Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Military service isn't for "our kind of people"

As we all know, military recruiters are having an exceedingly difficult time getting eligible people to enlist in the armed forces. While it's unexpected that the military will have much luck recruiting those opposed to the war in Iraq, recruiters expected to have an easier time with gung-ho kids from uber-patriotic families. One could surmise that, despite the current challenges the armed forces face, recruiters should have an easier time identifying potential recruits by focusing efforts on those from families that are registered Republican, voted for President George W. Bush and support the war likening it more to WWII than Viet Nam as a means to defeat terrorism, Islamacism and free the Iraqi people to form their own Democratic form of government.
In the 2004 election, household income was a pretty decent indicator of how one might vote. Voters from households making more than $50,000 a year favored Bush 56 percent to 43 percent. Voters making $50,000 or less favored Kerry 55-44 percent. Median household income as of 2003 was $43,318, according to the U.S. Census.

The wealthier you become, apparently, the more likely you are to vote Republican. The GOP advantage grows more pronounced for people from households making more than $100,000. People from households with incomes exceeding that amount voted for Bush over Kerry by 58 percent to 41 percent. Those from households making less than $100,000 favored Kerry over Bush 51-49 percent. And nearly two-thirds of voters from households making more than $200,000 favored Bush over Kerry.

Those making more than $100,000 made up only 18 percent of the electorate, which explains why Bush won by a narrow 2.5 percentage points in the general election. [WaPo]

After meeting a high-school student who expressed an interest in joining the Marine Reserve, Staff Sgt. Jason Rivera hopefully drove to the student's home in an affluent northern suburb of Pittsburgh to talk to his parents [emphasis added]
It was a large home in a well-to-do suburb north of the city. Two American flags adorned the yard. The prospect's mom greeted him wearing an American flag T-shirt.

"I want you to know we support you," she gushed.

Rivera soon reached the limits of her support.

"Military service isn't for our son. It isn't for our kind of people," she told him.

Army spokeswoman Major Elizabeth Robbins thinks the difficulty the military is having getting parents who are currently discouraging their children from service to use their influence to encourage their children to enlist in the service is related to a strong economy, there are concerns about the war and because fewer of the parents served in the armed forces themselves; she also dismisses the theory that it's more difficult to recruit from the affluent pro-Bush/pro-war families by noting "One woman saying stupid things does not a trend make." Delving deeper into the premise that the affluent are more likely to support the war because they are least likely to be adversely affected by it, WaPo's Terry Neal contacted some academics to obtain objective information on the effect of socioeconomic class on the military recruitment effort [emphasis added]

David R. Segal, director of the Center for Research on Military Organizations at the University of Maryland, said contrary to conventional wisdom both the poorest and the wealthiest people are underrepresented at the bottom of the military ranks, for completely different reasons. This trend held for both from the conscription years of Vietnam through at least the late 1990s.

Poorer people, he said, are likely to be kept out of the military by a range of factors, including higher likelihood of having a criminal record or academic deficiencies or health problems.

Back during Vietnam, "the top [economic class] had access for means of staying out of the military," said Segal. "The National Guard was known to be a well-to-do white man's club back then. People knew if you if joined the guard you weren't going to go to Vietnam. That included people like Dan Quayle and our current commander in chief. If you were rich, you might have found it easier to get a doctor to certify you as having a condition that precluded you from service. You could get a medical deferment with braces on your teeth, so you would go get braces -- something that was very expensive back then. The wealthy had more access to educational and occupational deferments."

Today's affluent merely see themselves as having more options and are not as enticed by financial incentives, such as money for college, Segal said.

Today's pro-war "patriots" include the 101st Flying Keyboarders & the Young Republicans, and they have made it abundantly clear they do their best work for the war by engaging in drunken virtual combat where they incur risks more befitting their kind of people.

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