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  • When we ended last time, we were discussing

  • Locke's idea of government by consent and the question arose,

  • "What are the limits on government that even the agreement

  • of the majority can't override?"

  • That was the question we ended with.

  • We saw in the case of property rights

  • that on Locke's view a democratically elected government

  • has the right to tax people.

  • It has to be taxation with consent

  • because it does involve the taking of people's property

  • for the common good but it doesn't require the consent

  • of each individual at the time the tax is enacted or collected.

  • What it does require is a prior act of consent

  • to join the society, to take on the political obligation

  • but once you take on that obligation, you agree to be bound by the majority.

  • So much for taxation. But what you may ask,

  • about the right to life? Can the government conscript people

  • and send them into battle?

  • And what about the idea that we own ourselves?

  • Isn't the idea of self-possession violated if the government can,

  • through coercive legislation and enforcement powers, say

  • "You must go risk your life to fight in Iraq."

  • What would Locke say?

  • Does the government have the right to do that?

  • Yes. In fact he says in 139, he says,

  • "What matters is that the political authority or the military authority

  • not be arbitrary, that's what matters."

  • And he gives a wonderful example.

  • He says "A sergeant, even a sergeant, let alone a general,

  • a sergeant can command a soldier to go right up to a face of a cannon

  • where he is almost sure to die, that the sergeant can do.

  • The general can condemn the soldier to death for deserting his post

  • or for not obeying even a desperate order.

  • But with all their power over life and death, what these officers can't do

  • is take a penny of that soldier's money because that has nothing to do

  • with the rightful authority,

  • that would be arbitrary and it would be corrupt."

  • So consent winds up being very powerful in Locke,

  • not consent of the individual to the particular tax or military order,

  • but consent to join the government and to be bound

  • by the majority in the first place.

  • That's the consent that matters and it matters so powerfully

  • that even the limited government created by the fact

  • that we have an unalienable right to life, liberty, and property,

  • even that limited government is only limited in the sense

  • that it has to govern by generally applicable laws,

  • the rule of law, it can't be arbitrary. That's Locke.

  • Well this raises a question about consent.

  • Why is consent such a powerful moral instrument

  • in creating political authority and the obligation to obey?

  • Today we begin to investigate the question of consent

  • by looking at a concrete case, the case of military conscription.

  • Now some people say if we have a fundamental right

  • that arises from the idea that we own ourselves,

  • it's a violation of that right for government to conscript citizens

  • to go fight in wars. Others disagree.

  • Others say that's a legitimate power of government,

  • of democratically elected governments, anyhow,

  • and that we have an obligation to obey.

  • Let's take the case of the United States fighting a war in Iraq.

  • News accounts tells us that the military is having great difficulty

  • meeting its recruitment targets.

  • Consider three policies that the U.S. government

  • might undertake to deal with the fact

  • that it's not achieving its recruiting targets.

  • Solution number one: increase the pay and benefits

  • to attract a sufficient number of soldiers.

  • Option number two: shift to a system of military conscription,

  • have a lottery, and whose ever numbers are drawn,

  • go to fight in Iraq.

  • System number three: outsource, hire what traditionally

  • have been called mercenaries, people around the world

  • who are qualified, able to do the work,

  • able to fight well, and who are willing to do it

  • for the existing wage.

  • So let's take a quick poll here.

  • How many favor increasing the pay?

  • A huge majority.

  • How many favor going to conscription?

  • Maybe a dozen people in the room favor conscription.

  • What about the outsourcing solution?

  • Okay, so there may be two, three dozen.

  • During the Civil War, the Union used a combination

  • of conscription and the market system to fill the ranks of the military

  • to fight in the Civil War.

  • It was a system that began with conscription

  • but if you were drafted and didn't want to serve,

  • you could hire a substitute to take your place

  • and many people did.

  • You could pay whatever the market required

  • in order to find a substitute, people ran ads in newspapers,

  • in the classified ads offering 500 dollars, sometimes 1000 dollars,

  • for a substitute who would go fight the Civil War

  • in their place.

  • In fact, it's reported that Andrew Carnegie

  • was drafted and hired a substitute to take his place

  • for an amount that was a little less

  • than the amount he spent in the year on fancy cigars.

  • Now I want to get your views about this Civil War system,

  • call it the hybrid system, conscription but with a buyout provision.

  • How many think it was a just system?

  • How many would defend the Civil War system?

  • Anybody? Anybody else?

  • How many think it was unjust?

  • Most of you don't like the Civil War system,

  • you think it's unjust.

  • Let's hear an objection. Why don't you like it?

  • What's wrong with it? Yes.

  • Well by paying $300 to be exempt one time around,

  • you're really putting a price on valuing human life

  • and we established earlier, that's really hard to do

  • so they're trying to accomplish something that really isn't feasible.

  • Good. So paying someone $300 or $500 or $1,000...

  • You're basically saying that's what their life is worth to you.

  • That's what their life is worth, it's putting a dollar value on life.

  • - That's good. What's your name? - Liz.

  • Liz.

  • Well, who has an answer for Liz.

  • You defended the Civil War system, what do you say?

  • If you don't like the price then you have the freedom

  • to not be sold or hired so it's completely up to you.

  • I don't think it's necessarily putting a specific price

  • on you and if it's done by himself, I don't think there's anything

  • that's really morally wrong with that.

  • So the person who takes the $500,

  • let's say, he's putting his own price on his life

  • or on the risk of his life and he should have the freedom

  • to choose to do that.

  • Exactly.

  • - What's your name? - Jason.

  • Jason. Thank you. Now we need to hear

  • from another critic of the Civil War system. Yes.

