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[Steve Bank, guest-blogging, June 4, 2008 at 11:49am] Trackbacks
Is Rangel's Call for a Draft Tax-Driven?

House Ways and Means Chairmen Charlie Rangel has been one of the few politicians to dare call for reinstituting the draft during the current Iraq conflict. A veteran of the Korean War, Rangel has long advocated the draft as a way to supplement the troops in Iraq and elsewhere and to spread the sacrifice more equally. He also has said that it would have kept us out of the war in the first place. Nevertheless, a draft -- and in particular a controversial draft -- arguably would also serve another purpose: It would help advance Rangel's tax policies.

One of the recurring themes in the wars discussed in our book, War and Taxes, is the influence of conscription on the rhetoric and reality of wartime taxation. A draft is itself an implicit in-kind tax, but it also serves as a form of moral impetus for the explicit adoption of more direct forms of taxation. During the Civil War, a steeply progressive (for the time) income tax was enacted by the Union close on the heels of the New York City draft riots of 1863 -- perhaps the worst riots in American history to that point. Given the ability of the wealthy to avoid service by finding a substitute or paying a $300 commutation fee, the popular perception, as one newspaper declared, was that "the rich are exempt!" Politicians like Representative J.B. Grinnell called for high income tax rates so "that large class whose great care is to safely compound their hundreds of thousands should feel that there is a war and a demand which they have not yet felt on their purses and on their patriotism."

The link between conscription and targeted income taxes on the rich has been even more explicit in the twentieth century. While the Revenue Act of 1917 was being crafted in World War I, Congress authorized a draft and began registration and conscription in the early summer. This was frequently invoked by proponents of higher income taxes during debates over the Revenue Act. Representative James Collier declared "We are going to conscript the dollars necessary to carry on this war. I believe when we send our young men to the front to bear the brunt of battle those who are beyond fighting age and who will not fall within the selective draft should make no complaints when they are called upon to defray the expenses of the war." During the Korean War, Truman's Treasury chief, James Snyder, made a similar statement when he testified before the Senate Finance Committee: "You passed a bill up here to draft boys of 18, to send them to war. I think it is just as important we draft some of the profits to help pay for the expenditures."

Even though Rangel's call for a draft seems unlikely to succeed (public opinion is firmly against) -- we may be inching toward a de facto draft that already could be influencing tax policy. Recent reports indicate that Army "stop-loss" orders have increased dramatically during the past year. These are involuntary extensions of a soldier's term of enlistment, often considered a backdoor draft among people who initially volunteered to serve (even though they may have legally agreed to such extensions, under a specified set of circumstances, as part of their terms of enlistment). Over the last five years, 58,300 soldiers have been forced to remain in the service beyond their enlistment term. The practice is apparently unpopular enough that it led to the making of a recent movie, called "Stop-Loss."

This backdoor draft and the multiple tours of duty for reserves and national guardsmen may have helped to influence the recent House vote to fund veterans' education benefits through a surtax on incomes in excess of $500,000. Representative Louise Slaughter said "We owe it to them. . . More than 40,000 of them are coming back with life-altering wounds. I don't see how we can do too much for them." The surtax has been dubbed a "Patriot Tax" in language reminiscent of the rhetoric used to sell the "Liberty Bonds" in World War I and the "Victory Tax" in World War II. While the surtax did not survive in the Senate version of the bill, it would not be surprising to see this rhetoric used to push further tax measures if stop-loss orders and other similar actions increase.

Disgruntled NYker:
Interesting analysis, but Rangel's a buffoon who should have left office or been tossed out long ago. His draft idea was nothing more than grandstanding - he knew it, his constituents knew it and the rest of us New Yorkers knew it. But then people just shrug and say "Oh, that's Charlie! Ha! Ha!" Buffoon doesn't begin to describe his overall approach.

