The Draft

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Rep. Charles Rangel, now about to become a member of the majority party again after 12 years, has revived his proposal for a military draft. This is about as absurd a public-policy proposal as I can imagine. Contrary to Rangel's claims–talking points recycled from the Vietnam era, when we did have a draft–military recruits are not drawn predominantly from the lower economic ranks of society. Quite to the contrary, as a recent report from the Heritage Foundation makes clear, military recruits tend to come from above the national economic median. Here's my earlier post about the Heritage report. Moreover, when you take a look at the numbers, there is no need for a draft. In World War II, we were a nation of 130 million that needed a military of approximately 12 million–nearly 1 in 10 of the entire population. Today, we are a nation of 300 million that needs a military of, at most, about 3 million–1 in 100 persons in the entire population.

Here's a blog poll on the draft.

A Belated Note on the Congressional Leadership Elections

I see a common thread in the congressional leadership elections and the victories of Steny Hoyer for House majority leader, Trent Lott for Senate minority whip, John Boehner for House minority leader, and Roy Blunt for House minority whip.

In each case, the relevant electorates–House Democrats, Senate Republicans, House Republicans–chose the candidate with the most leadership experience. Three of their opponents–John Murtha, Lamar Alexander, and Mike Pence–had no leadership experience, and the fourth, John Shadegg, had little experience whipping votes. Other factors were, of course, present in each race. But leadership positions require certain talents that not all able members have, and usually those talents are honed by experience. My hunch is that the experience argument contributed to the large margins for Hoyer, Boehner, and Blunt and played a critical role in Lott's 25-to-24 victory. This thoughtful analysis by Jonathan Martin in National Review Online takes a similar view.