Wednesday, July 09, 2008


When I heard both John McCain's and Barack Obama's plans for "national service", I thought they were both just silly ideas, and I really did not give them much thought until today.

I was over at Robert George's website today, reading his post "Leviathan Is The Slaveholder". The basis of his post was an LA Times editorial by Jonah Goldberg, and the subsequent response by blogger Jeff Fecke over at Blog of the Moderate Left.

Goldberg's point:
For those who don't remember, the 13th Amendment says: "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime ... shall exist within the United States."

I guess in Obama's mind it must be a crime to be born or to go to college.

In his speech on national service Wednesday at the University of Colorado, Obama promised that as president he would "set a goal for all American middle and high school students to perform 50 hours of service a year, and for all college students to perform 100 hours of service a year."

He would see that these goals are met by, among other things, attaching strings to federal education dollars. If you don't make the kids report for duty, he's essentially telling schools and college kids, you'll lose money you can't afford to lose. In short, he'll make service compulsory by merely compelling schools to make it compulsory.

The point that both Robert George and Jeff Fecke seem to miss in Goldberg's argument is NOT that this is the same thing as slavery. As Goldberg states:
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."

Note that Obama is NOT suggesting children and teenagers go out and work in a job in the private sector for 50 or 100 hours. No, he wants them to perform national service. MANDATORY national service.

Mind you, I had to do 40 hours of volunteer work when I was in high school. It was a requirement for graduation at the Catholic high school I attended. I had no problem with it, and I HAVE no problem with it. If I send my kids to a Catholic school, or any other private school, and they have similar rules, I will expect my children to abide by them. If my children want to go out and do volunteer work, I will happily support them in their effort.

But if the government wants my children to do mandatory national service, for no other reason than the glorification of the government, THAT is the final straw. At that point, I would not even care if my children graduated from high school. At that point, it becomes a matter of principle.

Frankly, I am fed up with the American propensity, on both the Left and the Right sides of the political spectrum, to glorify all that is government. The people on the Left do it as a means to socialism, while the people on the Right do it because they have forgotten the conservative principles of our Founding Fathers, who had a healthy disrespect for government power (the checks and balances in the Constitution were put there for a reason). In addition, the people on the Right have been cowed into believing they are somehow guilty if they don't go along with the well-intentioned tripe of the Left.

You know the saying about what the road to Hell is paved with? It should end with "liberal ideas".


William R. Barker said...

It's worse than that, Ed.

As you know, I "did an Ed" myself over at RT and posted some of Obama's wrong-headed proposals straight off his campaign's website. I focused on the cost.

Now... again picking up on something you first noted... I'll add to a point you made.


"Note that Obama is NOT suggesting children and teenagers go out and work in a job in the private sector for 50 or 100 hours. No, he wants them to perform national service. MANDATORY national service."

While I agree with the sentiment, it overlooks one crucial point:

Throughout large parts of the nation - most often linked to demographics - primary public education is in crisis. Many of our children aren't LEARNING!

(I'll leave it to anyone interested to do google the various stats, including drop-out rates, performance compared to standards, performance compared to foreign students, etc.)

Jeezus frigg'n Chaaarist...! If the millions of academically underperforming school children have 50 "spare" hours to dedicate to involuntary servitude, I'd suggest those 50 hours be spent on STUDYING... on LEARNING...!!!

Jeez...! I try to stay away from pigeonholing Obama as a "black" candidate, but for Christ's sake, you'd think the learned Senator and former "community organizer" would be ahead of frigg'n Bill Barker in connecting the dots and realizing that just in his present constituency alone, kids need more ACADEMICS far more than they need an introduction to the culture of paternalistic government.


* And note... since you brought RT up... you didn't see RAG connecting these dots either - did you? Perhaps Madscribe has a point about "buppies" and the "black bourgeoisie." (*SHRUG*)


Gondis said...


I wonder how many of your readers have read "Leviathan." Thomas Hobbes paean to big government (actually scientific politics in big government) should be required reading for all Obama supporters.