• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • What Does the Future Hold for Mandatory Public Service?

    Time magazine ran a story back in 2007 on “The Case for National Service.” The story described the positions of the candidates for president on expanding “public service” programs. Two of the Democrat candidates favored mandatory community service by all high school students. And two others — Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden — favored creation of a U.S. Public Service Academy for training civil servants.

    Barack Obama has centered speeches around this idea of public service. He waxes sentimental about what we can each do for our country. All in one speech, he said that we must “answer a new call to service to meet the challenges of our new century” and that he “won’t just ask for your vote as a candidate” but “will ask for your service.” And he said that, in fact, this is the cause of his presidency.

    Obama, though, is not listed as favoring this proposed academy. Instead, he proposes expanding AmeriCorps and the Peace Corps along with several other programs, and offering funding to students in exchange for community service. We can only hope that he isn’t convinced by his supporters and colleagues to change his mind on this.

    Proponents of the academy argue that we’re facing a shortage of public servants, and such an academy could help. Of course, they do not mention that we could reduce the size of government instead of training our youth like soldiers to work for an ever expanding public sector.

    It isn’t mere rhetoric to say they would be trained like soldiers. Supporters of the bill have called the proposed academy the “civilian counterpart to the uniformed service academies.” But we should not need a civilian counterpart to the military service academies beyond the police academies that already exist — because the civilian counterpart to the military is just the police officer corps.

    Another scary thought is that the belief in mandatory community service for high school students, or mandatory military service as Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) has proposed, could combine with this call for a Public Service Academy. In fact, Rangel himself suggested that under his proposal, “Recruits not needed by the military in any given year would be required to perform some national civilian service.” He argued that mandatory service would close the economic gap, in which the poor are forced to serve disproportionately. However, this gap is actually a myth.

    The idea that America’s youths should train like soldiers to serve government on the domestic front is contrary to the freedom and independent spirit this country was founded on. Furthermore, such programs are reminiscent of Soviet youth programs and Soviet job programs, and would similarly incorporate propaganda beneficial to the government in power. A free economy founded on small government has no need for such things — and they set a dangerous precedent.

    Posted in Education [slideshow_deploy]

    8 Responses to What Does the Future Hold for Mandatory Public Service?

    1. Peter Medveczky M.D. says:

      Yes, this wonderful idea of Obama has its roots in the Soviet Union. I was growing up and attending school in an Eastern European country and we were forced either working in a factory or harvesting vegetables once a week. Those adults who were suppesed to do their jobs were simply inefficient, uninterested or drunk. The entire society of these Soviet-style countries have been demoralized so deeply that they used young students as last resort to get the system working. This mandatory service and many other ideas of Senator Obama shows that his soul is bolshevik! Vote NO for Comrade Obama!

    2. KM, Texas says:

      VOTE YES!!

    3. CMA, Maryland says:

      You argue that we could solve the looming shortages in public service simply by trimming government. Perhaps. But we have been talking about cutting government at least since 1980, and what has happened? It's ballooned! Mere exhortations to cut government won't solve anything, and ridiculing public servants only makes matters worse — our best and brightest of course will avoid the public sector if it's both poorly compensated and culturally mocked.

      Americans may want smaller government, but they also want effective government services. The way to turn this trick is to have the best possible people go into the public sector. We should be doing everything we can — including the proposed Public Service Academy — to attract and retain a higher caliber public servant. These top-quality Academy graduates could help make our public institutions more effective and economical. Who could be against that?

    4. Peter Medveczky M.D. says:

      The problem with the so-called Public Service Academy is that it would be MANDATORY. Teenagers like freedom. I never forget what happened in our mandatory communism-enforced public service sessions. For example, we had to harvest corn. This great public service event become a corn-throwing fun. Unfortunately someone threw a cord towards our Biology teacher and the corn hit his head! I am for all public service. Our country, the great USA has the best approach to engage young people in public service; through a voluntary approach. If people volunteer the entire experience becomes personal and becomes part of your soul. It is pride that drives voluntarism not commands mandated by a bolshevik.

    5. Peter Medveczky M.D. says:

      Dear CMA,

      I agree that public service is very important. The USA has far more volunteers doing meaningful public service work than in any other nation in the world. We are the most generous giving money to charities.

      Making public service mandatory is the main point in this blog. If public service should be made mandatory then donations to charities and serving in the army should be mandatory, etc., etc. History shows that Nazis and Communists used these ideas of mandatory “public service” to enslave entire nations. Hitler Jugend, Young Communist’s Groups, etc., were sold as “public service” for the country, or for the “liberation” of the world. So when I see Obama’s proposal of Public Service Academy I smell the old and discredited Nazi or Communist propaganda. The real intention is to control more and more through mandating more and more and more in the name of public service. This creates new Departments, state jobs for cronies, leads to loss of personal freedom and choices and ends anything that made this country the greatest and best.

      Finally Obama was never a public servant. He was a community organizer meaning he was a propagandist for the Democratic Party knocking on doors to “convince” citizens to vote for his party. Then he becomes a fast-track career politician doing nothing but advancing in the ranks. This man is a very dangerous politician with plenty of Bolshevik ideas in his head.

    6. Pingback: OK ObamaBot?s! Remember All Those Promises? - Page 2

    7. Jim50, Raytown MO says:

      Excuse me? But since when does the government (ANY government) have to get involved in public service? There are plenty of places you can go and donate time. Local food pantries, nursing homes and hospitals, VA hospitals, YMCA, YWCA, and the list goes on and on. GET THE GOVERNMENT OUT OF THIS NOW!

    8. Romallis Theard, New says:

      I am against mandatory anything! The more mandatory we allow, the more we should just ship the bricks in that were torn down and build our own wall.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.