2006 October 29 Sunday
More US Soldiers Deeper In Debt

Accumulating debts are making a rising number of US soldiers into security risks barred from overseas duty.

Data supplied by the Navy, Marines and Air Force show that the number of clearances revoked for financial reasons rose every year between 2002 and 2005, climbing ninefold from 284 at the start of the period to 2,654 last year. Partial numbers from this year suggest that the trend continues.

More than 6,300 troops in the three branches lost their clearances during that four-year period. Roughly 900,000 people are serving in the three branches, though not all need clearances.

The Army -- which employs 500,000 people and accounts for the vast majority of the 160,000 U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan -- rejected repeated requests to supply its data, saying such information is confidential.

Among the causes? High interest rate payday lending businesses located next to military bases. They prey on young soldiers. I worry that the US financial industry has become far too effective at preying on innate weaknesses in human character. The ability to satisfy desires for instant gratification is becoming too automated. The marketing pitches are becoming more sophisticated. As a result the upper class makes a lot of money and the lower class piles up debt rather than accumulating assets and investments.

Maj. Gen. Michael Lehnert of the US Marine Corps says soldiers returning from fighting have been shifted so far into living for the moment by the experiences on battlefields that they are more susceptible to pitches to buy on credit.

Some personnel fall into debt after returning from combat. "It can be hard to cut that sense of elation and desire to live for the moment," Lehnert said. "Some tend to get themselves overextended financially."

Debt is a huge problem probably bigger than drug abuse. But wealthy powerful legal businesses protect it just as the gambling industry protects their own ability to peddle vices to the susceptible.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2006 October 29 10:58 AM  Economics Family

Wunderluster said at October 29, 2006 1:36 PM:

wouldn't conservatives say this is all about "personal responsibility"??

Wunderluster said at October 29, 2006 1:39 PM:

Uhm...wouldn't conservatives say this is all about "personal responsibility"...???

John S Bolton said at October 30, 2006 1:48 AM:

It might mean they're paid too little, while many might want to become ineligible, or hope that they might get bailed out if they're especially needed.
The lenders may be anticipating that the government will just keep coming up with money.
Some of the lenders may be sponsored by hostile espionage agencies.
One could say it's all about public responsibility.

mike said at November 1, 2006 11:25 AM:

"Uhm...wouldn't conservatives say this is all about "personal responsibility"...???"

Ummm...no. Most conservatives would say it is about national security as well.

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