And responsibility for the whole "stop-loss" policy and controversy falls squarely and solely on the shoulders of Rangel and others in Congress who are free to - and should have - increased the standing size of the military post 9/11. They haven't. I'd call the members of Congress idiots on this, but that would be defaming idiots.
6.4.2008 1:06pm
Iolo:
Did anyone in the administration ask for, or even advocate, increasing the size of the military? I don't think they did.
6.4.2008 1:25pm
TC (mail):
Likening a "stop-loss order" to any type of "draft" is disingenuous and only done by those with a certain agenda.
6.4.2008 1:33pm
Aeon J. Skoble (mail):
Rangel has been advancing this silly argument for years. I discussed it here: http://www.fee.org/pdf/the-freeman/skoble0903.pdf
6.4.2008 1:40pm
Jiminy (mail):
TC, you sure about that? You conscript citizens with a draft when you need a number of soldiers to fight a war. When you don't have enough numbers in your volunteer army, you have three choices:

1.Increase the volunteers by increasing the "carrot" of better benefits, longer leave, higher pay, increased measurable prestige. This should give non-military citizens more incentive to volunteer and increase numbers.

2.Increase the volunteers by increasing their tours of duty so more soldiers are active and in-theatre longer. Also known as stop-loss. This has the effect of not encouraging non-military citizens to sign up, unless paired with effective benefit increases outlined in #1.

3.Conscript non-military citizens with a draft. #1 and #2 become less of a cost-benefit analysis when you have more numbers. Less reason to increase your volunteers either by carrot or by forced orders of stop-loss when you have a draft.

Seems simple enough to me. What am I forgetting?
6.4.2008 1:43pm
Al Maviva (mail):
What am I forgetting?

That enlisted servicemembers sign an enlistment contract that provides the expected length of their active duty service, but which also says they may be retained or recalled to active duty for a period past the expiration date of their initial tour, up to the full contract length of eight years? Is that' what you're thinking about having missed? Or that commissioned officers basically serve indefinitely, in accordance with the needs of the service?
6.4.2008 1:47pm
Jiminy (mail):
And my opinion is that Rangel was grandstanding as he knew it likely wouldn't be popular with anyone on either side of the coin. A draft with an unpopular war would lead to greater protests and disobedience within the ranks as evidenced by Vietnam.

That's why the military is working with options #1 &2 above instead of #3 (which would be the Occam's Razor solution to the scenario of "How do we get more boots on the ground?" Occam's answer: "The Law says you gotta sign up or else.")
6.4.2008 1:47pm
TC (mail):
When you're drafted, a citizen is involuntarily called into the Armed Forces with no say in the matter.

When you enlist, you enter into a contract and agree and understand that your service may be extended if military necessity calls for it. It's a part of the enlistment contract.

Furthermore, one of the purposes behind the stop-loss (and it's attendant stop-move) policy is to maintain unit cohesion during a deployment cycle. One of the Army's biggest mistakes in Vietnam was the individual replacement policy that rotated individuals and not units. Now, entire units train, deploy, and redeploy as a group.
6.4.2008 1:52pm
Brett Bellmore:
Rangel has been pushing a draft for years, so far as I can tell on the theory that if we had a conscript military again, it would be easier to whip up opposition to military adventures. He's gotten nowhere because we didn't need a draft to reach recruitment targets, and the military didn't want to deal with conscripts again anyway.
6.4.2008 1:53pm
Jiminy (mail):
Al, part of the original issue comes from the mis-representation of what your tour of duty entails. Several of my own enlisted friends as well as reports from recruitment offices all confirmed that when you ask about how long you'll be there, you get the standard answer with no mention of the lawyer-speak clause about stop-loss orders from your helpful recruitment officer.

That wouldn't be a big deal, as I agree with you that it is clearly listed in the contract. And I do not think that a volunteer would go to the trouble of basic and serving, then getting upset about the extension - what sort of sinister "agenda" is that soldier really pursuing?

The point here is that we already see that the troops are going through a lot of difficulty directly related to stop-loss and NOT having a draft to re-supply the active members. Also combined with that is the mis-conception that when you sign up for the Guard, you were told it wasn't likely you'd get a foreign deployment.

There's not a sinister anti-army agenda here. If you have volunteers and you have a war worth fighting, it should be simple to get people to enlist. If you wear out and mislead your volunteers and have a war that people question, you will have trouble filling the numbers.

