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Obama's College Service Programs.

I have already posted about Senator Barack Obama's proposal that all public middle and high school students perform community service, such as picking up trash, for 50 hours every year [typo corrected]. [In a later post, I will point to most of new service "Corps" that Barack is proposing, many of which would be open to college students.]

100 HOURS OF COLLEGE SERVICE

There has been little discussion so far of his program for college students. The first thing to note about it is that it is voluntary, though the funding is so extensive (and expensive) that almost all college students will be induced to do 100 hours of service each year at an effective salary of $40 an hour tax free.

Obama proposes to achieve almost universal service for the nation's 17 million college students by offering a refundable annual tax credit of $4,000 toward college tuition. This program should cost about $65-100 billion a year, perhaps more if it substantially increases the number of students attending college. In return for the credit, college students will be required to perform 100 hours of community service every year for four years. By offering college students a hefty $40 an hour, Mr. Obama will ensure that nearly every college student will participate in his program, without actually making their service mandatory.

So, if a student graduates from college, he will have done on average about 11 years of community service, at a minimum of 50-100 hours each year. Almost all college graduates will have spent a total workweek equivalent of at least four to five months of their lives working in Mr. Obama's "national security force," starting at the tender age of 11.

"BARACK OBAMA WILL REQUIRE YOU TO WORK."

The school service programs give context to the much talked about comments of Michelle Obama back in February.

Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism. That you put down your divisions. That you come out of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zones. That you push yourselves to be better. And that you engage. Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed.

I had seen these words quoted many times, but I thought them either taken out of context or just Michelle Obama's own quirky interpretation of what she thought her husband expected of Americans. What I hadn't realized until a day or two ago is that her speech was delivered to college students at UCLA. That Michelle Obama was talking to students makes her words dovetail nicely with Barack Obama's service programs for this segment of society.

So Michelle's vision was one insider's view of Barack Obama's mandatory service programs for all public middle school and high school students and the nearly universal voluntary service program for college students.

Essentially all of the factual claims in the quoted passage of Michelle Obama's speech are true. He will "require you to work." He will "demand . . . that you move out of your comfort zones. . . . And that you engage." And it's fair to say that "Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved . . . ." The rest of her comments (about becoming better, less cynical, and more informed) indicate her aspirations for what service will accomplish, and reflect pretty standard views of people in the service movement and of people in the left-wing educational reform movement to bring communities into the schools and schools into the community.

TOO NARROW A VISION OF SERVICE

Commenters about existing mandatory service programs often claim that public schools have too narrow a view of service, often excluding service by Boy Scouts and churches. Obama hasn't yet said much about what doesn't count as service, but he has said enough to cause me to worry.

Obama proposes to move from college work-study to "Serve-Study." He plans to mandate that 25% of college work-study jobs be directed away from working on campus, "such as in libraries and dining halls," to working in the community, eventually hoping to raise that proportion to 50% of all college work-study employment.

Thus, Obama wouldn't count as "service" my wife's college work-study job (years ago) as a weekend librarian in the University of Chicago's School of Social Work, but if my wife had done one of Barack Obama's preferred tasks, picking up trash in the slum behind the School, Obama would count that as service.

Reasonable people may differ on whether aiding in the education of social work students is more valuable than picking up trash. Yet in my wife's student days, picking up trash would probably have done little good in the long run because (as the Boston Globe revealed) the government-supported housing projects developed or managed by Obama's clients, friends, and biggest contributors within 500 yards of the back of Chicago's School of Social Work were allowed to deteriorate, pretty much destroying most of the improvements made in that neighborhood.

Mac (mail):

Obama proposes to achieve almost universal service for the nation's 17 million college students by offering a refundable annual tax credit of $4,000 toward college tuition. This program should cost about $65-100 billion a year, perhaps more if it substantially increases the number of students attending college. In return for the credit, college students will be required to perform 100 hours of community service every year for four years. By offering college students a hefty $40 an hour, Mr. Obama will ensure that nearly every college student will participate in his program, without actually making their service mandatory.


