Steeped in good intentions, the latest ploy from the Left seeks to reduce the burgeoning unemployment rate and cure the character shortcomings of millennials by implementing a national community service requirement.
With little fanfare, this policy emerged in 2009 as the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, or HR 1388. The lengthy proposal outlines government-run service opportunities for young people and seniors and includes the opportunity to earn wages in these initiatives.
But if you listen to the Left, this initiative is a free, do-good program for our youth, instead of a tax-payer funded government plan to distract from a dismal economy.
The language of the resolution characterizes these opportunities as ways of “improving education, increasing energy conservation, improving the health status of economically disadvantaged individuals and improving economic opportunity for economically disadvantaged individuals.”
However, this seemingly benign policy rings up to $6 billion over the course of five years. This includes a living wage for all volunteers and a $400 per month childcare stipend for participants with children. Furthermore, organizations that receive these volunteers via the government-run program include Planned Parenthood.
Fast forward to 2012 and the national service requirement is still being touted as a panacea for America’s troublesome, unemployed youth. Last week, The Huffington Post ran a story entitled “Don’t Give Millennials What They Want, Invest in Them Short-term” which outlined why a national service requirement is the answer.
Besides trying to force mllennials to be more compassionate, the author advocates a national service program because it’s free labor for non-profits provided by qualified young people who cannot find other means of employment. Therein lies the problem: $6 billion of taxpayer dollars isn’t exactly “free.” Furthermore, what happened to charity as a personal choice and the importance of private initiative?
Aside from the exorbitant cost, the idea of a national service requirement is a disturbing example of the cultural imperialism of the Left. Community service and an active sense of citizenship are no longer values instilled at home. Instead, a national service requirement is a way of extending the line of government dependence.
Qualified college graduates should seek to be the widest influence for good as a means of personal choice, not because the economic doldrums force them into a position of quasi-employment. A national service requirement is not a benevolent action, but a way of removing the focus from a deplorable economy.