We’ve all seen it. In our schools, our children’s schools, public meetings, television shows, leadership seminars, political speeches, and even in legislation supported by the President, the message is clear: we should all be doing community service. The fact is that the call to service is greater now than at any time in our country’s past, and the pressure to provide it even greater.
The pressure to conform to the growing demand to volunteer your self, in body and bankbook, can be daunting. When confronted with a group of peers, all telling you how much you are needed, it can be difficult to resist. When your child’s teacher tells you how important it is that you volunteer for the school bake sale, how can you say no? When your Mayor asks you to volunteer your time for the citywide cleanup, how can you refuse? And when the girl scout who lives next door asks you to buy cookies, or the soccer player who lives down the street asks you to buy raffle tickets, how can you not open your wallet and hand them the money?
Simple. Say “no.” Unless, that is, you want to do it, and can.
First of all, it’s not so much “community service” that I have a problem with. Serving your community has plenty of merit, and everyone should do it, provided of course that you are willing, and just as important, able. The problem arises when you are expected to give your time and your money to a cause that you don’t want to support. And more problems arise when you are expected to give your time and your money to a cause when you can’t afford it.
None of that matters to the people who are asking for you services, though. It doesn’t matter to them that your boss has cut back on your overtime and money is scarce, and it doesn’t matter to them that you took a second job to cover the bills, making your time even more scarce. What matters to them is their cause. You see, to the people who are promoting them, causes are just like children. Everyone thinks theirs is the most important, and anyone who thinks differently be damned. It doesn’t matter how much time or money you’ve given to any cause, even theirs, in the past, if you don’t see how important their baby is today, you’re dirt. Even if you can’t afford it, they expect your support, and they expect it now.
The important part of this is that giving your time and money to a cause when you can’t afford either hurts everyone in the long run. It hurts you, it hurts your family, and ultimately it even hurts the cause. If you give money that you can’t afford to support your local food bank, it impairs your ability to put food on your own table, and that of your family. If you sacrifice time you can’t spare, whether it’s time you could be working to pay your bills, or time you should have spent playing baseball with your son, to participate in the latest jail and bail fundraiser, you risk putting a strain on your budget, or on your family. Both situations threaten your future security, your attitude, and your willingness and ability to participate in community service in the future.
It is quite common these days to pressure our children to “give back” to their communities, provide volunteer service, and even sign pledges to provide even more service in the future. From their classrooms to their football practices to their leadership conferences, they are bombarded at every turn with the message that it is the responsibility of every able bodied youth to serve their communities. They are told that service will make them better people, and that their duty is to their fellow man. More disturbing, it has become a trend lately to begin making this expectation of service into a requirement.
President Obama’s official transitional website stated that “Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by developing a plan to require 50 hours of community service in middle school and high school and 100 hours of community service in college every year.”
Congress followed suit with HR 1388 that authorized a committee to study “Whether a workable, fair, and reasonable mandatory service requirement for all able young people could be developed, and how such a requirement could be implemented…” When the language was stripped out of the final version of that bill, it was resurrected again as the still living HR 1444. It seems that our federal government is determined to make “volunteers” out of all our children.
The problem with this, aside from the fact that the 13th amendment of the Constitution clearly prohibits “indentured servitude,” is that if you take our youth, in the prime of their life, and put them on a mandated course of community service, you rob the community of it’s greatest potential producers, both physical and mental.
Can you imagine how different the world would be right now if a young college student named Bill Gates had been cutting weeds in the Boston National Historic Park instead of exploring the operations of computers and developing a BASIC interpreter for MITS? Gates built a fortune after that initial foray, which he later used to enable him to funnel billions of dollars into charitable organizations. He has now retired from the corporate world and donates all of his time to community service. Would the world be a better place if he had been doing community service while he was in college instead? Would have 100 hours of service to his fellow man when he was 20 been a good trade for the tens of billions of dollars that he has been able to raise for charity in his post corporate life?
If two college students, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, had been serving dinners at the Palo Alto Opportunity Center instead of spending their evenings writing the code that would later power Google.com, they would have never had a billion dollars to fund the charitable wing of their company, Google.org, which works to fight global poverty, among other causes. Would the world have been better served by them providing community service while they were in school rather than later when they were successful entrepreneurs and wanted to make a difference in the world?
