- Nov 22, 2003
- Reaction score
Rangels dumb and astronomically expensive idea
by Donald Sensing
Hey buddy, can you spare $800,000,000,000 for Rangels mandatory-service corps?
Barry Goldwater ran for president in 1964 as the Republican nominee. I was was not even 10 then so obviously didnt vote in that election. In the late 70s I was a first lieutenant in the Army and was passing time with my NCOs one day. The topic turned, in a non-serious way, to politics. A staff sergeant commented, The Democrats told me that if I voted for Goldwater in 64, Id wind up fighting in Vietnam. They were right.
I suppose it was an old joke even then (at least in form if not in specifics) for just yesterday Glenn Reynolds wrote, PEOPLE TOLD ME IN 2004 THAT IF I VOTED FOR BUSH, before you know it thered be moves to bring back a draft. And, sure enough, I voted for Bush and now theyre talking about bringing back the draft. . . .
He is referring, of course, to US rep. Charlie Rangels (D.-NY) bill to reinstate the military draft. Rangel has had such a bill before Congress before, and in fact the Republicans actually managed to bring his bill to a floor vote in October 2004, where, interestingly, Rangel voted against it. But before we heap the scorn upon Rangel that he so richly deserves for this stupidity, let us also observe that three Republicans beat Rangel to the punch with their introdction of the Universal Military Training and Service Act of 2001, Bill # H.R.3598, which is still alive in the House Armed Services Committee. (Alive being a very generous term since its been glued to the bottom of the committees in-box for five years.) The bill,
Makes it the obligation of male citizens and residents between 18 and 22 to receive basic military training and education as a member of the armed forces unless otherwise exempt under this Act. Permits female citizens and residents between such ages to volunteer for enlistment in the armed forces, with acceptance at the discretion of the Secretary of the military department concerned. Limits the period of training to between six months and a year. Permits transfers after basic training of such conscripts/volunteers to national and community service programs to finish the term of service. Provides educational services and Montgomery GI benefits to persons upon completion of their national service. Uses the existing Selective Service System and local boards for induction. Sets forth criteria for deferments, postponements, and exemptions, including high school, hardship, disability, and health. Entitles inductees to request a particular service branch. Excludes conscientious objectors from combatant training, but otherwise requires them to take basic training before a permitted transfer to a national service rogram.
To be fair, this bill was introduced only three months after 9/11, when no one knew what the extent or duration of Americas new war would be or what manpower would be required. It was probably meant as a just in case measure that, having already been written and staffed, could be put through the Congress fairly quickly if the defense department asked for it. Since no one in DOD or the rest of the administration has ever asked for a draft, and since President Bush promised bluntly in the 2004 campaign that his second term would not see one, this bill is dead as Julius Caesar.
Rangel first introduced his draft legilsation in January 2003. It is HR 163, Universal National Service Act of 2003.
Declares that it is the obligation of every U.S. citizen, and every other person residing in the United States, between the ages of 18 and 26 to perform a two-year period of national service, unless exempted, either as a member of an active or reserve component of the armed forces or in a civilian capacity that promotes national defense. Requires induction into national service by the President. Sets forth provisions governing: (1) induction deferments, postponements, and exemptions, including exemption of a conscientious objector from military service that includes combatant training; and (2) discharge following national service. Amends the Military Selective Service Act to authorize the military registration of females.
Get that? Rangel wants women to be subject to the draft as well as men. Everyone would have to serve two years. The text of the bill itself provides for exemptions of military service only if someone is mentally or physically unfit under section 505 of title 10, United States Code, the legislation that presently governs enlistment in the armed forces. No such exemption is stated for service other than military service. Anyone who volunteers for service in the armed forces or is enrolled at a service academy is likewise exempted from mandatory induction, provided s/he completes the term of service satisfactorily. There is no exemption for coscientious objection except that those person, when inducted, [will] participate in military service that does not include any combatant training component.
There is a deferment for high school students until they graduate or turn 20, whichever comes first. There is no deferment at all for college students.
Read the text of the bill for yourself. I see no loopholes for anyone to weasel out of some kind of service, although do wonder how many more exemptions the Congress will be able to think of by the time this bill ever passed (if it ever does pass).
There are so many dumb things about this bill that I hardly know where to begin. But we have to start somewhere.
