Saturday, March 25, 2006

2314 Myths about the military

It's been awhile since I heard Democrat Charlie Rangle spouting off on Fox about reinstating the draft to make the military more fair. That the military recruits the poor and minority in a disproporationate percentage to their numbers isn't true, and in fact, it is probably less of a path out of poverty than it was for previous generations because today's all volunteer military requires a high education and skill level. You probably saw this piece in November when it first appeared, but it is worth repeating.

"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."

Sean M., a commenter at Protein Wisdom has this to say about the war critics' opinion of our troops:
So, let me get this straight...if you support the war but don’t join up with the armed forces to go and fight, lefties scream “CHICKENHAWK!” at you, implying that your lack of military experience invalidates your opinion.

On the other hand, if you’re over there, your opinion on the legitimacy of the war isn’t to be trusted because you’re obviously some sort of moron who couldn’t get a job elsewhere, much less a college education.

HT for both items Yehudit.

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