Editor’s note: While reading Katy Perry’s Killer Propaganda on Liberty.me (where you can catch Eye on the Empire with Scott Horton and Jeffrey Tucker), I found a comment by a young man explaining why people might be vulnerable to Perry’s vile romanticization of military service. Thought it might be good for a Marine to explain why he enlisted. We at Come Home America come from many different economic and cultural traditions but we have come together to oppose militarism and empire. We take no stances as a group on economic remedies. Here’s the voice of one who speaks about the role poverty plays in military service. — Angela Keaton
by Corporal Britton Sprouse, USMC
What would make an anti-war activist join the United States military?
Why would I enlist, knowing that hawks in both parties are willing to
put my life on the line for their power and profit?
I remember recruiters visiting my high school during the early stages
of the Iraq War. At that time, I decided that joining military was
only a last resort. I didn’t want to risk being deployed into a
combat zone, especially when I believed the war to be foolish at best,
a profiteering scheme at worst.
After graduating high school in 2005, I went to college, but
struggled. I worked part time and went to school part time, only
managing to get an associate’s degree in 2010. I worked a multitude
of hourly jobs, from restaurants to call centers to mobile fleet
washing. Living paycheck to paycheck, I kept searching for a bigger,
better opportunity, but none came.
Eventually I would accept my grandmother’s offer to live with her and
my father in a single wide trailer in rural upstate Louisiana. Once
there, I immediately applied for food stamps and began looking for
work. I worked for people in the area, but the work was infrequent
and sometimes even getting paid was unreliable. The brightest
prospect was to work in the oil industry, as many of the locals did.
But attempts to get a job were again fruitless.
After an altercation with my father, I felt that I hit rock bottom. I
remembered what my last resort was. I visited the recruiting station
and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps.
It didn’t have to be this way for me, or anyone who joins for
financial reasons. Politicians have meddled so deeply into the
American economy that it hardly resembles a free market system
anymore. School is expensive enough because of government subsidies,
it’s not worth the return on investment for many graduates. The
minimum wage law creates unemployment, discourages entrepreneurship,
and strips the employee of the power to directly negotiate a wage with
his employer and then threaten to take his labor elsewhere. The money
that I earned was taxed, taken from me before it even made it into my
wallet. The money in my wallet decreased in value thanks to the
Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing and near zero interest rates.
The government has rapidly increased taxes and spending under both
parties, impeding and even shrinking the private sector.
The last time the US had a military draft was during the Vietnam war.
We may never see the draft again. But with military spending
increasing every year, and decreasing opportunities elsewhere, I feel
that I was economically conscripted.