Serve the Servants

If ever you wanted to see the inner workings of an unfocused mind, particularly one plugged into the zeitgeist of the country's momentarily dominant political ethos, you could do worse than reading the output of California's most overrated columnist, the L.A. Times' Steve Lopez. Here Lopez makes the following assertions about National Service, apparently without irony:

* FDR's Civilian Conservation Corps "kept service strong and unemployment low during the Great Depression." (The Corps was created in 1933; unemployment averaged 18 percent for the ensuing six years, and was higher in 1938-40 than it was in 1937.)

* The California Conservation Corps, with significant goosing from an Obamatastic federal government, might just help the Golden State "become the capital of the clean energy industry, using service agencies to recruit and train kids beginning in middle school and high school," which will help them "be linked along the way with clean energy employers who might later hire them."

* Even though "it's a huge cost," and the federal government is "throwing money around like there's no tomorrow" (as Lopez approvingly quotes once-and-future California governor Jerry Brown), that just makes the case for AmeriCorps that much stronger in a world of Wall Street bailouts. "If there's money for them," Lopez concludes, "then why not for our youth, now that they're lined up and ready to march?"

To paraphrase reason Contributing Editor Julian Sanchez from five years back, if the kids are indeed "lined up and ready to march," I'm pretty sure it ain't my tax dollars that's preventing their little legs from stomping in unison. And as Paul Thornton pointed out in our pages this spring, candidate Obama spoke of "a goal of having middle and high schoolers contribute at least 50 hours a year to community service." Also, 18-year-old women under an Obama administration can look forward to the patriotic pleasures of mandatory "selective" service.

There's a l-o-n-g list of Obama National Service ideas up over at The New American. His chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, called for "universal civilian service" in his book of two years ago. Meanwhile, some are floating the idea that Obama appoint ex-rival John McCain as Service Czar (a prospect I'd put money on), and Arianna Huffington, for one, is keeping the president-elect's feet to the fire on this, one of his most oft-repeated campaign promises. "Obama must turn his words into action and follow through on his promise to emulate FDR's Civilian Conservation Corps, JFK's Peace Corps, and LBJ's Vista," Huffington wrote today, adding: "A crisis is a terrible thing to waste."

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  • ||

    It's an Obama Nation. We're just living in it.
    Let's dance.

  • Boston||

    Naomi Klein, a word?

  • ||

    As his own campaign rhetoric gets thrown in his face, Obama's response will be _______________?

  • Nemo||

    I can't wait to see how they react when they implement this and it backfires horribly on them. We're a stubborn and crotchety lot that will look for any loophole, any easy way out, and we'll do the bare minimum on anything we're forced to do. It'll end up being more of a hassle than it's worth for them.

  • BDSM Pr0n||

    18 year old girls in mandatory service.
    Will there be canings and singletails for the malingerers and misbehaving?

  • Joel||

    "Serve the Servants"

    Hm. I remember another cookbook with a similar title...

  • The Angry Optimist||

    "A crisis is a terrible thing to waste."

    IOW, institute slavery while the iron is hot! You would think coming from a quasi-socialist nation would have cooled her heels for forced labor, but hey...

  • Joel||

    As his own campaign rhetoric gets thrown in his face, Obama's response will be _______________?

    "Just a legacy from the long national nightmare of George W. Bush."

  • ||

    This is just another example of the Obmination of the USA as another step toward socialism and communism. Then comes BO's Nazi SS. I hope that this country wakes up real soon before all of our freedoms are totally gone. Freedom lost is lost forever.

  • ||

    Freedom lost is lost forever.

    Then why did communism collapse in most of the world?

    Empires fall.

    -jcr

  • *||

    Mike Minuteman, Arizona: "Freedom lost is lost forever."

    You're exactly right. It's not fair that they got to drink alcohol before 1920, and now we can't.

    Good thing we can still gulp Vicodins, like Cindy McCain.

  • Orange Line Special||

    Interesting to see Reason linking to TheNewAmerican.

    Say, did everyone see my Nov. 8 post pointing out that MandatoryService for some k-12 students is still on BHO's site? They got some of it off change.gov, but part of it is still on his site.

  • *||

    "Say, did everyone see my Nov. 8 post..."

    Say, did ANYONE see his Nov. 8 post?