Jim,

I am really confused. Is it a $4,000.00 a year tax credit and $40.00 an hour or an equivalent of $40.00 an hour because you get the tax credit?

Also, if it is mandatory how is this voluntary servic?

Thanks.
9.1.2008 12:34am
Mac (mail):
service

Sorry.
9.1.2008 12:35am
MPGA (mail):
How does someone constitutionally limited to a maximum of 8 years in office expect to "make" anyone work for 11 years?
9.1.2008 12:35am
taney71:
Obama: "Live life as I want you to live it damnit!"
9.1.2008 12:38am
Mac (mail):
Also, if you are getting paid for your work, besides it being mandatory, how is this voluntary as in, "I volunteer, ergo I do not expect to be paid?"

I am getting more confused.
9.1.2008 12:38am
fd88ar:
How is making someone an offer that's too good to refuse 'forcing' him to do anything?
I would understand other criticisms of the program, such as the fact that it isn't as clear that 'voluntary' work is worth $40/hour, and that you'd probably have a long line of students willing to do it for a quarter of that, so it is perhaps not the role of the government to so heavily subsidize such work.
But I don't see how it is forcing anything at all on students. They are probably more than willing to take a $40/hr (tax free) job picking trash. I'm a college student, and I know I am.
9.1.2008 12:46am
TK (mail):
I started a business that grew to employ 300 when I was in college. That probably will never happen to college students who are stuck in government job programs.
9.1.2008 12:51am
taney71:

How is making someone an offer that's too good to refuse 'forcing' him to do anything?


I would imagine Obama's service plan would have to determine which jobs would be part of the program. That requires subjective judgment. I would guess liberals will tend to have a different view as to what is service to the community than conservatives. To me forcing someone to take a job, even if a well paid one, is preventing that person from using his/her time in other ways. Maybe a student would like to intern with an Oil Company or some other business that isn't considered community orientated for the governing majority.
9.1.2008 12:56am
dsn:
I'm confused. Are you saying you'd prefer the government gave the money to the students, and didn't make them work for it? Can we assume you have the same policy towards welfare? Does making welfare recipients take job training violate their rights?
9.1.2008 12:59am
Simon P:
Let's see.

Part 1 of this post: false implication that substantial subsidy for college-aged voluntary service would amount to "forced labor." Hand-waving towards middle-school service requirement with brooding, ominous tones that it would be "harmful," maybe even "communistic," despite admissions by the author himself that such service was beneficial to him and probably is generally, at least insofar as it takes church service as a model.

Part 2 of this post: silly gotcha game, spinning language from a speech delivered by Michelle. It is utterly bizarre to me how, in this campaign season, the Obamas are consistently derided for being popular and charismatic community organizers with a penchant for democratic rhetoric. Is it anti-libertarian to suggest that we all share a duty to make this country the best it can be? Isn't that the whole point of this grand experiment? How is reminding us of that shared goal tantamount to calling for mandatory service to the fatherland?

Part 3 of this post: more insinuation. Service under the rubric of the Boy Scouts and on behalf of churches obviously ought to count under Obama's proposal. Nothing is cited suggesting that Obama would be opposed to crediting such service under his proposal. Rather, the insinuation is drawn from something Obama said about campus-based service. "My wife's work-study wouldn't count!" the author protests. Your wife got paid for work-study, didn't she? *ahem* At a private institution, right? Why should it count? Apparently the only kind of service Obama cares about is trash-collecting?
9.1.2008 1:00am
dsn:
@taney71 (you posted between my writing my comment and my posting it)

What is to stop the oil company from paying the student a comparable sum for their internship time?
9.1.2008 1:02am
blog fiend (mail) (www):
Oh, bother. Forty dollars an hour for college students. What can college students do that's worth $40 an hour? Just give 'em the money and forget about it.
9.1.2008 1:05am
James Lindgren (mail):
As they say, reading is a skill.

