NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 14, 2007

Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel has long attempted to fight a class war over who serves in the military.  Twice he has introduced forced conscription bills, claiming that the poor, the uneducated and the disadvantaged make up the majority of the armed forces while the sons of privilege are able to avoid their duty, says Investor's Business Daily (IBD).

In both cases, he was wrong about the soldiers who comprise our all-volunteer armed forces:

  • Roughly 95 percent of the recruits are high school graduates; the national average is about 80 percent.
  • In the Air Force, nearly 50 percent have advanced professional degrees.
  • The poorest Americans made up less than 15 percent of the recruits in 2003 while recruits from households earning between $42,000 and $200,000 a year constituted nearly 45 percent.

The fact is, the military has a distinct middle-America look, says IBD:

  • The bulk of recruits come from households with annual income of $25,000 to $45,000.
  • The share from households where the yearly income is $75,000 or $80,000 is strikingly similar to that from households where the income is $10,000 a year.

Moving on to racial makeup:

  • We learn from the Heritage Foundation that in 2003, less than 15 percent of military recruits were black, while their percentage of the population was 11.3 percent, hardly an overrepresentation.
  • Whites, who made up 77.4 percent of the population, were 75.8 percent of armed forces recruits. Across all racial divisions, the percentage of recruits closely mirrored their share of the general population.

If none of this is convincing enough, consider this: A draft corrupts the volunteer military in which every person, with rare exception, wants to be there, and is prepared and motivated. There's no question as to which force is the better fighting machine, says IBD.

Source: Editorial, "Draft And Corruption," Investor's Business Daily, August 13, 2007.


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