The contract is like a cell phone contract with ETF, to be glib. You sign up expecting (and being told) that you get one level of service, and then when the "company" changes the deal, you have very few costly options to stop holding up your end of the contract. If you and the company deal above-board about these negatives, you will work better together in the long run.

And I'm the first to admit that it all may be changing for the better, with higher enlistment numbers recently and lower violence overseas. Maybe the military figured out problems #1 &#2 to lessen the strain on many servicemembers.

Back to my original point. If the military is all stick and no carrot to volunteers, they will eventually be FORCED to draft citizens, which is a Bad Thing for unwilling citizens and lifers in the military who want pros and not joes.
6.4.2008 2:03pm
Brett Bellmore:

The point here is that we already see that the troops are going through a lot of difficulty directly related to stop-loss and NOT having a draft to re-supply the active members.


The problem isn't the lack of a draft. It's that we set out on a series of wars without raising troop ceilings from peacetime levels. A draft wouldn't help at all, without higher troop ceilings. Higher troop ceilings, with recruitment efforts to fill them, would help without a draft.

Think we couldn't recruit more soldiers without a draft? How can we claim to know without ever having tried?
6.4.2008 2:12pm
Iolo:
If you have volunteers and you have a war worth fighting, it should be simple to get people to enlist.

Ummmm, like it was during the Civil War?
6.4.2008 2:22pm
Aeon J. Skoble (mail):
Hmm, I just realized, in the essay I linked to upthread, I also criticize Charles Moskos, but I notice his obit is today's news -- no disrespect intended, and my condolences to his family. Nevertheless, the draft is a bad idea. Brett has it right: the army itself prefers the AVF, who are willing to do the job and more professional about it. It's a pretty sick irony that one of the main issues that mobilized the 60s-70s Left was opposition to the draft, because they opposed the war, but now it's almost exclusively leftists who call for a draft, on the grounds that it will help with opposition to war.
6.4.2008 2:23pm
Jiminy (mail):
Brett, what are you talking about that we aren't trying to recruit more soliders?

They've increased sign-on bonuses and other sorts of first-time carrots to compensate. If we had the troop ceilings higher during the war run-up, the initial invasion/occupation could have maintained a higher in-country tempo.

Have you missed the print/tv/radio/movie ads for recruitment? The lowering of physical standards for enlistees, the ignoring of criminal records, etc? Those are all efforts to increase recruitment.
6.4.2008 2:23pm
Smokey:
Jiminy:

When you don't have enough numbers in your volunteer army, you have three choices...
We'll worry about that if it ever happens. The military almost always meets its recruitment goals. On the rare occasion that it doesn't quite meet its monthly goal, the next month makes up for it, and then some.

Rangel is proposing indentured servitude, not much different than slavery, except that there's an expiration date -- if you don't get expired first.

What American parents are going to vote for a Congress that is proposing to draft their kids, when the all volunteer force, composed of 100% willing participants vs a draft of resentful conscripts, is doing the job. Politicians like Rangel are the problem, not the all volunteer military.

Finally, Rangel isn't the only one who's floated this trial balloon before. And they're all Democrats proposing the reinstate the draft. Why is that?
6.4.2008 2:23pm
Sk (mail):
Ugh. What a lazy post, motivated by a lazy argument.

Re: the 'stop-loss' = backdoor draft (or de facto draft). Others have already successfully (and easily) demolished that silly statement.

Note that 'stop-loss' is, for all intents and purposes, inevitable. Military units that deploy are generally on a two+ year cycle: one year to train up, then the year to be deployed. The military can't afford to lose people during that two year period (once training has started, or once the deployment has started). The training, as a group, requires as close to universal attendance as possible, and the deployment, as a group, requires as close to universal attendance as possible. In other words, any time a military unit is used, it will be stop-lossed. Keep the group together for two years, and the group will do better during that two years.
Thus, anytime more military units are deployed (or, any time military units are deployed for longer time periods), stop-loss will increase. Complaining about stop-loss is about as rational as complaining about increased transportation costs, or equipment wear-out, with deploying units. They are an inevitable part of the act of deploying.

" The practice is apparently unpopular enough that it led to the making of a recent movie, called "Stop-Loss.""

