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Friday, July 04, 2008

Robert Higgs on the McCain/Obama Call for a Bigger Military

Economic historian Robert Higgs has this to say about proposals by both McCain and Obama to increase the size of the military:

We hear much talk of “the burden on our troops.”

First, what’s the meaning of “our” in this construction? They’re not my soldiers. Are they yours? It seems to me that these soldiers are the hired hands of George Bush, Dick Cheney, and the other leaders of the gang that styles itself the government of the United States of America. None of this has anything to do with me, except that I am compelled by threats of government violence to pay a portion of the expense of maintaining and deploying these troops.

Second, what’s the sense of the “burden” they are supposedly bearing? They hired themselves out to work as soldiers; they are now working as soldiers. What could be more natural? People who hire themselves out as prostitutes expect to provide sexual services, and they do. People who hire themselves out as bakers expect to make cakes, cookies, and bread, and they do. People who hire themselves out as soldiers expect to kill people and destroy property as instructed by their officers, and they do. None of these classes of workers is any more burdened than the others: each type of worker makes a voluntary contract to supply services, and each fulfills the contract. There’s nothing especially burdomsome about the fulfillment of a voluntary contract.

Of course, we are constantly told how beholden we all are to the soldiers’ selfless services. Nonsense. I am not beholden in the least. Indeed, I devoutly wish that they had confined themselves to earning a living honestly, peacefully, and productively, rather than in a fashion so manifestly fruitful of senseless mayhem, death, and destruction.

And now, to top the evils that already exist, both major presidential candidates propose to employ even more people in this evil fashion. According to St. Matthew (26:52), Jesus declared that “all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” On the strength of this declaration, one would seem well advised to decline the sword or, if one has already taken up a sword, to put it down before somebody gets hurt.

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