Monday, December 17, 2007

the case against national service

In the September 10th cover story of Time Magazine, the author proposes ideas regarding national service (both voluntary and mandatory). The point that really bothers me in their 7-point "plan" is "Make National Service a Cabinet-Level Department." Really? Do we really need to spend more federal money on creating yet another useless wasteful cabinet-level department? If people want to volunteer, hey, more power to them. I've volunteered at soup kitchens, AIDSwalks, and at the Free Clinic of Greater Cleveland. Props to anyone who wants to volunteer because our communities certainly could use some help. The trouble is, we definitely do not need to spend federal money creating an unnecessary governmental department to organize something that doesn't need to be organized on that level. There are plenty of opportunities to volunteer and to help your local community, from Big Brothers/Sisters organizations, to tutoring underprivileged kids after school, to simply running around your neighborhood with a garbage bag and gloves, to asking your elderly neighbors if they need a ride to the grocery store. Why mandate these things? What a waste of money. Now, I do like the idea of making it mandatory for kids in high schools to volunteer somewhere. That's a fantastic idea, and one that the private Catholic school that I attended did indeed implement, and I'll admit that definitely had a large effect on my choice to volunteer later in my life. Going from the suburbs with my high school classmates to a soup kitchen and serving food to the homeless and poor definitely expanded my view of the world which at that time consisted of cul de sacs, video games, and the local mall. If the government and presidential candidates are that serious about fixing the homeland, maybe they could try and figure out a way to make people better parents. Mandatory parenting laws, now I like the sound of that. If they really want to blow a ton of cash on creating fun, new departments in Washington to divert attention away from the useless ones already established, how about creating a Department of Proper Parenting, or Department of Big Happy Ice Cream, or, say, start a Department of Leisure.

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