Ron Paul
2001 Ron Paul Chapter 42

Conscription Policies

13 June 2001

Home Page   Contents   Cached from Ron Paul’s Congressional website.
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2001 Ron Paul 42:1
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I highly recommend to my colleagues the attached article “Turning Eighteen in America: Thoughts on Conscription” by Michael Allen. This article was published in the Internet news magazine Laissez Faire Times. Mr. Allen forcefully makes the point that coercing all young men to register with the federal government so they may be conscripted into military service at the will of politicians is fundamentally inconsistent with the American philosophy of limited government and personal freedom. After all, the unstated premise of a draft is that individuals are owned by the state. Obviously this belief is more consistent with totalitarian systems, such as those found in the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, Red China or Castro’s Cuba, than with a system based on the idea that all individuals have inalienable rights. No wonder prominent Americans from across the political spectrum such as Ronald Reagan, Milton Friedman, Gary Hart, and Jesse Ventura oppose the draft.

2001 Ron Paul 42:2
Selective Service is not even a good way of providing an effective military fighting force. As Mr. Allen points out (paraphrasing former Senator Mark Hatfield), the needs of the modem military require career professionals with longterm commitments to the service, not shortterm draftees eager to “serve their time” and return to civilian life. The military itself recognizes that Selective Service serves no useful military function. In 1993), the Department of Defense issued a report stating that registration could be stopped “with no effect on military mobilization, no measurable effect on the time it would take to mobilize, and no measurable effect on military recruitment.” Yet the American taxpayer has been forced to spend over $500 million dollars on a system “with no measurable effect on military mobilization!”

2001 Ron Paul 42:3
I have introduced legislation, H.R. 1597, which repeals the Selective Service Act, thus ending a system which violates the rights of millions of young Americans and wastes taxpayer dollars for no legitimate military reason. I urge my colleagues to read Mr. Allen’s article then cosponsor HR 1597 and join me in ending a system which is an affront to the principles of liberty our nation was founded upon.

2001 Ron Paul 42:4
(By Michael R. Allen)
In March of 1967, Senator Mark Hatfield (R–Oregon) proposed legislation that would abolish the practice of military conscription, or the drafting of men who are between 18 and 35 years old. Despite its initial failure, it has been reintroduced in nearly every Congress that has met since then, and has been voted upon as an amendment at least once.

2001 Ron Paul 42:5
This bill was an excellent proposal that should have never been needed. The dovish Hatfield’s arguments in promotion of the bill constituted what is actually the conservative position on the item. In its defense, Hatfield asserted that we need career military men who can adapt to system changes within the context of weaponry. Short-term draftees, maintained Hatfield, would not be particularly adept at utilizing modern technology. More recent efforts to overturn the Selective Service Act have similarly stressed efficiency.

2001 Ron Paul 42:6
This basic logic is the driving force behind the political anti-draft movement. Others oppose the draft because it represents another governmental intrusion into the lives of America’s young adults. Those lacking skill or ambition to serve will be greatly humiliated once drafted, and those without developed skill in search of an alternative career will be denied an opportunity to choose that direction. The draft also is a blatant attack on the Thirteenth Amendment, which prohibits involuntary servitude. If the federal government fought individual states over the legalization of private-sector slavery, then should it not also be equally compelled to decry public-sector servitude? Of course it should, but an elastically interpreted “living Constitution” makes all sorts of public schemes safe from legal reproach.

2001 Ron Paul 42:7
Recruiting students and vagrants is of no use to a competitive military, since both groups are uninterested in active duty. By contrast, a volunteer army — assuming the country needs any army at all — will yield those with an interest in serving their country and those who seek the military as a place to get that necessary step up into a better life. A primary partner to draft reform would be to offer an alternative for those who request not to serve militarily. Non-combatant positions, such as field doctors and radio operators, might be made civilian positions. Then, those who wish not to engage in battle will be able to serve the nation for as long as they need.

2001 Ron Paul 42:8
Additionally, the government can save some money, albeit not much, by not having to buy uniforms for these civilians.

