“Community service”? Yep, mandatory (Update: they’ve revised)

Well, that didn’t take long. Coyote spots language on the Obama transition site that seems to make explicit what was left studiously vague during the campaign:

Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by developing a plan to require 50 hours of community service in middle school and high school and 100 hours of community service in college every year.

Update 12:15 a.m. Saturday: After my post was linked by Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit (thanks!) and began drawing thousands of visitors, the Obama website administrators at change.gov silently replaced the “require” language with something new and different:

Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by setting a goal that all middle school and high school students do 50 hours of community service a year and by developing a plan so that all college students who conduct 100 hours of community service receive a universal and fully refundable tax credit ensuring that the first $4,000 of their college education is completely free.

Robert Bidinotto noted the switch and Mike LaSalle saved the original page as a PDF for those who didn’t see it the first time. Glenn Reynolds did a second post taking note of the substitution and quoting the witty comment of reader Nancy Anne Potts: “Looks like the change.gov site is true to its title – it changes!” More: Acre of Independence. Update Monday: transition yanks entire “Agenda” from web, this section and others.


  • How they rectify “When you choose to serve –” with required to serve I don’t know.

    Compelled virtue is just compliance.

  • Did they not read Clockwork Orange? 🙂

  • This is a poor summary of Obama’s policy proposal on community service.

    That proposal doesn’t require anyone to perform community service. It calls for middle schools and high schools to develop their own community service plans, and for college students to be offered a tax credit in exchange for community service.

  • […] is now “developing a plan” to require college students to perform 100 hours of unpaid community service every year, and […]

  • Better brush up on 13th amendment law.

  • I’m opposed to national service requirements, but if compulsory military service doesn’t violate the 13th amendment, how would civilian service do so?

  • James, case law excluding conscription recognizes the difference between the purposes of compelling military service for the nation, and that of compelling people to perform ordinary labor.

  • Worse, healthcare professionals, even retired, are planned for national health service to make sure people in their communities are all eating, exercising, taking medications and following the Surgeon General’s “preventive health” prescriptions. The term preventive health is a euphemism for lifestyle control. Look closely at the slogan “wellness care, not sick care,” as that’s where you’ll find some of the most unsettling, intrusive and bogus interventions and mandates being planned.

  • SPQR, it’s true that caselaw often distinguishes between military service and ordinary labor. But that hardly demonstrates that civilian national service would fall under ordinary labor.

    After all, caselaw supports not just compulsory military service, but also jury duty and other forms of civilian service.

  • Socialists are, by their very nature, believers in compelling others to do the bidding of a centralized authority. So why does anyone find all of this surprising? It’s what you voted for when you voted for “change” and “hope.” We’re all stuck with it for the next 4-8 years, maybe longer. So you’d just better get used to the idea of spending one work week a year working directly on a government project of some sort, and hope it’s not something like picking up trash along the interstate.

  • Well, I’d rather spend time in jail than perform “volunteer” work for Chairman Obama.

  • So what I was just required
    like others to do jury service ?

    I’ll admit that place is full of waste
    ready for a crash & just like wall street
    the riders on the gravey train are oblivious.
    Everybody working in the court system seems
    to have a cavalier manner almost like they
    are Hollywood performers.

  • wow not even officially in office and we allready have him plotting the downfall of western society . and all this time i thought it would be music you disagreed with or comics or games. the poioint is why dont we let him take the oath of office before cmpalining about the work hes doing as president

  • James, how is it a bad summary? Unless Obama’s own “Change” website is wrongly stating his policy it seems the summary is verbatim from the website.

    “by developing a plan to *require* 50 hours of community service in middle school and high school and 100 hours of community service in college every year.”

    Emphasis on require added by yours truly.

  • It took Nixon to go to China.
    It took John McCain to normalize relations with Vietnam.
    It took an African American to reintroduce slavery.

  • As I see it, I already work for the government till mid May. No need to make me put in an additional two hours a week.

  • James et al.,

    What do you not understand about the all-volunteer military that we have?

  • I’m surprised it’s community service, and not the “civilian military” service he was talking about before.

    I’m pretty sure all those college kids I saw dancing in the streets didn’t realize that’s what they were in for when they voted for the Democrats.

    Nice thing is, it’ll undoubtedly create a lot of Republicans in the college ranks.

  • The language quoted above contradicts something on another page at change.gov as well as his previous materials. Details at my name’s link. And, BHO’s new Chief of Staff supported mandatory service in a 2006 book.

  • Matt, obviously a victim of public education, is ready to volunteer. Excuse me, in his case, “vuluntier.”

  • […] “Community service”? Yep, mandatory Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by developing a plan to require 50 hours of community service in middle school and high school and 100 hours of community service in college every year. […]

  • It’s a great idea.
    Finally give every teenager in the country a reason to hate Democrats: forcing them to work. Even the college money will be seen as forced labor, why not jsut give the money for nothing?
    Quite a lot of Young Republicans were born in schools that implemented socialist policies of “group homework” [in which the smart kid did all the work while the others “shared” his high marks] and “emotional intelligence” [telling the smart kids that they are no more special than the kids who are good at talking a lot, or feeling others’ pain]

    More socialist BS in schools means more Young Republicans! Bring it on!

