"Making mock o' uniforms what guards you while you sleep is cheaper than them
uniforms, and they're starvation cheap." Rudyard Kipling, (Tommy) 1892
Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), who will be chairman of the tax-writing House Ways &
Means committee in the next Congress, raised eyebrows and ruffled feathers when, on
Fox News Sunday Nov. 26, he declared:
"I want to make it abundantly clear: if there's anyone who believes that these
youngsters want to fight, as the Pentagon and some generals have said, you can just
forget about it. No young, bright individual wants to fight just because of a bonus
and just because of educational benefits. And most all of them come from
communities of very, very high unemployment. If a young fella has an option of
having a decent career or joining the Army to fight in Iraq, you can bet your life
that he would not be in Iraq."
Mr. Rangel is not the first Democrat to express such sentiments. In a speech at a
California college the week before the election, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass) said: "You
know education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework,
and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. And if you don't you get stuck
The first thing to note is how stuck in Vietnam Sen. Kerry and Rep. Rangel are. The
draft Army that fought that war was comprised chiefly of young men unable to obtain
college deferments. Soldiers then had less education and lower intelligence than
the youth population as a whole.
But this hasn't been true since Ronald Reagan became president. The typical service
member today has more education and a higher IQ than do his or her civilian
Currently, about 98 percent of enlisted personnel have high school diplomas,
compared to about 75 percent for the youth cohort (18 to 24 year olds) as a whole.
In 2005, more than 70 percent of recruits scored in the upper half on the Armed
Forces Qualification Test, the military equivalent of an IQ test. Only half the
youth population, of course, scores in the upper half.
About 92 percent of officers have college degrees, and a higher proportion of
military officers have advanced degrees than do college graduates as a whole.
(Between 2000 and 2005, the proportion of officers with advanced degrees ranged
between 35 and 45 percent.)
Those who volunteer to serve are more rural and southern than the youth population
as a whole. But, according to a study by Dr. Tim Kane of the Heritage Foundation,
they come from wealthier neighborhoods than do their civilian counterparts.
Another liberal shibboleth demolished by the data is the notion that the military is
made up disproportionately of racial minorities. According to the 2000 Census
American Community Survey, 75.6 percent of the adult population self identifies as
white. In 2004 and 2005, 73.1 percent of recruits were white. Since whites are, on
average, older than blacks or hispanics, whites probably are slightly
overrepresented compared to the entire military age population. They definitely are
overrepresented in the combat arms, the reverse of what was true of the draft Army
I agree with Rep. Rangel that "no young, bright individual wants to fight just
because of a bonus and just because of educational benefits." Basic pay for a
private E1 is $15,282. For a second lieutenant, it's $28,994. Not many are
enlisting for the money.
But many bright young people have enlisted to fight, and have re-enlisted after
tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. That the reason is a mystery to Rep. Rangel, Sen.
Kerry and many other Democratic "leaders" is troubling for the future of our
I KNOW SOMETHING about the reason. My draft number was 363. I'd have gone after
women and children. But in 1970, I dropped out of law school to join the Marines as
a private. I had reasons both noble and base. I was bored with school, tired of
cold Wisconsin winters. I wondered if I were man enough to be a Marine. But
mostly, it was because my country was at war.
Our country is again at war. Yet it does not occur to Charlie Rangel or John Kerry
that bright young people today enlist in the Armed Forces to protect their homes,
their families, our freedoms.
For many Democrats, being an American is all about rights, not duties. Though the
rights they demand would not exist were it not for the dwindling number of Americans
willing to perform the duties of citizenship, they regard with barely concealed
contempt those Americans whose sense of duty causes them to go in harm's way. If
America's "leaders" have such attitudes, can the nation long survive?