The man who killed the draft

by on October 13, 2004 at 5:56 am in History | Permalink

The influence of Milton Friedman in ending conscription is well-known. But an economist named William Meckling arguably played a larger role, read the story. Many of you will know that Meckling, working with Michael Jensen, made seminal contributions to the theory of the debt-equity ratio. Here’s hoping that Congress meant its recent vote.

And consider these words from David Henderson:

Many of you who have made or are now making your fortunes would not have done so if the draft had been in the way. Consider Bill Gates, who in 1975 dropped out of Harvard to start Microsoft: during the draft years, young men like him who left college risked being certified as prime military meat. Computer programmers and other IT workers, who often do their best work relatively early in life, regularly drop out of college now because high-paying, interesting jobs beckon. If we still had the draft — even a peacetime draft — many wouldn’t have that chance.

People often wonder why today’s 20-somethings have such entrepreneurial spirit. One reason, I believe, is that a whole generation has grown up without the draft looming over its head.

Thanks to Bryan Caplan for the pointer.

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