The most interesting point is that black Americans join the military in a proportion roughly equivalent to the proportion of blacks in society as a whole; the 30% number we’ve heard a lot about is due to the fact that blacks tend to remain in the military at a higher rate than do other ethnicities. Seems to me that the question to ask, therefore, is not “why are there so many black people in the military” but “why is the military such a superior alternative to the rest of society in so many cases?” Maybe it’s something the military is doing; maybe the rest of society just sucks harder. Probably a combination of both. I’d like to see more investigation of this, in any case; I bet there’s something to be learned there.
Also of interest: “Now, college graduate or higher, 22 percent of our enlisted recruits — this goes directly to some of the issues Mr. Rangel is raising, have a father who has a college degree or more, versus 30 percent of the recruit age population. And I’m quite confident once we add the officers in, you’ll see those numbers — that gap between those numbers close. Bottom line, look at this classic measure of socioeconomic status, and enlisted recruits alone, before we even add the officers in, don’t look all that different from the recruit-age population at large.” Actually, a 25% difference does look pretty different to me.
“Now, in terms of median income, for whites — now again, this is enlisted versus – and this is against the entire civilian population, so it’s not quite the right comparison. But for whites, the median total gross household income in 1999 for our enlisted population was about $33,500, versus $44,400 for the civilian population.” Again, pretty substantial difference. This is without the officers included in the figures, though, which as he mentions is important for this comparison. Hopefully they’ll get those figures out soon.