Service Nation, Part I: Time Magazine Announces Public Service Campaign.—

[UPDATE: For some of Service Nation's response, see the update below.] A relatively new group, Service Nation, is planning to kick off a campaign with a Summit for "National Service" on September 11. Time Magazine has signed on to promote the effort. The website trumpets its training of "Change Agents" in cooperation with "Change, Inc." Its blog is called ChangeWire. Does this theme sound familiar?

The website makes it clear that it is not just calling for individuals to get involved, but it is calling for a new National Service Act that will involve the government in transforming American society:

To begin this journey, Service Nation will unite leaders from every sector of American society with hundreds of thousands of citizens in a national campaign to call on the next President and Congress to enact a new era of service and citizenship in America, an era in which all Americans will work together to try and solve our greatest and most persistent societal challenges. This campaign will launch with a Service Nation Summit, Sept. 11-12 in New York City, and build with a national grassroots movement aimed at inspiring widespread public support for a new and transformational National Service Act that will encourage all Americans to step forward and take the lead in bridging our divides, strengthening our communities, and building a more vibrant democracy.

The five co-chairs of the Service Nation Summit include Obama aide Caroline Kennedy, Vartan Gregorian (President of the Carnegie Corporation and former Democratic donor), Rick Stengel (Managing Editor of TIME Magazine and former speechwriter for Bill Bradley), Bill Novelli (CEO of AARP and former donor to both Republican and Democratic candidates, including John McCain in 1999), and Alma Powell (Chair of America's Promise Alliance and wife of Colin Powell). Gregorian and Novelli were not originally listed as co-chairs when the Summit was first announced.

The 64 members of the Leadership Counsel include three [two] potential Democratic Vice Presidential candidates: Bill Richardson, Sam Nunn, Jennifer Granholm -- as well as one potential Republican Vice Presidential candidate: Rob Portman.

What is this National Service Act that Service Nation favors?

Charles Rangel's National Service Act, which is [suppoorted by some segments of the movement, but not Service Nation, and is now] languishing before Congress, provides for a universal draft with two years [service] for virtually all persons aged 18-42, with no deferment for college. The purpose of Rangel's bill is:

"To require all persons in the United States between the ages of 18 and 42 to perform national service, either as a member of the uniformed services or in civilian service in furtherance of the national defense and homeland security . . . ."

Here is how the civilian service is described in the bill (sec 102(b)):

a civilian capacity that, as determined by the President, promotes the national defense, including national or community service and service related to homeland security.

Note the interpretation of community service as promoting national defense, just as in Barack Obama's July 2, 2008 speech, a juxtaposition that confused most bloggers. Under Rangel's bill, if one is selected for induction into the military, one may choose instead to do civilian service. With unintentional irony the bill calls this mandatory service "Voluntary Service."

Sec. 103(e) Voluntary Service — A person subject to induction under this title may--

(1) volunteer to perform national service in lieu of being inducted; or

(2) request permission to be inducted at a time other than the time at which the person is otherwise called for induction.

In the Wikipedia entry on Rangel's statute is this intriguing statement:

The Universal National Service Act of 2007 is primarily sponsored by Congressman Charles Rangel of New York. Advocates for National Service include Senator Chris Dodd, Time Magazine Editor Rick Stengel, and writer Jason Blindauer.

This is the same Rick Stengel who is a co-chair of the Service Nation Summit and the same Jason Blindauer, whose organization is listed as one of the 100 members of Service Nation's organizing committee and is one of the leaders of the movement for a National Service Act.

The Americans for a National Service Act (ANSA), for which Blindauer is listed as the "Coordinator," indicates that it is part of Service Nation's campaign. His organization's website gives some idea about what the goals of Service Nation are:

Service Nation Campaign

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.

Who is Service Nation?

At the top, Service Nation is comprised of [here 17 people are listed, the last three of which are] Caroline Kennedy, Samantha Power, and TIME Magazine Editor Rick Stengel. The Campaign also includes many active and retired general/flag grade military officers.