Are you seriously arguing that unhappiness amongst military veterans and enlistees can somehow be proven by the fact that movie executives chose to release a movie called 'Stop-loss'? Is widespread support for robotic super soldiers similarly proven by the release of the movie Iron Man? (by the way: Stop-Loss tanked at the box office. Is that proof that there is, in fact, no groundswell of opposition to the policy? Or perhaps that the cause-effect argument is inane?)

"This backdoor draft and the multiple tours of duty for reserves and national guardsmen may have helped to influence the recent House vote to fund veterans' education benefits through a surtax on incomes in excess of $500,000."

Do you have any evidence supporting this assertion?

" Representative Louise Slaughter said "We owe it to them. . . More than 40,000 of them are coming back with life-altering wounds."

Well, here's evidence contradicting your assertion from the immediately previous sentence: the motivation for the surtax is apparently due to wounds, rather than Stop-Loss. Is there other evidence supporting that assertion?

This post reads as if it was written by someone who is not used to having to defend his views.

Sk
6.4.2008 2:25pm
OleShu:
I'm not sure how to respond to the arguments set forth. I am for holding an individual to the terms of their agreement, but I find it distasteful for Uncle Sam to represent something to an 18 year-old (who may not realize the gravity of some of the contractual terms) and then hold that individual accountable simply because he "voluntarily" signed it.

Does anyone have a copy of the standard contract? I think it would enable a more educated discussion as to whether the term is buried in fine print or whether it should be apparent to the average person the true terms.
6.4.2008 2:25pm
cirby (mail):
One easy route is to remove our troops from places like Germany and other non-critical areas. There are hundreds of thousands of troops who could shift over. Does Rangell demand withdrawal from Europe before a draft?

Something else to remember is that stop-loss isn't being used across the board. It's for a handful of highly critical fields that we're painfully short of - mostly due to the "Peace Dividend" of the nineties. Many military specialties were shifted over to National Guard units, or drastically reduced in manpower, which meant that the US was very short of translators, military police, et cetera when the Iraq War kicked in.

...and despite what some folks are claiming, the recruiters are VERY good about pointing out that you can be kept in the military for the longer term - it's just that most recruits are too busy worrying about getting that short haircut to think about it too much - and in every discussion I've had with young men who were potential recruits, they knew about it, either from the recruiters or from their friends.
6.4.2008 2:26pm
pete (mail) (www):

If you have volunteers and you have a war worth fighting, it should be simple to get people to enlist.

Ummmm, like it was during the Civil War?


No Iolo, your thinking of World War II. That was the most obvious war worth fighting pretty much ever (unless you're Pat Buchanan) and thankfully our military was able to recruit all of its soldiers without resorting to a draft.
6.4.2008 2:30pm
TC (mail):
I don't know if this is the current contract, but here is the enlistment document dated 2001:

http://www.rethinkingschools.org/ archive/19_03/military_enlistment.pdf

Page 2, in about 14-point print, states:

10. MILITARY SERVICE OBLIGATION FOR ALL
MEMBERS OF THE ACTIVE AND RESERVE COMPONENTS,
INCLUDING THE NATIONAL GUARD.
a. FOR ALL ENLISTEES: If this is my initial enlistment,
I must serve a total of eight (8) years. Any part
of that service not served on active duty must be served
in a Reserve Component unless I am sooner discharged.
b. If I am a member of a Reserve Component of an
Armed Force at the beginning of a period of war or
national emergency declared by Congress, or if I become
a member during that period, my military service may be
extended without my consent until six (6) months after
the end of that period of war.
c. As a member of a Reserve Component, in time of
war or national emergency declared by the Congress, I
may be required to serve on active duty (other than for
training) for the entire period of the war or emergency
and for six (6) months after its end.
6.4.2008 2:40pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
I think the draft proponents had a different idea.

The folks I talked to were absolutely convinced it was an administration proposal. Rangel &Co. knew that only mean ol' repubs would dare draft innocent kids, so when they put the proposal forward, bingo. It was "Bush is gonna draft my kid!!!"

