“We cannot continue to rely only on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well funded.” -Obama, 2008
The National Service Bill that was passed yesterday seems like it could be a good thing, until you start reading the fine print. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with encouraging kids to be more active in their communities… but when it becomes mandatory for elementary school children to serve time in “Youth Engagement Zones”, we’re talking indoctrination rather than encouragement.
And it’s not just the children that will be targeted. The Bill includes “recommendations for policies to increase service for adults age 55 or older, including how to best use such adults as sources of social capital, and how to utilize their skills and experience to address community needs.”
Okay, so there’s nothing really wrong with a little social capital either. But isn’t it a little scary to think that the government will be telling us what we have to do? Or even worse, what we aren’t allowed to do? Participants in the National Service Corp will be prohibited from:
“(1) Attempting to influence legislation.(2) Organizing or engaging in protests, petitions, boycotts, or strikes.(3) Assisting, promoting, or deterring union organizing…..(7) Engaging in religious instruction, conducting worship services, providing instruction as part of a program that includes mandatory religious instruction or worship, constructing or operating facilities devoted to religious instruction or worship, maintaining facilities primarily or inherently devoted to religious instruction or worship”
Nearly $6 billion will be allocated to this program, including funds to “establish or implement summer of service programs (giving priority to programs that enroll youth in grades 6 through 9) during the summer months, including the cost of recruitment, training, and placement of service-learning coordinators”. Oh, and also creating campuses (which, btw, were called “camps” until someone wised up and changed the term to “campus”) for training, buying supplies for the campuses, and providing uniforms for the participants. Uniforms? Yep, the Bill states that “the Director determines appropriate uniforms“.
Let’s hope they aren’t brown shirts ;)