Free Markets, Free People


Paid ‘Volunteerism’ – An Oxymoron

Nick Gillespie at Reason is none too impressed with the new Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act just signed into law.

At a mere 5.7 billion dollars +200 mil in “stimulus” funds – and yes I’m being facetious (and don’t worry, they’re saving 100 mil among the administration cabinet) – we get legislation that:

reauthorizes and expands national service programs administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency created in 1993. The Corporation engages four million Americans in result-driven service each year, including 75,000 AmeriCorps members, 492,000 Senior Corps volunteers, 1.1 million Learn and Serve America students, and 2.2 million additional community volunteers mobilized and managed through the agency’s programs.

Or an expansion of the Community Organizer’s Full Employment Act if you really want to come clean about it.

Paid “volunteerism”. Is that government’s job?

And as Gillespie points out, the language under which this is organized – and I use the term loosely – is rife with opportunities for urban entrepreneurs to “benefit” mightily from things which will be extremely hard to measure (even though it claims, in the language, to have it covered):

The Serve America Act, which goes into effect on October 1, would increase and enhance opportunities for Americans of all ages to serve by increasing AmeriCorps from 75,000 to 250,000 positions over the next eight years, while increasing opportunities for students and older Americans to serve. It will strengthen America’s civic infrastructure through social innovation, volunteer mobilization, and building nonprofit capacity. The new law is also designed to strengthen the management, cost-effectiveness and accountability of national service programs by increasing flexibility, consolidating funding streams, and introducing more competition.

Ye gods – what could go wrong with that?

And this, as Gillespie points out, in the face of attempts to limit charitable tax breaks for the income class which makes most of those donations and are the engine for much of the charitable giving. Make sense?

Well, it does if your entire focus is to see how dependent on government you can make the population, certainly. This is another example of a liberal wet dream.

But what you should keep in mind is it was begun under Clinton and survived 8 years of a Republican administration.

Tell me – whose fault is that?

~McQ

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11 Responses to Paid ‘Volunteerism’ – An Oxymoron

  • For some it is paid REQUIRED volunteerism.

  • How is Kennedy sponsoring anything these days?

  • Exactly what difference do you think it would be making now if Bush had actually been a conservative and had summarily ended the Americorps program (putting aside for the moment that he couldn’t just do that because it was created by legislation signed by Clinton)?  I mean, other than provided another occassion for him to be more thoroughly vilified in the press than he was?  Exactly what chance do you think that there was of that legislation being rescinded, given the razor thin Republican “control” of the congress (remember, Collins, Snowe, and Spectre were FAR more powerful then than they are even now, a fact that people seem to have forgotten)? 

    Do you seriously think that would have amounted to even a pebble in the road to the O Administration?

    • Well, IF he had stuck to his guns and forced many such programs to at least have reduced funding, it might have made a lot of difference, at least for a while.

      I understand that the pendulum swings, and that eventually left wingers get into power, but does that mean that we should never pursue reform when our side has power?  That’s silly thinking.  We would never have had welfare reform with that thinking.

      • Well, IF he had stuck to his guns and forced many such programs to at least have reduced funding, it might have made a lot of difference, at least for a while.
        As I recall, he did.  After his brief fling with the program right after 9/11 he pretty much reduced the funding for Americorps to a pale shadow of its peak during the Clinton Administration.
        “…but does that mean that we should never pursue reform when our side has power?  That’s silly thinking….”

        I don’t recall saying any such thing.  I just pointed out that, at the time, there was very little chance of success at rescinding this particular foolish law, and, I should have added, many other issues of far greater importance to deal with.  Picking your battles is not the same thing as failing to pursue reform.

  • That kind of cash will come in handy around October 2010.

  • Does anyone remember the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA)?

  • The Serve America Act, which goes into effect on October 1, would increase and enhance opportunities for Americans of all ages to serve by increasing AmeriCorps from 75,000 to 250,000 positions over the next eight years, while increasing opportunities for students and older Americans to serve.

    Um… Why do we need government programs to give us opportunities to “serve”?  Maybe things are different outside of No. Carolina, but if I want to serve my community, I’m pretty sure that the local Red Cross, Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity, churches, and any of a number of other organizations will be glad to give me some work to do without me becoming a member of Americorps.  O’ course, I guess I wouldn’t get whatever money or other bennies the government gives for volunteering.

    Now it makes sense!  TAO never did any community organizing that didn’t pay him, so I guess he just assumes that Americans won’t serve their communities if there isn’t something in it for them beyond the satisfaction of having done a little to help somebody else.

    Have I cracked the code?

    • Docjim, I think you did crack the code!  Seriously, charity can never be involuntary and it can not be paid for.  This is the path to FAIL.

  • I am wondering if there is a way I can get my hands on some of that? I could start a youth football league or something.

    I know!  A youth football & Pizza libertarian league. We get together and play football, have pizza, then have selected readings from Adam Smith, Ayn Rand, and Milton Friedman.

  • On July 2, 2008, off his TelePrompTer candidate Obama said,
    “We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives 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.”

    Yep, he now has that in his hip pocket to use when he wants.

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