Getting Draftier

by Don Boudreaux on May 2, 2004

in Current Affairs

Gary Leff points me to the following story in yesterday’s Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The Selective Service System is proposing (1) requiring registration for the draft up to the age of 34 (rather than up to the age of just 25); (2) registering women (rather than only men); and (3) conducting an on-going inventory of the special skills possessed by young Americans.

Any proposal for expanding conscription is scary, mostly because it reflects the loathsome belief that citizens exist for the benefit of the state rather than the state existing for the benefit of citizens.

It’s no good response to point out that the added information that the government would acquire if these proposals are adopted is useful. Such information would be just as useful for General Motors, Microsoft, Archer-Daniels-Midland, Google, the Ford Foundation, and many other employers. What special reason justifies the government using the threat of severe criminal penalties to collect such information for its purposes?

To many people, this last question seems ridiculous. “Of course the government has special, justifiable reasons” they say. I reply “List these reasons.” I doubt that any listed reason will withstand scrutiny.

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