Friday, November 14, 2008

Obama’s socialist program of community support

According to Obama’s new proposal, school and college students will be “encouraged” or, possibly, “mandated” to perform certain number of hours of community service.
The Obama administration will call on Americans to serve in order to meet the nation’s challenges. President-elect Obama will expand national service programs like AmeriCorps and Peace Corps and will create a new Classroom Corps to help teachers in underserved schools, as well as a new Health Corps, Clean Energy Corps, and Veterans Corps.

Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by setting a goal that all middle school and high school students do 50 hours of community service a year and by developing a plan so that all college students who conduct 100 hours of community service receive a universal and fully refundable tax credit ensuring that the first $4,000 of their college education is completely free. Obama will encourage retiring Americans to serve by improving programs available for individuals over age 55, while at the same time promoting youth programs such as Youth Build and Head Start.
But, no, it is not Marxist, as Michele Catalano would have us believe. And after a criticism that this would constitute forced labor (i.e., slavery — hmm… does the word irony come to your mind right now?), Obama took back the “forced” part.
Right-leaning blogs are jumping on the Obama staff for so quickly going back on the wording of the community service statement — and some are still maintaining the “forced service” part. It’s interesting to see that instead of remarking on how the staff reacted quickly to negativity toward the requirement part of the service, people are claiming that he went back on a promise or broke his word. Not really. He heard criticism and responded to it. He would still like to see students entering into community service voluntarily but he rightfully took back the idea of service being mandatory. By arguing the nature of the wording and how/when the wording was changed, the blog pundits are taking the idea of community service and turning it into something to fight about. The blog posts enhanced with pictures of Stalin or a hammer and sickle are a nice touch, though.
He took it back? This looks to me like someone trying to get into water and touching it with his toe. Too warm? Too cold? Still need to wait a little? OK, not yet, we’ll wait a little.

Of course, to anybody who grew up in the former Soviet Union, this is all too familiar. Kindergarden students were “taught” how to sweep streets and pick up leaves (while janitors were drinking tea). School students collected scrap metal, glass bottles, paper for recycling. Each year, university students were “encouraged” to go to collective farms and help harvest crops, fruits, vegetables, etc. Anyone like my mother — who “slacked off” from her duties and went to scientific expeditions to collect data for her thesis — was really frowned upon. Similar arguments were used:
This is the mark of a country that knows it needs to rely on those who can to help those who can’t. It’s the mark of a country that knows it needs to depend on its citizens to make their communities flourish. It’s taking the “ask not what your country can do for you” attitude and transforming it into smaller clusters, where we ask what we can do for those we live with and around, instead of waiting for people to do for us. It’s how communities become stronger, how they grow, and how a strong, giving community makes for a strong, giving nation.
Only in there they did not say “ask not what your country can do for you”. (Why the hell not? Why did we organize this country then? Because we wanted our own soccer team?) They said: “You owe this to your country.” For obvious reasons: because your country owns you. You are its slave, and you should even say thanks for being allowed what you have, much less complain about your responsibilities towards your master.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not against volunteering. If people want to volunteer, great. I would even argue that at least at the present some things can only be achieved through volunteering (although others could argue). What I am amazed about is that the future new President starts off by encouraging and mandating volunteering, not businesses, trade and commerce.

No, volunteering is not “how communities become stronger, how they grow, and how a strong, giving community makes for a strong, giving nation” — does she think that US became what it is because of volunteering? It was because of competing businesses providing communites desired products and services in exchange for capital that can be then investment into growth, progress and development.

Voluntering is good, but not when it’s the main focus. If I had to choose between a girl selling lemonade and a girl carrying lemonade around for free, I would choose the former. Young people need to learn the value of earning money for their work. When they grow up and have money from their business, they can donate it to a right cause if they want. Or better yet, use it to expand their business and create jobs for people that need money.

Furthermore, students in schools and universities need to study, not do community service. You have some extra time? Study more. Get into athletics program, a chess (or better yet, Go) club, learn a new language, learn how to swim, read a damn book. Community service must be a service — done by people as a job and payed, if necessary, by people who donated their money for the cause. Young people are our future, our greatest capital investment. Of course, it is beyond Obama and other socialists to understand the value of the last two words.

They say that Obama has no new ideas. Not true. He has a lot of ideas how to “volunter” other people, their time, their money, their services. No wonder this is his first proposal, right from the start — not to encourage people to have successful business, but to volunteer. Of course, when I say “volunteer”, I mean:
On the college level, Obama’s plan would ensure a $4,000 tuition credit to students who complete 100 hours of community service a year. With the cost of college education soaring, that $4,000 is like a windfall to a college student. The student would be rewarded monetarily, but the reward of completing service toward the community is something that will stay with them, as well as the community, forever. Service to others is a lasting gift. […]

This is not socialism. This is not Marxism.
Indeed not — I stand corrected. Under true Marxism, they would not be “encouraged”, they would be forced. We are not there yet. The water is still too cool. Need to wait a bit. After all, these capitalist selfish pigs still have their guns.

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