I just typed this up to post on Facebook, responding to one of my former students who wrote an op-ed calling for reintroduction of military conscription in the U.S. It is taken from the instructor's manual to my 1981 college textbook, and I had to type it because the textbook and the manual were written before I could do computer editing.
the instructor's manual for my 1981 college textbook, I commented on
how a LEGITIMATE draft could be done: Noting that conscription has
always been "selective," I noted that "A less obvious alternative, for a
truly colossal emergency, might be general
or UNselective conscription. EVERYBODY, literally, would be drafted
at the same moment---men, women, children, with no exceptions whatever.
Thus THIS conscription could be accomplished by
government-as-legislator rather than by government-as-bandit ....
person would then be subject to serving where ordered to do so. Young
children would probably be ordered to continue playing or going to
school. 'They also serve who only sit and wait.' Many people would be
ordered to perform--perhaps continue performing--productive roles in
farms, factories, and mines.
"One startling aspect of such a total draft
would be that people already IN the armed forces would also have to be
drafted. No exceptions means NO exceptions! Thus generals and admirals
would be drafted. The enthusiasm of such professional officers (as well
as congressmen and other top government officials) at being drafted
might be minimal because of another feature of this draft. Since a
draft is based on repudiation of the market (during the emergency) as a
means of raising and allocating manpower, all draftees must receive
exactly the same compensation (cash plus fringes) while the emergency
continues. The impossibility of providing everybody with an admiral's
standard of living is self-evident; hence admirals will have to live
like privates while the draft remains in effect. Of course the top
brass, military and civilian, are all very patriotic and would
undoubtedly be willing to sacrifice for the national welfare if
necessary. But they might be somewhat more conservative in their
willingness to decide that an emergency exists."