By Tim Kane and James Jay Carafano, USA Today
Amongst the arrows slung by the Dems in their efforts to score points with voters is the zinger that the military is largely made up of poor American children, forced into service to their country because of lack of opportunity. Leading the way on that charge... regurgitating it when there's a vacuum of onslaughts... is the NYTs (no surprise there) 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.
Not to be outdone, there's ol' Charlie Rangel putting his two cents worth in.
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."
Yet nothing could be further from the truth. Below some stats that should force them and their ilk to put a sock in it.
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.
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