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Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2009

HAVE YOUR SAY

National service no solution

Following are a couple of readers' responses to the Aug. 18 Hotline to Nagatacho column headlined "National service stint could help Japan out of malaise" by Rick D. Marsh Jr.

Answer is small government

What provides prosperity for nations is first and foremost the protection of liberty. To mandate national service is a practice that goes in direct opposition to this, and it will ultimately fail — as all such programs do — because it is a centralized mandate not in the best interest of the individual.

From a financial perspective, Japan, like the U.S., prints its money out of thin air, so funding for programs like this ultimately results in inflation, which is exactly what an increase in the money supply is. This is then later followed by increases in retail prices, which ultimately hurt young people and those on lower incomes the most.

Like any government sanction, there will also be those with money and influence who will find a way out of the system, and those without the same influence will not be so lucky. Furthermore, what does the writer suggest with regards to enforcing such a program? Will young people risk legal action or jail for not participating?

What is ultimately needed is not more government mandate and control, or more central economic planning and investment, but rather a drastic reduction in the size of government. If we want to educate young people, how about making it easier to afford an education by letting people keep more of their money by eliminating income taxes, and making the national health care and pension programs optional?

To motivate people you have to create an environment in which they can do what is in their own best interest. Top-down mandates like this do not accomplish that. At the same time as economic conditions are so difficult, creating an enormous new government agency and restricting the liberties of young people is perhaps well-intentioned, but very wrong.

Additionally, we have to consider the cost of this in terms of opportunities. The market tells us what the most productive activities are for people to engage in. Is restricting the ability of young people to compete in the market for two years the right choice? Wouldn't it be a disadvantage for them, as compared to their international peers not subjected to the same requirement? The answer is that no one is smart enough to know the answer — only the market can know this, which is why systems that try to centrally plan have always failed throughout history.

While good intentions certainly lie behind proposals like this, we have to realize that personal liberty and small government, whose purpose is to create the environment for prosperity rather than trying to shape what people do and how they think, is the only path to a successful future for Japan.

RICHARD GUSTAFSON

Yokohama

Slippery slope to fascism

The moment government starts forcing the youth of a country into service (usually under the worn-out, redundant premise of the "greater good") it leads only to one thing: fascism. A democratic government has no right to order the youth of a country into national service of any kind.

Let's look at the countries that had "national service": Nazi Germany, fascist Italy, fascist Japan.

In Germany, male youths were educated to be Aryan super-soldiers, while the girls were trained in becoming future mothers. In fascist Japan during the early Showa years, schoolgirls assembled ammunition.

Or look at all the communist countries that had national service: Most of them have fallen apart, and those that survive are either hell holes or have realized that a certain amount of freedom is a good thing.

Also, just because President Barack Obama (who has only one solution for everything: spend money, spend more money, spend until there's no money left) is trying to push through such an idea in the U.S., that doesn't mean it's a good idea.

Let's face it — national service won't boost Japan's food self-sufficiency, simply because Japan has never been self-sufficient in that area. It's not possible. Japan simply lacks the area for farming.

Mr. Marsh, who are you to tell me or my children what they must do? What gives any government in the world the right to tell my children what they must do? Democratic governments are hired by us, their citizens. They work for us, not we for them.

Who decides what the "greater good" is? It's communist terminology. But communist ideas — as history has proven without a doubt — don't work.

The "greater good" is only the first step. After that comes Volksgemeinschaft, and then it's just a small step toward the Aryan master race.

No thanks. I'll stick with freedom, democracy and liberty, and the right to choose. If my children want to volunteer, that's fine. But mandatory service? No.

ANDREAS KOLB

Vienna



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