Worked pretty slick,too.
6.4.2008 2:46pm
EIDE_Interface (mail):
Just send Bush's kids to the front lines immediately.
6.4.2008 2:53pm
NickM (mail) (www):
If, as Congresswoman Slaughter says, "[w]e owe it to them," why does her bill only make a small number among us pay for what we all owe them?
It couldn't be just the excuse of the day for raising taxes on the rich, could it?

Nick
6.4.2008 2:56pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
EIDE's last tells us why McCain must lose.

If he wins, the chickenhawk argument disappears. Can't have that.
6.4.2008 3:36pm
buzz (mail):
"Just send Bush's kids to the front lines immediately."

So sending a couple of unqualified, untrained people to the "front lines" solves exactly what problem?
6.4.2008 3:37pm
Iolo:
The chickenhawk argument disappears now, because Obama is running against a veteran. New Party Line: military service is totally irrelevant to one's qualifications as a commander in chief, dammit - in this country, we have civilian control of the military!
6.4.2008 3:44pm
autolykos:

If, as Congresswoman Slaughter says, "[w]e owe it to them," why does her bill only make a small number among us pay for what we all owe them?
It couldn't be just the excuse of the day for raising taxes on the rich, could it?

Nick


Nick - Agree completely. It's not a surprise that we managed to get to a 90% level of marginal taxation in the pre-Reagan era. Every new policy idea I hear is supposedly funding by increased taxes on the rich. Veterans benefits, healthcare, social security, you name it.

It's like groundhog day. It'd be nice if someone would buy the DNC a couple of history books that it could distribute to its members.
6.4.2008 3:51pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Iolo.

Right. Sorry. I should try to keep up.
6.4.2008 3:51pm
MartyH (mail):
Pete-

Don't see a sarcasm tag, so let me correct your statement.

The draft was begun in 1940. The length of service started at one year, then eighteen months, and ultimately until six months after the war ended. Ultimately over 10,000,000 men were drafted.
6.4.2008 3:59pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Marty. I went back and read Pete's post after I read yours. Why on earth would Marty be saying something so obvious as if it were important?

Pete. Wow.

Gots to be a missing sarc tag, but that wouldn't follow his narrative.
6.4.2008 4:18pm
Iolo:
I took Pete's comment to be snarky, but I admit I did a double-take.
6.4.2008 4:20pm
Al Maviva (mail):
Al, part of the original issue comes from the mis-representation of what your tour of duty entails.

The plain language of the contract is pretty clear. I read it when I was 18 and enlisting, and the whole "up to 8 years" thing gave me pause. That was almost half my life span up to that point. There was nothing deceptive about that contract. It was in bold freaking letters that I could be extended.

Unless you are arguing that "recruiters are deceptive," which is a barracks lawyer argument at best, and the old stereotype doesn't exactly accurately effect what recruiters have generally been since the early 80's.
6.4.2008 4:21pm
PLR:
I doubt that the stop-loss concept was originally intended to permit the continued prosecution of illegal wars and occupations during periods when recruitment suffers for the same reason.

And I know there are a lot of originalists around these parts.
6.4.2008 4:45pm
Brett Bellmore:

Jiminy
Brett, what are you talking about that we aren't trying to recruit more soliders?


I mean just precisely that we are not trying to recruit more soldiers. We are recruiting only enough to replace soldiers who leave the service, with the total number of soldiers remaining fixed at the statutory cap.

Normally when you embark on a war after a peacetime demobilization, you build up the size of your military to be equal to the task. Bush's failure to ask for an enlarged military after 9-11 was one of the first signs that he was unserious about the war.
6.4.2008 4:46pm
PaddyL (mail):
Re Pete: I am surprised that no one refuted Pete's specious comment that there was no draft in WW II. I know better. Millions were conscripted. The Draft Board system was still in place during the Korean War for which I was drafted in early 1953.

I was stationed in W Germany as part of the occupying army. I personally oversaw the assignment of all enlisted replacements to all service units in Europe for 20 months. A colleague assigned to all line (combat) units during the same period. Most of the enlisted replacements were drafted, but activated reserve and national guard units were also part of the mix.

This work gave me thorough knowledge of the individual intelligence and qualifications of replacements based upon their service records and personal interviews. College graduates were significantly under represented. A substantial majority was made up of both high school graduates and non-graduates. However, non-graduates usually obtained GED certificates during basic training. Ovrall, their IQ test results were below average.

