Donald Boudreaux has a great post on draft registration. In the post, he explains how he described the concept of draft registration to his young son:
It's part of the government's effort to make you think that your life ultimately belongs to it and not to you. The government wants you to believe that you're obliged even to die for it if it commands you to do so.
Boudreaux goes on to describe registration as a “degrading ritual,” which strikes me as right on the money. I remember when I registered, and I felt… I guess “cheapened” is the best word, as if I was admitting that I wasn’t worth enough to claim my life as my own.
This is a key part of why I find all the ideas for compulsory “national service” for young people, military or otherwise, so repulsive. It would be another way for the government to loudly proclaim, to each young person entering adulthood, that your life belongs to the state, not to you. Some supporters of these schemes all but admit that this is the point, with their talk of instilling a sense of “community obligation” or the like. Indeed, requiring recent high school graduates to spend their time working on government “service” projects for months or years on end would drive that message home much more dramatically than a one-time act like registering for the draft.
The state isn’t just after your money, your labor, or your obedience. It’s after your soul. Never forget that.