Friday, October 07, 2005

The poor, poor military

Via Dr. Sanity, I found this data, which show that military recruits in recent years do not in fact appear to be drawn disproportionately from among the poor, thus negating a favorite liberal/left talking point.

Not that this will stop anyone from making the claim. And even if it does, and if the "poverty-striken victims" notion of the military is excluded, that would still leave its useful alternate: "bloodthirsty monsters" (see this for a discussion of both attitudes).


At 1:19 PM, October 07, 2005, Blogger goesh said...

Gee Whiz! Another Liberal myth bites the dust. Oh! The audacity of our young men and women to volunteer for military service! Don't they know they are vicitms of the GOP?

At 2:53 PM, October 07, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe they don't want to be civilians.
Pasty-faced, shifty-eyed, whining....

At 3:04 PM, October 07, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not so fast. The guy who did this study works for the Heritage Foundation. Not exactly an impartial judge here.

At 3:06 PM, October 07, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recently got out of the Army. I joined despite having a degree from a prestigious university and therefore caused much confusion when I met upper middle-class civilians. I wish a had a camera to capture some of the expressions I inspired.

In regards to the "myth," I think that the Left is exaggerating a truth. Most of those I met in the Army were poor or working-class. Not everybody, but most.

Nevertheless, they did not see themselves as victims. They often joined for practical reasons, but the Army was a good opportunity and option, not something they were forced into by evil capitalism. To disagree with the soldiers tiemselves on this point to me reeks of condesension.

Yes, many re-enlist in large part because of the hefty bonuses. However, to assume that some of the strongest people I've ever met are too weak and scared to leave the supposed hell-on-earth of the military because of a large check is absurd.

At 3:55 PM, October 07, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The lefties would have you believe the military gets the underclass.

Not so. They can't qualify, mentally, morally, or physically.

During the Viet Nam era, Johnson and McNamara decided to reach down to those who just missed qualifying and draft them.
It was known in the Army as "McNamara's Hundred Thousand" and it was a catastrophe. If a guy did manage to get through training without going AWOL, or busting out by doing something stupid or criminal, or tripping and shooting himself, and got to Viet Nam, units would go to the field without him, with an empty slot, rather than take this walking clustercrank with them on serious business.
In the language of the nineteenth century, if the military gets the poor, it gets the "worthy poor". Not the losers.

At 4:24 PM, October 07, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Not so fast. The guy who did this study works for the Heritage Foundation. Not exactly an impartial judge here."

Because, as everyone knows, an average of *all* the recruits or a bar graph, changes based on your political affiliation.

It would be one thing if we were talking a stratified random sample used to extrapolate the whole based on a questionaire. In this case he had the entire population, not just a sample. After that it is simple math to calculate an average and create the bar graph - and it doesn't matter who makes it it will always turn out the same. You *can*, very accuratly, say that x percent of a population answered this way if you have the entire populations answer - much statistics (and where most of the biases creep in, the other being questions - and "What is your annual houshold income" isn't one of those) is just trying to extrapolate that answer from a small sample.

But hey, dream a little dream until it comes true - ignoring reality based on your political leanings is *always* a good thing - especially considering I have a vested interest in you loosing.

At 5:11 PM, October 07, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The stats look good to me. They are not an extrapolation from a sample but are based on total recruitement data. Also, the study employs actual address data instead of questionaires and so the chance of bias by the subject is not a factor. IMHO it is hard to spin these stats in any other direction. It looks like another leftist myth is dispelled.

At 8:28 PM, October 07, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with The Bunnies. The poor and the working class still do 99% of the dying, regardless of what this Heritage Institude study says. I'd like to see a comparable study from an independent source.

At 8:45 PM, October 07, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob. Who's the "working class"?
If it's people who work, you're probably right. The independently wealthy who don't have to work--while of fighting age--are a pretty small bunch.

At 9:25 PM, October 07, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Until the full study is available and other researchers can examine it, it would be unwise to get terribly excited about this study one way or the other. A particularly important point is how the inference of social status from zip code was done--this can be a useful technique, but it has to be done _very_ carefully to get accurate results.

The very poorest people are less likely to serve in the military than average, since (among other things) they are more likely to have disqualifying medical conditions, criminal records, or no high-school diplomas. So the results for the poorest fifth should be no surprise.

At 2:20 PM, October 08, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...


People who mostly live from check to check? People who don't have higher education? People who aren't dead poor because they do have an income, but they don't have much of a nest egg for those lean times? I could go on.

At 4:54 PM, October 08, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So that's the poor. Not the independently wealthy.
Not the more successfully employed. If you're employed, you're working class.
To use some other definition stopped being useful about 1945.

The old theme wore out, Bob. Stop kicking it.

At 8:01 PM, October 08, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Some definitions of working class may be obselete, but does that make the phrase obselete? I wouldn't call my previous description of working class as poor. I grew up that way, and we never thought we were poor. But I certainly know my lifestyle now, with it's retirement package, mortgage, etc. isn't working class. Read "Limbo: Blue Collar Roots, White Collar Dreams" by Alfred Lubrano. That will speak for my definition of working class.

At 11:15 PM, October 08, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Phrases are meaningless until we have a definition.
The underclass is excluded--see my reference to McNamara's Hundred Thousand. Their virtue was in being connected to fewer voters, IMO, and in the opinion of those of us who had to put up with them.
The lowest quintile is excluded, being somewhat coterminous with the underclass.
Except for the independently wealthy, everybody else is working class. Now, there is a bit of underhandedness here. If a couple has a kid at their ages twenty-five, they'll be in their mid-forties if he is in the service. Many people who will eventually, even shortly, be well off as a matter of work and savings and investments, are not all that well off in their mid-forties. So we can say that many soldiers are from the working class--if you define it as facing some difficulty if unemployment lasts three months or longer. Or we could say, twenty years later, that they were from the more well-off. Or we could say today they are from the potentially, likely, well-off.
But it makes more social and political points to pretend these folks will always be a paycheck away from penury.

At 11:56 AM, October 09, 2005, Blogger troutsky said...

The most important campaign of conservatism is to remove the notion of class from the discourse.They will also insist the military is a great option for young people. Liberals on the other hand cannot insist young working class are "brainwashed" into joining without denigrating their intellectual capacities (are we socialized?) so they are left arguing there is an "economic draft" but this study purportedly cuts into thaat argument.In my opinion capitalism creates it's own logic, horrible as it might be, which justifies the noble warrior fighting for the Great Cause.This logic becomes internalized, the "colonization of society" and we are left with the carnage of the crusade.The sixty million corpses left from the last century of Great War is the legacy of this logic.


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