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Is Forced Military Service Good for the Economy?

mises.org / Ryan McMaken / August 13, 2017

Conscription, also known as “the draft,” is typically justified with appeals to values like partriotism, public service, and “sharing the burden.” That’s in peacetime. In times of war, of course, government claims conscription is necessary to provide the manpower needed for military victory.

Apologists for the draft keep all of these claims ready, just in case. The US, of course, has never really let go of the draft and continues to maintain the Selective Service, just in case.

Is Conscription Good for the Economy?

But sometimes, is it even claimed that conscription is an economic-development tool.

In the latest attempt at making conscription more popular among politicians, Elizabeth Braw of the Atlantic Council this week announced in the Financial Times that the benefits of conscription are “economic as well as military.”

Braw proceeds to argue that even though many young people might “view military service as a burden” the state is nevertheless justified in forcing them into military service for their own good. According to Braw, involuntary servitude in the military “helps their careers” and because “military service develops general skills useful “in any sector, such as adaptation, managing and social skills.”

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