At its nerve center Service Nation is coordinated by Alan Khazei and the hard-working and talented people of "Be The Change." Its nerve endings are 92 different organizations from across the country including

Americans for a National Service Act.

At its roots, military, civil service, and social service veterans who have proven through action their dedication to serving America carry the message of Service Nation.

The last and most important component of Service Nation is YOU.

What are the policy objectives of Service Nation?

Currently, less than 4 million Americans are involved in full-time service, and less than 1/3 of us are involved in part-time service. The main policy objective of Service Nation is to engage an additional 5 million Americans in service by 2012.

So the main policy objective is a large increase in service by 2012 and the secondary goal is universal (ie, mandatory) national service for all young Americans by 2020. The ultimate goal then of Service Nation is universal service such as required in Rangel's bill, but most likely for one year rather than two.

Here are Service Nation's more specific goals as laid out in Powerpoint slides on their website (number 13 is mandatory universal service for both men and women):

Engage 1 million Americans in full-time service, leveraging an additional 100 million volunteers each year.

1. Enroll one million Americans annually in a revitalized and expanded AmeriCorps national service program. Create new corps focused on education, public health, disaster relief, and energy conservation.

2. Send 100,000 Americans overseas each year through the Peace Corps, Volunteers for Prosperity and Global Service Fellowships.

3. Engage students in service learning opportunities by expanding Learn and Serve America to reach 3 million students.

4. Engage teenagers in a "Summer of Service" to address problems in their own backyard.

5. Provide opportunities to returning war veterans who want to continue to serve their country through a civilian service opportunity at home or abroad.

6. Make permanent the Citizen Corps and engage 500,000 Americans.

7. Create a new initiative of "Encore Service Careers" for baby-boomers and seniors.

8. Offer new support and performance standards for 400 volunteer centers.

9. Create the permanent National Service Council to play a similar role as the National Security Council and National Economic Council.

Create a Democratic Renewal in our Nation.

10. Establish a U.S. Public Service Academy.

11. Convene new Citizen Congresses.

12. Create regular Youth Constitutional Conventions at the National Constitution Center.

13. Launch a debate about why and how America should become a nation of universal national service by 2020: debating baby bond, lottery draft, new GI Bill, etc.

Foster Social Entrepreneurship

14. Create a Social Investment Fund to create a research and development (R&D) arm and growth capital market for the social sector. The fund would provide the financial infrastructure and leverage needed to identify and support promising innovations in the social sector, test their impact, and take them to scale.

15. Offer social entrepreneur fellowships to graduates of national service programs who have identified a need and a creative solution to meeting that need in order to bring their program model to fruition.

16. Create an office of "Social Innovation and Results" in the White House.

This is a breathtaking set of proposals that would create a bureaucracy that indeed might be "just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded" as our military. It would be much larger than the military. Note the founding of a new National Service Academy like the existing military academies.

Service Nation's short-term goal may be a staggering increase in voluntary national service and the federal bureaucracy, but the ultimate goal of Service Nation is a universal draft by the year 2020, as they openly disclose.


1. In response to my posts, Service Nation has now scrubbed its list of goals (quoted above) from its website. You can still read the first 13 of Service Nation's goals on the website of one of its members (but see below).

Number 13 was: "Launch a debate about why and how America should become a nation of universal national service by 2020 . . . ."

Note that the debate is not over WHETHER it should become a nation of universal national service, but only WHY and HOW it should become one.

2. Ilya Somin has already posted on Service Nation's denial that it favors mandatory universal national service, including quoting a FAQ from their website on the issue.

As I wrote above and Ilya repeated, I don't see how a national community service program can be both universal and voluntary.

And, of course, several other countries do have programs of "universal national service" either for men or for both sexes. To my knowledge (I might be wrong), none of these systems are voluntary.

One of the advantages of blogging is that I was able to quote all of Service Nation's main goals verbatim from their website, so people could see for themselves both what they said in their own words and why I interpreted them to have as a goal mandatory service.

