Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Yale law school can ban military recruiters, but shouldn't be able to.

From WFSB:

"A federal judge has ruled that Yale Law School has a right to bar military recruiters from its job interview program without risking the loss of federal money.

The decision means that the law school will be able to turn military recruiters away for the first time in two years, to protest the government's ban against gays serving openly in the armed forces."

L-Hack and various Republicans, hold on to your hats for this one.

I don't like this outcome. I'm not a lawyer and I don't know or understand the legal logic of this decision. I am a policy analyst, (at least I play on TV), and this is bad policy in my view of the world.

As individuals and institutions, we are continually involved in collective action - at it most minimal level, providing support and legitimacy to government. Government provides us with an infrastructure of public goods and a system of laws to manage dispute and provide protection. Each individual's contribution helps provide something collectively that is exponentially better than what we could provide ourselves.

Roads, police, the courts - all these things government provides improves our individual position. For instance, UPS makes money using public roads. The police, the courts, and the rule of law protect your property rights and stop me from coming in to your home, killing you, and calling it my own. Defense of your property is not something you might be able to yourself or as well as the collective institution (nor should you).

Because no one gets anything without the collective goods government provides, we are accountable to the government for more than taxes, if only for the multiplier effect the government creates. This is why I'm not opposed to environmental regulation. If businesses don't like it, go incorporate in China and see how you like their protection of property rights. Unfortunately, the plant goes to China and the big-wigs stay here, but that's another story. Yale University may be private, but it's not an island. The government protects the intellectual property of Yale's faculty, the government protects the Yale physical plant, the government provides an infrastructure in and around New Haven so Yale doesn't have to build an entire city for its employees to live in. In this case, the government gives Yale money!

They should accomodate the U.S. government and allow military recruitment.

There is a slippery slope to my argument - if I owe the government something, is there an limit to what they can take?

For years, we had a military draft in this country. This is the greatest coersive act ordained by government (slavery was govenment protection of a private institution, albeit disgusting, but they never ordered anyone to be a slave). Under a draft, you are uprooted from your home, ordered to conduct specific activities not of your choosing, and you are not free to alter the relationship for the term of service. Aside from the paycheck, fundamentally, there is no difference to being drafted or being in prison, except that one could argue your own actions put you in prison while simply being American got you drafted.

I don't like particularly like the idea of a draft - it is a huge affront to personal freedom, yet I can understand its necessity and support it. If you die while serving under a draft order, essentially the government has taken your life in exchange for what it provides society, so there is NO limit to what government may exact in exchange for collective benefits.

If you believe that Yale must accept military recruiting, you must accept government regulation, military draft - even the idea that government could tell a business that they must employ a certain number of American citizens, interfering in their business operations. I agree with all of there, and that's why I think Yale is wrong.


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