The college service plan is voluntary. The middle and high school programs are not.

The college program pays $4,000 for 100 hours, which is equivalent to $40 an hour.

I didn't say that Obama opposed Boy Scouts or church services. I said I didn't know, but from posts on the web, a lot of schools don't count them.

If Barack Obama's programs came into being, my wife's work study job would not count as "serve-study," which 50% of work study jobs would have to be. So working in a library for social work students -- a good charity if ever there was one -- wouldn't count. What part of that don't you understand? Or do you FAVOR excluding these sorts of jobs from college work-study b/c they don't favor the community?
9.1.2008 1:09am
great unknown (mail):
Would working on a voter-registration drive count as public service? Conversely, would working to prevent voter-registration and welfare fraud, or helping police remove homeless from public places, count as public service? Obviously, the definition of public service is critical in this context: otherwise, this would simply provide an enormous government-funded cadre for those controlling the project - and that couldn't be what Mr. Obama has in mind, could it?
9.1.2008 1:09am
therut:
How about they just get a real part-time job. I had one my Senior Year in College in 1981. 11.25 an hour at Dow Chemical. Get off you butt and work and pay taxes and start funding the pitiful SS check you will get someday. This is a stupid, stupid idea. Just go get a regular job. We do not need makework for college adults. This is NOT the USSR ----yet.
9.1.2008 1:12am
Soronel Haetir (mail):
What I don't understand about the proposal is that if it is a tax credit, then it presumably would come off the student's tax bill, not get paid directly to the student.

How many students are in a position where they are paying $4k in federal taxes? I certainly wasn't in the late 1990s.
9.1.2008 1:12am
Bobo Linq (mail):

50 hours a week every year

Surely you mean "50 hours a year."
9.1.2008 1:13am
Ben Franklin (mail):
Am I the only one who sees the irony in the first black man with a shot at the oval office proposing to bring back involuntary servitude? And of children no less.

My child shall not be participating. What will he do to me?

Luckily, we will never have to find out. America has not yet sunken so low that we would elect such a tyrant.
9.1.2008 1:15am
TerrencePhilip:
Essentially all of the factual claims in the quoted passage of Michelle Obama's speech are true. He will "require you to work." He will "demand . . . that you move out of your comfort zones. . . . And that you engage." And it's fair to say that "Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved . . . ."

There is more: he's never gonna give you up. Never gonna let you down. Never gonna run around, and hurt you.
9.1.2008 1:21am
bornyesterday (mail) (www):
The thing that really gets me about this is that it cheapens the truly voluntary efforts put in by hundreds of thousands of high school and college students each year. I was an Eagle Scout, and in college I was a member of Alpha Phi Omega. Our primary reason for existence was voluntary service. It wasn't uncommon at all for people to perform more than 50 hours of service per semester. I know people who were active with Habitat For Humanity who gave 4-8 hours every Saturday to service for most of the 4 or more years they spent in college. I feel insulted that people would be getting paid to do work that I and hundreds of thousands of people voluntarily did and continue to do for free.
9.1.2008 1:23am
digoweli:
Isn't the answer to all of these questions what governing is about?