One has to recognize that even some universal service programs characterized as "voluntary" by their proponents are fully mandatory, as I showed regarding Rangel's plan. And Service Nation did not describe its goal in item 13 as voluntary. Proponents of mandatory universal service programs rarely describe their own proposals as "mandatory," since that word rightly carries a stigma.

Despite Service Nation's vigorous claims of having been misunderstood and of favoring only voluntary service, their email to me did not even mention item 13 or their own expressed 2020 goal. Since all of their other goals seem to be intended to be enacted in sweeping 2009 legislation or executive acts, if they intended only voluntary programs, I don't understand why they would want to wait a decade or so by setting a deadline of 2020."

I hope to get more clarification of their position next week.

3. I wrote above:

The Americans for a National Service Act (ANSA), for which Blindauer is listed as the "Coordinator," indicates that it is part of Service Nation's campaign. His organization's website gives some idea about what the goals of Service Nation are . . . ."

In an email, Tim Zimmerman responded:

We have many partners, with many different views on service. Jason is a great guy, a valued member of our coalition, and a veteran of the Iraq War who knows more than most about the meaning of service. But all facts, goals, and beliefs attributed to ServiceNation really should come from the ServiceNation website at

I cited the site of Americans for a National Service Act, coordinated by Jason Blindauer, for several reasons. As noted above, he was mentioned by Wikipedia along with the co-chair of Service Nation's Summit, Rick Stengel (of TIME). Second, ANSA is a significant player in the movement for a National Service Act in its own right. Third, ANSA, a "valued member" of Service Nation, had the most extensive discussion of Service Nation's views on the web. Fourth, the information I quoted was Blindauer's (or ANSA's) description of the Service Nation movement; it was the best source anywhere for the centrality of Alan Khazei to Service Nation, a fact that I learned from ANSA's site and that I definitely wanted to include.

Fifth, if an organization is being accused of being excessively restrictive of human freedom, it might be best not to respond by arguing that "all facts, goals, and beliefs attributed to ServiceNation really should come from the ServiceNation website . . . ."

Such an approach would be the end of journalism. If someone were doing a profile of Barack Obama, couldn't they include information provided by Obama's friends? What I quoted about Service Nation from Blindauer's site was a description of Service Nation that could have been written by a journalist. Since Zimmerman calls him "a great guy, a valued member of our coalition," and since Zimmerman does not suggest that Blindauer's description is in any way incorrect, it seems odd to complain that I quote (presumably fair) descriptions of Service Nation from one of its valued members. I think it entirely proper to quote members who know the organization about what the organization is and who is involved, especially when that information is not at all inconsistent with what is on Service Nation's website.

Last, because Service Nation has scrubbed its website of its list of goals, unfortunately Blindauer's ANSA website, which still lists Service Nation's first 13 goals above, is at the moment the best place on the web to see what the goals of Service Nation actually are — unless Service Nation has significantly changed direction in response to my expose, which is unlikely but not impossible.

4. In an email Tim Zimmerman argues that Service Nation does not support Charles Rangel's bill for mandatory universal service. In the post above, I didn't say that they did (because I couldn't tell for sure in part because Service Nation was not advocating universal service in 2009, but rather by 2020). I was describing various strands in the movement. Also, Rangel's bill (quoted above) shows that in the movement for universal service, sometimes what is explicitly defined as "voluntary service" is fully mandatory.

In an email, Tim Zimmerman contrasted his view with Rangel's bill:

We do not support mandatory national service or a universal draft. And nowhere on our web site, or in any public utterance by Alan Khazei, has this been said. Rather, we support the idea of voluntary community and national service. We are working to both inspire more Americans to volunteer their time and to encourage our leaders to create service opportunities for every American who wants to volunteer their time in their community, or chooses to serve his or her country for a year in AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, or some other national service program.

What is this National Service Act that Service Nation favors?

Charles Rangel's National Service Act . . . .

