Hot Potato: Food for Thought
Where Did All the Money Go?
The Volunteer Army
1997 July 14
Monday, Bastile Day

Since the end of WW II, the US has maintained a large peace-time army. The costs were held somewhat in check by the draft. Those unlucky enough to be drafted served for two years and were paid about $70 a month for their troubles. With the advent of the volunteer army in the 1970s, this source of cheap recruits disappeared. The higher salaries necessary to attract sufficient numbers of recruits increased the cost of maintaining a large standing army.

It would be possible to return to the draft, with all its inequities, and thereby reduce the costs of maintaining a large army. It would also be possible to shrink the size of the armed forces back to the levels of the 1930s, especially if America could end its dependence on oil from the Persian Gulf, for which it must now be prepared to fight.

Another solution would be the introduction of a one-year universal national service requirement for all young men and women when they finish their education. This would also reduce the danger of a professional army. Relatively few would perform their service in the armed forces; the rest would be put to work rebuilding America.

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