April 26, 2001
Repeal of the Selective Service ActINTRODUCTION OF LEGISLATION RELATIVE TO THE REPEAL OF THE SELECTIVE SERVICE ACT AND RELATED PORTIONS OF THE US CODE (APRIL 26, 2001) -- HON. RON PAUL (Extensions of Remarks - April 26, 2001)
[Page: E647] GPO's PDF
HON. RON PAUL OF TEXAS IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES Thursday, April 26, 2001
- Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I am today introducing legislation to repeal the Selective Service Act and related parts of the US Code. Also, I am placing the attached article from the Taipei Times in today's CONGRESSIONAL RECORD. I fear that this source is not widely read among many in this body or our nation, so I am hopeful this action will serve to bring this letter to a much wider audience. The person who writes this letter is a law student in Taiwan. His arguments against conscription are similar to those offered by people in the United States who oppose the draft. The student argues that conscription is a violation of civil liberties, a costly and ineffective system that harms society and the economy as well as the rights of the individual conscripted, and a system that harms national defense rather than helping it. While we do not currently have conscription in the US we do have draft registration and each argument against the draft is equally applicable to our current selective service system and the registration requirement. I urge my colleagues to seriously consider the arguments against conscription raised in this article and cosponsor my legislation to repeal the Selective Service Act.
[Taipei Times on line edition, Thurs. Apr. 26, 2001] CONSCRIPTION IS HARMING TAIWAN By Chang Yung-chien
Some time ago, the media reported on would-be conscripts scrambling to grab a place in the ``alternative service'' to military conscription. There is now an uproar over President Chen Shul-blan's future son-in-law, who escaped doing his term of military service because he had gout. The issue of military service has again struck a sensitive chord in Taiwan's society.
Why do so many people feel disgruntled?
This writer has always advocated a volunteer military recruitment system. But this seems to be a politically incorrect view in a country that faces external threats. The difficulty of getting enough recruits and the increased burden that would be imposed on government coffers are the usual reasons given against a volunteer system. I find these reasons totally incomprehensible.
Military recruitment is a public policy matter. It needs to undergo an analysis for cost-effectiveness. Why do we have ``reserve officers'' and ``alternative service'' systems?
We have them precisely so that skilled people can be more valuable for the country if they are pulled out from the ranks to serve as platoon leaders or as cheap labor for high-tech companies. Once this point is clear, then the alternative service system will seem quite strange. Someone with a PhD in electrical engineering would be working in a high-tech company anyway if he were not
doing alternative service. The only difference is that he would be getting a reasonable salary for his work. The conscription system forces conscripts to provide the same service for less pay. By comparison, an outstanding female with a PhD in electrical engineering can get paid according to her market value because she does not have to do military service. NVhy should we use a conscription system to provide cheap labor to corporations?[Page: E648] GPO's PDF
Moreover, society as a whole has paid an enormous invisible price for the conscription system. Friends of mine waited almost a year to be conscripted--doing nothing (of course, two years of military service are also spent doing nothing). Still more people see their lifetime plans interrupted. They waste the most creative time of their lives writing military reports that do not help the nation's economy or the people's livelihood.
How many people have left the country before conscription age just to evade those two years, and come back only after they are too old for conscription? How many people have cut their fingers, damaged their eyesight, or otherwise harmed their bodies? How can it be beneficial to the country? How many mutinies have we had in the armed forces?
Our president, who can carry his wife to and from her wheelchair every day, did not have to do military service because of a problem with his ``hands.'' And the president's future son-in-law is busy running in
I would also like to ask: Why can't I finish my studies before serving my country? Even if I have to serve two years as a conscript, I will be of far more use to the country providing legal services to ordinary citizens than just do drills and jogging. How much more of its human resources can Taiwan afford to waste?
As for the question of not finding enough recruits, this should not be a problem as long as the Ministry of National Defense offers competitive salaries. If serving in the military simply means loafing around, then such service may be worth less than NT$10,000 a month. But there should be no such ``profession.'' If being a soldier is a high-risk profession, there should be a high salary to compensate for that risk. That may increase expenditures for the government, but it must be remembered that only people who can freely enter various professions on the job market can maximize their value.
Unless we believe that the average productivity of conscription-age males is worth less than NT$10,000 or so per month (the monthly salary of an ordinary soldier), we cannot but agree that society as a whole would gain more wealth without conscription than the government coffers have to lose. Such losses might even be offset by increased government revenue from taxes on the gains made by those conscription-aged men who would be working in society instead.
No talk about ``honor'' solves any problems. Everyone sets out from a rational, self-interested standpoint. What the state should do is maximize the benefits for society as a whole, not limit its thinking to military service. Maintaining a conscription system certainly does more harm than good. Those who wear the badge ``being a soldier is a good experience'' should ask themselves whether they would be willing to do it again.