National Service

Mandatory Volunteerism


Over at the Volokh Conspiracy, Jim Lindgren lays out the powerful players in Service Nation, a creepy new push for national service.  The campaign appears to be pretty Obama-friendly, jibing with his recent call for a national service bureaucracy that's "just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded" as the military.  Of course, McCain has certainly expressed an appreciation for the "a cause greater than yourself" mindset too, including a fondness for—quite literally—the sight of uniformed cadres of young people preparing for a day of service with calisthenics in the public square.

The Service Nation Summit kickoff event is getting promotional help from Time magazine, whose Managing Editor Rick Stengel is a co-chair.  Seems like an odd undertaking for a newsweekly, doesn't it?  But then, Time has an annoying habit of crossing over into advocacy on issues its editors have deemed too important to leave to impartial reportage.

Lindgren points out that though the campaign is couched in terms that make it appear oriented toward merely encouraging volunteerism, some of its top officials have a history of supporting a more coercive definition "service," including support for Rep. Charlie Rangel's (D-N.Y.) bill to bring back conscription.  Most ominously, one of the group's stated goals is to "[l]aunch a debate about why and how America should become a nation of universal national service by 2020."

Note the absence of the word "if."