Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Heil Obama

Picture young people lined up in special uniforms, maybe with arm bands, holding their arms out stretched in a salute to President Barack Obama as he stands before his teleprompter inspiring the youth of the nation to do the bidding of a socialized state; scary isn’t it?

I came across a photo from Germany in the 1940’s recently of just such a vision and it reminded me that many of us have not properly understood and reacted to a law signed by President Barack Obama on April 21, 2009. The law was known in Congress as H.R. 1388 and has the glorious title: Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act, or the GIVE Act. Of course, the Act doesn’t give anything; it does take however – it takes away our freedom a bit at a time by lending physical support to the other Obama laws that “change” our country from the one we started with to a country of the kind envisioned by Obama’s mentor, communist Saul Alinsky, and it authorizes $5.7 billion to get it off the ground.

The National Civilian Community Corps formed by the law is year-round and will impose itself on children away at summer camp. Even private schools will not be immune from its membership. Down through the generations, wearing a uniform has always appealed to followers. According to H.R. 1388, “the Director determines appropriate “Uniforms” (just like the German Youth Bund).

The GIVE ACT is modeled after Saul Alinsky’s “Peoples Organizations” which operated under Michelle Obama with an alleged operating budget of more than $75-million a year. According to a Fact Sheet About Public Allies, “President Obama was a member of the founding advisory board of the non-profit organization. Michelle Obama was the founding Executive Director of Public Allies Chicago from spring, 1993 until fall 1996. She served on Public Allies national board of directors from 1997 until 2002. Obama was no longer on the board when Michelle was hired.

Michelle was also a pioneer in the social entrepreneur movement--leaders who create new approaches and organize to provide new solutions to social problems.

Like most things Saul Alinsky, H.R. 1388 sounds noble in stating why wide-sweeping change is necessary. “The Give Act” aims to “leverage investments to increase State, local, business and philanthropic resources to address national and local challenges.” H.R. 1388 is comprehensive in its power; it goes straight to the heart of volunteerism in America and encompasses every walk of life in America.

The Act (GIVE) authorizes funding for AmeriCorps and other volunteer programs, and the creation of new programs for seniors and veterans. It establishes a goal of expanding from 75,000 government-supported volunteers to 250,000, and would increase education funding and establish what is called a summer volunteer program for students, but it is not really a “volunteer” program for young people. The “GIVE” act requires the US government to develop a plan to implement a “mandatory service requirement for all able young people”. Already males ages 18 through 25 living in the U.S. must register with Selective Service to keep records in the event Congress and the President authorize a draft.

HR 1388 specifically targets Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) and the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) which Congress expects will reach 250,000 participants by 2014. From school-based service learning programs to focusing on severely economically depressed communities, the GIVE act sounds good until you get to part about the mandatory service requirement for youth. How can volunteerism be mandatory?

Section 6104 of The Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act requires that a commission be established to investigate, “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.”

I imagine cadres of minority youth working on environmental projects such as tree planting; however, I can’t get on board with the involuntary servitude. It’s even scarier when you consider Obama’s chief of staff Rahm Emanuel coauthored The Plan: Big Ideas for America that calls for compulsory service for Americans ages 18 to 25.

Here’s how it would work. Young people will know that between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five, the nation will enlist them for three months of civilian service. They’ll be asked to report for three months of basic civil defense training in their state or community, where they will learn what to do in the event of biochemical, nuclear or conventional attack; how to assist others in an evacuation; how to respond when a levee breaks or we’re hit by a natural disaster. These young people will be available to address their communities’ most pressing needs.

In fact, Obama ran on the idea of required community service for our youth but no one paid any attention to it when there were so many other issues of “change and hope” to focus on.

The Obama initial goal is that all middle and high school students do 50 hours of community service a year, and will establish a new tax credit that is worth $4,000 a year in exchange for 100 hours of public service a year. Like all far reaching government programs, the lure is money – either a tax incentive or an outright grant. I do not like the idea of mandatory service (except for military purposes in time of war) for anyone – youth or not. Furthermore mandatory requirements are not necessary since many churches and high schools already have such requirements for students. I am also concerned about what the government will deem service, like biochemical attack training mentioned in Emanuel’s book? What happens if a child does not complete their mandatory service requirement?

