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Same Burden?

Just below, in this post, is a question for those people who dispute the main point of this earlier post of mine – the post entitled “Soldiers in An All-Volunteer Military Never Bear the Burden of War.

A war is raging in the Middle East, and Uncle Sam (unsurprisingly) is among the belligerents. Young Mr. Jones of Chicago joins the army only because the pay and benefits are to his liking. Had the pay that Jones was offered to work as a mechanic at Sam’s Garage in Chicago been just a few dollars higher, he would not have joined the army. Young Mr. Smith of Dallas joins the army out of a deep sense of duty and patriotism. In fact, Smith refuses to be paid. Smith volunteers his time and effort free of charge to the U.S. taxpayers.

Jones and Smith are in the same army unit. Each man works at the same job in the army – as infantrymen – and each works with equal diligence and skill at his job. Their unit is sent into battle. Both Jones and Smith are killed by the enemy in battle.

Did Jones bear the same burden as did Smith?

Anyone who denies that the relevant burden of war waged by a non-conscript force falls on taxpayers (rather than on the actual workers/soldiers) would have to insist that soldier Jones bore just as much of the burden of war as did soldier Smith. But such a conclusion would surely falsely discredit the genuine sacrifice offered by Smith. I go further: such a conclusion would dishonor Smith.


In this example, Smith did indeed, as a soldier, bear part of the burden of war. Jones did not bear any such burden. (Smith, in effect, volunteered to pay higher taxes toward the war effort – higher taxes in the form of a contribution of work effort).