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Opening Arguments

Need volunteers. You, you and you

I've written here about the the oxymoron "mandatory volunteerism," and the concept unfortunately just keeps gaining momentum. There is a group called Service Nation with some heavyweights behind it, and, considering their stances on national service, both Obama and McCain would surely endorse its goals:

Service Nation is a 16-month non-partisan grassroots and grass top political campaign intent on pushing the issue of National Service to the forefront of American life and convincing the next President and Congress to put into law a Voluntary National Service Act by September of 2009.

The secondary goal of Service Nation is to set America on a trajectory to become a nation of universal national service by 2020.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think we can get to "universal" national service without a mandatory program -- you know, life a draft, but for everyone. Scary.

Posted in: All about me


Jon Olinger
Wed, 07/23/2008 - 3:21pm

There are two things here that truly scare me.

1. That we have people in this country that support this.

2. That there will invariably be some useful idiot that will look at those of us opposed to this "National Slave Act" and say... "Don

Wed, 07/23/2008 - 8:03pm

The Obama website says that the Messiah has decreed that college students must perform 100 hours of public service. This usurping of the rights of citizens by requiring participation can only be construed as involuntary servitude.

The United States ended the draft after Vietnam and put to bed our last compulsory service. I like the way that Jonah Goldberg views universal national service:

"No, national service isn't slavery. But it contributes to a slave mentality, at odds with American tradition. It assumes that work not done for the government isn't really for the common good."

Jon Olinger
Thu, 07/24/2008 - 12:44pm

I would argue that compulsory military service is very different than the compulsory public service Obama and the Service Nation are talking about. Drafted soldiers get paid. What is the difference between unpaid compulsory labor and slavery other than a limit to the time stolen?

Harl Delos
Thu, 07/24/2008 - 1:59pm

The time limit doesn't mean it's not slavery. For most societies, though most recorded history, slavery has been for a fixed period of time, typically five to seven years, and if a slave has children, they are born free.

I haven't read much about Service Nation. I had assumed that it was like the Peace Corps or VISTA, where volunteers do get paid a stipend.

I'm still against it. I think volunteerism is a great thing, but I think it's of great importance that volunteering should be voluntary.

Thu, 07/24/2008 - 3:53pm

Service Nation campaign has nothing to do with mandatory service. Lindgren seems to have mistaken the mention of a national service act to mean Rangel's National Service Act (which did call for mandatory work.)

Service Nation's campaign is to expand programs like Americorps and Vista and promote volunteerism in general, and doesn't support mandatory service at all.