Adding Insult to Injury

Should we bring back the draft? Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., riles up the debate this evening. Don’t miss it!

Well, I didn’t miss it. I saw both Hannity and Colmes rip into Rep. Rangel. What happened to New York? This guy is nuts!

His argument:

  1. Minorities make up a large segment of the military.
  2. The educated/wealthy public (including elected officials and the media) are pro-war because they don’t have to send their children to war.
  3. It’s not fair that poor people have to go to war and rich people don’t.

∴ We should institute a draft that will only affect the rich.

I thought, Did I really just hear that? Is this Fox News or Comedy Central?

Both Hannity and Colmes attacked Rangel’s argument on the grounds of research - they claimed that minorities are not a significantly larger percentage of the military than they are of the population at large. (Incidentally, they were wrong, AFAICT. According to the MFRC, as of 2001, minorities DO represent a larger segment of the military than they do the population at large. Found a few other references, but they all just had the same data and no pretty tables.)

Sean Hannity brought up a very important point:
WHY are there a higher percentage of minorities and children of poor families in the military? Then, we may be able to say whether Rangle’s implicit premise that “being in the military is oppressive” is really valid.

  1. It doesn’t cost anything to join the military.
  2. They accept almost anyone. If you’re healthy, can follow orders, and are capable of performing repetitive tasks indefinitely, then they’ve got a job for you.
  3. They give you discipline, courage, and personal strength. (Sure, we’ve all met our share of neurotic useless vets, but for the most part, people come out of the military much more able to be successful.)
  4. You get money for college. Plenty of it.
  5. You most likely get trained in some useful job function that will serve you later in life.

The catch, of course, is that you might die.

Like many or most caucasian children of Connecticutian suburbs, I was able to go to college for a reasonable cost without risking my neck in the military. The safety and comfort of my liberal education college was far nicer than the harsh military lifestyle. I had plenty of free time to pursue my own interests.
Why would I have joined the military? The costs outweigh the benefits. It would have been stupid.

For many inner-city children, with poor parents who cannot afford to help them go to college, life doesn’t hold much hope. For many, if they’re lucky, they’ll make it to 18, and the might be able to get a job somewhere - or they might not. Certainly, it would be extremely difficult if not impossible to save up enough money to move to a nicer place, explore occupational oppertunities, or go to college. The military is their ticket out of hell. The risks of war-time injury may actually be lower than the risks of crime in many places, and when they get out, they’ll have money, education, and discipline that they never could have gotten on their own.

Not that ethnicity is fundamentally tied in any way to economic affluence, but generally, minorities are less wealthy than whites in America. I’m speculating here, but I’d say that a big part of the reason is because many minority families came to this country more recently (and thus are 1st or 2nd generation rather than 3rd or 4th) and thus they haven’t had time to develop the familial networking and resources that many whites enjoy. But like I said, that’s just speculation.

Rangle is saying that it’s bad that minorities and poor are joining the military, and that rich whites aren’t. To “correct” this supposed imbalance, Rangle proposes that we should draft the rich.

Nevermind that history has shown that a drafted military is never as loyal, driven, or effective as a paid volunteer corps.

Nevermind that military service already DOES serve to equalize our society, by providing a viable way out for the disempowered and impoverished to rise up and be productive.

Nevermind that a draft is a brutal and vicious affront to personal freedom.

Rangle has declared that being rich and white is a crime, punishable by mandatory military service. He talks about “sharing the sacrifice.” But without a draft, military service is not a sacrifice at all, but a positive and selfish way for many to escape the hardships of their social status and increase their quality of life, so there really is no sacrifice to be shared!

If I get drafted, I’ll be writing this from sunny Mexico.

2 Responses to “Adding Insult to Injury”

  1. On April 23rd, 2004 at 17:42:18, David M. Said:

    He is completly nuts. If this happened I would fall under the category of serving community service, because I am disabled and not eligable for the armed forces.

    If he thinks he can make me perform community service, he better think twice and do it himself! Cuz I sure ain’t doing it.

  2. On April 25th, 2004 at 00:19:09, Isaac Said:

    David, I’m with you 100% on that one.

    “It’s not slavery, it’s mandatory volunteer service.”

    It would be funny if it wasn’t real.

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