Friday, April 15, 2005

Death On The Layaway Plan

An interesting story in Pointblank Des Moines, in which the U.S. military pays 14 year old boys up to $10,000 in early enlistment bonuses:
Colin Hadley spends most of his days after school skateboarding or playing Halo II on his new X-Box with friends. He sleeps until noon or later on weekends and rarely, if ever, does any schoolwork outside the classroom, where he pulls down solid C's and a few D's - just enough to get by. He's the typical 15-year-old American boy: cocksure in demeanor, certain the world revolves around him, and confident that life is going to serve him well.

And he's the new "target of interest" for U.S. military recruiters who've begun signing up boys as young as 14 for military service, which they will be required to begin when they turn 18.

"It's a sweet deal," says Hadley, who boasts that he bought his X-Box with the enlistment bonus he received after signing up last month. "I don't have to do hardly anything for three years, but they're paying me now."

Wait 'till he sees what that signup bonus just cost him... With all branches of the military reporting difficulties meeting their recruiting goals, especially in former easy targets such as foreigners eager to gain U.S. citizenship and African-Americans, proposals for a new draft have so far been limited to Pentagon outsiders. That may change if manpower levels decline too precipitously, and given the Bush administration's hair trigger to send men into harm's way, that's becoming increasingly likely.

Update: Unfortunately, that story was about two weeks old and now has been erased from Pointblank's website as part of a complete revamp of the paper, which has now been renamed City View. You can still read it in the Google cache.

Update 4/18: Snopes says I've been hoaxed. Oops.