Ukraine Gets Friedmanite; Proposes End of Draft

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Via Mattias Svensson, scourge of the Swedish nanny state, comes this editorial from the Ukraine. At the Kyiv Post, the paper's publisher Jed Sunden, citing Milton Friedman, advises Ukrainians to embrace the "military reforms" of Yulia Tymoshenko which includes the abandonment of conscription:

All of [Tymoshenko's critics] are overlooking the most important reason to end the draft in Ukraine. As Milton Friedman, the great economist and political thinker pointed out, there is simply no justification for a democratic government to force conscription on its young men during peacetime. As he wrote in "Capitalism and Freedom," "the appropriate free market arrangement is volunteer military forces; which is to say, hiring men to serve. There is no justification for not paying whatever price is necessary to attract the required number of men. Present arrangements are inequitable and arbitrary, and seriously interfere with the freedom of young men."

Everything that Milton Friedman wrote about the draft in reference to the United States in the 1960s and 70s resonates deeply in reference to the draft here in Ukraine. The present status of conscription in Ukraine is simply a substantial forced tax on the least educated citizens.

Meanwhile, the poorest, least educated young men are denied freedom and forced to pay a tax on their meager earnings by working basically for free. To quote Friedman again, "When a young man is forced to serve at $45 a week, including the cost of his keep, of his uniforms, and his dependency allowances, and there are many civilian opportunities available to him at something like $100 a week, he is paying $55 a week in an implicit tax."

reason contributing editor Julian Sanchez on the draft. Former reasonoid Tim Cavanaugh on the same subject.

Former Estonian Prime Minister Mart Laar (close enough) won the 2006 Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing Liberty.

And don't miss Senior Editor Brian Doherty's March 2007 feature story "The Life and Times of Milton Friedman," adapted from his brilliant history of American libertarianism Radicals for Capitalism.

NEXT: Terror's Advocate

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  1. Viva the Orange Revolution!

  2. In before suggestive comment about Yulia Tymoshenko.

  3. She totally PMILF-y.

  4. At least some country in the world is listening to a Friedmanite!

  5. IMHO, If the Ukraine goes with an all volunteer, professional military, it will be, man for man, the finest fighting force in Eastern Europe.

  6. de stijl: agreed. She is the most attractive politician I’ve ever seen, even with the traditional Ukranian / Princess Leia hairdo.

  7. Here’s hoping this world sees the death of one more slave army.

  8. While I appreciate your post immensely, and enthusiastically agree with Sunden’s assertion that the draft must go, I do have some objections to other elements of you post. In your first paragraph you introduce the topic by saying “this editorial comes from the Ukraine.” Perhaps once in its history, when Ukraine was considered a territory of the Soviet Union, or its forefather Russia, it was referred to as “the Ukraine”. Now, I must admit as a Ukrainian, this term is not only insulting but also academically incorrect. Just as you would never refer to Poland as, “the Poland”, you should never refer to Ukraine as well, “the Ukraine”. Moving on to the issue at hand, I agree Ukraine’s system of conscription neglects its poor and uneducated social classes, while hindering its potential for a lassies faire economy. That said I am not sure that I can support Sunden’s comparison of the current anti- draft milieu in Ukraine to that of the US in the 60’s and 70’s. While both may share similar qualities, it seems hardly fair to compare the Ukraine of today to the US of the 60’s and 70’s; the US as a free-market economy with roughly 200 years of democracy under its belt, and Ukraine a recently independent, undiversified corrupt economy with arguably less than ten years of democratic rule. While I hate to be skeptical, I can foresee the issue of the draft deepening the cleavages, which divide Ukraine’s deeply, polarized blocs. I can only hope that time will prove me wrong, and democracy in Ukraine will prevail, ending the draft while propelling Ukraine into a prosperous future.

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