The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

The U.S. military:
The working poor mired in poverty

Sep 22, 2003

The same U.S. soldiers who are being sent to fight abroad in places like Iraq and Afghanistan face poverty, want and misery while stationed in the U.S.

The military may advertise itself as a way out of poverty, a step up in the so-called "American Dream." But a large proportion of its enlisted men and women have to depend on federal assistance such as food stamps and WIC in order to make ends meet.

Not only that, but troops and their families have to go to charities and church groups to get food, furniture and clothing and other services. At military bases around the country, hundreds and thousands of families have to go to food pantries and bread lines every month because a week before payday, they are out of money. Sometimes families have to sleep in tents as they wait to get housing on bases.

These families face such dire conditions because the 60% of the army, navy and marines who are privates and corporals, or their equivalents, earn pretax incomes that start at $1065 a month, not including minimal housing and food allowances. In other words, the money that the military pays for a full time job isn't enough to keep a family of four above the official poverty line.

Instead of being a way out of poverty, the army just reinforces it – before sending troops off to be used as cannon fodder.