Update 3: Thanks for the mention, Instapundit! Here is the original page with the requirement language intact, so that it is not airbrushed into oblivion.
Update: (!!!) Change was the Mantra of the Obama campaign, and within 12 hours, the office of the president-elect has already changed the language on their AMERICASERVES website from requiring community service to setting a goal for community service. Already the mandate is softening. It got me thinking, though. I spent a good thirty minutes blogging about this subject today; I wonder if the time spent blogging on this plan on my blog that is accessible by the entire internet community is worth .5 AMERICASERVES credits? Also, check out my plan for the AMERICASERVES Cap and Trade system.
That’s a nice perque when you’re running a government entirely online: if you throw something out there that is all jacked up, you just update your site, and tons of people don’t notice!
President – Elect Obama intends to expand existing civilian national service organizations, and add a mandatory service requirement:
Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by developing a plan to require 50 hours of community service in middle school and high school and 100 hours of community service in college every year.
My first take on this initiative is that the required part will disappear pretty quickly; the Democratic base may be fired up about impressing 6th graders into government service for a week every year, but the intrusiveness of such a program would no doubt be met with fierce resistance from the right and libertarian-minded independents. Right now, surprisingly, people like Tom Friedman and other center-leftists think this is a great idea.
I have trouble fathoming this, to be honest. The Federal Government is going to require college students to serve the government for nearly three months while they are earning their undergraduate degrees? This isn’t much to ask of a college student, unless he has to work 40 + hours a week during the summer and part time at school to make ends meet, and if he is a political science major, not an electrical engineering or pre-med student who barely has enough time to sleep after studying, let alone work the kitchen of the local homeless shelter.
How will the middle school mandatory service program work? When the sixth grader finishes her 50th hour of scrubbing the floors at the local nursing home for the year, will she go to the AMERICASERVES headquarters to get her paperwork stamped COMPLETE by a paid (probably unionized) AMERICASERVES civil servant? Or will she just log on to AMERICASERVES.gov and update her account? What if she does not have a computer?
Oh yeah, what if I don’t want my 13 year old son or daughter to work for the government, or to dictate the way I contribute to my community? Am I out of luck?
Freedom is the ability to do what you want to do, when you want to do it. If tomorrow the government requires you to do something new, whether it is through paying taxes, or providing your time and work, then tomorrow you will not be quite as free as you are today.
UPDATE: Harvard University political philosopher Michael Sandel, extolling President-elect Obama’s call for a national service program, said that “Obama’s campaign tapped a dormant civic idealism, a hunger among Americans to serve a cause greater than themselves, a yearning to be citizens again”; look at this wonderful civics lesson provided in a Fayetteville, North Carolina public school:
Is a taxpayer investment of millions (billions?) of dollars and the mandate of weeks or months of community service going to erase the damage done by the ignorant/incompetent teachers of this country? Probably not.