Authoritarian Liberals Want Involuntary Servitude; Single-Taxers Say No!
by Fred E. Foldvary, Senior Editor
Some members of the Congressional Black Caucus seek a return of slavery to America. They want to bring back the military draft. It is quite ironic for descendants of slaves to be demanding a return to involuntary servitude. The classical liberal view was for a free and voluntary society, but, modern welfare-state redistributionists who fancy themselves "liberal" are really authoritarians who seek to impose coercion on unwilling innocent victims.
A military draft kidnaps young men from their homes and ships them away to fight wars. Conscientious objectors can do alternative service, such as working in hospitals, but this servitude is still involuntary. The draft is a tax in kind, on the time and preferences of the men, focusing the burden of warfare on a few instead of the many.
The draft is socially wasteful. Perhaps this appeals to those who enjoy the current fad of extreme sports. Perhaps some politicians now take pride in extreme inefficiency. The draft is economically wasteful because the drafted men lose opportunities in education, labor, and creative arts, if not their lives. A voluntary military lets those enlist who like and benefit from military life and willingly face the risks. Drafting skews the division of labor into less social welfare, creating not just a burden on the drafted but an excess burden on all society, which loses the higher social services the draftees would have otherwise provided.
The draft is immoral. So long as there are sufficient volunteers, the draft is militarily unnecessary, and violates the natural right to be free from coercion. When draftees are killed in battle, it amounts to murder. Paying the volunteer troops spreads the cost to all society, which is proper, since presumably all society benefits from national defense. If the war is not really defensive, then the draft is even more evil.
The draft also violates sex-gender equality. In the U.S., only men are drafted, females getting a free ride. This is not only naturally immoral, but seems to violate the equal-protection provisions of the U.S. Constitution. Statist feminists who favor the male-only draft are guilty of hypocrisy when they also complain about unequal treatment. Libertarian feminists properly oppose any draft for anyone.
A volunteer army saves lives. Over 50,000 men died in the Vietnamese war, fought with drafted men. In contrast, very few Americans died in the Persian Gulf War of 1991. With a volunteer army, the generals try to minimize deaths, since a high killed rate is bad for recruiting.
A complaint of authoritarian liberals is that too many African-Americans are in the armed forces. But they volunteered for the military because it provides them with opportunity and benefits. A draft would shut out this avenue for advancement. If the problem is poverty that induces Blacks to enlist, then attack the cause rather than the effect.
In the late 1800s there arose in America the single-tax movement, inspired by the economist and reformer Henry George, to "tax" only land value, and nothing else. Land is here by nature, and much of its value comes from government-provided civic goods. It is fair and efficient to "tax" land rent or land value, as it does not flee, hide, or shrink when taxed. I put "tax" in quotes, because civic assessments on site rentals are a tax in form, but not in substance, being a payment for civic benefits. Since a draft is a tax in substance, we single-taxers oppose the draft.
We single-taxers have a motto: equal rights for all, privileges for none! If some are drafted and others not, those not drafted get a privilege at the cost of the drafted. We single-taxers say no to privilege! Equal rights means everyone is equally free. Say no to involuntary servitude!
-- Fred Foldvary
Copyright 2003 by Fred E. Foldvary. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system, without giving full credit to Fred Foldvary and The Progress Report.
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