Professor Lindgren, you are implying that Service Nation supports Charles Rangel's National Service Act. What is your evidence for this?
7.23.2008 11:44am
"New Citizen Congresses"? This is a chilling idea, for beyond the mere name and a general goal ("Create a Democratic Renewal"), they do not explain this idea. Are they supposed to be a kind of workers' council/soviet, amended to the American context? Would membership in these proposed soviets be voluntary? What power would be given these Congresses? Taxation? Lawmaking? Regulation? If so, how would they be constitutional? Who would pick their leaders? Or would they just be federally-funded clubs providing jobs to "community organizers" and other socially- (and economically- and environmentally-) aware persons?

These new calls for powerful, federally-financed entities that reach deep into the roots of local society trouble me greatly. There is something more than vaguely totalitarian about proposing to transform the nation into a utopian community of friendly and active (and socially aware) neighbors through government action, effected by bringing us all closer to the nation's government (and bringing the nation's government ever-closer to us).

Indeed, a "citizen congress" is a far-cry from Burke's "little platoons", although the former apes the later in some respects. The simple difference is that one springs from the government's mandate (and in effect enhances public power over individuals) while the other arises spontaneously and independently of the government's control (and, in practice, undermines political and governmental control over our lives).
7.23.2008 12:31pm
matt b (mail):
will i get to wear a little armband adorned with a colorful emblem, too?
7.23.2008 12:53pm
James Lindgren (mail):

I quoted Rangel's statute partly to show 2 things: the conflation of community service with national security and the bizarre use of the word voluntary to mean mandatory, but with a choice of programs.

Both these issues come up again in the later discussions.

Moreover, as you see from the SN goals listed in the post, Service Nation favors and hopes to get a universal national draft by 2020, so they favor Rangel-type legislation, but not in the first round in 2009.

I am also canvassing different, but overlapping strands in this movement.
7.23.2008 12:59pm
Gary Imhoff (mail) (www):
The genius of the "national service" idea is that it is to be imposed on the young, and adults who have already passed the age at which they themselves would be conscripted are readier to burden the young then themselves.

I propose a mandatory year of "national service" for everyone, starting on his or her fortieth birthday. Let's see how far that idea gets, and whether it makes it easier for people to see the flaw governmentally imposed involuntary servitude.
7.23.2008 2:46pm
Axel (mail):
Oh, good! More Darwinian advantage for Canada.
7.23.2008 3:10pm
Erick R (mail):
"will i get to wear a little armband adorned with a colorful emblem, too?"

I'd be happy just to march around with a little red book.
7.23.2008 4:06pm

I'd be happy just to march around with a little red book.

... as part of your local Bolivarian Youth group under the direction of your local Bolivarian Circle leaders.
7.23.2008 4:45pm
H Bowman, MD:
So, the corrupt, un-indicted (so far) congressman Rangel got drafted in the Korean war, which means that everyone else should be drafted?

Not that it effects me (I served 26 years in the active and reserve components, and have done more strictly 'volunteer' work than SN or Rangel can conceive of) but the military doesn't want or need that many people -- and something less than 25% of the pool of potential military recruits can actually qualify for service. That means a bunch of consumers rather than producers, marching under the Messiah's banner?

How about Rangel resign his seat, since he;s either senile or violating his oath of office? Hell, hes giving up his rent controlled OFFICE, so it might be a good time for him to quit.
7.23.2008 6:09pm
Timber (mail):
I have long felt the democrats favor instituting the draft as a means to destabilize the military and it's usual conservative voting leanings. Change the (voting) attitude by forced military service rather than voluntary enlistment. I'm cynical that way though.
7.23.2008 6:11pm
Lily James:
It just keeps getting scarier.
7.23.2008 6:12pm
tim maguire (mail):
Snowball, meet Hell. Best of luck.
7.23.2008 6:14pm
Maybe the Fed will collapse first and starve Leviathan of funds before the torchlight rallies start.
7.23.2008 6:14pm
newton (mail):
I wonder if they're willing to run afoul of the 13th Amendment...
7.23.2008 6:16pm
tim maguire (mail):
newton, I wonder that myself. But in my opinion, the draft also runs afoul of the 13th amendment (its foundational assumption is that the people are the property of the state) and the country has instituted a draft several times since it was enacted.
7.23.2008 6:19pm
swift boater (mail):

Perhaps we should be grateful that Der Messiah is only interested in 10 years
7.23.2008 6:19pm
Dave Perkins (mail):
AF asks

**Professor Lindgren, you are implying that Service Nation supports Charles Rangel's National Service Act. What is your evidence for this?**

Um, that would be the fact that many of the names mentioned in Wiki as advocates of national service on the Wiki entry about the Rangel Bill are the same persons as those on the board of Service Nation?

