Month off from civilian service

The Parliament passed a few notable bills this week. Car tax reform became a reality and a month was lobbed off civil service. Despite the latter change, conscientious objectors still object:

The League nonetheless feels that conscientious objectors are still discriminated against. They say the government has failed to show why civilian service should be any longer than conscription.

Surely the reason is obvious: the state wants to encourage men to choose conscription. Civilian service only exists because some object to conscription. Locking up the objectors would be inefficient and not very nice, so the state has them do odd jobs here and there. But the alternative doesn't need to be particularly appealing, because if it were, that might increase the number of men who choose it. Simple as.


egan said...

Isn't it much easier to just get a note from a doctor saying you have a nastily grazed knee/particularly runny nose/easily bruised elbow?

Quite important question this, as I might be eligible for citizenship one day and there's no way I'm wiping old people's arses for 12 months, or becoming a biathlete. The €400+ price tag is a bit of a pisstake, too.

Ari said...

I didn't explore this possibility, so I'm not sure how easy it would be. This booklet (PDF) says:

"In accordance with the law, physical examinations of men at call-up age are carried out at municipal health centres before the autumn call-up. This check-up does not exempt you from the actual call-up. A youth health certificate does not exempt you from the preliminary physical examination. If you have a doctor's certificate from a specialist, bring it with you to the preliminary physical examination and the call-up."

Presumably you'd have to have an ailment the existence of which a doctor of their choosing can't disprove.

egan said...

Aha. I read in the HS test for MPs that there was no upper age limit, which was my previous safeguard in acquiring a passport that doesn't make people hate me (and lets me go to Russia free of charge).

Are the Jehovah's witnesses just considered such a massive pain in the arse that they don't want them in the barracks trying to convert people?

Ari said...

Once someone has been conscripted, he'll remain in the reserve till he's 50 or 60, depending on his training. However, I think you would be ineligible for the call-up if you become a citizen after you turn 30. I can't find an official source that's explicit on this point, though, so don't trust my say-so.

Jehovah's Witnesses' exemption is a hard-fought benefit for them. For decades, they went to jail rather than do even the civilian service.

Aapo said...

Yeah, to my knowledge the age limit concerns drafting and is 28. If you acquire your citizenship after that, you won't be called up.

By the way, since every objector must find his own place of service, those who are older and have education hardly ever spend theirs wiping arses or guarding copy machines. Among my 'barrack mates' there were at least three guys with Master's degrees (an architect, a journalist & an economist) and all were going to work in their own fields.

Which probably wasn't a very tempting idea at age when you had already been working and earning proper money, but then again - when the others of their cohort were playing war or wiping arses, these guys were doing something nicer.

egan said...

Well in that case this won't apply to me. Reading about it has really pricked my curiousity, though. British media and society often seems obsessed with the idea of national service as a remedy for our feckless, stoned youth. As a formerly feckless, stoned youth it would be interesting to see how it works in practice, and might allow me to make some money by propogating lazy Finnish stereotypes in the foreign media...

Ari said...

British media and society often seems obsessed with the idea of national service as a remedy for our feckless, stoned youth.

One could do a nice counterintuitive piece about how from the Finnish perspective, civilian service is a haven for feckless, stoned youth - military service is clearly what's needed to make upstanding citizens out of poorly behaved boys.

Aapo said...

Did you know that you could do your service at Palloliitto?

egan said...

I just wrote quite a long reply, and it disappeared into the ether when I hit 'submit'. Tangentially related to that, you should sort out a wordpress account.

Anyway, I'll try again. 'National service' in Britain means military service, I don't think we had an option for conchies in the post-war period.

It was undertaken so that campaigns in Korea, Malaya, Suez and Aden could be adequately manned, and in that time (1945-60) 125,000 saw active service. The rest were left to guard the home front, and most of the professional, volunteer army was on active service thanks to the conscripts doing the 'defending' of the UK.

My hypothetical article would argue that 1) feckless youth can still exist under conscription, they just need to be dedicated to their fecklessness, 2) conscription has a restraining effect on foreign policy (National service was instituted as a way of demobilising millions of men after WW2, ie as a reduction in the total size of the force).

If you're arguing for National Service in Britain, you're arguing for a more aggressive foreign policy, indirectly or otherwise. It would be difficult to see an expansion of the armed forces as anything else. I would aim to show that Finland's conscription has the opposite effect.

egan said...

Or is that total bollocks?

Ari said...

'National service' in Britain means military service,

Oh, okay. I blame Chris Dodd for my mistake.

2) conscription has a restraining effect on foreign policy

There's something to this in Finland's case. Support for a professional military and for NATO membership correlate positively, I think. Also, opponents of both tend to argue that adopting either one would lead to the other.

The British foreign policy is very different, obviously.