Democratic Congressman Charles Rangel has introduced a bill to mandate "national service" for all Americans. The bill is named the "Universal National Service Act of 2007" and numbered HR 393.
"National service" is Rangel's name for the draft. But this bill goes far beyond a traditional draft. It would apply to any number of other government programs, not just the military. It would apply to women as well as men. And it would not contain any of the exceptions that the draft has previously allowed.
Rangel claims that the goal of his bill is to make war less likely. He claims that if the children of federal lawmakers were in the military, Congress would be less likely to vote to authorize war. He also claims that the draft would improve the military in the event that war is necessary.
Rangel's arguments are specious. Reinstituting the draft would be a disaster.
Rangel's contention that war would be less likely with a draft is plainly contradicted by the facts. World War II, Korea, and Vietnam all happened while America had a draft. All of them had far higher American casualties than any American war since then.
Actually, war would be more likely with a draft. War would be more likely if the government could simply compel people to fight rather than having to attract volunteers who freely commit to serve. Casualties would also be higher when soldiers could be conscripted.
The argument about lawmakers' children is also wrong. Back when we had a draft, children of congressmen were kept far from the fighting (unless they chose otherwise). Even if the legislators didn't put pressure on the military to do so, the generals would hardly risk killing the relative of someone who controls their funding.
A draft would not improve the military. The best soldiers are those who have volunteered to serve, not those who were forced to serve. A draft would damage morale.
Today's military is increasingly technological, so two years of conscription would waste people's time and taxpayers' money.
The best argument against conscription is that it is immoral. It is a violation of Americans' freedom.
This applies equally to "national service." A fundamental belief of statists is that the government can better run people's lives and control their resources than they can. "National service" would be a massive waste of effort that could better be put to productive use.
It would also massively empower the government. And that's the real goal.
Rangel's bill isn't likely to pass, but we can expect to see "national service" again. It must be resisted. And we should repeal selective service as well.
The working conditions would be better. But in principle, conscription is slavery.