I worked teaching piano students for the University of Tulsa in the 1960. I was an undergraduate student in the pedagogy program that paid students for teaching that had completed a certain level of accomplishment. I was paid $20 an hour that went to paying for my tuition and gave me money to live on. The equivalent pay today would be six times that amount adjusted for inflation and dollar value. It seems society has been "productive" by driving down the value of students no matter where they work while driving up the cost of the education to roughly the same level as it was for me at the University of Tulsa in 1960. Productivity. They had better learn about it before it rape and pillages them. I support Obama's program. I believe that work amongst American citizens on all levels can only be good for college students. As for communist? Communism owns the citizen. Here the Citizen owns the government. We can do anything we want with what we own. We just have to be good at building the power to get the attention that the local beer folks get being married to the candidate.
9.1.2008 1:25am
Sam Draper (mail):
Personally, I would find it delicously ironic if our first black president reintroduced involuntary servitude.
9.1.2008 1:28am
zippypinhead:
...a refundable annual tax credit of $4,000 toward college tuition.... In return for the credit, college students will be required to perform 100 hours of community service every year for four years.
Wow, sign me up (or more accurately given that my college days are long over, sign my college-bound kids up)! In my state you can do 2 years of community college and if you have OK grades be guaranteed a junior-year transfer to a 4-year state university. Community college costs a bit less than the amount of the refundable tax credit, and $4,000 will get you almost 2/3rds of the resident-rate tuition for some of 4-year colleges we have. Assuming you live at home while you're in college, you could do the service, get the money, and almost (but not quite) put yourself through school for free. This is a vastly better deal on an hours-worked basis than many of the other options for getting through on the cheap, like scholarship ROTC (which chews up your summers, not to mention your life for several years after graduation) or simply holding down a part-time job.

Hmmm... looked at this way, the scheme sounds a wee bit like pandering and vote-buying? Naw, couldn't be...
9.1.2008 1:38am
ChrisIowa (mail):
Did Barak Obama voluntarily do any of these service jobs in Jr high, High School, or College?
9.1.2008 1:51am
David M. Nieporent (www):
Is it anti-libertarian to suggest that we all share a duty to make this country the best it can be?
Yes.

(It may not be anti-libertarian to suggest it would be nice if we all felt this way, but it's certainly anti-libertarian to suggest we have such a "duty.")
9.1.2008 2:03am
Simon P:
Jim: Well, okay. I skimmed over the third part and missed the crucial detail that Obama's talking about how to apportion work-study programs, not necessarily about how to fulfill a collegiate-level service obligation, which is how I'd read it. My mistake. Still, I'm not sure why any alternative to working on campus has to have a value equivalent to picking up trash as part of poorly-administered urban-renewal projects. Take something like, say, tutoring at a local library. Wouldn't that be a fair bit more valuable than checking out books at a private library?

Your other points are non-responsive. I read and understood well enough the voluntary nature of the collegiate program vs. the mandatory nature of the middle-school and high-school programs. What I was criticizing was your choice to refer to a rather generous subsidy for collegiate labor as "inducing" collegiate-level service, and your unsubstantiated claims that the mandatory programs would be in some sense "harmful." Your choice of words and the sorts of comparisons you draw have the effect of insinuating that these programs are far more threatening than any evidence actually suggests. You're framing the issue irresponsibly.

The same criticism applies to your comments on the inclusion of Boy Scouts, et al.-related service. Briefly noting that some schools don't count it (without addressing why), you immediately jump to something Obama's said about collegiate work-study. You say that this "evidence" does not suggest that Obama would include Boy Scouts, et al.-related service, and this causes you concern, but it doesn't suggest that he would exclude it, either. Again, you're juxtaposing this thin evidence and creating an insinuation that Obama's mandatory-service proposal would categorically define "service" too narrowly, irresponsibly framing the issue.
9.1.2008 2:23am
Simon P:
David: I don't see how a duty to uphold our shared public values is any different from any other moral duty. Do you mean to suggest that morality is anti-libertarian?

I'm not talking about a duty to the state or a duty the state can or should enforce. I'm talking about a moral duty that, in my view, underlies any coherent approach to the libertarian project. We cannot be free unless we are really committed to maintaining that freedom, and this requires at least a commitment to our civics, which I believe is at the core of Obama's message. (Though we can debate whether it really underlies his politics or his philosophy.)
9.1.2008 2:31am
The General:
This is all just a big ploy to get young people addicted to liberalism at taxpayer expense. forget it.
9.1.2008 2:57am
NickM (mail) (www):
I think, therefore I am cynical.

