Thursday, March 29, 2007

Why Do They Enlist?

A few days ago a poster in response to my Saving Money the Old Fashioned Way blog entry asked the question "I know all about the first-hand accounts of medical malfeasance, why can't/won't our 18-19-20-year-old tech-savy generation figure this out as well and stop enlisting? Some of these kids were 14-15 when this debacle started; they should KNOW better!"

Good question, and one that needs a full response at the top level.

The situation is not a clear black-and-white issue, but here's what is happening as I see it: First, enlistments have fallen off, to the point that the services have had to not only increase the minimum age for enlistment (was 35, now 42!) but also reduce the threshold for both intelligence and "moral character" Many convicted felons have been given special consideration -- "moral waivers" -- to allow them to enlist; these are criminals who never would have been allowed to enlist in the service just a couple of years ago. (For example, committing a minor felony was one of the many ways people of my generation avoided the draft in the 1960s.)

We have also had for many years now an economic draft that targets the poor and the uneducated, the very people who are not "tech savvy".

Take a look at the demographics: The vast majority of service members come from the bottom rungs of the economy, and most of them see military service as a way out from their lives of quiet desperation, faced with a future of minimum wage service jobs without retirement or health care. By going into the military, they can "get job training and save money for college". That little piece of wisdom is straight out of the GoArmy recruiting ads.

And let's not ignore the huge numbers of National Guard and Army Reserve units that have been called up and sent to Iraq, many of them several times. Once again, it's an economic draft -- another backdoor draft -- at work. These billets in normal times represent in many parts of the country good part-time jobs with good pay where regular civilian jobs may pay only $5.15 per hour for less than 40 hours a week with no benefits and no health care.

Unfortunately there's still a belief among many of the new recruits that they are needed by their country in the War Against Terratm, despite all of the evidence to the contrary. And don't forget that an 18-year-old seems himself as invicible -- when I think back of all the near brushes with death that I created for myself through sheer arrogant stupidity, it gives me the willies. And finally, the aura of power it can give to a dumb kid out of the lower rungs to be able to carry a weapon and throw his weight around on the streets of the Third World. It's heady stuff.

Meanwhile, for those to whom much has been given (i.e. the children of the wealthy), nothing is expected in return. We've come 180 degrees from the idea that was common in this country just a generation or so ago, basically that the wealthy had gotten that way on the backs of the poor, and it was incumbent on them to commit to some kind of service to their country as a way of paying back for the incredible advantages they had received.

Thus Washington DC was full of "dollar a year" men during World War I, the Great Depression and World War II. Thus the WWII military services swelled in ranks with the enlistments of such scions of wealth and privilege as the Kennedy clan, many Hollywood movie stars and the sons of Franklin Roosevelt.

Now it's every (rich) man for himself, and a hearty "fuck you" to the rest of us. We've lost track of the whole concept of the Social Contract, and we will be the poorer for it until we can regain our way and go back to the original precepts of the founders of this experiment in democracy.

6 Comments:

Russell said...

One part I don't understand is the young guy that has been there 3-4 times and would go back in a heart beat cause he things he is defending MY freedom over there or the guys that want to go back despite the lying going on.

RTO Trainer said...

Well. Perhaps the problem is that you and Farnsworth don't have the true clear picture of what's going on.

Farnsworth said...

Yeah, I'm sure THAT'S it...

UH1Charlie said...

RTO Trainer,
Please do us peasants a favor, why don't paint us a 'clear' picture of what's going on. I'd be fucking stunned if you could. Come on humor me.... after that explain Vietnam for me, cuz I'm still fogged in....LOL Do me proud guv......

Drainbamage said...

I believe the picture RTO is referring to is only visible at a certain IQ level far below the worlds average.

Say 69-78...

Peace Vet said...

Take a close look at his photo uh1. Is he playing paintball?