Saturday, November 04, 2006

On Education and Military Service

Found a link on Mankiw's blog, the economic truth behind U.S Sen. John F. Kerry's remarks:

"You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq." - John Kerry, Oct 30, 2006.

Princeton economist Uwe E. Reinhardt: University of Rochester economics professor Steven E. Landsburg made the case for the volunteer army in his textbook "Price Theory and Applications." Under a military draft, he writes, "the Selective Service Board will draft young people who are potentially brilliant brain surgeons, inventors and economists -- young people with high opportunity costs of entering the service -- and will leave undrafted some young people with much lower opportunity costs. The social loss is avoided under a voluntary system, in which precisely those with the lowest costs will volunteer."

Only slightly more crudely put, the central idea underlying this theorem of what economists call "social welfare economics" is that if a nation must use human bodies to stop bullets and shrapnel, it ought to use relatively "low-cost" bodies -- that is, predominantly those who would otherwise not have produced much gross domestic product, the main component of what economists call "social opportunity costs." On this rationale, economists certify the all-volunteer army as efficient and thus good.

...There is ample evidence that the elite now running America has grasped the economists' dictum. To be sure, the officer corps is drawn from the ranks of college graduates, and a tiny minority of college graduates do heed that call. On the other hand, it is well known that to fill the ranks of enlisted soldiers, sailors and Marines, the Pentagon draws heavily on the bottom half of the nation's income distribution, favoring in its hunt for recruits schools in low-income neighborhoods. Certainly few if any of Kerry's elitist critics on the right, all of them self-professed patriots, have served their country in uniform, let alone in battle; nor have many of their offspring.

Replace "America" with "Singapore", and add in terms like "white horses" as well...and you can see why I was (still am, actually) angry with the system.

Technorati: Singapore, NS


Elia Diodati said...

The French knew Pasteur was too valuable to use as a human bullet stop. The Singaporeans don't know that intelligent conscientious objectors aren't.

*The Lunatic Fringe* said...

We are all equal in National Service. Unless you happen to be categorised as a WHITE HORSE, then you are UNEQUAL as Cedric Foo so elegantly put it:

SINGAPORE : Minister of State for Defence Cedric Foo said the Singapore Armed Forces had a 'white horse' classification for NSmen prior to year 2000.

He said the term was used to identify sons of influential persons to ensure such enlistees were not given preferential treatment.

Mr Foo was replying to a question in Parliament on Tuesday by Nominated MP Steve Chia.

Mr Chia asked if there was such a classification and, if so, who qualifies to be classified as a 'white horse' and what privileges are accorded to them.

Mr Foo said: "All NSmen are treated equally and are deployed in vocations and units based on SAF operational requirements, their medical classification, and their academic and military performance. No NSmen has been accorded special privileges.

"Prior to year 2000, the term 'white horse' was used to identify sons of influential persons to ensure such enlistees were not given preferential treatment.

"And their medical classification and vocation assignments are scrupulously fair...since 2000, the SAF does not have a 'white horse' classification for NSmen." - CNA


So we label sons of influential persons so that they are not singled out for special lenient treatment!

Uniquely Singapore!