Nick
9.1.2008 3:42am
Ursus Maritimus:
The thing that really gets me about this is that it cheapens the truly voluntary efforts put in by hundreds of thousands of high school and college students each year.

Isn't that the idea? Enforced government 'charity' lessens the propensity for voluntary charity. Voluntary charity is a big argument against all the "But the government HAS to do it or people would STARVE!"-people. Solution: Eliminate voluntary charity to make their argument correct.
9.1.2008 4:08am
Anonymous #000:
Is it anti-libertarian to suggest that we all share a duty to make this country the best it can be?


Yes.

(It may not be anti-libertarian to suggest it would be nice if we all felt this way, but it's certainly anti-libertarian to suggest we have such a "duty.")


I disagree. In fact, the trap you fell into is increasingly disturbing.

I can _feel_ obligated to do something without being forced to do it. I have a duty to God, my family, my self, and my nation. With the exception of my country's taxation, I consider none of that to be coerced.

What I'm trying to say is: it's very libertarian to suggest we have a duty to the survival and betterment of us as a nation. Our country requires most of us to make it work. If most of us disagree, then we reform to make a new one once again of the people. All of this is voluntary. That is the key.

(One of the things I initially misunderstood on my interactions with libertarianism is the distinction between voluntary and mandatory collectivism. Suffice it to say that the spectrum of individual-vs-collective action is mostly orthogonal to that of coerced-vs-voluntary action.)
9.1.2008 4:25am
smitty1e:
I can understand why the Federal Government contracts with individuals to serve in the military.
Now, though a non-lawyer, a simple reading of Amendment 10,
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
would seem to indicate that any Federal attempt to institute a service program like this could be Constitutionally challenged.
Can we legally tell the Fed to get bent, and leave this sort of leadership (and the funding thereof) to the states?
9.1.2008 5:01am
Avatar (mail):
Yeah, we can guess how voluntary the program is going to be.

"Oh, every student can now get a $4,000 tax credit just by doing some community service work? Well, looks like it's time to jump our tuition and fees by $4,000. Got to keep up with the competitive cost of hiring professors to write research papers and leave their instruction duties to assistants with poor English skills, don't you know..."
9.1.2008 5:14am
common sense (www):
This also will hurt military recruiting, such as ROTC and the academies.
9.1.2008 8:22am
PersonFromPorlock:
Simon P:

Is it anti-libertarian to suggest that we all share a duty to make this country the best it can be?

Not at all. But liberty involves being able to ignore duty, especially when that duty is subject to other people's definition of it.
9.1.2008 8:48am
taney71:

dsn: What is to stop the oil company from paying the student a comparable sum for their internship time?


Nothing stops the oil company from doing so but that does not wipe away the problem of taking the student's time away by having to participate in Obama's service program. When I went to college I had a work study job, internship, and a regular job. For some (most) students, Obama's service program isn't going to "look good on the resume" so they probably need to do an internship. With at least 5 classes, Obama's service program, an internship, and other college activities (socialization, clubs, campus politics, etc.) students will be pressed for time and probably need to sacrifice campaigning for campus president or working on their university newspaper to do Obama's service program.
9.1.2008 10:08am
Ryan Waxx (mail):

This also will hurt military recruiting, such as ROTC and the academies.


That's probably part of the point. After all, if you trust what Michelle Obama is saying, this isn't just a work-for-tuition program, its also re-education... not letting you stay uninformed, uninvolved... according to her definitions of those words.

Crowding out ROTC and other traditional programs in favor of programs that a democrat congress and a democrat president choose is exactly what will happen even if that isn't a part of the design, and I doubt he's not smart enough to see that consequence... after all, that's exactly what the Annenberg challenge was about.

