Wednesday, November 29, 2006
A Serious Joke, Part II
Here are two of my favorite so far:
I am an Army sergeant who just returned from Iraq this past week. I myself enlisted within weeks of 9/11 and shipped out within days of graduating from the University of Texas four long years ago. In the time since, I've served in the infantry in both Afghanistan and Iraq, and spent many a patrol or mountain climb alongside some of the greatest men our country has to offer. Better men, I may add, than any of the ones I spent my carefree college years with. And in many ways, smarter too.
Charlie Rangel may think us too stupid to shine his shoes, but he wouldn't last five minutes in our chosen profession, physically or intellectually.
I am a former Navy pediatrician. I went to medical school on a Navy scholarship and was on active duty for five years. I served stateside during Gulf War I. I did my internship and residency at Bethesda Naval Hospital and was taught by many very fine doctors, all active duty. I was stationed at three different Navy hospitals and met hundreds and hundreds of military personnel, most of them enlisted.
All I can say is: Mr. Rangel, you're an idiot.
But none of that changes the fact that there is a clear correlation between low family income and enlistment. To me, this is a very real concern.
The lowest quintile is underrepresented as well (perhaps due to a higher likelihood of having a criminal record), but even the source you cited makes it clear that the wealthiest quintile of the population is underrepresented in the armed forces.
And why exactly is that a problem?
Unless you can demonstrate that having more rich kids in the military will improve the effectiveness of the army, I'm not sure what the issue is.
And the highest quintile is underrepresented by 5% (or 25%, if you view it "as of the 20%" they should be). It's not as if they're not there at all - 15% of the military is from the highest quintile. Furthermore, after 9/11, when there was a greater perceived need, the highest jump was from that same highest quintile. That's very impressive.
Serving in the military is serving a public national interest - one that, in theory, benefits rich as well as poor. The wealthiest quintile includes the individuals who are enjoying most what America has to offer. Should they not also be as likely to do their duty to preserve that nation which has been so good to them?
When discussing which Americans should be the ones making the ultimate sacrifice, to me, any discrepancy is a concern.
Not exactly a laudable goal.
I think that there is a prevailing wisdom among a good portion of the wealthy and privileged that military service is "not something rich people do". Kerry's comments were an example of the way that many elites look down upon the armed forces, but there are plenty on both sides of the aisle who possess this snobbishness.
It is this mentality that must be overturned.
Then again, I have other ideas, but that'll be a whole blog entry by itself.
As promised, a blog entry discussing the possibility of a National Service Draft - an idea that actually has support from both sides of the aisle (an issue about which Charlie Rangel and many neocons agree - go figure!)
A universal service draft, in which military service is only one of several options: