The National Service Threat

 Posted by on 26 March 2009 at 11:01 pm  Activism, Government
Mar 262009

The March 26, 2009 Washington Examiner has published a good OpEd on the threatened expansion of the Americorps “National Service” program. Although this issue has received less press than the various bailout-related issues, it could be equally important to the future of America.

Here’s an excerpt from the Examiner piece (bold emphasis is mine):

“Expanded Americorps Has An Authoritarian Feel”

…To begin with, the legislation threatens the voluntary nature of Americorps by calling for consideration of “a workable, fair, and reasonable mandatory service requirement for all able young people.” It anticipates the possibility of requiring “all individuals in the United States” to perform such service — including elementary school students.

The bill also summons up unsettling memories of World War II-era paramilitary groups by saying the new program should “combine the best practices of civilian service with the best aspects of military service,” while establishing “campuses” that serve as “operational headquarters,” complete with “superintendents” and “uniforms” for all participants. It allows for the elimination of all age restrictions in order to involve Americans at all stages of life. And it calls for creation of “a permanent cadre” in a “National Community Civilian Corps.”

But that’s not all. The bill also calls for “youth engagement zones” in which “service learning” is “a mandatory part of the curriculum in all of the secondary schools served by the local educational agency.” This updated form of voluntary community service is also to be “integrated into the science, technology, engineering and mathematics curricula” at all levels of schooling. Sounds like a government curriculum for government approved “service learning,” which is nothing less than indoctrination.

Now, ask yourself if congressmen who voted for this monstrosity had a clue what they were voting for. If not, they’re guilty of dereliction of duty. If yes, the implications are truly frightening.

(Read the whole thing.)

This bill has already passed the House and being considered by the Senate.

The Senate recently voted 74-14 to move the bill onto the floor (i.e., to not filibuster the bill). Hence, it has support from numerous Republicans and Democrats.

If you’re alarmed and outraged by this idea, then you can do the following:

1) Forward the Examiner piece to friends, family, co-workers, etc.

2) Tell your US Senator to vote against the bill.

The Senate version is called S.277.

To contact your Senators to tell them to oppose S.277, click here.

You don’t have to write anything long or super-eloquent. It’s more important that your e-mail subject line be something unambiguous like “Oppose S.277″, so their staff aides know how to tally your e-mail. For instance, I dashed off the following short note to my Senators:

Please oppose S.277. It moves us dangerously close to mandatory national service, something which is un-American and a violation of individual rights.

Of course if you are so inclined, you can write something longer. Here’s what Diana sent:

As your constituent, I wish to express my opposition to any expansion of AmeriCorps and other “service” programs. Such programs are not just costly and ineffective. They also violate the property rights of taxpayers to dispose of their own hard-earned income in accordance with their own choices and values.

Personally, I strongly object to any attempts to use the power of the government to promote the moral ideal of selfless service to the community — as AmeriCorps does. That ideal does not represent my values: I reject that moral ideal as destructive to human life and happiness. Yet I am forced to pay for this government program. That is morally wrong.

A person has every right to donate his own money to the charity of his choice. A person has every right to volunteer or work for the charity of his choice, if the charity is amenable. I do both — routinely — for causes that I care about.

However, a person has no right to dispose of another person’s money to fund his charitable work. That’s theft, plain and simple.

AmeriCorps should be dismantled, not expanded.

The Senate will be voting soon on this. Hence if you wish to speak out on this issue, the time is now!

Update: The Senate has just passed its version of the bill by a margin of 78-20. They still have to reconcile their version with the one passed by the House of Representatives before they can submit it to President Obama (who has promised to sign it).

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