But of course, if you don't think Obama is smart enough to see an opportunity to use this program to bring a generation around to his way of thinking, you are a conspiracy theorist. If you dare say that his national program will incorporate elements of one of the few large programs he's been a part of, well you must be paranoid. Michelle Obama's words to the target audience for this proposed program does not constitute "evidence" in the mind of Simon P.
9.1.2008 10:34am
Ryan Waxx (mail):
Is it anti-libertarian to suggest that we all share a duty to make this country the best it can be?


Since you are suggesting an end, and libertarianism largely deals with the means, that is a meaningless question. It is like a home-school advocate asking a public-schools-only advocate "Why do you object to the idea that children should have a good education?"

It is libertarian to suggest that we all have a personal, moral duty (or a community ethic) to make this country the best it can be. When the government commandeers the money and labor of its citizens to do the same thing, it is anti-libertarian to the degree that it does so.

On the confiscation front, Obama manages a triple play - confiscating money to pay for confiscated labor while using the funds to compel schools to participate and devise ways to comply. Setting participation goals so large that they must be compulsory has the added benefit of letting congress keep its hands clean while schools must play the heavies if they want funding.
9.1.2008 11:00am
Marvin (mail) (www):
The 'Obama Youth'.

Where did he get this idea from?
9.1.2008 12:16pm
amba (Annie Gottlieb) (mail) (www):
You don't mean 50 hours a week every year, you mean 50 hours a year.
9.1.2008 12:20pm
genob:
Don't know about you, but I'm going to open a school to start accepting some of this free money.
9.1.2008 12:27pm
PC:
How many students are in a position where they are paying $4k in federal taxes? I certainly wasn't in the late 1990s.


I was, but I had to work my way through college in the early 1990s. Even with scholarships and grants my family wasn't wealthy enough to cover my school costs, so I worked two jobs over the summer (6am - 10pm) so I could pay off the loans and have some spending money while in school. Combine that with working a minimum wage job while in school and you can easily end up paying $4k in taxes.

$40 an hour to do community service rather than $8 an hour to dig ditches during the summer in the midwest (90 degrees and 90% humidity)? Prof. Lindgren fails to convince me this is a bad idea.
9.1.2008 12:56pm
ben's rants (mail) (www):
It's important to note that most college students don't really pay taxes anyway - I got a tax refund three out of four years in school, and that fourth year I paid less than 30 bucks for national and state tax. Living in Maine, with one of the highest tax burdens, and coming from a reasonably well-off background, I expect that most students pay even less than I do. I worked throughout school, and I worked a paying job each summer, so it's not like I was just cruising and not earning income - which many students do.
Therefore, this program probably won't cost a ton of money, but also, it's probably not going to be a huge incentive. Then again, if it carries over into the first four years of working life, it might be worthwhile for students and expensive for the rest of us.
9.1.2008 1:15pm
Anonymous #000:
$40 an hour to do community service rather than $8 an hour to dig ditches during the summer in the midwest (90 degrees and 90% humidity)? Prof. Lindgren fails to convince me this is a bad idea.
Wouldn't it be more efficient all around to just give more tax monies to schools to reduce the cost to the student?
9.1.2008 1:15pm
JohnCK (mail):
The more money you give college students, the more money colleges will charge. This isn't going to help anyone pay for college in the long run. But it will put money in the pockets of college administrators.

Beyond that, this is incredibly unAmerican and wrong. I can tell you that if it is in place when my kids get to middle school, they will not be doing any community service, period. If the school wants to flunk them out, we will home school them. But my children are not being enslaved to the liberal cause.
9.1.2008 1:33pm
Steve Walser (mail):
IN voluntary servitude is more like it!

If it's OK for the government to REQUIRE 100 hours a year of "community service" for youth why is it not OK to REQUIRE 1000 or 2000 hours? How about all those retired, or soon to be retired people?
They get money from the governemnt, let's REQUIRE them to all "serve" as well.
And how about that 50+% of the people who pay no taxes- surely they should do their "fair share". Lets REQUIRE more "service" from them as well.
Heck, who can argue we shouldn't all do "service" in the name of the state?