Given this Wiki is obviously a bit of promotion for the bill/group in question, I think it's a bit more than a wild guess that Service Nation supports the Rangel bill.

Just a wild guess...
7.23.2008 6:22pm
Mikey NTH (mail):
I wonder how much the economy would be affected by this? And it is going to have to be paid for somehow.

And for those who are in their upper-twenties early thirties, is there going to be any compensation for their time? Suspension of debt payments during the time of service, pehaps? Child care for single parents?

This isn't conscription for national defense, its for feel-goodism. I am forty-two and already in the Coast Guard Auxiliary, so I am not directly affected by this, but it doesn't seem to be well thought out.
7.23.2008 6:28pm
Ryan Waxx (mail):
Well, you can't blame him for highly selective skepticism. What's the point of debating on the internet if you can't demand proof of the obvious?

I wonder if his skepticism would be so strong if someone told him Bush wanted to make military service a prerequisite for all government college loans/grants, for example...
7.23.2008 6:30pm
Tcobb (mail):
The big question is which department of the executive branch will be responsible for maintaining oversight of this program. Will it be the Ministry of Truth or the Ministry of Peace? Considering their interpretation of the word "voluntary" my bet will be that Minitru will be the one to take control. And perhaps this will be the thing that will finally give us the edge needed to win our long and eternal war with Eurasia Eastasia.

And I just can't wait until my chocolate ration is increased from seven grams to five.
7.23.2008 6:30pm
Ryan Waxx (mail):
The above was in reply to Dave Perkins.
7.23.2008 6:31pm
Looks like the perfect way for Obama to do a little "social justice" via "soviets" backed up by the "Obamajugend."

If Bush advocated even a fraction of this the left would go nuts. But when its for the leftist cause...then its more then okay...

7.23.2008 6:44pm
DensityDuck (mail):
Join Today! Service Guarantees Citizenship!
7.23.2008 6:47pm
Larry J (mail):
"Compulsary volunteer" is an oxymoron. Those who seriously propose inflicting this on millions of Americans it are simply morons.

About 3 million kids graduate high school each year. Quite a few others drop out, so the total number of 18 years olds at any time is in the range of 3-4 million. The military takes in 200,000 to 300,000 young people each year. What will all of the rest of them be doing?

Another point - there has never been a draft in US history that didn't have exemptions for those with money or connections to avoid service. In the Civil War, a man could literally buy his way out of service for a fee of about $300 (IIRC). Since the poor didn't have so much money, this allowed the rich to avoid service. Later drafts accomplished the same thing with college deferments and other means. I have a hard time believing that Congress will pass a law like this without exemptions for their own children and the children of their well-connected friends.
7.23.2008 6:54pm
Jason Bontrager (mail):
If they're so determined to get people to volunteer to serve their country then they need to make it worth those peoples' while rather than just mandating it.

Maybe offer an additional, non-transferable, non-heritable franchise for completion of a two-year term of service...
7.23.2008 6:59pm
Kurmudge (mail):
I don't want to be hyperbolic or anything- my daughter served a year with Americorps, and it was a good experience. And I'd volunteer today, at my advancing age, to put in a year if they'd have me. But, of course, she volunteered, just as I would.

However, this compulsory bit reminds me a bit of Hitler Youth or the Red Diaper Baby Summer camps Ron Radosh described in his memoirs. I suspect that it would also be a great way to indoctrinate an entire generation in the good collective society. We'd find "volunteers" out collecting voter registration signatures for ACORN, living on the taxpayer dole as they did so.
7.23.2008 7:03pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
Has any one looked into the color of shirts they will be offering? I'd like a paisley design. Or perhaps a tie die (your first assignment will be to make your own shirt with provided materials).