Lack of discipline and petty criminal activities (black marketing) were major problems. The number of prisons to whom I assigned replacements corroborated my opinion.

The draft system was a bureaucracy made up of career employees plus volunteer board members at the local level. The best description of its lack of efficiency and unfairness is that old Marine Corps term: cluster f---.

The GAO conducted a study a year or two ago of 17 to 22 year olds to determine the number who could qualify for military service under their current standards. The results were mind boggling. As I recall nearly 2/3ds could not meet the physical or education and IQ requirements. This study demonstrated that a draft system would have to select from 1/3d of the eligible age group. It would be a terrible injustice to those drafted. Worse is the tacit indictment of our failed public schools.

The military services know that a draft could not replace the enlistment system in use. If the draft was used to augment enlistments, many called to serve would be disgruntled and cause major problems as it did during the Vietnam war.

I hope the majority serving in Congress understand the inherent problems with conscripted military. But, few so are veterans. Obama appears to be clueless like so many on the Left.

For those of you who care about this subject, I suggest you read Michael Yon's book, "Moment of Trust in Iraq." You will quickly learn how well led, trained, innovative, and compassionate our troops are, in addition to being fearless warriors.

A draft will be as damaging to our national security capabilities as a "cap and trade of carbon emissions credits" will be to our economy.
6.4.2008 4:53pm
Happyshooter:
Stop loss is a draft. The enlistees signed an agreement that said they could only be stop-lossed as part of a declared war or national emergency, so declared by congress.

The government then changed the meaning of the word to include the very long term occupation of a county as a 'national emergency'.

The sole reason for making such a statement was to stop loss these men over their contract terms.

The closest thing I can think of is if a contractor agreed to sell staplers to the government for $10 each, and the government then passed a law that a 'stapler' is now defined as a new pick-up truck, and forced the contractor to start delivering.

The fact that the congress passed a lie to enable these men to be kept on duty against their will mean this is a draft.

The fact that some of you like Bush, the war, or the GOP does not make this any less of a draft.
6.4.2008 5:12pm
pete (mail) (www):

I took Pete's comment to be snarky, but I admit I did a double-take.


I thought it was pretty good snark.

My own grandfather was drafted in 1945 when he turned 18, although he once told me he and a bunch of his friends tried to join up when they were under 18 and the recruiter would not take them.

For the record I think a draft should only be used as a last resort in wars and that under the present circumstances would be a really bad idea. Voluntary recruits make much better soldiers than conscripts and using a draft is more trouble than it is worth much of the time.

No one actually responisble for running the miltary is in favor of a draft right now and that should tell you something.
6.4.2008 5:25pm
Neo (mail):
I think anyone who actually read the draft bills from the last major attempt in the 108th Congress would have no fear of reinstatement.

A close review of HR 163 (Rangel D-NY) and S 89 (Hollings D-SC) reveals the "twin" documents are not twins at all. But don't take my word for it, go to thomas.loc.gov and lookup HR.163 and S.89 from the 108th session and compare.

S.89 talks about "active duty and reserve" components while HR 163 talks about "active duty and reverse" components, in 5 different places. Yes, it says reverse (i.e. backward). The version of HR.163 that came to the floor of the House and was actually voted on, talks of "active duty and reverse" components. I don't know about you, but I assume that a reverse component would be in charge of retreats and surrenders (has a definite Democrat flair to it).
6.4.2008 5:39pm
GEORGE LARSON (mail):
Happy Shooter

"The enlistees signed an agreement that said they could only be stop-lossed as part of a declared war or national emergency, so declared by congress. "

Does not agree with

"10. MILITARY SERVICE OBLIGATION FOR ALL
MEMBERS OF THE ACTIVE AND RESERVE COMPONENTS,
INCLUDING THE NATIONAL GUARD.
a. FOR ALL ENLISTEES: If this is my initial enlistment,
I must serve a total of eight (8) years. Any part
of that service not served on active duty must be served
in a Reserve Component unless I am sooner discharged. "

The part that refers to declarations by congress only applies to the reserve component. If you are already in the active component they can retain you for 8 years.

