Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Coming soon: national service (or else)

It's interesting that Germany, of all places, is discussing reducing (though not eliminating) the demands of conscription even as the United States is edging slowly but surely toward some sort of national service.

True, the national service both Barack Obama and John McCain promise doesn't really resemble old-style military conscription -- although there have been calls to reinstate exactly that. Instead, the two presidential contenders envision sort of an expanded AmeriCorps -- bureaucratized volunteerism for every job the government wants done on the cheap -- with young people encouraged to participate through a combination of bribes, such as tax credits, and social pressure to conform.

But some high schools are already requiring community service as a condition of graduation, and Obama's website says he wants to "require 100 hours of service in college." That may not be a lot, but it is compulsory, and suggests an attitude that regards citizens as servants of the state. It's easy to see how the "voluntary" national service of next year could become the expected-as-a-condition-of-a-diploma labor for the state of five years from now.

I'm working on the assumption that my son will be strongly encouraged, or even required, to surrender some portion of his life to the dictates of government officials. If he's so inclined, I'll do what I can to help him defy such demands.



Anonymous The Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit said...

Soooo....figuring the value of an hour of work at ten (inflated) dollars, that translates out to a "tax" of a thousand bucks. Which, like other taxes will only grow.

Ah, the good old days of corvee labor. The more things change....

June 25, 2008 7:22 AM  
Blogger Jehan said...

Germany, "of all places"
Are you stuck in 1945, or something?
Germany has long since changed since the days of 'the war' and they only require 9 months of service. That's like another year of school.
Israel requires men to serve 3 years.
If people were required to serve, even 3 months in the military, imagine how many more people would have been available to respond to Katrina.

That being said, incentives have always existed for volunteers- whether in the form of a free meal at the end of the day, or a free house at the end of several hours of helping with the building of other homes.

Greek organizations already have college students putting in hours for comunity service; they help build fences, clean up parks, and even coach community youth sports events. Enacting 100 hours per student would just bring the rest of the college community into that.

Volunteering should indeed be just that- voluntary. You should be able to choose how and in what capacity you want to help.

But improving society should be mandatory- if you don't do that, then you're taking advantage of whatever social system in which you are engaged, and the other members wont stand for that for very long.
So require 20, 50, 100 hours of service. But make that service broad, it could be going to read to blind people, repairing fences, or tutoring children. But it would improve the community.

June 25, 2008 9:07 AM  
Anonymous sunni said...

Your phrasing suggests that you'll be sending him to school, rather than homeschooling. If I'm right, simply changing that will eliminate a lot of headache and heartache from all your lives.

June 25, 2008 2:21 PM  
Blogger J.D. Tuccille said...

I agree that homeschooling would largely resolve the issue by simply removing most of the state's leverage over Tony. I'm seriously considering that option, though we're not there yet.

June 25, 2008 4:45 PM  
Blogger Dusty Rose said...

In USSR, as a payment for "free" college education, students were required to work in kolkhoz every summer...

Makes me wonder - where the heck will I emigrate when USA will become a mirror image of USSR?

June 25, 2008 9:40 PM  
Anonymous sunni said...

Tooch, if I can help answer any questions or address concerns on the subject, you know where to find me.

June 26, 2008 4:06 PM  

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