This is the logic of modern serfdom. And to think it might take a black man to reinstitute slavery. One would laugh if it weren't so seriously considered reasonable by many in positions of power.
9.1.2008 2:25pm
PC:
I wonder if the fainting couches were in such heavy use when JFK said, "ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country." According to Republicans we are facing an existential to our very existence. Yet any call for voluntary non-military service is met with ZOMGSERFDOM.

Somehow asking our military forces to sacrifice their lives is perfectly okay, but offering incentives to college students to sacrifice their time is a horrible thing. I really, really don't understand modern day conservatives.
9.1.2008 2:40pm
digoweli:
Boy, Gregory Bateson would have had a party with the double binds being put forth here. As for Libertarian? Who do you mean? The Libertarian of A.S. Neill and Herbert Read or the current buffoons? Colleges require internships all the time. What's the difference? The pay still is less that it was in the 1960s, at least as it was at the University of Tulsa where I did my internship. When you consider the expenses that are incurred by the student it can be even worse. My daughter's expenses for her internship were taken up by her parents. It looked OK on paper but in reality it was a sacrifice. But it was not bad for her. It was good and I approved of it. Digoweli
9.1.2008 2:51pm
David Warner:
"Is it anti-libertarian to suggest that we all share a duty to make this country the best it can be?

Yes.

(It may not be anti-libertarian to suggest it would be nice if we all felt this way, but it's certainly anti-libertarian to suggest we have such a "duty.")"

"Country" is not coterminous with "government."
9.1.2008 3:09pm
Ryan Waxx (mail):
I wonder if the fainting couches were in such heavy use when JFK said, "ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country."


You quote it correctly... so I can't explain how it gets transformed in your brain into "ask not what your country can do for you - ask what your country can sign you up to do."

Yet any call for voluntary non-military service is met with ZOMGSERFDOM.


You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
9.1.2008 3:21pm
PC:

Yet any call for voluntary non-military service is met with ZOMGSERFDOM.
You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.


Prof. Lindgren even pointed out in his post that the participating would be voluntary. I'm not sure which part of the English language you are confused about, but just because the economic incentives would make most people sign up for it does not make it compulsory.

Would I wish that we had a small federal government that didn't involve itself in the day to day activities of the states and the people's lives? Damn right. The sad fact is that neither party is going to provide that any time soon. Given the choice of competent big government or incompetent big government I have to go with the former.

Modern day conservatives have sold their souls at the alter of pork, anti-science and big government. If it takes the administration of the stealth-muslim-commie-socialist-hate-whitey Obama to make the GOP find their way, I'm all for it.

Hell, the selection of Gov. Palin as VP is flat out identity politics and the GOP base is hailing it as the second coming.
9.1.2008 3:38pm
Frank Castle (mail):
Personally, I don't want to be Barack Obama when the blue-collar workers start wondering why worthless college kids are getting paid $40 an hour to perform a job similar to their own. Seems a little unfair to those who weren't lucky enough to be in college when Barack is president. I also severely doubt that community service work done by untrained college kids is worth about 6x minimum wage.

Of course, being in high school at the moment, I'm getting dollar signs in my eyes from the thought of $40 an hour for picking up trash.
9.1.2008 4:24pm
Ryan Waxx (mail):
just because the economic incentives would make most people sign up for it does not make it compulsory.


Or to look at it from another point of view, the extreme economic penalty (for most families) of not participating. Maybe you don't have a problem with the man taxing away your paycheck in order to return it if you behave the way he wants, but others just might.

Secondly, the high school sections ARE compulsory. The goal numbers are far too high to be otherwise, and there are very, very few public schools who turn down "free" money over principle. The fact that he'd punt the decision on exactly how to compel participation down the local level doesn't even count as slight of hand, its so obvious. That is, obvious except to those who don't want to look.
9.1.2008 4:59pm
PersonFromPorlock:
PC:

I wonder if the fainting couches were in such heavy use when JFK said, "ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country."

