Service with a grumble


I’ve never thought of a call to national service as illiberal necessarily but Matthew Yglesias seems to think that the spirit of Obama’s service plan is just that:

Because the underlying idea is bad and illiberal, the people proposing national service schemes tend to avoid proposing specific policies that really match the rhetoric. Consequently, the details tend to be some good-to-harmless policy proposals yoked together with some fuzzy talk.

He goes on to characterize two of the more popular service programs – the Peace Corps and Teach for America – as “public sector jobs that are simply structured as to operate outside the normal contours of recruitment and employment.”  Being “outside the normal contours” is the key.  If they were just other public sector jobs, my wife, a former Vista would have made a little more money so that she didn’t have to subsist on ramen noodles and a single light bulb for those two years.

The Caucus has more on Obama’s speech from today:

Mr. Obama said he would set a goal for all middle and high school students across the nation to perform 50 hours of service a year, while college students would be asked to perform 100 hours of service a year. The incentive for college students? An American Opportunity Tax Credit, intended to make the first $4,000 of college education free.

He apparently got a little dig in on the current President whose idea of post-911 service for civilians has been to have them go out and shop to strengthen the economy.


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