Draft Conference Resolves Nothing
CHICAGO, Dec. 7 -- Only parliamentary legerdemain today kept proponents of a volunteer army from taking control of the concluding session of the draft conference here.
But failure to secure a formal resolution in support of the plan must be counted as a trifling defeat for the partisans of a volunteer army led by Milton Friedman, professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, and Rep. Donald Rumsfeld (R-III.). In four days of lobbying within the conference hall and without, the group convinced many delegates that at the very least, military salaries should be raised to see if the enlistment rate would rise.
More important, the advocates of a volunteer army are confident that their position will be carefully considered by the Marshall Commission, how studying the draft for the President, and the House Armed Services Committee, which will hold hearings on the problem before the current Selective Service Act expires in June.
According to Friedman, it would take from $4 to $6 billion to attract enough men into the service to end the draft. A Defense Department official, who argued that "econometrics is still an art, not a science," painted a picture of the voluntary army that would cost $17 billion a year.
Political gyrations turned the last two sessions of the conference into what one professor described as "intellectual anarchy." In their effort to stall the voluntary army bandwagon, Sol Tax, chairman of the conference's planning committee and professor of Anthropology at the University of Chicago, and several colleagues at that university proposed that no resolutions be passed on anything.
"If we don't pass anything," one participant said when he heard of the plan, "people will regard this as just another example of social scientists living and working together."
The steering committee, composed largely of University of Chicago men, did accept the proposal. This left observers and delegates to guess what the conference would have decided if it had voted on specific issues. There was general agreement that a resolution calling for the end of class-ranks as a facet in deferment would have passed, as would a more general resolution urging the abolition of student deferments. Not even Tax suggested that the conference support compulsory national service, and debate on variations of the national service scheme was so diffuse that specific proposals could not be assembled.
A broadened definition of conscientious objection had wide support -- through many delegates doubted that Congress could be persuaded to take any action on this problem