It seems that President-Elect Barack Obama has not even been sworn in yet and is already generating controversy. In fact, we still have more than a month before he takes over the top job and some people are already getting nervous. I'm not talking about those who were nervous the moment his election was announced. I'm talking about people who actually wait to see results before making judgments.
Full Disclosure: I did not vote for Obama. I didn't care for McCain either, but anyone who is as popular just because as Obama is, makes me nervous. History has far too many examples of people riding this kind of popularity straight into disaster.
Speaking of which, today's subject: Obama's "America Serves" initiative.
It would appear that there has been some hanky-panky over at Obama's Change.gov website, changing up some wording to make things sound less offensive, but I have doubts that changes in words actually means changes in intentions or goals. At issue is the plan, under the America Serves tab, to require all middle school and high school students to perform 50 hours of community service and all college students to perform 100 hours of community service. For those of you running over to look this up, the word "require" is no longer present - it was stricken from the page a couple days ago - but it was and the fact that it was says more about Obama's intentions and goals than anything that page currently says.
Think about that for a moment. Your child goes to school in order to learn to read and write, learn some math and science and (hopefully) acquire some knowledge of history and government. Exactly what does community service have to do with school? "Yes, I know you have straight A's in all educational courses but you cannot graduate because you have not completed your required community service." Is that really something we want to see?
Under such a program, who gets to define what is a community service? You should already know the answer to that question. He who controls the purse strings controls the definitions. I can easily assume that it will not be you, the parent, controling that definition.
Let me make sure this is clear. I have nothing against community service. I don't even have anything against students performing community service. It would probably be good for them and there is absolutely no reason it cannot be organized through the schools. There are many extracurricular activities organized through the schools that encourage student participation but are in no way required. The moment you transform it into a requirement, however, it becomes something else entirely. And, for the record, it makes no difference whether the government makes a law requiring it or they sneak into it by withholding funds from schools that don't require it. Either way amounts to a requirement and either way amounts to a government mandated requirement. Requiring a person to work where you want them to work is, by definition, slavery and slavery is, by the Constitution, outlawed. Whether the requirement is direct and straight forward or sneaky and underhanded, it is still a requirement and still slavery.
You cannot force volunteerism. The very idea is ludicrous and the fact that someone would even consider it says a lot about that person. I would highly recommend that everyone pay close attention to this subject as we move forward and be prepared to scream bloody murder if the scoundrels at the top actually look like they are preparing for implementation.