Friday, June 24, 2005

Non-news of the day

Non-news of the day: the majority of Americans oppose reinstating the draft, by a margin of about 2.5 to 1. Surprise, surprise!

The AP article also reports that "over half" of Americans would discourage a son from joining the military right now, and two-thirds would discourage a daughter. The poll results are tied in to evidence that the war in Iraq is losing support in this country, and the failure to meet military recruiting goals.

That is certainly no surprise, either. As the war wears on, particularly as it is portrayed in the press with the emphasis on the negative, how could it be otherwise? Even if the media were more positive about the Iraq war, I would imagine that most parents wouldn't be eager to have their children race over there. The most important data, though, is missing from the article, and that is: how does this compare to previous years? How many people ordinarily say they would encourage sons/daughters to enlist?

I haven't a clue, and we're not given one from the AP article, despite the spin that ties these results into dissatisfaction with the war. I would love to actually have a sentence or two comparing results of this poll to previous ones, which wouldn't seem to be too much to ask, and would give the reader the chance to judge for him/herself.

Also, it would be nice to have the actual figure as to how many would discourage a son from joining up, rather than the general "over half." That covers a pretty wide range: from 51% all the way to 100%. Somehow, methinks it's closer to the former than the latter. But again, it would be helpful to know.

ADDENDUM: Finally found a story that answers the latter question, in Newsday. The answer: 55% would discourage a son from enlisting now. Not so very high, considering. The more surprising figure is that 32% would encourage a son to enlist at the present time.

But now I'd like some more information: what percentage of each category actually have sons of about the right age to enlist? That would be an interesting statistic; perhaps there would be differences, perhaps not. And perhaps some of us could do a better job at designing these poll questions.

By the way, I'm not being critical of anyone here--except, of course, the pollsters and the AP. One can indeed support a war without being eager to have one's child fight it, just as one can support a police and fire department, or search and rescue team, without wanting to encourage one's child to join up. I wouldn't expect most parents to be active in pushing a child into the line of fire, like those Spartan mothers who told their sons to come back with their shields or on them. What's far more important is whether a person supports a child who does decide to join up.

(Link to Mudville Gazette open post.)


Post a Comment

<< Home

Powered by Blogger