One thing they can do is transfer active duty or about to be discharged Air Force and Navy personnel to the Army for the remainder of their 8 year commitment.
6.4.2008 5:49pm
MartyH (mail):
Pete-

Sorry to jump on you like that.

Hard to tell waht's serious and what isn't...
6.4.2008 6:25pm
Smokey:
Why hasn't anyone taken a shot at answering my 1:23 pm question: that it has been exclusively Democrats proposing to reinstate the draft. Why is that?

When he floated this idea in the past, I used to think that Rangel was a stalking horse for Hillary because she wanted to use the military to Wag the Dog. But even now Rangel is pushing for a return to the draft. He's far too limited in intelligence to be scheming for this on his own. So, why are the Democrats trying to reinstate the draft? Bueller? Anyone?
6.4.2008 7:21pm
Aeon J. Skoble (mail):
They think it would help raise opposition to the war if more people were forced to participate. More generally, they see it as an anti-individualist "people need to serve the state" device. See my linked piece (top of thread) if you want a longer answer.
6.4.2008 8:26pm
Smokey:
OK, Aeon, thanks for that. But IIRC, the idea of reinstating the draft has been kicking around since before 2002.
6.4.2008 9:20pm
Uthaw:
Why hasn't anyone taken a shot at answering my 1:23 pm question: that it has been exclusively Democrats proposing to reinstate the draft. Why is that?

Obviously because they know that even the serious prospect of a draft - let alone the actuality - would galvanize the anti-war movement like an electric jolt to a frog's leg.
6.4.2008 9:53pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
The draft would damage the military....

Maybe that's why the libs are pushing it.

Saw an interesting proposition. Draft heartily. Get them all, saving the most egregious physical problems. But don't put them in the military.

Just have them work. Like the old CCC, but mandatory. Stoop labor in the fields after we get the border under control. Use your imagination. Just keep them away from soldiering.

See how that flies.
6.4.2008 9:54pm
Hey Skipper (mail) (www):
The draft would include women, right?
6.4.2008 10:51pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Skip.

Of course. But you still have to volunteer to get into the military.

The plan I heard about would save the expensive military training for a bunch of folks who wouldn't be any good in combat, anyway. But they'll get to know people from all walks of life (tm.) and learn patriotism and a sense of shared sacrifice. Common experiences for the silver-spoon bond trader and the ghetto kid and the suburban cheerleader. It will bring us together as a nation and at the same time, not interfere with our military.

Hell of an idea. Wish I'd thought of it.

It is interesting to hear that about one-third of the available age demographic for recruits is eligible. Which means that the entire free world is being defended by a minority of a third of American teenagers. Ought to be enough.
6.4.2008 11:13pm
steingra:
But again, the bigger question looms.

If losing this war is as bad as claimed by some folks, why are the same people not advocating for twice or three times the number of troops being deployed to implement their proposal?

Surely if failure is Iraq isn't an option, then we ought to increase the size of the military massively, yes? And we ought to deploy those extra troops to the middle east, specifically Iraq and Afghanistan.

The problem being that to do so would require a draft, which no one wants.

So, we're stuck in a sort of fantasy land of denial where even if you believe that Iraq is the defining battle of our generation and we must do anything to win, that anything comes with a big asterisk, no draft.

As in, even those people who fully support our military engagement there don't advocate sending twice the number of troops since they can't sell that. Is this because they are all bluster about it being that serious, or that it really isn't but it's a good front?
6.5.2008 1:37am
Cody (mail):
Steingra: In a word... no.

1) There's no evidence the US needs double or triple the troops it has to win in Iraq.

2) Which is good, since there's no way ANYTHING - including a draft - could add that many troops in time to be helpful in Iraq.

3) There's no evidence that a moderate increase in troops would need a draft.

4) There's quite a bit of evidence that any draft would, at best, not solve the problem and would at worst actively make the problem worse.

In other words, you are suggesting solutions that wouldn't work to problems which don't exist.
6.5.2008 8:00am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Cody.
WRT your last: Duh. Of course he/she is. Been done for ages.
The funny thing is people who do this expect to be taken seriously.
6.5.2008 8:23am