The Free Market vs. the Draft

Coerced military conscription – also known as the draft – is perhaps the single most anti-freedom action governments regularly take against their own citizens. The draft represses indiscriminately by directly stealing not only the "treasure" of our citizens, but also by taking years of their precious time and – in many cases – their lives. The draft has been justifiably resisted throughout American history because it is inherently unfair, unjustifiable, and un-republican.

If a free America were ever subjected to attack, most Americans would be more than willing to defend themselves, their homes, and their families against the foreign aggressors. The very fact that too few Americans are volunteering to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan illustrates that too few Americans view the actions being taken by our government as integral to the preservation of our freedoms. This is simply the free market working.

Of course, some draft advocates would claim that the only reason America needs a draft is because we don’t pay our military personnel adequately. Regardless of what the market rate would be in a "free market" for military personnel – probably closer to what the private security forces in Iraq are making than what America’s military men and women are making – the draft would only lead to more military adventurism abroad. After all, the draft is nothing more than the government stealing services from its citizens because it does not want to pay a market rate for them.

Even more disturbing than the draft is the fact that some in Congress would like to expand the draft beyond military service to also include "national service." You see, for many of our leaders, bringing back the draft has less to do with providing needed soldiers for combat – America has hundreds of thousands of troops stationed in peaceful nations from Japan to Germany – than it does expanding the size and power of government.

As Congressman Ron Paul has said, "To many politicians the American government is America and patriotism means working for the benefit of the state." Thus, on a crude level, the draft appeals to patriotic fervor. This, according to Congressman Paul, is why the idea of compulsory national service, whether in the form of military conscription or make-work programs like AmeriCorps, still sells on Capitol Hill. Conscription is wrongly associated with patriotism, when it really represents collectivism and involuntary servitude.

Ronald Reagan said it best: "The most fundamental objection to draft registration is moral." He understood that conscription assumes our nation’s young people belong to the state. Yet America was founded on the opposite principle: that the state exists to serve the individual. The notion of involuntary servitude, in whatever form, is simply incompatible with a free society.