During the Libertarian Presidential debate in May of 2004, Aaron Russo, Gary Nolan and I agreed that we would rotate the sequence so that each of us would be required to answer first one third of the time. One of the issues I was required to address was about the military draft. The moment I heard the topic I knew what my answer was, however the moderator felt compelled to elaborate for several minutes before I had an opportunity to respond. The audience didn't know it, however I was growing more impatient - and sarcastic - the longer I waited for my turn to speak. When the moderator finally came to a question mark, I faced the audience and said, "Imagine that. Young people aren't signing up to die in foreign countries the way they used to." I had to wait quite awhile for the applause to subside before I could continue my answer. Since then, several people have told me this was the answer that tipped the balance of the debate in my favor.
What kind of an Alice in Wonderland world must you live in where you can be forced to join the military, and still believe that you live in a free country? I went to the Post office last week and spotted a stack of selective service forms urging men to "do the right thing". A notation at the bottom of the front cover insists "It's the law", but a more important question would be - is that law constitutional?
Let's begin at the philosophical beginning by asking who owns your body. The only legitimate answer is that each man, woman, and child owns his or her own body, as well as the fruits of their labor. The most embarrassing aspect of American history is that we had the idealism to write "all men are created equal", but we failed - initially - to eliminate slavery in this country. In order to guarantee support from all the southern states, the Constitution (Article 1, Section 9, clause 1) explicitly states that slavery "...shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight..." This was because it was generally agreed that although slavery was immoral, the southern states demanded twenty years to gradually eliminate the practice. "Sorry, Amos. You'll have to wear those chains for another twenty years so my financial stability isn't inconvenienced too severely."
So when did Congress take action to end slavery in the land of the free? Was it 1809? 1810? Fuhgeddaboudit! It wasn't until 1865 that the Thirteenth Amendment was proposed and ratified. This amendment explicity says that "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude... shall exist within the United States..." Slavery is simple. It means that instead of owning your own body, someone else is claiming you and your productive output as their property. But what is involuntary servitude?
not voluntary; independent of one's will; not by one's own choice
1: slavery or bondage of any kind: political or intellectual servitude.
2: compulsory service or labor as a punishment for criminals:
Is it really necessary for me to point out that if I don't want to go, and yet I am forced into bondage wearing camoflage or olive drab, that this is just a different flavor of slavery? So how does the United States government justify conscripting the youngest and healthiest members of our society into a dangerous profession not of their own choosing? That answer can be found in the Military Selective Service Act.
The Congress further declares that in a free society the obligations and privileges of serving in the armed forces and the reserve components thereof should be shared generally, in accordance with a system of selection which is fair and just, and which is consistent with the maintenance of an effective national economy.
I have several objections to this congressional declaration.
1) Just because Congress says it, doesn't make it so.
2) Military obligations can be shared generally as soon as economic wealth is shared generally.
3) A system which forces you to do anything cannot possibly be considered fair and just.
4) Given the current "debate" on raising the debt ceiling, Congress isn't capable of maintaining an effective national ecomomy.
Please do not reprimand me for not supporting our troops. I have a long standing reputation for being willing to fight for a legitimate cause, and many of my best friends are or were in the military. I know that most of our soldiers are solemn and sincere when they take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. I am prepared to defend the Alamo again tomorrow, if necessary. however I will always be in staunch opposition to slavery wherever I find it. Conscription is the strategy used by kings in a feudal system. A voluntary defense force - especially the civilian militia - is the only legitimate strategy in a Constitutional republic inhabited by a truly free people. That is not the law, apparently - but it should be.