Last week, President Obama actually delivered on one of his campaign promises, and it is definitely the boldest, hope-changiest of them all. The Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act would give the opportunity to the million-man army of unemployed to be paid volunteers for AmeriCorps, and the Left is giddy. This Act:
“…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.”
The current head of AmeriCorps bragged about the Act’s “remarkably swift journey through Congress,” and it’s bipartisan support. This is eerily reminiscent of the Patriot Act and the authorization for the War in Iraq, where they were cheered by both parties and jammed through Congress.
The law shovels out $5.7 billion tax-payer dollars over the next five years to “boost voluntarism,” which is actually a small amount compared to the trillions of dollars our government is wasting on a “stimulus” that won’t work and wars that won’t end. The law’s goal is to:
“…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.”
A government program that “strengthens management,” is “cost-effective,” and brings “accountability?” Don’t bet on it, at least in the few areas of this barely free nation where the Mafia government “allows” you to gamble. My money’s on this Act doing the exact opposite of what it is intended do; it will straddle us and future generations with even more debt, misallocate precious capital, and pay off political supporters. If history were any guide, then (sadly) I’d be a rich man.
The idea of “public service” is a perfect Orwellian cloak for the extension of government power over our lives and liberties, and is backed by the belief that we exist to serve the State, and not the other way around. The idea of forced altruism would have come as a shock to political philosophers and religious prophets; can you imagine Jesus asking for a grant from Caesar or Confucius getting government money to build more temples? Kennedy’s “public service” bill also comes at the same time that Obama is working hard to limit tax-breaks for charitable giving, making philanthropy the business of stuffy bureaucrats.
Plus AmeriCorps, which already has $200 million from Obama’s “stimulus,” has a long and noble history of being extremely inefficient, even for a government program (DMV, anyone?). In 2003, even the director of AmeriCorps admitted this, describing it as “another cumbersome, unpredictable bureaucracy.” AmeriCorps’ supporters are less interested in “good works” than they are in the sense of national community it is supposed to represent; you know, the kind of “national community” that Mussolini cherished, and an essential element of totalitarian governments.
Senator Kennedy, who has been struck with a string of bad health lately, should do Americans a favor and retire. I wish him good health and long years, but hopefully they will be spent at some private residence in Boston instead of disgracing the Senate floor, which he has done too many times for too long. Leaving aside his, well, questionable private life, Senator Kennedy has given us The Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit, a costly and foolish law that steals from the poor and gives to the rich in the name of “fairness,” and his commitment to No Child Left Behind, which traps poor and middle-class students in government schools where, of course, no Kennedy child has ever attended.
The last thing this country needs is another disastrous bill from Senator Kennedy.