The Call For “National Service” (Again)

Looks like the political “idea” of the week will national service…..Mayor Pete made news with his reiteration of his plan from a couple months ago…….

More news on Mayor Pete’s plan……

Pete Buttigieg hopes to see 1 million more young people volunteer to serve their country, and not just in the military. The Democratic presidential candidate, who signed up for the Navy Reserve after college and was deployed to Afghanistan, announced a plan Wednesday to create new service corps opportunities centered on senior care, climate issues, and community health, the Washington Post reports. One year of service would entitle participants to student loan relief. Buttigieg has spoken of his military experience as transformative, especially the connections he formed with people of different backgrounds and beliefs. “You shouldn’t have to go to war in order to have that kind of experience,” he said in a statement, “which is why I am proposing a plan to create more opportunities for national service.”

There’s a demand for such opportunities, Buttigieg says. The acceptance rate is 13% for AmeriCorps, 25% for the Peace Corps, and 20% for the military, per Vox. The Democrat’s plan would immediately raise the number of available national service positions from the current 75,000 to 250,000, per Politico. The recruiting emphasis would be on students at high schools, community colleges, historically black colleges and universities, and vocational schools, and anyone between 16 and 24 who isn’t in school or working. The program would be run by a chief service officer and would aim to eventually establish a pipeline for as many as 4 million high school graduates every year to enter national service. The potential cost wasn’t specified. Buttigieg said he hopes that “Where did you serve?” someday becomes as basic a question in a job interview as “Where did you go to college?” is now

Mayor Pete is not alone in his call for a national service…..Gen. McChrystal also thinks a “national service” is a stellar idea….

Retired Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal led U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan during his long military career. He was in charge of Joint Special Operations Command, the nation’s premiere military counter-terrorism force. But, quoting Abraham Lincoln, McChrystal told “CBS This Morning” Monday the greatest threat to the U.S. isn’t abroad.

“Describing what would destroy the United States, the greatest threat, he said there’d never be a foreign power who could do that. If we would die, it would be by national suicide,” McChrystal said. “I think that’s true.”

The general said people learn responsibility through experience and the ability to serve.

Back in 2008 when the idea was floated by the two presidential candidates….I was not impressed but a lot of water has rushed under that bridge…….today I see it as a way to pull this country back together from the massive divisions that are tearing it apart.

Be Smart!

Learn Stuff!

Further Reading:


National Service

There seems to be a renewed interests on the policy of national service……it all started with the CCC of the FDR days….and then later with the Kennedy-Hatch Act….

The year is 2008…….

Hatch announced the bill with Caroline Kennedy, Sen. Kennedy’s niece, in New York City at the ServeNation Summit, a gathering of business and government leaders discussing public service at the anniversary of 9/11.

John McCain and Barack Obama appeared at that summit on Thursday, and Hatch said both have agreed to co-sponsor the bill.

Hatch said he and Kennedy had long discussed the bill as a way “to marry two formerly competing visions of service,” the full-time national service programs such as the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps pushed by Presidents Kennedy and Clinton, and less structured volunteering through charities pushed by Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

Hatch said it would spend $5 billion over five years seeking to draw 175,000 more people into giving a year of service to address specific national challenges.

Obama had signed on to this idea and I wrote about it in 2008…….

Fast forward to the 2019 scramble for the Dem nomination… of the “rising stars” Mayor Pete has joined the call for a “national service”……

Now The American Conservative has joined in the call for shared experience for Americans…a call for a national service…..but their idea is a “Civilian Militia”…..

I received some fascinating responses and comments regarding my recent column about how the West can save masculinity. One email in particular caught my attention. It was from a friend of mine named Troy, a socially conservative, politically libertarian member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Troy is happily married with three young children and has been working in the IT field on the East Coast. However, he is feeling torn between his desire to serve in the military and his need to continue working a job that supports his family but leaves him feeling bereft of purpose and masculinity.  

Troy recently passed a preliminary screening to beginning the process of applying to  the Green Berets and is weighing his options. Although he badly wants to serve the country, he told me he doesn’t believe that the military will allow him enough time with his young children. He also disagrees with many of America’s current military deployments overseas.

Time to Bring Back Mandatory Citizen Militias?

While I totally agree with the concept of a National Service I have a problem with this idea of a “Civilian Militia”……but I try to give all sides of most ideas…….

Any thoughts on this?

Closing Thought–02Jun17

An IST Public Service Message……..

Have you retired?

Would you like to do something for your community?

Seniors have a wealth of experience why not share that with your neighbors?

Americorps is a fine way for seniors to give back….

A couple of short vids will explain this…….

I volunteer as a tutor to students that have a problem with history….it is very rewarding when you see the student’s light go on and he/she grasp the subject…..I also hold discussion groups at a local college which helps students find there way through the maze of college history…..

