February 25, 2013
By: Kelly Diamond, Editor
The draft takes the perceived iniquity of targeting the poor, and evens the playing field so everyone has an equal chance at dying on a battle field… as opposed to the equal chance not to.
A topic which smacked of “Obama Youth” back in the 2008 campaign days resurfaced at the behest of Representative Charles Rengal: the institution of the draft (H.R. 748). Back in 2008, Obama referred to it as a “citizens’ army”, which included compulsory service to the federal government. At the time, the terms were nebulous, and focused more on community service rather than military service. But, anyone sincere about their anti-interventionist and anti-war stance immediately quivers with indignation over the mere mention of a draft, and I am no exception.
One woman on Facebook pointed out the disproportionate amount of poor people enlisting in the military. She argued that a draft equalizes this. First off, the military recruits mirror that of our current demographics with the majority being educated and middle class. Second, EVEN IF the woman’s claims were true, the poor do a lot of things disproportionate to those who are more affluent. They buy more state funded lottery tickets. Because of their financial desperation, they are subject to the temptations of myriad black market activities ranging from prostitution, to drug and gun sales, to fencing and money laundering, manufacturing false identification, and even organ sales. Is it then this woman’s suggestion everyone participate in this activity as well, so as to give a more equal appearance in socioeconomic activity? Either we remove everyone’s choices to opt in or out of a given activity, or we let the chips to fall where they may.
There are a disproportionate amount abortion clinics in poor neighborhoods and a disproportionate amount of black women having abortions. Should white and Asian women be forced to have abortions as well? There are a disproportionate amount of pawn shops and cash advance establishments in poorer neighborhoods. Should we remove them? OR should we make them establish an office in an affluent neighborhood where they won’t get any business? Legislative manipulations and artificial mechanisms in the marketplace never serve a good purpose, much less one that offers equalization to society. Instituting a draft, and ascribing nobility to it is HARDLY the path to a more equal society.
The best bit was the contention that a draft leads to less war! Thom Hartmann, a progressive radio talk show host, likens the draft to a “rite of passage into adulthood”… like a Bar Mitzvah, only deadly and no sideshow talent. He likens the draft to that of a citizen’s militia from the days of George Washington. Albeit, at that particular time, the English were literally here on American soil harassing the residents, breaking into their homes, and commandeering their property. Such has not been the case since then. In the case of the Civil War, the federal government was the aggressor against its OWN union. The premises are incredible: whenever there was a draft, the wars ended sooner because everyone had skin in the game. So forcing individuals to die as a war statistic, overall, compels government to reevaluate their foreign policies? This makes those who died expendable for the greater good? And how is the death of countless unwilling soldiers weighted more heavily than the deaths of voluntary soldiers? Moreover, the wars still happened. We never avoided a war due to a draft. Look at Israel. Their conscription policy has no baring on their on-going conflict with Palestine. And what of draft-dodgers? Those who oppose war are treated as criminals and shamed for not eagerly offering their life for their masters and geography. Those folks deserve to be prosecuted and caged for being peaceful?!
My list of grievances with regard to U.S. foreign policy makes “War and Peace” look like a pamphlet. I resent the conscription of MY money for wars I never consented to or endorsed. But to threaten a draft and force individuals to lay their lives down for a cause in which they do not believe goes beyond the pale. Our children’s choice to not enlist is in jeopardy, because some head case thinks drafting them will shorten future wars… not prevent them, mind you… just abbreviate them. And if the death of a few prevents the death of many more in a senseless war that should never have been waged in the first place, then so be it. Dizzy yet?
IF folks, like this woman, truly want the dying to stop … even if only for the poor people… then the proper solution is to end the needless fighting, not conscription. Starve the war machine entirely of individuals willing to go to battle. Conscription — forced fiscal (taxation) and physical (draft) compliance for acts of aggression foreign or domestic for any reason — is unacceptable. Either wars hold some legitimacy or they do not. While content to make the blanket assessment that no war demonstrated legitimacy in American history, at the very least I allow for each individual to decide for themselves if they see fit to give their life and money to them.
The reasons for why a poorer individual enlists in the military differ from those of a more affluent individual. While the affluent might be following a familial tradition, the poorer individual seeks to escape the squalor and end the tradition of poverty in their family. This person possibly considered black market activity, but the criminality made them look elsewhere. Naturally, with the stigma of illegality comes the stigma of something bad, undesirable, wrong, or unsavory. But, lo! The stigmas attached to joining the military are that of heroism, patriotism, responsibility, selflessness.
Through the manipulation of legislation, this poor individual is dissuaded from voluntary, harmless commerce and coaxed into joining a jingoistic gang where the gear he wears is worth more than two year’s salary. If drug sales and prostitution were legal, this person might have been the supply to a market of demand. Their source of revenue would be perfectly legitimate: no theft, extortion, or threats of violence. (Drugs and prostitution are only violent industries now because of their criminal status. Legalizing would make narcotic sales tantamount to Aspirin sales and prostitution tantamount to massage therapy.) Alas, our society attaches more nobility to blindly killing individuals in other countries under the guise of national security, than to getting someone’s rocks off.
Aside from the shameless social engineering aspects, consider the economic and market engineering which compels an individual to even consider illegal commerce or risking their life in the first place? If they had a good career with decent earning potential, would they still see military enlistment as a viable option? Statistically, perhaps. But for more middle class reasons. The minimum wage all but prices an unskilled poor individual out of the market to where they cannot acquire the skills to move beyond their circumstances. Cost prohibitive regulations and licensing prevent them from starting a business of their own. The illegality of everything else puts them right back at square one: enlist in the military.
That woman’s – as well as Thom Hartmann’s and Charles Rengal’s – mentality is collectivist. Only a collectivist views society in groups or demographics. Only a collectivist monitors the activities of the poor versus the affluent and declares an injustice when one group shows a propensity to participate in certain activities more so than the other. Only a collectivist monitors the activities of white people versus non-white people to see if disparities in behavior indicate iniquities among the races. Only a collectivist finds it acceptable to offer everyone up at the altar of foreign wars, in an overall effort to end wars sooner. And only a disingenuous pseudo-intellectual would presume that force by legislation offers anything other than equal levels of tyranny to all under the pretenses of equalizing some misguided but perceived imbalance therein.