Since 1980, the Selective Service System has spent over 25 million dollars a year registering young men for a non-existent draft that almost everyone insists we don't need. The President and the Pentagon have come out against reinstating the draft. In 1999, Republicans joined Democrats to sponsor a bill in the 106th Congress to abolish Selective Service, and legislation to de-fund the agency actually passed the House (the Senate did not concur). Another bill to abolish Selective Service has been introduced in the Congress.
Since July 1980, the Selective Service System has wasted well over one half billion dollars registering over 40 million Americans for no purpose. Can you imagine what 600 million dollars could have done for our disabled veterans? We need to honor the contract we've made with our veterans, including the pensions and medical care they were promised, not prepare to force more people into government promises that have not been kept.
The All-Volunteer Force is doing just fine. It should be supported - not undermined. Its pay levels should be high enough to keep up enlistments and morale. We should cease foreign entanglements that separate and put pressure on our military families. Using conscription has been compared to using chariots and redcoats. The last U.S. citizen was drafted over 30 years ago (January 27, 1973). We need to finally come to grips with the fact that the Cold War is over and so are mass-based conscription systems. Maintaining registration is an insult to the job the All-Volunteer Force has done for three decades and it diverts attention from the critical issues we face regarding manpower recruitment. Selective Service deceives us into something less than a total commitment to the men and women who have volunteered to serve their country, by letting us even think we could end the All-Volunteer Force.
The Selective Service System hasn't prosecuted anyone for failure to register since the mid-1980's, yet they put a burden on every state agency from the Department of Motor Vehicles to the Alaska Permanent Fund to spy and track young men. Even the universities are wasting time, effort and precious education dollars hassling young men. Nearly every federal agency is wasting tax dollars enforcing this law that the Selective Service System refuses to enforce themselves! Is all this behind the scenes tracking necessary?
All over the world, conscription is on the run. Our allies are dumping the draft. Great Britain and Canada haven't used registration or the draft for decades. In the last ten years, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Belgium, The Netherlands and even France have all moved from conscription to an All-Volunteer Force! Even Russia has plans to drop their increasingly ineffective draft. Clearly, there is no future for Selective Service registration. Repeal of this law should be quick and easy.
The purpose of Selective Service registration is to identify people for an unnecessary military draft. Selective Service refuses to allow conscientious objectors to indicate their beliefs at the time that they register. Also, by not respecting sexual orientation, Selective Service plans to draft people who are currently 'not allowed' in the military. With a blanket registration, Selective Service plans to draft people who have already been refused by the military. Clearly, the Selective Service System represents a mass violation of our rights as individuals, and it's use would only complicate things for our military.
A vote for the draft registration freeze will not stop draft registration - immediately. It is a vote to study what the effect will be when young men are exempt from Selective Service registration. Will all these government agencies perform more efficiently without the burden of tracking? Will the lines at the post office be shorter? Will the taxpayers pocket be that much fuller? Will we as a nation be stronger or weaker? Will the sky come tumbling down if we stop Selective Service registration? It deserves to be studied.
Is slavery the best way to preserve freedom? Ever since September 11, there have been scattered calls for a new military draft. With America going to war in Iraq, we're hearing more of the same. Let's nip this notion in the bud right now. Some may want to make a case that you'll never get a man to fight for his country without first putting a gun to his head. But that sure hasn't been the American experience. We know that despite any number of bureaucratic snafus, we can build the best equipped and most powerful fighting force in the world... and remain completely voluntary. Is our military over-extended? Yes, I'll agree with that proposition. But I think the solution is to focus our efforts on actual threats. We debate whether the perceived threat of Saddam's regime can justify the dangers of going to war in Iraq. And that is a healthy debate to have. But it suggests to me that we sure can't afford to send our troops on humanitarian missions all over the world-- to Haiti, to Bosnia, to Somalia-- when our security is not being threatened at all. We need to have the men and material available when there are true threats to worry about. And if we are short on manpower nonetheless, why not raise soldiers' salaries a bit and get more recruits that way? Staff the military with men who are willing and eager to fight, rather than reluctant draftees. If the war on terror is also a war for freedom, freedom is something we should take pains to preserve. Don't you think?
This is Common Sense. I'm Paul Jacob
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