Mandatory National Service

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.

Young Frankenstein (The Musical)

I’m a huge fan of Mel Brooks’ movie Young Frankenstein.

So, when I went to see the musical (last day in Seattle, before moving on to Broadway) with my son today, I was both excited, and worried that the play might butcher the classic movie.

Fortunately, the play was great. Most of the gags from the movie were left intact, some with few cute twists. And the songs were fun.

I hadn’t realized that Meagan Mullally (of Will & Grace fame) was going to play Elizabeth (Frankenstein’s fiancée; played by Madeline Kahn in the film). That was inspired casting, and she did a great job.

Anyway, if you get a chance to catch the play, give it a shot.