Man Up | Ben Breschi

    Students failing to register for the draft should be denied federal and state aid for their education. Within thirty days of turning eighteen, almost every male in the United States must register with Selective Service, the agency responsible for conducting a draft in case of a national emergency. Though criminal punishment comes at the age of twenty-six, students who fail to register lose access to student loans, college grants, and federal financial aid early on. Without such an immediate penalty, many would see registration as nonessential. The punishment also helps the federal government save money. In addition, those who cower at the possibility of defending the United States should not receive its benefits. Though others argue that volunteers alone could fill the need for troops, a raw assumption like this cannot replace the need for a safety net. Draft registration and its punishments debate the importance of national security versus personal liberties.
    Without an immediate punishment, such as denying federal financial aid, students would see draft registration as nonessential. Edward Hasbrouck, a draft objector himself, writes that Although the Selective Service threatens men with felony charges, they rarely pursue them due to lack of resources and prison space (Hasbrouck). By reaching for the wallet, however, the government solves the problem in objectors like Hasbrouck. For men emerging from high school, the threat of cutting financial aid triggers a much stronger response than that of a seldom-enforced felony eight years down the road. Many potential objectors simply swallow their cowardly clucks and choose to register. Without the penalty of reduced student aid, few men would register for the draft, their wallets would remain unaffected, and the American military capacity would be largely unknown.
    The few men that still refuse to register allow the government to save money through denying them federal student aid. According to The College Board, undergraduates receive around five thousand dollars per year from federal loans, while graduate students drain over sixteen thousand (“Trends in Student Aid”). This means that the “millions of suspected draft registration resisters,” although not being prosecuted, are saving the government billions of dollars in federal student loans (Hasbrouck). In turn, the government can use this money to fund the military and those brave enough to put their country first. It is much easier for the United States to choose inaction to save money rather than take legal action against the cowardly objectors. 
    Those who cower at the possibility of defending the United States should not receive its benefits. Many soldiers have fought and perished to render a country so plentiful with opportunity. Resisters to draft registration, on the other hand, put their own self-centered goals before the security of the United States. Federal student aid is a privilege of much less significance than national safety, and therefore, the government should retain its ability to rescind that privilege to ensure stability. In addition, immediate deployment does not follow registration, as the Selective Service only conducts a draft in times of great need. Since a draft has not occurred in over thirty years, its likelihood is low, so registration mostly acts as a safety net. 
    Opponents of the draft and its penalties argue that volunteers alone can negate the need for such a safety net.  However, statistics simply do not line up with this claim. Including active duty, the National Guard, and the reserves, the United States military currently contains just under 2.3 million people (“By the Numbers: Today’s Military”). During World War II, the military personnel soared to over 12 million people; the Selective Service drafted seventy percent of these soldiers (“Research Starters: US Military by the Numbers”). If another major war were to break out, volunteers could not possibly sustain the entire United States military. Even in Vietnam, a smaller war, the draft sent nearly 2 million brave men to fight (“By the Numbers: Today’s Military”). Abolishing the draft or its financial aid penalty would jeopardize the security of the U.S. in times of danger and develop a sense of apathy toward the American cause. 
    The American government should bar students from federal financial aid if they refuse to register for the draft. By doing this, the government pushes more men to register with an immediate penalty. Those who still fearfully scamper away allow the U.S. to save billions of dollars in federal loans. Finally, financial aid amounts to less importance than national security and therefore can be revoked to preserve safety. With this punishment, objectors to the draft find themselves cornered: they either surrender their wallets or have to man up.