The bill says, It is the obligation of every citizen of the United States, and every other person residing in the United States, who is between the ages of 18 and 26 to perform a period of national service as prescribed in this Act .
A. The bill only defers, does not exempt, persons from induction because of extreme hardship physical or mental disability. Although section 5 of the bill does require every person before induction to be physically and mentally examined and classified as to fitness to perform national service. The executive branch determines fitness standards.
B. The bill dragoons US citizens, resident aliens and illegal aliens alike into its compulsory-service net. I suppose one might argue that it would provide a disincentive for illegals to stay or come, but lets get real. Almost all of them are in an underground mode now and the government does not even know who they are, their names or where they live.
C. Absent truly dire national emergency, this coercive form of service is not service at all. It is, charitably, involuntary servitude to the all-powerful State. No wonder Scott Horton of Anti-war.com characterized it thus:
Charles Rangel thinks that having a society where human beings own each other is perfectly okay as long as the slaves are destroying lives and property for the state rather than producing things for private plantation owners.
.Dont you see? Conscription will deter wars by providing the politicians with a bottomless supply of cannon fodder. And by the new magic principle of everything works how Charlie wants, the rest of the politicians will be somehow unable to swing exemptions for their own children.
D. The cost would be astronomical. The US Census data for 2000 show that there are approximately 7,900,000 men aged 18-21 inclusive, and Rangels bill persecutes both men and women the prime years for a draft. So the bill sweeps up tens of millions of people, all of whom must be paid. Does Rangel think they will be paid a living wage or a slave wage? They also have to be fed and housed and transported and care for medically. Can you say, biggest ongoing budget deficit in the history of the world?
The number of women age 18-21 is very close to that of men. So men and women between 18-21 number about 16,000,000. We wont even worry for now about the five years worth of people between 21-26. Because Rangels bill ends high-school deferments between ages 18-20, it would seem that up to 4,000,000 men and women per year would be eligible for induction into either the armed forces or civilian service. Note that Rangels bill gives the executive the authority to limit only the number of inductees into the armed services, but not the authority to limit the number inducted into civilian, national service (Persons covered by subsection (a) who are not selected for military service under subsection (d) shall perform their national service obligation under this Act in a civilian capacity pursuant to national or community service and homeland security.)
So we have 8,000,000 men and women on active duty or service at any one time, including we would assume the NCOs and officers of the armed forces and their career equivalents in civilian service. What might the total be for directly-paid salaries alone, not including associated costs?
Brand new privates in the Army receive $1,178 per month for the first four months and $1,273 per month after that. By the end of their second year they pay grade E3 and make - again, this is directly-paid salary - $1,501 per month. In the middle is pay grade E2, which pays $1,427. Lets use that figure as the overall average.
Eight million salaries paying $1,427 per month equals an astonishing 1.3699 to the 11th power dollars. Thats $136,990,000,000 per year just for salaries.
One Hundred Thirty-Six Billion, Nine Hundred Ninety Million dollars per year for salaries alone. But almost a million careerists, at least, will each be making considerably more. So a more realistic salary figure is a cool quarter-trillion dollars.
Overhead costs could easily add another 50 percent to that, although probably most overhead would be sunk costs that would be incurred at the beginning and at a much lower levellater. Even so, we may charitably add $25 billion per year. Now were up $275 billion per year.
And this is almost certainly a very low estimate. In 2006, of the defense departments total budget of $416 billion, more than one-fourth is categorized as Grand Total Direct - Military Personnel Costs. That $109 billion (rounded). Some of those costs are military-specific, but most would have direct equivalence in a drafted civilian-service corps. DOD has about 1.7 million military of all types and a large civilian-employee base, all totaling about a fourth of the number of active duty that Rangel envisions. By the time operating and maintenance costs are folded in - and certainly the pork that every Senator and Representative would tack on - the costs of Rangels folly would surely nudge $800 billion per year and only go up from there.
No wonder Joe Gandelman asks, Just who is ADVISING Rangel? Karl Rove?
What is this man thinking? That he can score points against Bush and the Republicans by trying to get everyone on the government dole for at least two years, or that 18-20 year olds should all have a turn on the Statist plantation for two years?
Finally, can you imagine the enormous mischief six million or so 18-20 year old men and women will cause on America if they are loosed to do something, darn it, to earn their keep? Do what? No, really - apart from the two million military members, what are six million teenagers going to do every year working for the government. What?