Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Obama to Reinstate the Draft

In order to make good on his “community service” boondoggle, he’s effectively going to draft your kids for 17 weeks of “service”. High schools are going to be coerced into service by threatening their federal funding. College students will be bribed.

“Just as we teach math and writing, arts and athletics, we need to teach young Americans to take citizenship seriously. Study after study shows that students who serve do better in school, are more likely to go to college, and more likely to maintain that service as adults. So when I'm President, I will set a goal for all American middle and high school students to perform 50 hours of service a year, and for all college students to perform 100 hours of service a year. This means that by the time you graduate college, you'll have done 17 weeks of service.

We'll reach this goal in several ways. At the middle and high school level, we'll make federal assistance conditional on school districts developing service programs, and give schools resources to offer new service opportunities. At the community level, we'll develop public-private partnerships so students can serve more outside the classroom.

For college students, I have proposed an annual American Opportunity Tax Credit of $4,000. To receive this credit, we'll require 100 hours of public service. You invest in America, and America invests in you - that's how we're going to make sure that college is affordable for every single American, while preparing our nation to compete in the 21st century.”

It’s an interesting notion, that Americans want to “volunteer”, but are so clueless that they will only get involved if the government makes them.

Three easy predictions: a) just about every one of these “service” opportunities will be a worthless make work project. b) a significant and expensive new bureaucracy will have to be added. Someone will have to audit and approve the service projects, esp. if there’s a $4,000 annual tax credit involved. c) this will do nothing to solve the cost of college, since extra government funding / subsidies will be taken up by tuition hikes designed to transfer the tax credit from the students to the universities.

Also note the ‘post hoc, ergo prompter hoc” fallacy. As it’s more commonly put, Sen. Obama confuses correlation with causation. It’s more likely that smart, hardworking kids who get good grades are more likely to volunteer, than it is that the act of volunteering transforms them into smart, hardworking kids who get good grades.

We might well do better by simply skipping the “mandatory volunteerism”, and have the schools focus on actually teaching stuff like math, reading, art, science, and history. You just can't force charity.

But that’s a bit more difficult than rounding up our kids into work camps.