Magazine article The American Conservative


Magazine article The American Conservative


Article excerpt


While he makes several good and valid points, James Joyner ("War Isn't for Everyone," May 2011) is not quite accurate in his depiction of the U.S. military of the pre-volunteer era. We amateurs, and draftees like me in particular, seem to have fulfilled our obligations pretty well in World War ?, Korea, and even Vietnam and the Cold War. There was, after all, a core of regular military - "lifers" we good-naturedly called them - that can be viewed as the forerunners of today's "volunteers," and draftees were as good at their tasks as those regulars.

As for the "chickenhawk" epithet, it is not at all "absurd" or "outrageous," in my view, so long as it is applied to those who were of legal age during the draft, yet avoided service by whatever means - only to become full-throated war lovers in the next generation. What better examples of this species than the neocons!


Flagstaff Ariz.


Peter Brimelow ("Less Perfect Unions," May 201 1) may well be right that publicsector unionism cannot go on forever. But suppose for the sake of argument that public-sector unions disappear or are emasculated, and as a result, compensation for public-sector employees goes down. Wonderful for the taxpayers, right? Not necessarily.

However justified or unjustified the current level of compensation may be, it has attracted a certain quality of employee. Reduce that compensation and you get a lower quality of employee. This wouldn't happen overnight. But over time, people now employed by the public sector will seek other opportunities; those who succeed will tend to be the most competent. And talented people who might go into government service will, on the margin, decide not to.

I am not claiming that the existing level of compensation is justified. I do claim that if you reduce it, over time you will get less competent public servants. Anyone who thinks otherwise is arguing with the laws of supply and demand. Anyone who is insouciant about a lower quality of public servant is allowing ideology to blind him to reality. Public servants perform important jobs, sometimes critical jobs. Consider whether it is a good idea for mediocrities to run the Centers for Disease Control. Or your local fire station. Or an air traffic control station. If you don't like the government now, wait and see how you like it if you chop public-sector compensation.


Washington, D. C.


I have just one quibble with John Glaser's otherwise excellent "Generation Liberty" (May 2011). …

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