11.01.2008 0

ObamaCorps

  • On: 11/10/2008 11:29:16
  • In: Barack Obama
  • By Isaac MacMillen

    Despite the fact that America faces a severe economic crisis, President-elect Barack Obama has laid out a sliver of his plan to increase the scope and scale of the federal government—and he’ll do it on the backs of the youth, using it to promote Big Government in the minds of a generation.

    In his new transition website, Change.gov, “Office of the President-elect,” Barack Obama promises to “expand national service programs” such as Peace Corps and AmeriCorps. While there are many benefits to volunteering for the country, Obama’s plan has the potential to cause some severe side-effects: Money, Education, and even Constitutional Rights.

    By increasing the size—both in terms of members and monies—of these organizations, Obama may well hope to produce a short-term benefit, a decrease in unemployment numbers. At the same time, however, he would be creating a severe long-term problem: By decreasing the size of the available workforce and increasing the expenditures of the federal government, Obama forces the government to take more money from fewer sources—and ultimately increasing the amount taken—tax hikes.

    The Fiscal Year 2007 Peace Corps budget was $320 million, with $344 million estimated for 2009. The President’s AmeriCorps budget request for 2009 is nearly $830 million. So far that’s an estimated $1.17 billion. But he wants to expand both organizations even further, as well as establish new Classroom Corps, Health Corps, Clean Energy Corps, and Veterans Corps.

    Where will many of these people come from? He plans to tap into the youth that helped propel him into office—requiring “50 hours of community service in middle school and high school and 100 hours of community service in college every year.” No doubt some of those eager college students who voted him in will regret the additional work. 50 hours/semester are equivalent to an extra class (about 3 hours/week), and many students already have families, jobs, or participate in extra-curricular activities.

    In 2006, the Census Bureau reported that about 16.5 million children were enrolled in middle school, 17.5 million in high school, and 17.1 million were pursuing an undergraduate degree. Assuming no growth in school attendance (unlikely), the budget necessary to expand (and create) all these service corps to handle the influx of over 50 million new “volunteers” is going to be enormous.

    If one takes AmeriCorps, with its under 2 million workers and volunteers, and multiplies its budget by 25, you get over $20 billion. And that’s only a fraction of the amount Obama has promised to spend on his “civilian national security force” that’ll have the same funding as the military. Assuming Rep. Barney Frank’s 25 percent cut, that’s still in the $400 billion range.

    Probably the worst national effect, however, is that it will have a net result of decreasing the education levels of the American population. According to Upromise, 10 percent of full-time students in 2000 also held full-time jobs. An additional 47 percent worked part-time. Nearly one third of students labeled themselves as workers first, students second.

    Adding a “volunteer” requirement would have the negative consequence of discouraging working persons from obtaining higher education. Full-time working students are more likely to drop out of college than non-full-time students as it is. At the very least, the additional requirements would delay their progress through school by adding 300+ hours of extra work to their quest for a degree. And that’s ignoring the question of high-school dropouts.

    Finally, one cannot discuss this proposal without looking at the constitutional impact it may have. First and foremost—how far-reaching would this requirement be? Would private schools that refuse government funding be forced to take part? What about homeschoolers?

    If it turns out to be a blanket requirement, it will without a doubt end up before the Supreme Court. Not only does the constitution forbid “involuntary servitude,” but it could also violate the liberals’ favorite right, the right to privacy.

    If it is not a blanket requirement, but only impacts government schools, then it would raise questions of whether or not the school can actually compel students to “volunteer.” First amendment rights, anyone? Conservative blogs are already jumping on the issue.

    Of course, this isn’t the first time a nation has mandated national service for its youth. Nazi Germany is most (in)famous for its Hitler Youth, but North Korea (“Kim Il Sung Socialist Youth League”), Soviet Union (“Pioneers” and “Lenin’s Little Potatoes”), Communist China (“Communist Youth League of China”), and Italy (Mussolini’s “Opera Nazionale Balilla”) have had their own state-run youth organizations.

    In short, President-elect Obama’s plan will increase spending, decrease individual initiative (and education), and provide a permanent indoctrination tool by which Big Government can preserve itself.

    Isaac MacMillen is a contributing editor of ALG News Bureau.


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