I sure hope it is not one of those mono color jobs. They have such unfortunate connotations.
7.23.2008 7:17pm
James Lindgren (mail):
Kurmudge wrote:

And I'd volunteer today, at my advancing age, to put in a year if they'd have me. But, of course, she volunteered, just as I would.

There is already a SeniorCorps, which has many more members than Americorps. Depending on your age, I think they'd have you, as you put it. And both Obama and ServiceNation are proposing a new Corps for baby boomers, such as myself.

So feel free to join, either now or next year if President Obama and ServiceNation get their way.

The movement contemplates cadres of millions of young people, veterans, middle aged, and seniors working almost full time under the umbrella of the government, and about a hundred million Americans working part-time every year in community service.

Go ahead and volunteer if you are so inclined. There is certainly a lot of good work that needs to be done.

Maybe they could set up a program to teach Milton Friedman's Free to Choose TV series to school kids.

Jim Lindgren
7.23.2008 7:24pm
Adolph (mail):
Why all the fuss? I'm sure all the "volunteers" will be outfitted with pretty Brown Shirts and be allowed to greet each other with a distinctive salute!
7.23.2008 7:24pm
melancholy baby (mail):
Many states already require "community service" to graduate from high school. As my children have said, force volunteerism is slavery.
7.23.2008 7:32pm
ghh (mail):
This reminds me of the idiot Demo-Congresswoman who wanted to pay people to vote.
I can explain why if necessary.
7.23.2008 7:54pm
Soronel Haetir (mail):
I can already see the distinctive salute, I imagine it would only require one finger.
7.23.2008 7:56pm
UmYeahRight (mail):
So let me get this straight...

I am 32 have been working in the aerospace industry for 8+ years now. I have a wife, children, a home, etc... I have a BS degree in engineering that took 4 years, I have a Masters that took another 2 years.

What do they expect me to do with house? Who is going to pay the mortgage? Will my wife be voluntarily conscripted as well? If so, what will young kids do? Who is going to keep my company supplied with labor? Or will they just shut down? Will the economy just shut down?

When I was 19 I already served a 2 year mission for my church, I even paid my own way. I'm sure this doesn't count as volunteer time to a secular lefty.

This is seems to be an attempt to:
1. Give meaning to the lives of those that are 35 and still living with their parents and play video games all day?
2. Transfer wealth to those that will help us get even closer to socialism
3. Kill off corporations and those with ambition in the prime of their productive years.
4. Other sinister ideas, yes I am being a bit snarky here...
7.23.2008 7:57pm
Ignorance is Bliss:

I have a hard time believing that Congress will pass a law like this without exemptions for their own children and the children of their well-connected friends.

The real beauty of this system is that the politicians get to decide what counts for public service. Their childern will get assignments for 'community organizer' or 'director of such and such', the exact same jobs these future politicians would be taking at this stage in their career anyway.
7.23.2008 7:59pm
cubanbob (mail):
If the Republicans had any cynical sense they would introduce an an alternative bill limited to only those who are presently eighteen and over up till age sixty five and are presently on welfare or have been in the last five years or have been in prison for more than one year in the last seven years. They can replace all the illegals in the agricultural sectors or in the restaurant or domestic service industries.

As for graduating high school and being able to apply for welfare benefits and unemployment insurance, being able to read at a ten grade level ought to a mandatory before being able to qualify for those benefits in addition to being fluent in English (Puerto Rico excepted).
7.23.2008 7:59pm
wuzzagrunt (mail):
This must be that secret Boosh/Cheney plan to reinstitute the draft we heard so much about, back before the '04 election. Bad then; good now. That's change we can believe in.
7.23.2008 8:20pm
MarkJ (mail):
Gee, I wonder what penalties might be imposed on "Voluntary Service Resisters?" Would Canada accept them as conscientious objectors?

"You must wear the ribbon."

"But I don't WANNA wear the ribbon."