  • Mike, Arizona||

    John C. Randolph,

    I guess if you want to wait for the complete cycle to communism, and then hope and change back to freedom, then by all means support that. I guarantee it won't be the same country, it will be called something else. Personally, I'm not willing to loose it in the first place. I'm going to keep my freedom, my guns, my money. You can keep the CHANGE.

    There are so many stupid piss ants that want BO to save them through socialism it just makes me sick! BO just incentivizes everyone to sit on their collective ass and wait for handouts to save them. Who's going to do any work.

    I'm sure our founding fathers are turning in their graves watching this country vote for socialism.

  • Fidus Achates||

    You Weakly Standard wannabees really have to stop using the year after Roosevelt tried to reign in spending (1938) to prove the point that his policies were wrong-headed. So, what you're saying is that the period when government spending was at its highest were economically prosperous years. How does that prove the libertarian point?

  • cunnivore||

    Also, 18-year-old women under an Obama administration can look forward to the patriotic pleasures of mandatory "selective" service.

    Issue #1: Selective Service Registration

    Issue #2: Equality before the law irrespective of gender

    Stop conflating the two, Mr. Welch. I know you think pot should be legalized, so would you support a law that legalized it for men only?

  • cunnivore||

    So, what you're saying is that the period when government spending was at its highest were economically prosperous years.

    No, that's not what he's saying. He's saying the CCC did not "keep unemployment low" as claimed.

  • Hugh Akston||

    "If there's money for them," Lopez concludes, "then why not for our youth, now that they're lined up and ready to march?"

    Okay, that's just creepy.

  • Kolohe||

    and LBJ's Vista,

    Ironic name for a Jobs Program.

    I crack myself up.

  • cunnivore||

    I just razorbladed the "1/21/09 - Greatest day in American History" bumper sticker off my car today. It made total sense when I put it on two years ago, but now people might get the wrong idea.

  • nyu law libertarian||

    I was talking to a husband of my girlfriend's friend (you know how that shit goes) about the bailout last night. We were getting along fine even though he couldn't understand how I would be ok with GM going under; until we got into the New Deal, where I mentioned that I thought Roosevelt prolonged the Great Depression.

    I thought he was going to hit me or something. He looked like he had an autistic child and I just made fun of it. The New Deal and Roosevelt have somehow been canonized in this country.

    Did anyone see the cover of Time last week? What a joke.

  • Mike Laursen||

    I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the CCC for all their underpaid, grueling labor constructing rustic lodges across this country so that yuppie capitalists like myself can vacation in quaint comfort. I light a big, fat cigar in their honor!

  • Publius||

    This is the first article I've read in a long time that refers to an 18 year old female homo sapien as a woman. It's nice to know that someone understands human biology.

  • Art-P.O.G.||

    Ironic name for a Jobs Program.

    Very highbrow, yet whimsical. I give this one a very positive review.

  • Abdul||

    Cunnivore,

    I think there's two ways to make selective service a gender-equal institution. First, you could do what Obama proposes and make it mandatory for both genders. Or, you could it make it voluntary for both genders (the way it's currently voluntary for females).

    Most of us would prefer the latter.

  • VM||

    warren - why weren't you as bummed with the big gov't social conservative came into office?

  • Invisible Finger||

    Lonwewacko should love the CCC idea. It's the best way to undercut the price of Mexican labor.

  • ||

    I thought he was going to hit me or something. He looked like he had an autistic child and I just made fun of it. The New Deal and Roosevelt have somehow been canonized in this country.

    This is why I have stopped talking politics with random people. I just nod my head and change the topic (or excuse myself and leave). No point in making myself miserable arguing with ideological retreads.

  • cunnivore||

    Abdul, yes, that's my point. Mr Welch seems to prefer the current regime of inequality before the law to the first option, though.

  • DADIODADDY||

    just what we need a new Childrens Crusade...or will it be more like the Hitler Youth? waddayathink?

  • ||

    *Of course* the CCC, WPA etc. didn't keep (officially measured)unemployment down--people working on them were counted as unemployed!

    The fallacy of measuring unemployment rates during the New Deal as if people working for the WPA were making no more contribution to the economy than if they were loafing at home has been pointed out again and again. Either Welch is unaware of these arguments or he simply pretends they don't exist.

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