Draft proponents sometimes argue that the military would create promising and simultaneously socially beneficial careers for many youths across the country. However, the distinction in treatment by a commander of a draftee as opposed to a professional is equivalent to the distinction in treatment of a slave as opposed to one’s subordinate at work.
The military, in the status quo and in similarly humane periods of mankind’s history, had been treated as a specialized occupation not unlike any other in the fundamentals of contract negotiation, choice of entering or not entering the career field, and bountiful payment for an exacting task.
The army is, admittedly, a more significant threat to one’s life than, say, the career of a desk clerk, yet the average soldier is capable of compensating for the threat by conditioning oneself into a fitter physical state than that of the average desk clerk. The soldier, possessing the tools to do combat, derived from training and equipment, commits himself to a rational, volitional, calculated risk of engaging the enemy. The desk clerk, also rationally considering the matter, regards himself to be lacking the aptitudes and capacities demanded by military service and spots more promising prospects for himself in the field of secretarial work. In terms of the fundamentals of free-market exchange (which include, by the way, protection provided by government from wanton aggression), both the soldier and the desk clerk are metaphysically equal and are thus treated with the same degree of courtesy and consideration proper to a human being by their employers (if the latter choose to retain their workforce!).
But what happens when the soldier is deprived of the volitional authority to state, “I am fit to fight, and I see a promising future in fighting,” and is instead taken, via the threat of physical harm in the event of non-compliance, into a recruitment center, equipped with “standard” materiel, i.e. the minimum of provisions possible to ensure that he does not drop dead on the spot from strenuous marches, hostile lodgings, and the gruesome muck of non-mechanized ground warfare?
He cannot operate a tank, he cannot load a cannon from ten kilometers beyond enemy range, he cannot pilot an airplane; he was chosen merely because he was born on a particular day whose number was drawn in the lottery.
Has he a reliable chance of survival in the face of attacks by both nature and malicious opponents who have journeyed to the battlefield solely to kill him? And will his commanders value his services when he has a pitifully minuscule quantity of them to offer, when he can be replaced by the next doughboy who will perform his task just as poorly should he happen to be killed?
This reeks of the horrid approach of manual sugar refiners of the Caribbean toward steadily imported slave labor during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The slaves were beaten profusely for the minutest of offenses and worked late into the night with but five hours of rest, perishing like flies from exhaustion, starvation, injury, and disease within months if not weeks. Was that an enormous hindrance to their owners? Considering the backbreaking but primitive nature of the labor involved, and every slave’s utter lack of qualifications for it, the sugar manufacturers needed but to wait for the next ship to sail into harbor from across the Atlantic.