17 September 2008

Throwing in Your Buck-oh-Five

Normally, I'm a huge fan of Reason and Nick Gillespie, but I think he totally bricks on this post about service to one's country in response to the McCain/Obama forum on 9/11. Libertarian principles have always been critical of government excess and about the importance of the individual, but they generally aren't anarchists, and recognize that a government that enforces the rule of law and provides for national security is a necessity for a functioning society to exist without the Beyond Thunderdome aesthetic. Mr. Gillespie writes:

As Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain has put it, "The richest men and women possess nothing of real value if their lives have no greater object than themselves." Which often (though certainly not always) means suiting up to fight a stupid elective war or, far less gruesome but still frustrating, putting an upper-middle-class career on ice for a coupla-three years while punching the clock at a public-sector sinecure of dubious policy effectiveness.
Certainly fighting in trench warfare as a German soldier in WWI might be a lousy cause, but volunteerism in America has a pretty good track record of being successful in keeping the King of England out of our affairs, ensuring the country wasn't fractured in two, and preventing worldwide devastation under the boot of the very non-libertarian Axis. And that's not just the much touted fellas in uniform doing their part, but includes massive sacrifices made here in America to ensure the troops weren't shipping out in some cobbled together schooner. National service is an abstract concept, because it doesn't necessarily involve a tangible benefit towards one's well-being. Indeed, the overall monotony of actually serving can even be detrimental to one's own psychology. But at least at the end of a lousy 14-hour day in the desert, a soldier can say "At least I'm putting my time in, man".

If that's too odd a concept to grasp, maybe I can put it another way that relates directly to an individual's self-interest. Some fall into the trap of trying to exploit their service to elicit sympathy from the general public, but really, we're the ones that should be pitying the general public. Spending your twenties sipping lattes and going to wine n' cheese parties with your phony girlfriend to talk about who has got the newest iPhone app. C'mon, there's an entire world out there beyond the confines of your carefully choreographed and boring existence. What the hell is the matter with you fuckin' people! Seriously.