  • James, think of it like this: Obama wants to militarize our society. You might want to check the long history of progressive military rhetoric–moral equivalent of war, mobilization, cadres, etc, etc. It goes back over a century.

  • You have to go through what else has been promised by the Messiah. Affordable college tuition. When you join the Komsomol er correction, Progressive Youth, and give the required public service, after a little indoctrination of course, you will receive a discounted tuition.

    So yes it is voluntary, but mandatory if you want the benefits.

    I don’t think we need reach across the aisle Republicans, we need folks who stand for individual liberties.

  • I am already compelled to “volunteer” 113 days of my labor to the government… until Tax Freedom Day. Now they want to add on top of this? It’s just a new way to tax children before they’re allowed to begin cashing a paycheck.

  • Wow. It used to be that community service was a form of punishment for minor offenses. I guess we’re all guilty by default, now.

  • James, it seems like pretty good summary to me: It is a direct quote from Obama’s page (I double-checked), not taken out of context, and it uses the word “required” not “get a credit if you do”.

    It also sounds very expensive. All of this service is going to need to be tracked so one knows when the requirements have been met, which means much infrastructure both physical and bureaucratic. And the general overhead of the several new Corps: Classroom Corps, Health Corps, Clean Energy Corps, and Veterans Corps.

    And what on earth is the Clean Energy Corps going to do? Wash the solar panels in the desert? Anything useful in the energy sector requires a real, technical education.

  • Note the “all ages”. Slavery is back.

  • I can give you several rather graphic descriptions of what commissar Obama can do with his compulsory service.

  • I’m not a lawyer and cannot cite any case law on the subject, but jury duty is a citizen’s civic responsibility, and a citizen’s right to a trial by jury is contained in the VI Amendment to the Constitution.

    If you think jury duty is a form of slavery, or government coercion of your labor, I recommend that if you are indicted of a crime you volunteer to be tried by a tribunal of the Obama activist judges to be.

  • I will not perform mandatory “community service” and I will also not pay reperations, which will also re-surface under his administration. Not because he is black, but because he is a leftist who shares the common leftist ideology that America has been more a source of evil than of good.

  • The issue here is compulsory service for minors.

    I subscribe to Locke — not Plato — on the role of parents and the state in a child’s life.

    This is an administration that favors choice when it comes to killing the unborn, but not choice for education (vouchers) once they’re of school age. For a party that so often speaks of “empowerment,” empowering parents (especially poor-off ones) doesn’t seem to be of much concern — despite the fact that this would hold schools accountable and obviate much of the accountability the new administration wants to establish between local schools and, for crying out loud, Washington.

    Why not to the parents?

    NEA, of course. That, and the administation’s plans represent the final stage of the “long march through the institutions,” where primary schools come in for the kinds of indoctrination we’ve seen in the universities.

    Combine that with making the masses dependent (a government that can give you everything can take away everything) and, insanely, GRATEFUL for all this, and you have a mess.

  • “That proposal doesn’t require anyone to perform community service. It calls for middle schools and high schools to develop their own community service plans, and for college students to be offered a tax credit in exchange for community service.”

    And if the student has to take (and pass) Calculus 2 before a certain window in the program of study? What if he or she lands a great opportunity for cooperative education or job shadowing at high school or college level? Can he or she get a waiver? Of course it means creating a peakaboo transcript in violation of FERPA, so that just means that these promising hard working students (and school IS work!) will be out in the cold. Education, especially college education, should focus on professional development, not creating an underpaid (or free) workforce for political hacks and organizations that make said hacks list of acceptable volunteer reporting stations.

    I’m all for young people volunteering. But I’m militantly opposed to having it being pushed, shoved or “gently nudged with incentives.” For some their service is private, sometimes intimate, personal choices that honestly are no one’s darned business. And by having schools develop programs, the metric for success (which will mean a reward no doubt), success means optimizing participation and participation is warm bodies, so these “voluntary service” programs can easily come with a friendly twist of the arm. (I had my arm twisted in high school with one of these programs, a scholarship program, in the mid 80s where the local schools were obviously competing for the number of “winners.”) And with such “‘strongly encouraged’ voluntary programs” the actual value of the service to the participant is reduced to zero (or even a negative value). It’s no longer a personal lift, it’s a duty — that all too often calls for someone to use another (the object of the service) for personal gain to get the tax credit, state scholarship or a good college recommendation from the guidance councilor. A good thing becomes nothing short of cynical state-enabled exploitation.

  • Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution gives Congress the power to form and define the militia which it does under Title 10 USC. Subsection of that is para 311. Note well (b)2 –

    311. Militia: composition and classes

    (a) The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard.
    (b) The classes of the militia are—
    (1) the organized militia, which consists of the National Guard and the Naval Militia; and
    (2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.

