How the Pentagon Turns Working-Class Men into the Deadliest Killers on the Planet
It's a long-ish article. Absolutely worth it, though.
Here's the first paragraph:
And here are a few other snippets that really caught my attention:
Since the Vietnam War, the United States has dropped all pretense of a military draft equally applied to all. Instead we spend billions of dollars on recruitment, increase military pay, and offer signing bonuses until enough people "voluntarily" join by signing contracts that allow the military to change the terms at will. If more troops are needed, just extend the contracts of the ones you've got. Need more still? Federalize the National Guard and send kids off to war who signed up thinking they'd be helping hurricane victims. Still not enough? Hire contractors for transportation, cooking, cleaning, and construction. Let the soldiers be pure soldiers whose only job is to kill, just like the knights of old. Boom, you've instantly doubled the size of your force, and nobody's noticed except the profiteers.
And here's something Gilligan said that really gives me pause:
Spend 10 times the money on recruiting each new soldier as we spend educating each child. Do anything, anything, anything other than starting a draft.
But there's a name for this practice of avoiding a traditional draft. It's called a poverty draft.
Very few people kill outside of the military, and most of them are extremely disturbed individuals. James Gilligan, in his book Violence: Reflections on a National Epidemic, diagnosed the root cause of murderous or suicidal violence as deep shame and humiliation, a desperate need for respect and status (and, fundamentally love and care) so intense that only killing (oneself and/or others) could ease the pain -- or, rather, the lack of feeling.
"Some people think that armed robbers commit their crimes in order to get money. And of course, sometimes, that is how they rationalize their behavior. But when you sit down and talk with people who repeatedly commit such crimes, what you hear is, 'I never got so much respect before in my life as I did when I first pointed a gun at somebody,' or, 'You wouldn't believe how much respect you get when you have a gun pointed at some dude's face.' For men who have lived for a lifetime on a diet of contempt and disdain, the temptation to gain instant respect in this way can be worth far more than the cost of going to prison, or even of dying."
We, as a society, need to think long and hard about what we're doing when we make it impossible for people to experience respect any other way.