  • It's a kind of coercion almost, people who have lower incomes,

  • for Carnegie he can totally ignore the draft, $300 is an irrelevant

  • in terms of his income but someone of a lower income,

  • they're essentially being coerced to draft, to be drafted,

  • it's probably they're not able to find a replacement.

  • Tell me your name.

  • Sam.

  • Sam. All right so you say, Sam, that when a poor laborer

  • accepts $300 to fight in the Civil War, he is in effect being coerced

  • by that money given his economic circumstances

  • whereas Carnegie can go off, pay the money, and not serve.

  • Alright. I want to hear someone who has a reply to Sam's argument,

  • that what looks like a free exchange is actually coercive.

  • Who has an answer to Sam? Go ahead.

  • I'd actually agree with him in saying that...

  • You agree with Sam.

  • I agree with him in saying that it is coercion in the sense that it robs individual of his ability to reason.

  • Okay, and what's your name?

  • Raul.

  • All right. So Raul and Sam agree that what looks

  • like a free exchange, free choice, voluntary act

  • actually involves coercion.

  • It's profound coercion of the worst kind

  • because it falls so disproportionately upon one segment of the society.

  • Good. Alright. So Raul and Sam have made a powerful point.

  • Who would like to reply?

  • Who has an answer for Sam and Raul? Go ahead.

  • I don't think that these drafting systems

  • are really terribly different from all volunteer army

  • sort of recruiting strategies.

  • The whole idea of having benefits and pay for joining the army

  • is sort of a coercive strategy to get people to join.

  • It is true that military volunteers come from disproportionately

  • lower economic status and also from certain regions of the country

  • where you can use like patriotism to try and coerce people

  • to feel like it's the right thing to do to volunteer and go over to Iraq.

  • And tell me your name.

  • Emily.

  • Alright, Emily says, and Raul you're going to have to

  • reply to this so get ready.

  • Emily says fair enough, there is a coercive element

  • to the Civil War system when a laborer takes the place

  • of Andrew Carnegie for $500. Emily concedes that but she says

  • if that troubles you about the Civil War system

  • shouldn't that also trouble you about the volunteer army today?

  • Before you answer, how did you vote in the first poll?

  • - Did you defend the volunteer army? - I didn't vote.

  • You didn't vote. By the way,

  • you didn't vote but did you sell your vote

  • to the person sitting next to you? No. Alright.

  • So what would you say to that argument.

  • I think that the circumstances are different in that

  • there was conscription in the Civil War.

  • There is no draft today and I think that volunteers

  • for the army today have a more profound sense of patriotism

  • that is of an individual choice than those who were forced

  • into the military in the Civil War.

  • Somehow less coerced?

  • Less coerced.

  • Even though there is still inequality in American society?

  • Even though, as Emily points out, the makeup of the American military

  • is not reflective of the population as a whole?

  • Let's just do an experiment here. How many here have either served

  • in the military or have a family member who has served in the military

  • in this generation, not parents?

  • Family members. In this generation.

  • And how many have neither served nor have any brothers or sisters who have served?

  • Does that bear out your point Emily?

  • Yes.

  • Alright. Now we need to hear from... most of you defended the idea

  • of the all volunteer military overwhelmingly and yet overwhelmingly,

  • people considered the Civil War system unjust.

  • Sam and Raul articulated reasons for objecting to the Civil War system,

  • it took place against a background of inequality

  • and therefore the choices people made to buy their way in to military service

  • were not truly free but at least partly coerced.

  • Then Emily extends that argument in the form of a challenge.

  • Alright, everyone here who voted in favor

  • of the all volunteer army should be able... should have to explain

  • what's the difference in principle.

  • Doesn't the all volunteer army simply universalize the feature

  • that almost everyone found objectionable in the Civil War buyout provision?

  • Did I state the challenge fairly Emily?

  • Yes.

  • Okay. So we need to hear from a defender

  • of the all volunteer military who can address Emily's challenge.

  • Who can do that? Go ahead.

  • The difference between the Civil War system and the all volunteer army system

  • is that in the Civil War, you're being hired not by the government,

  • but by an individual and as a result, different people who get hired

  • by different individuals get paid different amounts.

  • In the case of the all volunteer army, everyone who gets hired

  • is hired by the government and gets paid the same amount.

  • It's precisely the universalization of essentially paying your way

  • to the army that makes the all volunteer army just.

  • Emily?

  • I guess I'd frame the principle slightly differently.

  • On the all volunteer army, it's possible for somebody

  • to just step aside and not really think

  • about the war at all. It's possible to say,

  • "I don't need the money, I don't need to have an opinion about this,

  • I don't need to feel obligated to take my part and defend my country".

  • With the coercive system, or sorry, with an explicit draft

  • then there's the threat at least that every individual

  • will have to make some sort of decision

  • regarding military conscription and perhaps in that way,

  • it's more equitable.

  • It's true that Andrew Carnegie might not serve in any case but in one,

  • he can completely step aside from it, and the other there's some level of responsibility.

  • While you're there, Emily, so what system do you favor, conscription?

  • I would be hard pressed to say but I think so

  • because it makes the whole country feel a sense of responsibility

  • for the conflict instead of having a war

  • that's maybe ideologically supported by a few but only if there's no real responsibility.

  • Good. Who wants to reply? Go ahead.

  • So I was going to say that the fundamental difference

  • between the all volunteer army and then the army in the Civil War

  • is that in the all volunteer army, if you want to volunteer

  • that comes first and then the pay

  • comes after whereas in the Civil War system,

  • the people who are accepting the pay