I remember thinking at the time: "Hey, waitaminute! Who's working for who here?"
9.1.2008 5:07pm
Kev (mail) (www):
Secondly, the high school sections ARE compulsory. The goal numbers are far too high to be otherwise, and there are very, very few public schools who turn down "free" money over principle.

This might be the only positive outcome of the imposition of such a program: Since private schools aren't bound by this, people would leave the public schools in droves. They certainly wouldn't go away completely, but (when the dust cleared, and Obamunism was defeated) they might well be remade more in the image of private schools, which certainly have some good elements: Administrators who are active teachers, rather than those who may have taught 20-30 years ago; less union membership among teachers. more parent involvement.

I don't think this is the outcome that Obama wants from this program, but it would be likely to happen. After all, the public schools might be required to participate in this, but nobody's required to put their kids in public schools. The day someone passes that is the day the torches-and-pitchforks crowd rises up.
9.1.2008 5:58pm
PC:
Or to look at it from another point of view, the extreme economic penalty (for most families) of not participating. Maybe you don't have a problem with the man taxing away your paycheck in order to return it if you behave the way he wants, but others just might.


The man is already doing that. The man is fighting a $1 trillion war in a country that never attacked us and it's being hailed by conservatives as the most important war ever. If the Obamunist (cute one Kev) wants to toss a few billion at people who decide to pursue higher education, so be it. I don't see a hell of a lot of people complaining about the GI Bill[0], but hey, consistency isn't really the strong point of modern conservatives.

[0] - ZOMGSOCIALISM if you reward people for joining the military!
9.1.2008 6:31pm
Andy Freeman (mail):
What is the essential difference between delivering for Meals on Wheels and delivering for Domino's?

Right - the Meals on Wheels folks aren't going to be paid.
9.1.2008 6:39pm
PC:
I remember thinking at the time: "Hey, waitaminute! Who's working for who here?"


Until I flipped on the Republican Convention I had forgotten that McCain's campaign slogan was "Country First." Huh.
9.1.2008 7:06pm
Perseus (mail):
when the blue-collar workers start wondering why worthless college kids are getting paid $40 an hour to perform a job similar to their own. Seems a little unfair to those who weren't lucky enough to be in college when Barack is president.

Particularly when their not so voluntary taxes are going to subsidize college students--which the country has too many of already.
9.1.2008 7:50pm
Don Meaker (mail):
My question is this:

When a student, retiree, or other 'volunteer' slave tries to escape from the 'volunteer camp', will the guards be legally permitted to shoot them down?

When young women slaves (or in these sad days, the young men) are raped by the guards or other inmates at the 'volunteer camp', who will be liable?
9.1.2008 8:46pm
Luis (mail) (www):
Ah, Jim -- the paranoia you foster in others is nothing short of magnificent. My heart goes out to your commenters, really.
9.1.2008 9:14pm
Duncan Frissell (mail):
That's all right. My National Service will be teaching 7 year olds to shoot (single-shot .22 rifles). Sounds like a noble cause, doesn't it?
9.1.2008 10:49pm
Dick King:
I will remind the many posters who said "most college students don't pay $4K in federal taxes" that this is a refundable tax credit.

However, you have to be in college to play. Not only is it likely that, yes, service programs dear to a liberal's heart will have an easier time getting approval than Duncan Frissell's desire to help improve the 2024 US Olympic rifelry team, but this will transfer money to the middle and upper classes from those who can't afford to send their kids to college even with a subsidy, or those whose kids can't make the grade academically.

-dk
9.1.2008 11:14pm
David Warner:
"Modern day conservatives have sold their souls at the alter of pork, anti-science and big government."

Uh, Palin's own father was a science teacher, and she made her name busting the state Republican machine. Either you're a hack or you're not paying attention.
9.2.2008 12:15am