Thursday, August 16, 2012

Elvis Presley and Military Stupidity

35 years ago today I got home from a week at summer camp and found my mom crying on our living room sofa.  When I asked her what was wrong she said, "Did you hear about Elvis Presley"?  I said, something like, "No, what did he do, die?" To which she informed her stupid 10-year old son (me) that yes, he had.

I loved Elvis Presley.  Still do.  My kids know many of his songs by heart as I am inclined to play his music as we drive across America.

This afternoon I was watching a tribute show to Elvis when it dawned on me that America has a long history of moronic actions when it comes to our military.

As a liberty-loving American I am greatly frustrated by our military history/current policies.  To me, the 35,000 people who died in Korea, along with the 58,000 who died in Vietnam, ostensibly died for nothing.

This is not to say that I do not value the lives of the men and women who died in these Asian conflicts.  I simply believe that when you look at these dead Americans - along with the dead Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan - it is easy to argue that at no time since 1950 has the United States been under the threat of attack from the nations of North Korea, North Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan.  Since that is a fact, I argue that it is also a fact that our military is supposed to be used for national defense.  DEFENSE. 

Look up the word. It means that if Iraq had invaded North Carolina, and thus the United States of America, it is a proper function of our federal government to shoot at Iraqi citizens who are landing in North Carolina until they leave North Carolina.  I would then maintain that flying bombers over to Iraq to reinforce our disdain for invading forces would be a logical, and legal step.

Therefore, what we did during World War II - waiting until we were attacked until we started shooting people - was the last time we have morally waged war against other people. Since then, all over the world, we have used the lives of Americans as the pawns of politicians who tell us we are fighting a Cold War, or the War on Drugs or the War on Terror or defending Israel or whatever.  None of this is a compelling argument for sending young people to foreign lands to die.  Yet even World War II showed us how little the government cares about our troops.  There are multiple books out there that document the inefficiency of government officials that led to needless deaths in the Phillipines, the Battle of the Bulge, Normandy and more.

Which brings me to Elvis Presley. 

In 1957 he made $1 million as a wildly-popular singer.  In 1958 the government forced him to stop singing so he could serve a mandatory term of two years in the military.

If Presley wanted to voluntarily join the Army to keep the Soviet Union from invading West Germany, that would have been fine.  However, he was compelled to serve under the threat of jail if he refused. 

For two years he was robbed of his Constitutional right to pursue money in what he was good at so that he could carry a gun on the off-chance he was needed to fight some Russian soldier.  What a waste - and what a great example of government inefficiency.

If you ever want to see an amazing story watch the video provided here on  how Libertarian economist Milton Friedman almost single-handedly ended the draft in the wake of the Vietnam War.  Friedman successfully convinced our government that men and women who volunteer to put their lives on the line would be more productive fighters than people who are forced to fight.

Thanks to him we now have an all volunteer force of men and women who bravely serve our nation.

It is just too bad that even though they are volunteers they are still forced to go over to nations who are no threat to us and die because politicians have elections to win.


  1. This is certainly an interesting "take" on the death of our beloved Elvis Presley.
    I remember the day well when he died, and it makes me sad to remember the young talented singer.
    I agree with everything you say in this particular blog, Professor Chambless.

  2. I often wonder how our founding fathers were so smart as to foresee such issues. A standing army was not desired, not only because it would lead to such world-wide police actions, but that it would also be used by a tyrannical government one day to control our own population. The second amendment to our constitution maintains that an armed citizenry would be the best defense of our freedom. At present, the hunters of America represent the largest armed force in the world. I believe one of the reasons for our US military is so our political leaders can be confident they can control the population when the time comes that tyranny overrules freedom.