Jim Lindgren at The Volokh Conspiracy has some interesting posts which consider what Obama meant when he stated in his July 2, 2008 speech that:
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.
Lindgren suggests that the "civilian national security force" comes from Obama's "unprecedented plans for universal community service for young people and for hugely increased funding for a myriad of voluntary service programs for the rest of us." The highlights seem to be:
- 50 hours per year of mandatory community service for middle and high school children.
- a $4,000 yearly tax credit toward college tuition in exchange for 100 hours per year of community service for 4 years.
- converting work-study jobs into serve-study jobs.
- forming additional service corps, doubling Peace Corps, tripling AmeriCorps.
The issues which popped up at VC (which tends libertarian) include concern over the government's inefficiency, logistics, reinforcing the cycle government dependency, defining what is and what is not "community service", ensuring effective service, and generally mandating or coercing good behavior.
I found that last one to be particularly interesting. The argument for the children's program seems to be that since the fed already mandates educational curriculum, and since community service is generally regarded as good (some private schools or organizations already require it), why would federally mandating community service be any different?
But if it is acceptable, what other good behavior should be mandated? How about giving blood? Is there a limit? And if it is good for children, why not mandate it for adults as well? What are the criteria for such mandates?
What do you folks think? Is this a good or a bad idea? Is it something worth trying?