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Posts Tagged ‘National Service’

Don’t Fall for the ‘National Service’ Scam

Posted by M. C. on February 8, 2022

When I interviewed AmeriCorps chief Harris Wofford, I asked him how sending out AmeriCorps members to sway people to accept food stamps meshed with his statement that “national service reduces our reliance on Government.”

Few things are more perilous to freedom than permitting politicians to sanctify government’s iron fist. We should not turn young people into cannon fodder for good deeds that exist only in White House press releases. At a time when the media endlessly denounces inequality, remember that the greatest and most dangerous inequality is that between haughty government officials and citizens stripped of their constitutional rights.

by Jim Bovard

In the wake of America’s disastrous Civil War, the Thirteenth Amendment was enacted to prohibit involuntary servitude. Unfortunately, top newspapers, pundits, and think tanks are now campaigning to nullify that prohibition. Apparently, slavery was evil not because of the unjust subjugation but because plantation owners, not politicians, were the profiteers.

Politicians have long been hustling to establish their prerogative to commandeer young Americans’ lives. At a “Volunteerism Summit” in Philadelphia in 1997, President Bill Clinton announced that America needed more “citizen-servants” and that “the will to serve has never been stronger.” Clinton praised Maryland and the District of Columbia for making “service” mandatory for any student seeking a high school diploma. In a Playboy article headlined, “The Return of the Hitler Youth?” I ridiculed Clinton for “crusading for a national kiddie draft—forcing all teenagers to labor in politically approved community service” for hundreds of hours before being granted a diploma.

But the “kiddie draft” was only the opening bid. There were plenty of progressives and conservatives itching to compel all young to sacrifice a year or more in “national service”—a perpetual fantasy inside the Beltway ever since military conscription was suspended in 1973. Unfortunately, the easiest way to prove your moral superiority in Washington is to champion destroying everyone else’s freedom.

It Began with AmeriCorps

AmeriCorps, a program created by Bill Clinton, is viewed as a prototype by many advocates who seek to shackle all young people to “serve” politically approved causes. AmeriCorps presumes that volunteering is such a wonderful thing that the federal government should subsidize it, paying AmeriCorps members as much or more than many of them could have earned in real jobs. Subsidizing volunteering by some people was a stepping stone to mandating “volunteering” for all young Americans.

I investigated AmeriCorps in the late 1990s and found that it generated more boondoggles per tax dollar than any other federal program. When I interviewed AmeriCorps chief Harris Wofford, I asked him how sending out AmeriCorps members to sway people to accept food stamps meshed with his statement that “national service reduces our reliance on Government.” Wofford replied, “A self-reliant citizen knows what their opportunities are and figures out how to make use of those opportunities. You don’t have much self-reliance if there is a door [for handouts] there and you have not been shown the door.” Knowing the address of the welfare office became the new, improved self-reliance.

Wofford epitomizes the moral pretensions permeating AmeriCorps. Wofford boasted that Ameri-Corps provided its recruits with the “moral equivalent of war.” Dealing with preteen hecklers during an AmeriCorps puppet show was as valiant as Marines dodging rocket-propelled grenades in a firefight. Wofford perpetually bragged about his own character-building experience in the Army Air Corps in World War II, but he never mentioned that he never saw any combat—thereby qualifying him for a D.C. Faux Courage Medal of Honor.

Despite its pratfalls, AmeriCorps remained exalted by politicians who sought to dragoon all young people into submission. In 2008, Republican presidential nominee John McCain championed conscripting all young people into at least a year of politically approved “service.” He got badly whupped by Barack Obama, who favored vastly expanding AmeriCorps. Immediately after he won, Obama’s website announced that it was “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.” Once that federal precedent was established, politicians could easily multiply the number of youthful hours commandeered in the name of service.

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This article was originally featured at the Future of Freedom Foundation

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