In reality, Americans are the most generous charitable givers in the world. In 2006, Americans donated a record $295 billion to charitable organizations, the vast majority of which came from individuals. That is in addition to the 61 million Americans who donated time and labor to charitable organizations during that same year.
By allowing and encouraging our budding youth to provide for themselves and their families first, and by empowering them to become responsible and productive members of society, we also put a down payment on their future ability to give back to society when they are more able, ready and willing to do so. Someone who is forced to “donate” their time or money to causes they may not support will likely become bitter and much less likely to support any cause in the future. Additionally, a person who gives willingly, and to causes or charities they believe in, will always give more. If our government moves forward with their plan to require mandatory service from every American, and dictates to what causes that service is given, they will likely guarantee that will be the only community service that person ever provides again.
The underlying motive here is that these people don’t want you to volunteer your time and your money, because that means you are in control. They want to decide how your time and money is used to benefit society as they see fit. They want to decide which charities are worthy of your time and they want to decide which charities are worthy of your money. They don’t care if you miss a day of work, or if you have a hard time paying your bills, and they don’t care that your kids could be spending their afternoons developing cold fusion in the basement lab instead of planting grass on a reclaimed garbage dump, because in the end all they want is control.
How do we fight back? How do we make sure that our time and money is dedicated to causes and charities that we believe in? How do we make sure that our families, and ourselves, don’t go without to provide for charities that we might not believe in? And how do we make sure that our children are given the opportunity to become successful in their own right before they are expected to “give back” to their “fellow man?”
The answer is still simple. Say “no.” Unless, that is, you want to do it, and can.
Given that the federal Constitution is silent about things like community service, the 10th A. automatically reserves government power to regulate and lay taxes for such programs to the states, not the Oval Office and Congress.
In fact, Chief Justice Marshall had established the following case precedent, now wrongly ignored, which appropriately limits the power of the feds to lay taxes.
“Congress is not empowered to tax for those purposes which are within the exclusive province of the States.” –Chief Justice Marshall, GIBBONS V. OGDEN (1824) http://supreme.justia.com/us/22/1/case.html
So not only does constitutionally clueless Obama not have the constitutional authority to establish things like the stimulus package, health care, and community service, but based on Justice Marshall’s words, the feds don’t have the power to lay the taxes which fund such programs in the first place. In fact, such programs can be thought of as the feds returning money to the states that the feds have stolen from the states in the first place.
The bottom line is that the voters need to wise up to the ongoing, illegal usurpation of state powers by the Constitution-ignoring feds and put the constitutional leash back on the federal government by doing the following. Voters need to elect pro-state power people to the state governments in 2010 who will do the following. State leaders need to use their power to amend the Constitution to repeal the ill-conceived 16th and 17th Amendments, amendments which have not only weakened state sovereignty, but are also the source of power, in my opinion, for the corrupt Democratic Party now running the country. The 16th A. especially has to go because direct taxation has made it too easy for the corrupt feds to lay constitutionally unauthorized taxes, taxes which pay for things like Obama’s illegal stimulus package and Kennedy’s proposed illegal health care plan.
And once the 16th A. has been repealed and the federal income tax eliminated, the states can finance the federal government with higher state taxes for the following reason. The states can use their greater constitutional powers to serve the people to fight a downhill battle with the feds, eliminating constitutionally unauthorized federal taxes, keeping as many tax dollars in a given state as possible. (Did you hear that California?)
And when a state lawmaker shows the voters that they are more interested in protecting the welfare of the federal government than that of their own state then they can look for another job.
Always good to see you back on FA, Wisdom. Your absence is always noted.
To pepper your most excellent post, Jake Tapper has been all over Obama’s firing of the Inspector General of the Corporation for National and Community Service, Gerald Walpin. He is tasked with oversight of how funds are spent for community service grants, like Americorp etal.
Apparently Obama and friends are a bit miffed with Walpin’s opinion that the California AG settlement for misspent funds by newly elected mayor of Sacrament, Kevin Johnson, and the community service that he helped fund, St. Hope, was woefully inadquate.
