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Benefits, Selective Service, and your Soul

Monday, November 20, 2006

Quick, recite the Thirteenth Amendment to our U.S. Constitution... Can't remember it? Well, here it is so you don't have to look it up:
Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
We all should be familiar with slavery, but lets take a quick look at involuntary servitude. First, their definitions which can be found at the American Heritage Dictionary website:
  1. Acting or done without or against one's will: an involuntary participant in what turned out to be an argument.
  2. Not subject to control of the volition: gave an involuntary start. See Synonyms at spontaneous.
  1.     a. A state of subjection to an owner or master. 
        b. Lack of personal freedom, as to act as one chooses.
  2. Forced labor imposed as a punishment for crime: penal servitude in labor camps.
  3. Law A right that grants use of another's property.
To put it simply, there shall be no forced or coerced service (For more, see conscription.). If it's not your wish or desire to serve in your country's military, you supposedly can't be forced. Keeping that very basic explanation in mind, we read this off of Reuters news feed:
An influential Democratic lawmaker on Sunday called for reinstatement of the draft as a way to boost U.S. troop levels and draw a broader section of the population into the military or public service.
U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, the incoming chairman of the House of Representatives' tax-writing committee, said he would introduce legislation to reinstate the draft as soon as the new, Democratic-controlled Congress convenes in January.
Asked on CBS' "Face the Nation" if he was still serious about the proposal for a universal draft he raised a couple of years ago, he said, "You bet your life. Underscore serious."
"If we're going to challenge Iran and challenge North Korea and then, as some people have asked, to send more troops to Iraq, we can't do that without a draft," he said.
The Democrats are already looking ahead to more wars with Iran and North Korea. If you voted for them because you thought they were for less war, I'd be asking for a refund.
Getting back to our discussion about the prohibition on involuntary servitude, let me ask you a question. Do you remember filling out a Selective Service card when you turned eighteen? You probably didn't think much of it at the time, did you? From the above article about Charles Rengal's draft proposal, we find this little gem hiding at the bottom:
The draft was in place from 1948 to 1973, when the United States converted to an all-volunteer army. But almost all men living in the United States - including most male noncitizens - are required to register with the Selective Service upon reaching 18, and federal benefits, including financial aid for college studies, are contingent on registration.
While I believe they've got all the facts correct in that paragraph, I believe they may be out of order. By that I mean that if you want to take advantage of federal funds (aka benefits such as Social Security), you must register for the Selective Service. But, by doing so you've moved the subject of servitude from involuntary to voluntary. Its kind of like selling your soul to the devil. So, I guess you can't point to the Thirteenth Amendment to get out of the draft... unless you never signed your Selective Service card, that is.
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