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It has rarely been realized that conscription is an effective means of granting a monopolistic privilege and imposing restrictionist wage rates. Conscription, like child labor laws, removes a part of the labor force from competition in the labor market—in this case, the removal of healthy, adult members. Coerced removal and compulsory labor in the armed forces at only nominal pay increases the wage rates of those remaining, especially in those fields most directly competitive with the jobs of the drafted men. Of course, the general productivity of the economy also decreases, offsetting the increases for at least some of the workers. But, as in other cases of monopoly grants, some of the privileged will probably gain from the governmental action. Directly, conscription is a method by which the government can commandeer labor at far less than market wage rates—the rate it would have to pay to induce the enlistment of a volunteer army.38
- 38. See also James C. Miller III, ed., Why the Draft? (Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1968).