"You HAVE to wear the ribbon! EVERYBODY wears the ribbon!"

CUE CHORUS: "WHO won't wear the ribbon?"
7.23.2008 8:21pm
Cannoneer No. 4 (mail) (www):
The German Reichsarbeitdienst (RAD), or German National Work Service, was formed in July of 1934 as the offical state and party labor service.

on June 26th, 1935, the Reichs Labor Service Law was passed in which service in the Reichsarbeitdienst for 6 months time was made compulsory and nation-wide.

7.23.2008 9:09pm
Joanne Jacobs (www):
With a one-year term of service, there will be little time for training. How many jobs worth doing can be done by untrained and reluctant 18-year-olds? And how many of these jobs are currently done by adults who will resent being displaced by poorly paid corps members? For example, let's assume 500,000 18-year-olds are assigned to work in child-care centers. That's got to displace adult child-care workers, most of whom are low-income parents trying to support their own children.

My stepdaughter did a one-year Americorps job after college and before starting a master's degree in the same field. In her last three months, there was only about two hours a day of work. She came up with some ideas for cost-free projects that she could do. The supervisor said she could do no work not in the job description. The experience wasn't "engaging," though it was educational. She learned never to work for the government.
7.23.2008 9:19pm

Don't worry about who will care for your children while you and your wife "volunteer." Other conscripts provided by the Public Service Agency will care for you children and teach them all kinds of wonderful things repugnant to your religious standards.

Don't worry about your house. It will go to some underprivileged family who "needs" it more than you.

And, don't worry about your aerospace career. You need to find a socially conscious career.

Seriously, this compulsory National Service idea is wrong on so many levels. If we won't voluntarily do good, they'll force us to do good.
7.23.2008 9:25pm
davepen (mail):
Seig heil! I'm in!
7.23.2008 9:30pm
So a Democratic Congressman is advocating involuntary servitude? And Obama is basically in support of the general idea? Doesn't that mean that these Democrats effectively support slavery? I thought the Democrats got away from that part of their platform after the Civil War?
7.23.2008 9:35pm
Chris Wysocki (mail) (www):
Taking volunteerism one step further, New Jersey has now mandated altruism -- every citizen is expected to become an organ donor.

The state of New Jersey owns your body. Or more accurately, they own the right to harvest your organs when you die. Acting Governor Richard Codey signed into law a requirement that every citizen must register as an organ donor when renewing their drivers license. There is an "escape" provision, you can decline to enroll. But then you'll have to sit through a lecture and slideshow which will tell you exactly why you're being selfish.
7.23.2008 9:52pm
Mikey NTH (mail):

The US Coast Guard Auxiliary is looking for people.

So are the Kiwanis and Lions and every other service club. It is your choice.
7.23.2008 10:03pm
Tcobb wins the prize in this discussion.
7.24.2008 1:21am
What a great idea. Nothing makes you want to be a real go-getter more than conscription. I suggest the first public project be putting a new roof on the Capitol building.
7.24.2008 3:04am
stealthpundit (mail):
Well, the plan as a whole stinks to high heaven but there is a silver lining - "4. Engage teenagers in a "Summer of Service" to address problems in their own backyard." I've been trying to get my kids to weed and mow all summer. Didn't think it would take (literally) an Act of Congress!
7.24.2008 8:29am
tyree (mail):
So what type of "service" is an 18 year old capable of giving? With their skill set, manual labor and maybe some elementary supervisory roles. If they really want this to work the age to make it happen would be 40 - 50, as Gary Imhoff mentioned above. By then the average American could be expected to have some valuable skills to use in their "service".

I wonder if illegal aliens will be exempt?
7.24.2008 10:01am
submandave (mail) (www):
This is simply an incremental step to the Socialist Paradise these folks have dreamed of ever since they heard the burst from Roland's Thompson Gun and bought it.

"What will all of the rest of them [not in the military] be doing?"
Getting regular self-esteem boosts that what they are doing something just as important for national security as those blood-thirsty kill-krazy militaristic types. By making everyone a national volunteer they lessen the exceptionalism and respect that military service has traditionally entailed. After all, everyone is doing their part, you just happened to do it in the military instead of the "civilian national security force".