2001 Ron Paul 42:9
Yet the most compelling reason for having volunteer military forces is the right of a person to own his or her body. The right to self-ownership must be supreme in a free nation, since without it there is no justification for government or laws at all. If one does not own his body, then why should murder be a crime? Why should there be money for the individual to spend? The self must own itself for there to be any liberty. And clearly one does have self-ownership. A man controls his own actions, and efforts to force him to do what he desires not to do are nugatory. The best the State can do is arrest him after he has disobeyed the law. It cannot prevent a willful person from committing illegal acts. The draft ignores the concept of self-ownership and proceeds to diminish the available benefits of a free society for young men.

2001 Ron Paul 42:10
Issues of cost and unfairness can sway those not seeing a moral reason to oppose conscription. The government spends a lot of money that might be used in armory for war in order to draft a number of men that would be similar to the number who might otherwise volunteer. In this way, the draft is a redundant method that consumes entirely too much money.

2001 Ron Paul 42:11
It is unfair because those who do not get called remain free while those called into duty must serve or face charges that will haunt them for the rest of their lives. This practice, while through chance, is unjust because it targets those Americans with low draft numbers. Through the archaic, unjust draft process America once more is embracing authoritarianism. If the government chose, National Guard forces could be utilized to alleviate the costs of draft, recruitment, and salary. The savings could then be used to properly compensate a volunteer army, which would attract more skillful persons if the pay scale were better.

2001 Ron Paul 42:12
Draft proponents employ some arguments that would be acceptable if they had purchased every male aged 18 to 35. However, the United States of America has not bought — bought off, tricked and fooled, yes — any of her citizens at this time. Some of the stentorian arguments side-step the question of rights and look at other issues, such as mobility, emergency readiness, and social outcome.

2001 Ron Paul 42:13
Former Senator Sam Nunn of Georgia, a Democrat, said in a 1980 US News and World Report article that “Middle and upper-class America are not sufficiently participating in the defense of the country today except in the officer corp. That’s one of the tragedies of the volunteer force . . .”

2001 Ron Paul 42:14
Nunn’s provocative statement is not only designed to evoke resentment towards the “privileged” upper classes, it is also not sound from a practical point of view. Certainly, the classes with a statistically higher amount of college education should be involved in positions in which education can be put to best use. It is apparent that the Nunn argument involves some sort of “duty” the upper classes have to live the life of the foot soldier, and amounts to no less than a feeble attempt at egalitarian blurring of class distinction.

2001 Ron Paul 42:15
Proponents of the draft continue to ignore their weakest point: namely, that wars which had the support of the American public would not require conscription but instead would have a full supply of eager volunteers. People not only own their own bodies, but a free society also grants people final say over government policy. War is an area where the voice of the people is very important, as their security is at stake. And where else can the people exercise their voice than in the decision on registering to serve? Denying this decision is in effect creating a government that does not respect the people’s wishes, and instead dictates to them.


2001 Ron Paul 42:16
There was an effort in June 1997 by President Clinton to use the Selective Service System to recruit potential volunteers in his AmeriCorps program. Such a move is a twofold intrusion on civil liberties: it violates the right of those who were forced to register for the draft to avoid having their addresses and other private information released to another agency; and, of course, it is costly to the taxpayer to pay for a joint system that serves two unconstitutional agencies. Ultimately, though, the administration deferred its plans. This issue has not gone away, as national service plans have considerable support from those people who think that everyone has a duty to the government.

2001 Ron Paul 42:17
Free people can resist the draft easily. They need not register at all, or they can flee the country when they are called to serve. After all, they still own their bodies regardless of what the law says. But the change of life necessary to avoid the government allows the government some control of ones life, even when one does not openly submit. One does not need to recognize the right of the government to conscript its citizens for any purpose in order to be disrupted by the institution. If one pays income taxes and expects to get that money back in the form of college aid, he must register for Selective Service. If one wishes to collect the money stolen through the payroll tax for so-called “Social Security,” he must register. Most people are not able to forgo paying taxes if they wish to work, so if they hope to see their tax dollars again they must register for the draft.

2001 Ron Paul 42:18
As a young man of draft age, I could sleep easier if I knew that my life would never have to be disrupted by a government which has given itself the legal ground on which it may attempt to violate my right to own myself. Even as I refuse to recognize the government’s powers, the Selective Service System/ AmeriCorps/Department of Education bloc does not care. To them I am their property, regardless of my feelings. The military and charity draft is indeed one of the most evil institutions in the United States government.


2001 Ron Paul 42:2 Perhaps modem military should be modern military.

This chapter appeared in Ron Paul’s Congressional website at

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