Jim Lindgren reads from the manifesto of Rahm Emanuel, Obama's reported new chief of staff, and finds a man who wants, among other things, "universal college access," to cut gasoline use in half, and "universal retirement savings." But far more creepy is the centerpiece of what Emanuel simply calls "The Plan:" universal citizen service.
From Emanuel's book:
John Kennedy was right: A nation is defined not by what it does for its citizens but by what it asks of them. If your leaders aren't challenging you to do your part, they aren't doing theirs. We need a real Patriot Act that brings out the patriot in all of us by establishing for the first time an ethic of universal citizen service. All Americans between the ages of 18 and 25 should be asked to serve their country by going through three months of basic civil defense training and community service. This is not a draft, nor is it military. Young people will be trained not as soldiers, but simply as citizens who understand their responsibilities in the event of a natural disaster, an epidemic or a terrorist attack. Universal citizen service will bring Americans of every background together to make America safer and more united in common purpose.
Obama's service plan is just as troubling. He wants to mandate 50 hours of community service per year for middle and high school students. And he's offering a $4,000 federal-funded tuition credit in exchange for 100 hours per year from college students. For most students, the latter will become a mandatory part of getting a degree, as colleges will merely raise their tuition to compensate for the vouchers.
So who gets to decide what constitutes "community service"? Who gets to decide which causes and organizations will be credit-worthy, and which ones won't?
Something tells me that you'd be more likely to get one of Obama's vouchers by going door to door for one of ACORN's living wage campaigns than, say, volunteering for a libertarian nonprofit organization that advocates against things like government-mandated community service.