Anyone supporting this law is going to tell you “It’s just about supporting volunteer organizations that already exist!”– And will insist that there’s "Nothing Mandatory” about any of it (don't believe it - mandatory can be direct or indirect). For example, there are “requirements” attached to being a recipient of ‘Grants’- Authorized Benefits for Corps Members.”

‘(a) Required National Service Corps- The recipient of a grant under section 121(a) and each Federal agency operating or supporting a national service program under section 121(b) shall, directly or through grants or sub grants to other entities, carry out or support the following national service corps, as full- or part-time corps, including during the summer months, to address unmet educational, health, veteran, or environmental needs: And oh, that list does go on.

Also consider that in this law of ‘Volunteerism’:

“Section 1508:

(a) In general The Director shall provide for members of the Civilian Community Corps to receive benefits authorized by this section.

(b) Living allowance The Director shall provide a living allowance to members of the Corps for the period during which such members are engaged in training or any activity on a Corps project. The Director shall establish the amount of the allowance at any amount not in excess of the amount equal to 100 percent of the poverty line that is applicable to a family of two (as defined by the Office of Management and Budget and revised annually in accordance with section 9902 (2) of this title.[1]

(c) Other authorized benefits while receiving training or engaging in service projects as members of the Civilian Community Corps, members may be provided the following benefits:

(1) Allowances for travel expenses, personal expenses, and other expenses. (2) Quarters. (3) Subsistence. (4) Transportation. (5) Equipment. (6) Clothing. (7) Recreational services and supplies. (8) Other services determined by the Director to be consistent with the purposes of the Program (and there’s more).

Reading through that list of ‘Benefits’, what is clear is that it’s difficult to see where “Volunteering” ends and where “Working on the Government Collective” begins…. or is it just me?

The most troubling parts of this are, as such things tend to be, is at the bottom:


SEC. 6103. ESTABLISHMENT. There is established in the legislative branch a commission to be known as the ‘Congressional Commission on Civic Service’ (in this title referred to as the ‘Commission’).

SEC. 6104. DUTIES. (a) General Purpose- The purpose of the Commission is to gather and analyze information in order to make recommendations to Congress to--

(b) Specific Topics- In carrying out its general purpose under subsection (a), the Commission shall address and analyze the following specific topics:

(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.

(7) The need for a public service academy, a 4-year institution that offers a federally funded undergraduate education with a focus on training future public sector leaders.

(8) The means to develop awareness of national service and volunteer opportunities at a young age by creating, expanding, and promoting service options for elementary and secondary school students, through service learning or other means, and by raising awareness of existing incentives.

(9) The effectiveness of establishing a training program on college campuses to recruit and educate college students for national service.

(11) The constraints that service providers, nonprofit organizations, and State and local agencies face in utilizing federally funded volunteer programs, and how these constraints can be overcome.

So – No, nothing in the current Bill, in its current form is ‘Mandatory’ but it does lay down the infrastructure needed for an eventual movement toward ‘Mandatory’ – if that becomes the intention, which according to the Commission’s “Specific Topics” – pretty clearly is the intention.

Here are some interesting prohibitions on participants:


(a) Prohibited Activities- A participant in an approved national service position under this subtitle may not engage in the following activities:

(1) Attempting to influence legislation.

(2) Organizing or engaging in protests, petitions, boycotts, or strikes.

(3) Assisting, promoting, or deterring union organizing.

(4) Impairing existing contracts for services or collective bargaining agreements.

(5) Engaging in partisan political activities, or other activities designed to influence the outcome of an election to any public office.

(6) Participating in, or endorsing, events or activities that are likely to include advocacy for or against political parties, political platforms, political candidates, proposed legislation, or elected officials.

(7) Engaging in religious instruction, conducting worship services, providing instruction as part of a program that includes mandatory religious instruction or worship, constructing or operating facilities devoted to religious instruction or worship, maintaining facilities primarily or inherently devoted to religious instruction or worship, engaging in any form of religious proselytization.

I wish I could show you the picture of the German Youth Bund I saw but I can't figure out how to insert it in this blog. If you saw it, you might also be tempted to write an article like this.

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