If you are retired and would like something to do then I suggest that you check into Americorps and Senior Corps…..DO NOT just sit and wait…Get up and do something!

That is it for the week……onto the weekend and some much needed relaxation….enjoy…be well, be safe…..chuq

Clean Up We Can Believe In

From the desk of the Scriptorium

May I see a show of hands…..How many recall  the early days of the Obama presidency and he called for a Civilian Response Corps?…..volunteers in service to America, if you will….if you recall then you will also recall that some on the Right were calling this the attempt to take over the US by organizing an army that is indoctrinated in “socialism” or Fascism or whatever other pipe dream they had at the time…..any way, the CRC was a group of volunteers that would be first responders to problems across the world, the volunteers would come from many different agencies and would provide “expert” assistance.  It was a big deal on Right nutcase radio for awhile, Limbaugh, Beck, Bachmann and the rest of the pea brains…..

And then nothing…it has  gone silent…..

Before Obama’s CRC there was Clinton’s AmeriCorps which was put together to assist in education to environmental clean up…..GW Bush even went along for the ride and the program was expanding by 50%.

Okay, enough of the history lesson…where are you going with this, Professor?

Why have not the “volunteers” been used in the clean up?  Presidents have called on Americans to volunteer in service to the country, but yet NOTHING concerning the spill.  Why?  We are asked to donate to every situation that crosses the wire…it is Summer…school is out….why not ask Americans to do their part and volunteer in the Coast region?

What happened to the “Case for National Service”?

Obama’s position has considerable support. Last year Time magazine profiled the calls of a number of prominent Democrats in a cover story, “The Case for National Service,” supporting a plan to mandate universal service and establishing a cabinet-level Department of National Service. The plan envisioned 419,000 jobs annually for young people between the ages of 18-25 doing one year of “national or military service.”

What happened to this “plan”?  It is like all other ideas that come out at election time….once said, soon forgotten…..and you wonder why I have little use for today’s politicians?

The pundits want jobs…then use the “volunteers” to assist in the clean-up in the Gulf….granted it would be temp jobs but at least people could feed their families….

BTW, there is a phone scam going on asking for donations to assist in the oil spill clean-up…..sick bastards!

Volunteers In Service To America

Calling on Americans to volunteer, Pres. Obama signed a $5.7 billion national service bill Tuesday that triples the size of the AmeriCorps service program over the next eight years and expands ways for students to earn money for college. “What this legislation does, then, is to help harness this patriotism and connect deeds to needs,” said Obama, a former community organizer in Chicago.

The law dedicates $5.7 billion over five years to encourage volunteerism, including providing $500 summer scholarships to middle school and high school students and granting $1,000 educational stipends to older volunteers, who could pass the cash on to their children, grandchildren, or another young person.

Further, the law vastly expands AmeriCorps, putting the 16-year-old domestic volunteer program on track to increase from its current level of 75,000 volunteers to 250,000. Those volunteers – who receive a living allowance of about $12,000 for 10 to 12 months of work – would staff programs for poor people, veterans, the environment, healthcare, and education.

I will wait and see just how far the Right will go to condemn this effort.  I recall months ago when this was first brought up, there was a wealth of criticism on the Right and even accusations that the President was attempting to organize an army similar to the Brown Shirts of old.

How far will the Right go to bad mouth the efforts of the President?  Watch and learn.

National Service, Not Lip Service

Back in August I wrote a three part series on the “Civilian Response Corps” and posted it here.  The following is exerpts from a story run in the Boston Globe.

ONE THING Barack Obama and John McCain agree on is that each would make a new call for citizen service central to his presidency. Indeed, last night the two contenders were scheduled to appear (separately) at a televised forum to promote greater civic engagement as part of a Sept. 11 remembrance called the ServiceNation Summit. Done correctly, national service slices across partisan lines, appealing both to the self-reliant “thousand points of light” volunteerism favored by conservatives and the communitarian “it takes a village” ideals that animate liberals.

Today, Washington’s favorite bipartisan couple, Ted Kennedy and Republican Orrin Hatch of Utah, will file legislation to dramtically increase opportunities for Americans to volunteer, making it as integral a part of citizenship as voting. Using the model of AmeriCorps, the bill establishes five new “corps” for volunteers, including areas such as international service, disaster relief, and a green energy corps, as well as the traditional focus on education and poverty.

The bill creates tax breaks for businesses that give workers paid time off for service, and sets up “encore fellowships” for baby boomers seeking alternative retirements. In all, the goal is to expand the number of Americans who do regular service work to 100 million from the current 61 million.

