Skip to comments.Debunking The Myth Of The Underprivileged Soldier
Posted on 11/28/2005 7:23:45 PM PST by mark502inf
Debunking The Myth Of The Underprivileged Soldier
By Tim Kane and James Jay Carafano, USA Today
They all volunteered. The U.S. soldiers pitching in with hurricane relief along the Gulf Coast and those fighting and dying in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere decided, on their own, to serve their nation.
Or was the decision made so freely? Could it be that unscrupulous Pentagon recruiters duped them, taking advantage of their poverty, their lack of education and the bleak futures they share as members of the USA's urban underclass?
That's the view of some critics, such as New York Times columnist Bob Herbert, who writes that very few of the soldiers fighting in Iraq are coming from the privileged economic classes, and that there would likely be no war if rich kids had to fight. According to Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., social equality demands reinstatement of the draft, which he justifies by asserting that the most privileged Americans are underrepresented or absent. Herbert concludes that there is something very, very wrong with this picture.
What's very, very wrong with the Rangel-Herbert picture is that it has no factual basis.
According to a comprehensive study of all enlistees for the years 1998-99 and 2003 that The Heritage Foundation just released, the typical recruit in the all-volunteer force is wealthier, more educated and more rural than the average 18- to 24-year-old citizen is. Indeed, for every two recruits coming from the poorest neighborhoods, there are three recruits coming from the richest neighborhoods.
Yes, rural areas and the South produced more soldiers than their percentage of the population would suggest in 2003. Indeed, four rural states Montana, Alaska, Wyoming and Maine rank 1-2-3-4 in proportion of their 18-24 populations enlisted in the military. But this isn't news.
Enlistees have always come from rural areas. Yet a new study, reported in The Washington Post earlier this month, suggests that higher enlistment rates in rural counties are new, implying a poorer military. They err by drawing conclusions from a non-random sample of a few counties, a statistically cloaked anecdote. The only accurate way to assess military demographics is to consider all recruits.
If, for example, we consider the education of every recruit, 98% joined with high-school diplomas or better. By comparison, 75% of the general population meets that standard. Among all three-digit ZIP code areas in the USA in 2003 (one can study larger areas by isolating just the first three digits of ZIP codes), not one had a higher graduation rate among civilians than among its recruits.
In fact, since the 9/11 attacks, more volunteers have emerged from the middle and upper classes and fewer from the lowest-income groups. In 1999, both the highest fifth of the nation in income and the lowest fifth were slightly underrepresented among military volunteers. Since 2001, enlistments have increased in the top two-fifths of income levels but have decreased among the lowest fifth.
Allegations that recruiters are disproportionately targeting blacks also don't hold water. First, whites make up 77.4% of the nation's population and 75.8% of its military volunteers, according to our analysis of Department of Defense data.
Second, we explored the 100 three-digit ZIP code areas with the highest concentration of blacks, which range from 24.1% black up to 68.6%. These areas, which account for 14.6% of the adult population, produced 16.6% of recruits in 1999 and only 14.1% in 2003.
Maintaining the strength and size of our all-volunteer military isn't always easy. But Americans step up when their country needs them. To suggest the system is failing or exploiting citizens is wrong. And to make claims about the nature of U.S. troops to discredit their mission ought to be politically out of bounds.
The funny thing is that if the military was made up mostly of those from the "privileged economic classes", the same people would be yapping about how the rich kids are denying the underprivileged a chance to get a leg up in the world because they are taking up all the slots in the military.
There from North California and South Alabam,
and little towns all across this land.
And I'm damn greatful.
Pu-leeze! Bob Hebert and Charlie Rangel? Those two have a terminal case of recto-cranial inversion! I wouldn't believe either one of them if they each told me water was wet.
I'm not military, but I know enough to be aware that those we are trusting with our freedom (and their families) are being shorted.
/off ranting soapbox
/but not really
Reading your post made me full of words. Reading what I typed gave me pause. Reading it again brought me to this: God bless our troops, and God please damn the new york times.
Good post. Got me angry:). Know this, I am jealous of the young men who guard our freedom. They have all the fun. Old soldiers are banned from having fun.
Well, from one old soldier to another--I know just what you mean! What is the story behind your tag-line?
Agreed. When I was in (mid 80's), there were E3's - E-6's on food stamps.
As one who was a part of the all volunteer Army, the soldiers and officers would be really amused to know they are the objects of the MSM's pity and also to find out they had been duped, fooled and manipulated into joining one of the most forward thinking, highly educated, dynamic, determined and able group of people in the world....
Are they underpaid? I don't know, but I would like to see a pay scale so I could decide.
Im tired of the civillian life I want back in. The navy didnt spend 4 years and a quarter of a million dollars on me to let me go because I couldnt get through flight school. I dont want a civillian job... i want to lead our sailors as we put warheads on foreheads....
I had a phone battle with my brother the other day who insists that all recruiters are targeting the poor, minorities, etc. And that all recruiters lie and any kid would be smart to avoid them. He's family but at times can be a complete ***hat. LOL Me? I was in the AF in the early 70's and my wife was in the army at the same time. Between the two of us we made out like bandits financially and the experiance did wonders for us both.
Not to be argumentative but what are you basing this on?
Do you know what the enlisted guys are paid?
"God bless our troops, and God please damn the new york times."
I second that emotion!
Red States supply a disproportionate number of soldiers? Go figure.
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