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The Washington Post discovers the economic draft (but not by name)
Eli Stephens, Left I on the News
"As sustained combat in Iraq makes it harder than ever to fill the ranks of
the all-volunteer force, newly released Pentagon demographic data show that
the military is leaning heavily for recruits on economically depressed,
rural areas where youths' need for jobs may outweigh the risks of going to
"More than 44 percent of U.S. military recruits come from rural areas,
Pentagon figures show. In contrast, 14 percent come from major cities."
Of course, knowing that 14 percent come from major cities doesn't tell you
that much -- there are plenty of poor people in New York, Chicago, San
Francisco, and every other city. The Post does tell us this about the actual
income of the recruits: "Many of today's recruits are financially strapped,
with nearly half coming from lower-middle-class to poor households." I
couldn't find the "newly released Pentagon demographic data" on the DoD
website, but the Mercury News, in a graphic (not online) accompanying the
article, says that the median household income of the recruits was $43,052.
That's a full 50% lower than the national average. And make sure you notice
that's household income, not individual income.
In an amusing note, the article makes this claim: "A rising percentage of
youth from wealthy areas are signing up, presumably for patriotic reasons."
No data is presented to back up this claim, but I'll point out that a rise
from one to two is a 100% increase.
The Post acts as if this story is in some way surprising. But there was one
very interesting statistic in the article: "From 2000 to 2004, the number of
teenagers joining the military dropped, while 20- to 25-year-olds rose from
31 to 36 percent." What does this tell you? As the person profiled in the
article exemplifies, people do not want to go into the Army. This particular
guy says "Believe me, I don't want to go over there." They try anything --
finding a job, going to college -- to avoid it. But when they fail at those
things, eventually they have no other choice, and they sign on the dotted
line. And that's what we in the antiwar movement call the "economic draft."
And that's what the Washington Post describes in detail, without ever
managing to name.