Saturday, December 10, 2005

Military recruits are richer, better educated than their non-military peers

One critique of war in general, and war in Iraq in particular, is that rich folks do the planning, but poor folks do the dying.

Poor folks do do the dying, right? I mean we all accept that, right?

And if we don't trust our instincts, we can refer to trusted media sources. For example, here is Bob Herbert in the August 18 New York Times:
For the most part, the only people sacrificing for this war are the troops and their families, and very few of them are coming from the privileged economic classes. That's why it's so easy to keep the troops out of sight and out of mind.
And last month the Washington Post ran a front-page article on the topic. Here are some snippets from that article:
Many of today's recruits are financially strapped....

Nearly two-thirds of Army recruits in 2004 came from counties in which median household income is below the U.S. median....

All of the Army's top 20 counties for recruiting had lower-than-national median incomes, 12 had higher poverty rates, and 16 were non-metropolitan....
The Post's statistics are based on a recent study by the National Priorities Project. A press release accompanying the release of the NPP study shows that the Post certainly relayed the spirit of the NPP study. It quoted NPP executive director Greg Speeter:
As the Iraq War continues and the number of soldiers killed and wounded mounts, this [sic] data makes clear that low- and middle-income kids are paying the highest price.... It's young people with limited opportunities that are putting their lives on the line.
Get the idea? Poor folks do the dying.

Only one problem. Bob Herbert, the NPP, the Washington Post, and indeed conventional wisdom are wrong. Here is a USA Today piece by Tom Kane and James Jay Carafano refuting the conventional wisdom:
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.
Kane performed the Heritage study. Here he discusses the differences between his study and NPP's and why NPP's reasoning is flawed. (Incidentally, NPP essentially stands by its story.)

Heritage has summarized the conclusions of Kane's study in tabular form here.