Vast majorities of Americans say they want to volunteer but don’t know where to start. It is this social infrastructure that national legislation can fund and support – even though some may feel government involvement in volunteerism is a contradiction in terms. Someone needs to train and coordinate volunteers, and get them linked to projects that match their interests and skills. And the bill would provide grants to volunteer start-ups, encouraging the kind of social entrepreneurship that created City Year, and measuring their performance.

Back inj August I did not like the idea, and that feeling has not changed.

Civilian Response Corps–Part 3


The Peace Corps, inaugurated during the administration of President John F. Kennedy, played a role in this process. This initiative was useful both in attempting to refurbish America’s image abroad, supposedly combating poverty, and in engaging young people who were appalled at conditions in “Third World” countries. The Peace Corps was prompted primarily by fears of revolution in countries where the US had very little credible presence and where it feared growing Soviet influence.

Kennedy’s emphasis on the universal rights of man and the need to “abolish all forms of human poverty” nevertheless had a different ring than current US policies. The US government committed limited resources to social reform. It turned out to be the last gasp of social reform both in foreign and domestic policy.

The volunteer crusade served several political purposes. It helped supply free labor to cover up the elimination of government programs. From health care to child care to education, essential services were cut, made “volunteer” (preferably “faith-based”), and drastically reduced. Volunteer agencies were made institutionalized subcontractors.

Additionally, volunteerism was part of an ideological campaign to undermine social consciousness by transferring responsibility for alleviating poverty from the government to the individual. In this mindset, poverty is not an official outrage, but an unpleasant (but unavoidable) circumstance and even a personal choice. Americans were being conditioned to understand that they were no longer “entitled” to jobs, housing and a decent standard of living. This was the repudiation of even the limited programs of the Great Society, and the ruling elite made no effort to disguise this.

In 2002 President Bush called for 4,000 hours of volunteer service by all Americans and created USA Freedom Corps, a White House office. Proposed in the president’s State of the Union address, USA Freedom Corps was to include Operation TIPS—the Terrorism Information and Prevention System—“a nationwide program giving millions of American truckers, letters carriers, train conductors, ship captains, utility employees, and others a formal way to report suspicious terrorist activity.”

This attempt to turn volunteerism into a direct tool for spying on citizens was followed up by the decision to give the Department of Homeland Security a granting agency for “citizen involvement [volunteerism] in public health, public safety and disaster relief.”

Barack Obama has now called for universal voluntary public service and has pointedly included military service under this rubric. In fact, his plan for the increasing the military is contained in his “service” policy statement, alongside the expansion of AmeriCorps and the creation of a Classroom Corps, a Health Corps, a Clean Energy Corps and a Veterans Corps.

Obama’s position has considerable support. Last year Time magazine profiled the calls of a number of prominent Democrats in a cover story, “The Case for National Service,” supporting a plan to mandate universal service and establishing a cabinet-level Department of National Service. The plan envisioned 419,000 jobs annually for young people between the ages of 18-25 doing one year of “national or military service.”

The reactionary content of “volunteerism” is more and more transparent. Today, however, the decades in which the ruling class has tried to pass it off as being a matter of the majority of Americans helping the “disadvantaged” minority are rapidly drawing to a close. As millions lose their homes to foreclosure and the vast majority of workers struggle to meet the rising costs of basic necessities as unemployment climbs, the fraud of capitalist charity has become clear to many.

Civilian Response Corps–Part 2

First of all, this sounds like something that VISTA should be involved with. I mean why start something new that is already in operation? Between VISTA and Peace Corps I think the CRC is pretty much already been done. But no—let us start yet another program to suck money away from much needed domestic programs. Sorry, I digress.

In this part we will explore the nature of charity and the call for volunteers.

Americans live in increasingly troubled times. Hunger, foreclosures and poverty are all around. Begging on city streets, a phenomenon that became much less common in the 1990s, is again becoming ubiquitous in urban centers. Not since the Great Depression has the gap between the rich and the poor been so visible and extreme.

Social and political stability requires that the political establishment at least feign concern with these social problems, however. The mass media, schools and other institutions have campaigned for increased charitable giving and volunteer efforts to help the growing number of “disadvantaged.”

There is of course a vast difference between the sincere desire, especially of working people and youth, to seek to help those suffering from poverty or homelessness, and the cynical political calculations of those who have benefited from the huge transfer of wealth from the working population to the corporate and financial elite. The elder George Bush became a symbol of these hypocrites when, after having served as the two-term vice president under Ronald Reagan’s decimation of social programs, he discovered “compassionate conservatism” and delivered his 1988 Republican Convention speech as the presidential candidate, calling for a “thousand points of light” to deal with the devastation for which he and the plutocrats he represented were responsible.

Americans are constantly asked to “volunteer” either their time or their money to help those less fortunate than themselves. Americans have always given as much as they can to help their society and to some extent the world.

