February 17, 1989 | Executive Memorandum on National Security and Defense
I Citizenship and National Service. A Blueprintfor Civic Enterprise (Washington, D.C.: The Democratic Leadership Council, May 1988), p. 54.facilities near college towns. The reason: co llege students who had participated in the military side of the national service program would be required to join the reserves for four to six years, depending on whether they had opted for two years of initial active service, and to accommodate these st u dents, new facilities might be needed in these locations. Losses in Experience and Dollars. The level of experience of U.S. military personnel would be reduced. Recruits in the All Volunteer Force usually serve three or four years on active duty. Under th e Citizens Corps plan, military participants would actively serve two years at most. To offset the reduction in experience levels caused by a high proportion of two-year citizen-soldiers, the armed services might have to spend more to increase the benefits under the G.I. Bill to recruit soldiers for the longer terms necessary to train military specialists. The Defense Department study concludes that the military service component of the Citizens Corps might cost the taxpayer between $3.8 and $9.2 billion in near-term costs alone. The national service program might help compensate for the shrinking pool of eligible manpower for the military expected in the 1990s. If that is so, a better alternative to the national service plan would be to increase the recruit i ng budget to attract more qualified young Americans to the military, rather than to create a massive Citizens Corps to fill the ranks of the armed forces. Backers of the Nunn-McCurdy bill complain that the All Volunteer Force is not sufficiently "represen t ative" of America's different ethnic and economic groups; they say it lacks sufficient numbers of the children of the rich and the upper-class. The Citizens Corps, however, will do little to change this, because only middle-class and poor youth who need c o llege financial aid would be motivated to join the Corps. Lower income students might be better off under an improved G.I. Bill with better education benefits. Civilian Service: Bureaucrat's Dream. The sponsors of the bill propose to fund programs chosen b y the state governments through an independent agency over which Congress would have only limited control. Ile potential for waste, fraud, and corruption among dozens and perhaps hundreds of jurisdictions is immense. Not only would federally funded state a nd local bureaucrats have torrents of new money, they would also have armies of middle-class high school graduates performing menial labor for the state at subsistence wages. The proponents of the Citizens Corps speak of an "ethic of equal -sacrifice" and claim that they are concerned about a lack of equality in American society. But the Citizens Corps proposal would impose far greater burdens on middle-class and working-class Americans than do current federal college aid programs. Students who could not a f ford college without some forms of federal aid would have to lose at least one year of their lives (two, in the case of military service) to menial labor for big government, while the wealthy still would be able to send their children directly to expensiv e private colleges and universities. America's youth can justly be asked to submit to a military draft if the U.S. ever needs one. But they should not be asked to serve as cheap labor for the government bureaucracy so that they can go to college. Young Ame ricans can be asked to die for their country. They should not be encouraged to live for their government. Michael Lind Visiting Fellow, Foreign Policy For ftirther information: 77ze Effects of National Sersice on Military Personnel Programs, a report prepared by SyHogistics, Inc., for the Directorate for Accession Policy, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense, September 1988.