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I was over at Townsend’s Tea Shop this evening and the six of us got into an extended conversation over “Whether women as well as men should be drafted into the military, or at least into some form of public service?” The women as well as the men agreed that it would be a fairer society if women were treated equally with men, and that included being drafted into the army. We had a new way of conducting our conversation, with a strict round robin, where each person spoke for a couple of minutes, and then the next person spoke. Our randomly chosen chairperson chose this procedure and enforced it. It worked well for a group of six, because each person didn’t have to wait too long to speak, and we made a complete circuit four times. It was good for me because it gave me a chance to write a few notes about what I wanted to say, and that subject wasn’t totally dead by the time it came time to speak. What follows is derived from my notes.

I am opposed to a forced draft of young people, because it deprives them of their free choice of what they are going to do with their time, energy, creativity, and other resources. It is bad for the economy for bureaucratic procedures to reallocate what they as individuals do with these resources, because they know far better what they are capable of, and what opportunities exist in their local environment for using their abilities. If everyone was deprived of exploiting their abilities it would have a serious detrimental effect on the economy and the nation as a whole.

Being in the military requires giving up the right to participate in the political processes, and the ability to challenge the government when it is doing the wrong things. These young people have more to lose by the government going astray, because they are going to have to live with those mistakes in a more intimate way and for a longer time. Older people, with a mortgage, car payments, children to raise and a spouse to care for, have too much to lose by confronting a misbehaving government. The right to free speech is the most precious freedom one has, because without free speech you can’t speak up and demand any of the other rights which one should be granted.

Everyone agreed that our nation needed to be protected, but at present the US is spending more money on the military and its weaponry than any other country, perhaps more than every other country put together. The basic reason for this isn’t really protection of the people and our form of government, but to spend lots of money on those materials, and that money goes into the pockets of the very ones creating the conflicts. I agreed that there is a lot of that, but also it is obvious that we only live once, and the price to pay for joining those unscrupulous people would detract from one’s overall life experience. Having enough and being happy is more satisfying than being rich and suffering constantly from guilt. Inflicting suffering on other people thru exploitation just to get money has got to leave a hole in one’s heart.

Only people with their own skin in the game should be able to send a nation to war. Drafting all people, men and women, into an army sets up a whole nation to be brutal, and become ugly and miserable.