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The Fetish for Force is So Fashionable

Here’s a letter to the New York Times:

Thomas Ricks – playing at a sport now tres chic among many “Progressives” – urges Uncle Sam to reinstitute conscription (“Let’s Draft Our Kids,” July 10).  Mr. Ricks’s game plan, however, has flaws aplenty.

For example, he complains that “One reason our relatively small military is hugely expensive is that all of today’s volunteer soldiers are paid well.”  He would solve this alleged problem by turning over tasks now done by today’s generally older, more-experienced military professionals to younger, less-experienced “unmarried conscripts.”  Voila!  Problem solved!  Inexperienced eighteen-year-old conscripts being cheaper than experienced twenty- and thirtysomething professionals, the cost of our military would fall.

I’ve an offer for Mr. Ricks: Next time he or someone in his family needs surgery, I’ll force my 15-year-old son and one of his classmates to perform the procedure at a mere one-quarter of the price charged by an experienced surgeon.  If Mr. Ricks’s reasoning is sound, Mr. Ricks will enjoy the same medical outcome that he would get from a professional surgeon but at only a fraction of the cost.

Think he’ll accept my offer?

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA  22030

UPDATE: David Henderson, over at EconLog, has more.


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