"So what type of 'service' is an 18 year old capable of giving?"
They are quite capable of attending government inoctrination and training on "Social Innovation". After all, there are lots of 18 year-olds that don't go to college for suitable indoctrination, so we need to be sure to include them in the grand scheme.

This has little if anything to do with real national security or service and almost everything to do with control. Those who want it have, despite their best efforts, been thwarted in their attempts to control the citizenry through the public education system due to parental rights and control. Take that citizen, though, once they reach adulthood and, by law, mandate their removal from family and placed into the hands of the government for one or two years and you get the perfect opportunity to "educate" and "train" them as should be.
7.24.2008 11:01am
Conservative Activist Judge:
It would be a national service to destroy a National Service Act.
7.24.2008 12:24pm
If you go to the main page you can see this is NOT an involuntary service. I'll just go ahead and quote it here:

Does ServiceNation support mandatory national service?

No. We support the idea of voluntary community and national service. We are working to inspire more Americans to volunteer their time and to encourage our leaders to create service opportunities for every American who wants to serve their community and country. We do not support mandatory national service requirements.
7.24.2008 1:50pm
Victoria Poulsen:
What an insult to the memory of the victims of 9/11 to launch this grotesque attack on our constitutional rights. Atlas is shrugging and every one who is in favor of this slave labor conscription should be expelled from America on charges of sedition as a traitor to liberty. No child of mine of will be conscripted, and no grandchild of mine will be conscripted. If this country chooses the path of facism, socialism, communism, call it what you want, then I and my family will turn our backs on it with no hesitation. Each and every American citizen who sees the evil of this proposed "National Service" should fight it at every level and speak up and out and against the proponents of this foul and corrupt attack on America. Those who remain silent and don't opppose this are just as guilty as those who support it.
7.24.2008 1:52pm
Gee... now that I read the article above knowing it is not intended to be MANDATORY service... It sounds like a great idea. Encourage people to do service! Awesome.

Funny how a little spin like putting the word MANDATORY in there changes the tone of the entire article.
7.24.2008 1:55pm
Forbes (mail):
Caroline Kennedy? Has she done anything in her life to merit the esteem with which she is (apparently) held? She's co-authored two lawyerly books, and edited books of poetry. If her name wasn't Kennedy, who would give her the time of day? A little harsh? Perhaps, but bad ideas originate somewhere, and they need to be nipped in the bud.
7.24.2008 2:18pm
Forbes (mail):
Funny how not comprehensively reading the related materials results in being mislead to believe Service Nation does not intend on mandatory service.

Service Nation is an advocate of the Americans for National Service Act which has as a goal universal national service by the year 2020.

What is it about universal national service that is AWESOME? Or not MANDATORY?

Talk about spin. I'm dizzy with yours.
7.24.2008 2:29pm
Yeah, I admit I am confused. The Be The Change site seems to conflict with the bill that is over here:

Universal National Service Act of 2007 (Introduced in House)

Not trying to spin, just trying to understand. Seems that the text at is either lying or horribly mistaken.

Are these two separate groups? Or the same? On the sponsors list for the bill, I do not see any of the same names as I see on Be The Change's website. I also note that the bill is from 2007.

The bill says it is MANDATORY. The Be The Change website specifically states they are NOT for mandatory service, and nowhere mentions the bill. How am I supposed to link the two?
7.24.2008 3:06pm
Now I see James Lindgren's response to AF's comment near the top... See how you've caused confusion by mixing multiple sources? Makes this Be The Change group out to be horrid badguys even though it seems to me they just want to make it easier (not mandatory) to do service.

All you really had to do was clear up the differences between the bill and the group. The bill of mandatory service? BAD. That's not what our founders intended (neither is income tax, but looks like we're stuck with it). No reason to point fingers at this other group without having some evidence linking the two. Harsh.
7.24.2008 5:09pm
Ddad (mail):
Ein volk
Ein Reich
7.25.2008 12:25am