idea we’re only one crisis away from it. And then, who knows how long after the crisis has passed it will take before the program is ended?
Since the Supreme Court has been unwilling to recognize the military draft as involuntary servitude (and thus, a violation of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution), we can’t rely on it to protect us from a broader government institution of slavery.
Instead, we have to rely on general recognition that a govenment slavery program is a very bad idea.
UPDATE: Somin has posted some interesting follow-ups to this post. Go here to see all of the related posts.