When the CA AG orchestrated a settlement after the investigation, St. HOPE Academy had to pay $423,836.50 — $72,836.50 of which would be paid personally by Mayor Johnson. The battle ensued because Walpin said he wasn’t consulted, and the AG said it was beyond his scope to suggest penalties or punishment as a result of his investigation. Walpin thinks this is merely a slap on the wrist, and inadequate for the misappropriation of funds.
Johnson, a former guard for the Phoenix Suns, claimed Walpin (a conservative and a Bush appointee) was playing politics. And, of course, stimulus funds for Sacramento came into play since Sac’s funds were suspended pending investigation outcome. I guess he was not vetted well when a candidate to know just where he was getting some of his cash.
From Tapper’s update, Obama attempted to fire him. Well, not quite. It was done the good ol’ Chicago way… intimidation. He received a phone call saying he had an hour to make up his mind to resign, or he’d be fired.. and that decision was “final”.
Walpin’s fighting back:
Can’t have an IG critical of doling out the cash, eh? Especially to Obama’s pet project, community service.
Transparancy, my ass….
In the UK, we make our kiddie perps do ‘community service’… and 100 hours is quite a punishment, usually given out for a 3rd+ offense of the minor stabbing or petty mugging category.
On a more sober note — organising and policing this will be a nightmare and cost a lot more money than is saved by the ‘free’ labour. Especially when the kids are not very interesting in the project…
You just hit my biggest Hot Button: “give back to the community.” My response is always “Why? What exactly have I TAKEN that prompts you to tell me I must GIVE some of it back?” You have stolen over 50% of my raw earnings in the name of “charity to the poor,” and now you try to convince me that it’s not enough? WTF?
Let’s put the guilt where it properly belongs: it is the TAKERS who must be badgered to finally GIVE back something after their endless receipt of government free s***. Why can’t the bum who continually shows up at the food banks be told “wash some dishes in exchange for your ‘free food”‘? Or mop the floors in the dining room? Or go weed the garden outside the cooking kitchen where the vegetables are grown for YOUR meals?” Why the hell is it ME who is told that *I* must “give something back” to these parasites in this world?
I’ll tell you what, government. I’ll sign up to “give” some of my time to you as soon as some of your employees come to my house and volunteer some of their time to do the things they used to do until you pushed it all off on me as my responsibility. “City trees” come to mind. I don’t own them. I can’t do anything to them unless and until I get your permission. However, about 20 years ago you pushed ALL of the trees’ upkeep off on me. As soon as a crew of city workers comes out and trims the two trees out in front of my house, which are planted on YOUR right of way, then I’ll consider “giving something back” to you bunch of leeches.
Until then, go piss up a rope.
Apparently America’s poor are the most generous according to this article…
Per capita – the US comes 18th with under $23 compared to Luxembourg’s $490 in terms of donor aid.
However I don’t see why richer countries should continually pay out to those (especially African) countries that are corrupt etc and unable to manage themselves. Also apparently 90% of US aid is ties in with it’s own services etc compared with a lot of countries which is around 10%. But I don’t see anything wrong particularly with tieing aid – makes sense. Beggars can’t be choosers as they say.
Individually – Americans give a lot more to charity as a nation than other coming top – and twice as generous as the UK.
As for charity and community service – it should be strictly volunteered. I understand why charities need money etc but personally I hate being bullied in giving my money or time unless I want to.
Tithing is not charity, and being drafted is not volunteering; the “new” definition of community service is really not service to the community, but to the ruling party. In fact, the “new” definition specifically excludes, and eliminates support, for actual community services done for our fellow citizens in need. Only the ruling party and its leaders are served. This is a bad thing.
I saw where a number of commentators refer to the constitution and the 13th amendment, and suggest we avoid making the same mistakes as the lefties. We do not define the constitution for ourselves; the court does, which is why we have a seperate but equal court and agreed to the constitution in the first place. Allowing each other to write our own constitutions is a disaster; the rule of man, not the rule of law. Guys, the courts have already said the draft is legal, taxes are legal and, wether we like it or not, that idiot Souter allowed the states to do eminent domain as the state legislature and executive define it. Elections have consequences; win the next one.