It must be a day ending in “y” because Hillary Clinton has another idea of how to expand the size and scope of government.
Can anything bring us together? Clinton’s service proposal is certainly something that should. Her plan was very specific and included an important innovation.
First, she proposed roughly tripling the size of the AmeriCorps program, from 75,000 to 250,000 annual volunteer slots. …
She also proposed doubling the college scholarships that AmeriCorps members earn through their service, which would provides a stronger incentive to serve while helping to ease the problem of college affordability. …
Clinton’s agenda also included expanding the Peace Corps and increasing “service opportunities for people of all ages” through a variety of measures, including reserving 10 percent of AmeriCorps slots for Americans over the age of 55. …
Her innovative idea is to create what she called a “National Service Reserve,” modeled after the military reserve. The idea, she said, is to “create a new means for people to serve in serious, meaningful ways without a full time commitment.” If you join this “Reserve,” she said, “you will receive some basic training, just like you would in the military reserves, and then when your city or state needs you, you’ll get the call.” She cited a number of examples where such a reserve could be highly useful, including natural disasters; a water crisis such as the one in Flint, Mich., which required volunteers to distribute clean water; and a variety of civic campaign on behalf of, say, reducing drug abuse or promoting mental health. Her goal is to engage 5 million Americans across every state.
This proposal is two things, a boondoogle and indoctrination. It is a boondoggle because AmeriCorps is a grotesque failure at every activity beyond providing a stipend and make work to a handful of people. There is nothing AmeriCorps does that does not supplant community based efforts. Two centuries ago Alexis de Tocqueville commented on the genius Americans had for organizing themselves to achieve common good. Paying people to do this is not virtuous or helpful.
Rather than civic service Hillary’s proposal is more properly a direct assault on local institutions and programs and it teaches communities that they don’t have to do anything themselves because eventually the federal government will get around to doing it for them. Peace Corps, likewise, is a joke. What started out as a virtuous endeavor has metastasized into an organization that does not have promoting American values as its primary goal. Instead, and I swear I am not making this up, you end up with inexperienced volunteers doing bullsh** work like developing an eco-tourism plan based on tilapia fishing in the Dominican Republic.
The underlying agenda, of course, is indoctrination. Having discovered that it takes more that 13 years inside the public education ghetto and four years in a university to turn out a reliable leftist public (though they have managed to create a society where well under half of the population pays all the bills for everyone) they are trying to create a continuum of leftist education disguised as public service.
Even if this proposal was not a baldfaced attempt to force the federal government fund a training ground for Democrat activists, it is objectionable on many other grounds. A cost benefit analysis of HeadStart, Job Corps, AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, Corps Corps, Corps Corps Corps, or any other federal attempt at social work shows they are sumps for money and they leave the participants worse off than they were. This is not new. That is the history of FDR’s CCC and WPA.
Service is an idea that ought to bring together left, right and center. Progressives have always honored public work. Middle-of-the road Americans are often frustrated with politics because it is not focused enough on problem solving; service is about solving problems. And conservatives rightly speak of the importance of using government to strengthen the nongovernmental institutions of civil society. That was the idea behind compassionate conservatism. National service programs offer strong support to such organizations.
After this bitter campaign, we will need to find ways to come together. Let’s assume you are voting against Clinton; I doubt you will dispute what she said about the problem of how far apart we are from each other and why service might be of at least some help in easing our animosities.
Nothing says democracy, patriotism, and civic pride like being paid or coerced by the government into volunteering.