Friday, March 20, 2009


Back on President Obama's inauguration day I had posted about the proclamation on service, and about the tone it set and danger that it leads to calls for mandatory service.

Today I came across a story about House Bill HR 1444 - the "Congressional Commission on Civic Service Act".

It is currently referred to subcommittee and I hope it dies there.

Of particular interest are sections 4(b)(5) and 4(b)(6) that lists a couple duties of the commission.

Among other things, they are to study:

"(5) The effect on the Nation, on those who serve, and on the families of those who serve, if all individuals in the United States were expected to perform national service or were required to perform a certain amount of national service."


"(6) 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 in a manner that would strengthen the social fabric of the Nation and overcome civic challenges by bringing together people from diverse economic, ethnic, and educational backgrounds."

Italics and bold mine of course.

So why is this the government's job? Oh yeah, they are the only ones that require and can enforce mandatory.

So who would define what should qualify as "service"?
What would the penalties of "required" and "mandatory" be?
And what would "reasonably mandatory" mean?

Here's the problem with 4(b)(5) - it seeks to find out "the effect" without regards to whether it is even proper as a governmental role.

Here's the problem with 4(b)(6) - it includes "workable", "fair", and "reasonable" in the same sentence as "mandatory" with no trace of irony.

And why doesn't the commission ask the basic question as to whether the government should even be in this role?

I must say would come at a convenient time of increasing federalization of our "public" (i.e. "government run") (and failing) school system. Yes, the commission will also look into how service could be made a requirement in primary and secondary education.

Here's the thing. A just society is one where people help each other voluntarily. Not because it is required with the threat of force (government == force). What kind of morality is that?

I will engender in my daughter the desire to help those who need it. I will encourage her to think of ways that she can help people, out of a sense of empathy, and within the bounds of what she judges reasonable for her to do. I will also encourage her to resist any forced service, because whatever the intention behind it - the forced service is itself immoral.

The whole "Congressional Commission on Civic Service Act" can be found here:

Again, it's only in subcommitte, and it will hopefully languish and die there (like other past proposals like reinstituting the draft).

As they say - "time will tell".

1 comment:

  1. Great post. I think that HR 1444 was initially included in HR 1388, which passed the House on Wednesday. Apparently HR 1444 was taken out and made a separate bill.

    I quoted your article extensively in my article today at

    HR 1444 is a dangerous bill and must be resisted . . .