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L. Neil Smith's
Number 496, December 7, 2008

"The National Recall Coordinating Committees."

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A Public Service Announcement
by A.X. Perez
perez180ehs -+at+-

Attribute to The Libertarian Enterprise

"You would find it (restoring the speaker's eye sight) much easier than to instill moral virtue-social responsibility-into a person who doesn't have it, doesn't want it, and resents having the burden thrust on him."
—Robert A. Heinlein, Starship Troopers, pg. 146 Berkley Medallion paperback edition, May 1968

One of my dearest friends (and a woman I was deeply in love with at one time) believes in requiring universal community service. I understand the president elect shares this opinion. I tend to agree with Mr. Heinlein and this creates a gulf that cannot be crossed.

Should people serve their community? I think so, being a public school teacher. Please note though that I volunteered. A big part of my life has been spent in public service, either as a volunteer or for pay. This was always by my choice. And because of this I realize how onerous mandatory service would be, the kind of resentment it would lead to.

More important is the lesson it would reinforce, the state has the right to steal your service as well as shake you down for protection money. This leads to the belief that people exist to serve the state, not the state to protect the rights of the people. It teaches them that in the end we are most of us slaves.

Most kids I know are smart enough to figure it's better to be a supervisor than a grunt, and a master than a slave. Most kids are smart and selfish enough to learn that if it's okay to for the state to steal it's okay for them to steal.

I'm very much afraid that compulsory service will eventually reinforce tendencies in too many people to become Neitzschean, Machiavellean thieves and bullies, not teach them to care for each other. Rather than bringing out the best in people it will encourage their worst.

Leave families free to teach civic virtue to their young, and one day they may freely decide to help their fellows. Require them to serve by the state applying the force of law and all they will learn is that enslaving others is morally acceptable.


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