Saturday, September 28, 2013

Toward a Euvoluntary Military Service

From Anthony Gregory, writing in Reason:
Rather than reinstating the draft, a less drastic proposal exists, one more consistent with human rights, more conducive to peace, and more respectful of those on the front lines: a truly voluntary military. Today, unlike most any other U.S. institution, the armed forces practice indentured servitude: Employees agree to a term of service and face imprisonment or even execution should they quit. We do not consider it a "voluntary" job if a warehouse or factory forcibly prevents workers from quitting at will. Those who wish to honor the humanity of America’s soldiers should agitate not for conscription but for the freedom to resign. The remaining soldiers would be there by choice, and if they continued fighting unjust, counterproductive wars, it would be harder to regard them as victims of bad leadership and an apathetic populace.

 This is actually part of Chapter 3 of my dissertation, so I could discuss it at length. I'm cruel, but I'm not that cruel. Instead, I want you to ask yourself if the nature of a fixed labor contract for military service is necessarily coercive on net. Be sure to show your work. Remember that in order to establish systematic bias, you need to have some evidence of fraud or of an admixture of excess kurtosis coupled with excessively high discounting.

It's easy enough to model a coercive military service using an extensive form game, but it might be less easy to provide empirical evidence to support that theory. How would you build your case?

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Do you have suggestions on where we could find more examples of this phenomenon?