Charity has always played the role of a safety valve in modern class society, a way to cover up the most festering sores of class oppression and an attempt to staunch revolt. While it is not possible to provide an exhaustive history here, a few highlights demonstrate its long and reactionary history, especially since the rise of modern capitalism.

Part 3 will be tomorrow.

Civilian Response Corps–Part 1

An Info Ink Analysis

Recently I have been asked by some what I thought of the proposal of a Civilian Response Corps, a group of volunteers to be used to help wherever help is needed, overseas, states, etc. I did not know as much about the subject as I thought I did and so I went about educating myself on the CRC.

This will be a multi-part analysis as there is more to this subject than meets the eye. This Part 1 is the fact sheet released by the US State Dept.

The Civilian Response Corps is a group of civilian federal employees and, eventually, volunteers from the private sector and state and local governments, who will be trained and equipped to deploy rapidly to countries in crisis or emerging from conflict, in order to provide reconstruction and stabilization assistance.

· They are diplomats, development specialists, public health officials, law enforcement and corrections officers, engineers, economists, lawyers, public administrators, agronomists and others – offering the full range of skills needed to help fragile states restore stability and the rule of law, and achieve economic recovery and sustainable growth as quickly as possible.

· Because no single government entity has all of the relevant expertise, the Civilian Response Corps is a partnership of eight departments and agencies: the Department of State, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, and Department of the Treasury.

· Already, the pilot Active and Standby components of the Civilian Response Corps within the Department of State have deployed members to Sudan, Chad, Haiti, Lebanon, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan to assist with conflict prevention and mitigation.

America’s federal civilian workforce has a long and distinguished history of service in difficult environments abroad. Yet the challenges of the 21st century require a significant increase in our capacity to respond quickly and effectively to emerging threats to the security of the United States and our friends and allies. The Civilian Response Corps is intended to provide this capability.

The President has empowered the Secretary of State to coordinate and lead integrated U.S. Government efforts to prepare, plan for, and conduct stabilization and reconstruction activities, and to coordinate with the Secretary of Defense to harmonize civilian and military activities.

President Bush has requested $248.6 million in the Fiscal Year 2009 budget for the Civilian Stabilization Initiative (CSI), which includes the Civilian Response Corps. If fully funded, CSI will:

· Create 250 full-time positions for members of the Active component of the Civilian Response Corps across the eight participating U.S. departments and agencies. These “first responders” are experts who can deploy to a crisis with as little as 48 hours’ notice.

· Train 2,000 “Standby” members of the Civilian Response Corps in the same eight departments and agencies. These are current federal employees who volunteer to undertake additional training and to be available to serve in stabilization missions in case of need. Standby Members are deployable within 30 days for up to 180 days.

· Recruit and train 2,000 “Reserve” members of the Civilian Response Corps: volunteers from the private sector and state and local governments who will bring additional skills and capabilities that do not exist in sufficient quantities in the federal government, such as police officers, city administrators, and port operators.

In the Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2008 (PL 110-252) Congress provided up to $75 million in initial funding for the Active and Standby components of the Civilian Response Corps. By launching the Civilian Response Corps as an interagency capability, the funding provided by Congress this year will strengthen our ability to conduct integrated operations advancing America’s interests by helping states avoid or recover from conflict.

Labor United Behind Obama

Today the AFL-CIO is scheduled to officially endorse Sen. Barak Obama for president.

The AFL-CIO’s endorsement will unite all of labor’s support behind Sen. Obama. The group of unions that left the AFL-CIO three years ago, known as the Change to Win federation, endorsed the Illinois senator in late February. Unions across the labor movement have said they will spend a record $300 million to help elect Democrats to the White House and Congress this fall.

Unions are expected to focus on shoring up support for Sen. Obama among white working-class voters. “Organized labor can play an important role to bring those voters over to Barack Obama, and that could be decisive,” said Peter Francia, a professor of political science at East Carolina University.

Labor’s support for Sen. Obama has evolved significantly over the past six months, tracking the arc of his campaign. Sen. Hillary Clinton won early support from influential labor leaders, partly as a result of longtime ties to them. Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards also initially attracted more labor backers than Sen. Obama. Some union officials were unsure at the outset about Sen. Obama’s stands on labor’s legislative priorities, from union organizing to trade.

The AFL-CIO hopes to influence numerous races in the 2008 election, from state battles to the presidential race. It says it will deploy 250,000 volunteers to reach out to 13 million voters in 23 priority states, with a focus on Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota, where union membership rates are among the highest in the country. It expects one in four voters in November to come from a household where at least one person is a union member.

This could give Obama a needed boost in the “Rust Belt” where he did pitifully in the primaries.  He will need support from white, working class voters if he is to win in November.  But will this endorsement and promise of assistance put him in the White house.  That is the question.