Friday, March 02, 2007

Deadly Anomalies

War is most perverse when only a few people are involved in a life & death struggle, and others are essentially unaffected. Too many Americans contribute to supporting war merely through displaying a tacky ribbon on their automobiles...

But there are other anomalies even less explainable.

Young American men are required to register with the Selective Service within 30 days of their 18th birthday. This has been the law since 1980. The system is for "emergency manpower needs of the Military by conscripting untrained manpower, or personnel with professional health care skills, if directed by Congress and the President in a national crisis."

According to the government's website:

Registration is the law. A man who fails to register may face a fine of up to $250,000 and/or a prison term of up to five years.

Men who aren't registered won't qualify for Federal student loans or grant programs: Pell Grants, College Work Study, Guaranteed Student/Plus Loans, and National Direct Student Loans.

Registration is a condition for U.S. citizenship if the man first arrived in the U.S. before his 26th birthday.

The Workforce Investment Act offers programs to train men (& women) for jobs in auto mechanics and other skills;
(but for men,) only open to those who register with Selective Service.

A man must be registered to be eligible for jobs in the Executive Branch of the Federal government and the U.S. Postal Service (required only for men born after December 31, 1959).

Some states have added additional penalties for those who fail to register.

We live in a society that demands equality. Why are women not part of the system?
We live in a democracy. But women are not directly threatened by the Selective Service or its penalties. Why not? Perhaps because if all voters needed to register for the draft, those involved might adjust the system. Only putting young men at risk is sexist, inequitable, and perhaps illegal.

Many young men detest appearing cowardly. They would serve their nation honorably. Yet allowing others to weasel away (women & Dick Cheney) is wrong. Women could proudly serve if called. This system now places us all closer to war, and closer to a draft.