What should be done with Selective Service?

Should the Selective Service System (and mandatory draft registration) be abolished or drastically reformed (make women register, make it optional, etc)? It’s highly unlikely a draft will ever be reinstated; what’s the point in registering? Right failing to register is a federal offence punishable by imprisonment (no man’s ever been convicted and there’ve been no prosecutions since the early 80s). Men who refuse to register can’t get financial aid for college or work in the civil service. If the purpose of registration is just in case the draft is reinstated then shouldn’t women have to register just in case women are included in this hypothetical draft? Should transmen be required to register and transwomen be exempt? Should SSS gather more information about registerees? How realistic are SSS’s current plans to conduct a draft? Should registerees be allowed to indicate conscientious objector status on the application?


May 2004: “The chief of the Selective Service System has proposed registering women for the military draft and requiring that young Americans regularly inform the government about whether they have training in niche specialties needed in the armed services.”

Wikipedia on The Selective Service System

The Cato Foundation didn’t like the draft during the 1990s.

There have been calls by the center-left for a 21st Century Draft.

I don’t think so. There is no guarantee that a conscientious objector registering as such will remain one between his 18th and 26th birthdays. Conversely, if registering in this way becomes the norm, a genuine conscientious objector who came by his beliefs later would have a much harder time proving it because he didn’t so indicate at age 18.

These are my personal beliefs. They do not necessarily reflect the policies of the Selective Service System, for which I volunteer as a local board member.

I think it’s an important point to make that politically instituting a draft is a self-destructive issue for many (most?) politicians. I’d rather take a shot at killing social security and medicare than try to sell the voters on bringing back the draft.

That said I flip back and forth on it. I’m not wild about selective service because of the position is sells vis-a-vis the position of the individual as subserviant to the government. I consider the exact opposite should be the case.

But I could also be argued into mandatory service. Say a two year term for all following high school. Such systems aren’t bad and might well instill useful discipline and life-coping skills in the young.

In sum, I’d suppose what I object to most is the ‘selective’ part of selective service. Smacks too much of people choosing sacrificial victims for their own safety. Make no one do it or make everyone do it. I could live with either.

Following the example of hiring an Arab firm to patrol the ports, why not outsource the army, too? Imagine how much easier it would be if some firm from New Delhi, say, provided all the soldiers and such.

Isn’t that flying loose with the facts CK? Or at least being disingenuous with your “patrol the ports” comment?

As for part two, we already do outsource some aspects of the army, the company is called Blackwater for one.

Apart from the gross trespass of civil liberties, I would not like the drag on the economy of removing a large chunk of the population due to be entering the work force or entering a significant stage in training for the workforce (college). It would also be an incredibly unproductive use of public funds to be paying everyone for two years of work that has little or no economic benefit. Sounds like pouring money into a big black hole.

Also, this would have to apply to people of both genders, otherwise it would be grossly unfair. Would a young mother be obliged to undertake mandatory service? What would you think of girls becoming pregnant to avoid service? Would a young man supporting a family be obliged to serve?

Is it really a great idea to subject people to a restrictive, limiting environment during the years when they are most likely to take advantage of experiences such as education and travel that would be harder for them to engage in when they are older and have greater responsibilities such as a career or a family?

Wouldn’t forced national service breed dissent rather than patriotism?

And to the OP: yes, oh god, yes. It’s an archaicism that has no place in contemporary society, and it’s sexist to boot.

If the draft was reinstated (especially as a special skills draft) it would be difficult in the extreme to justify excluding women and difficult in the extreme to make it popular. Under current regulations a man with dependants (not necessarily children dependant parents/a wife/siblings count too) would not be drafted. Of course a man who doesn’t acctually support his children probally wouldn’t get a deferment. If mothers and pregnant women were to be exempt from the draft then the government would be forced to monitor every woman who showed up pregnant at MEPs to make sure they actually gave birth. Some (not many) women would get pregnant, get a deferment, then get an abortion just as some men would mutilate themselves to avoid service. That opens up a whole other can of worms.

Also SSS claims they can deliver the first selectees within six months of activation. Do know what percentage of 20 year old men don’t meet physical/mental standards for military service? (This should be easy to figure out.) Or what percentage of men would seek deferments or dodge the draft? (This is very difficult to figure out.) Also there’s the little problem of reconciling a ban on out LGBTs, involuntary service, and a far reduced stigma attached to homosexuality compared to the 60s.

It’s a necessary evil and we have to keep it, just in case. I rather doubt it will ever be used again but the apparatus has to stay operational. If you really want to kill it, put it under the Department of Homeland Security.

First, they don’t promote disipline or life coping skills; if anything, they stunt such skills. Second, it’s more likely to promote resentment or rage toward the government and/or country; I know it would have with me.

True, but I’m in favor of abolishing it anyway.

Too late. :wink:

What do they do in European countries? They don’t seem to have a problem with manditory service, at least the ones that have it.

Sometimes that stimulates an economy. As in WWII.

Well, let’s have a look:

None of the European countries have the same service requirement of women that they do of men. Some countries, such as Germany, Finland and Switzerland allow women to volunteer for mandatory service (yes, voluntary mandatory service :rolleyes: ). In Finland, women can volunteer, and then back out if they do so within 56 days. What, women are too flighty to be expected to fulfil a commitment? Bulgaria, Austria and Greece are rapidly moving toward an all-volunteer military.

So, rather than the European countries not having a problem with it, we find that many are dropping the practice, and all of them apply it in a prejudicial manner. If you want to support such a moronic, sexist practice, you’re welcome to provide arguments to back it up, but just saying “Europe does it!” isn’t good enough.

BrainGlutton: your WWII is a poor comparison. Note that the nation, at the beginning of the war, was still climbing out of a depression, in which case any money in people’s wallets is a good idea. In contemporary times, work that isn’t economically productive isn’t going to stimulate anything. Similarly, much of the economic stimulation in WWII was due to there being an increased need for military equipment, supplies, etc.

If getting the government to pay the population for pointless busy work actually was an economic boost, the government could solve all its problems by paying workers to construct a replica of the Empire State Building in the deserts of Utah, tear it down, and then rebuild it over and over again.

Economists know this as “the fallacy of the broken window”. Generating an artificial need for a good or service creates the illusion of increased economic activity because the presence of the selected good or service is more noticeable than the absence of whatever other goods and services had to be deferred to pay for it.

A profound economic collapse (in which labor and capital would otherwise sit idle) is an unusual special case.

That’s what I was thinking, too. In its current form, the SSS is a waste of resources and draws a gender distinction that bears little resemblance either to contemporary American society or to military realities on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are no “front lines” in a counterinsurgency from which female soldiers can be kept back.

We might someday need a draft, for reasons we cannot anticipate, as unlikely as it now seems. The SSS, or something like it, may someday save valuable time in a major national crisis.

If you want to support such a moronic, sexist practice, you’re welcome to provide arguments to back it up, but just saying “Europe does it!” isn’t good enough.[\QUOTE]

You might want to try switching to decaf. I was responding to the question about handling gender inequity. From your link, one could use Israel as an example, with married and pregnant women exempt from service but still likely to serve out of patriotism. I’m sure there are also procedures from the past that could also be used as a basis for guidelines for female service.

While changes may have to be made in the Selective Service law, arguing that it is a waste of resources won’t get you far. Their FY2004 bydget was only $26 million.

As federal agencies go, that’s chicken feed.