    The draft is a term used often in misrepresentation of service when in fact it is the selective activation of the militia for federal duty. If you are male between 17 and 45, you are already enrolled. It’s part of a contract that begins “We the People..”. No other obligation as put forth by those promoting ‘community service’ exists in that Constitution.

  • Military service, even when drafted, and jury duty both are compensated to the individual for his time served, however unwillingly.

    The children would have to be monetarily compensated for their time.

  • Congress has a specific power to call the militia into arms, and there’s no reason to believe the 13th Amendment was intended to eliminate that power. Every version of the draft has limited the persons drafted to persons defined by Federal law as members of the militia; that is, has constituted calling the militia into service. Similarly, the jury is specifically established by other constitutional provisions, and there’s no reason to believe the Thirteenth Amendment was intended to apply to jury service.

    However, Congress has no specific power to demand non-military labor from the people of the United States, and the Thirteenth Amendment was understood at the time of its adoption to specifically prohibit governments from doing so (see various state-level attempts to compel labor).

  • “This is a poor summary of Obama’s policy proposal on community service. That proposal doesn’t require anyone to perform community service.”

    It is a direct quote taken from Obama’s transition website. Does that mean his transition website contains a “poor summary” of his plan? Because it does “developing a plan to require”:

    “The Obama Administration will call on Americans to serve in order to meet the nation’s challenges. President-Elect Obama will expand national service programs like AmeriCorps and Peace Corps and will create a new Classroom Corps to help teachers in underserved schools, as well as a new Health Corps, Clean Energy Corps, and Veterans Corps. Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by developing a plan to require 50 hours of community service in middle school and high school and 100 hours of community service in college every year. Obama will encourage retiring Americans to serve by improving programs available for individuals over age 55, while at the same time promoting youth programs such as Youth Build and Head Start.”

  • Anybody who was in the military draft knows exactly how effective asking the unwilling to perform any meaningful work will be.

    It will be fun to watch when reality sets in.

  • Matt@13

    If a man walks up to you with a gun and says,”I’m going to shoot you.” Do you just stand there and wait for him to do so?

  • wow not even officially in office and we allready have him plotting the downfall of western society .

    So you would wait for a law to be enacted to complain about it to a legislative representative?

    If the President elect is saying that he is going to go against the Constitution, you don’t think that is worthwhile to talk about or even plan opposition to it now?

    If it is not proper and right to look at his proposed policies, then why did we have debates and speeches about the policies that each candidate would put into place? Since when does being elected give one a pass on the policies they wish to enact?

    By the way matt, no offense, but if you are going to try and go for sarcasm and attack others, you might want to try using a spell check and proper grammar.

  • Obama-jugend!

  • We’re gonna be pickin cotton come end of next year.

  • How about this, ‘matt;’

    Why isn’t he waiting until he’s sworn in before he starts trying to remake the Constitution?

  • Well, I guess if there’s anyone who knows the advantages of institutional slavery, it would be Barack Obama, since, you know, he wants to get even with whitey for all those lost years.

  • Um, Matt, how about because he is publishing on a GOVERNMENT website (note the .gov extensions) that he will be REQUIRING labor of people. That’s a pretty big deal in a FREE society. Forced government labor, as stated by HIS GOVERNMENT website (that’s for James who tried to play it off as poor wording. It was Obama’s people that picked the wording, not someone elses summary). Just wow. Anyone else notice the use of Google Analytics? Are government websites really allowed to gather statistics and tracking on people using outside, non-government servers?

  • I strongly disagree with the compulsory aspect of the program in this post here.

    Matt, his official website states that his administration is going to implement a government mandate for students to serve 30-100 hours per year of community service, it’s not idel speculation. The best time to argue with a policy is BEFORE it gets implemented, no?

  • “…ompelling people to perform ordinary labor.”

    You mean slavery, right?

    Let’s call this crap what it is and have enough with the euphamisms. Obama wants to enslave us. Period. We need to prune the tree of liberty.

  • “So what I was just required like others to do jury service ?”

    Requiring someone to perform community service is not the same as jury duty. Jury duty is understandable considering we are guaranteed the right to a jury trial. Receiving community service is not a guaranteed right. At least not yet.

  • Anybody want to guess how much of that “community service” will end up being done for organizations like ACORN?

  • Are we venturing out onto slavery’s slippery slope. Of course they’ll not call it that…community service sounds better.

    Slavery for everybody, or will “people of color” get a pass because they’ve been exploited enough? If they do get a pass, then it’ll be a black President instituting White Slavery….er…community service. Turnabout’s fair play, I guess.

    I suppose property seizure will follow. They’ll call it Reparations. I’m sure law prof. Obama will find enough penumbras and emanations in the Constitution to justify all this. Anyone who objects will be a racist, obviously.

    He’s counting on you to say, “Well that’s not so bad. Might even be a good idea.”. Remember, it’s only the first step; more will follow.