There has been a resurgence in calls for compulsory universal national service, most recently by former defense secretary Melvin R. Laird, who declared, “Young Americans . . . need to serve their country.”

But according to Dr. Yaron Brook, executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute, “Compulsory national service is anti-American.

“According to the advocates of compulsory service, young people take America’s freedom for granted, being more concerned with selfishly pursuing an education and a fulfilling career than serving their country. To remedy that, they propose forcing young people to spend a few years working in the Peace Corps, nursing homes, or soup kitchens. This, supposedly, will make them appreciate freedom. But if the government can order a young person to stop pursuing the career he passionately loves in order to plant trees or clean bed pans, there is no freedom left for him to appreciate.

“America’s distinctive virtue is that it was the first nation to declare that each individual is an end in himself, that he possesses an inalienable right to pursue his own happiness, and that the government’s only function is to safeguard his freedom. Compulsory national service turns young people into temporary slaves in order to inculcate in their minds the opposite premise: that they have a duty to selflessly serve society. To justify such a policy on the grounds of promoting appreciation for freedom is perverse. To call it patriotic is obscene.

“Compulsory national service is a threat to freedom. It should be condemned for the anti-American policy that it is.”

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