The Gap Between Will and Wallet

Should students perform national service to pay for college?

National service -- the image of a vast civilian army of fresh-faced young people embarking on a crusade of good works -- has always held romantic appeal for adults safely beyond draft age. Utopian visionary Edward Bellamy originally broached the notion more than a century ago. Philosopher William James alluded to it in his famous 1910 essay, "The Moral Equivalent of War." Franklin Roosevelt in 1943 spoke of a postwar America where young adults would make a "year's contribution of service to the Government." At the height of the Viet Nam buildup, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara proposed compulsory national service as...

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