Forced Volunteerism

Recently Jon Stewart made an ass out of himself assaulting Republican senators for “voting against” a veteran’s benefit bill that was turned into a slush fund for Democrats, I found a meme on Facebook (Yes, I know, Abe Lincoln said to be careful with what you read on Facebook). It showed his face with a quote about the US needing a form of mandatory public service (forced volunteerism) after high school graduation. A year in the military, or a year in the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps or something similar.

Forgive me Mr. Stewart, I don’t take that as serious from a man who never put his life on the line defending his country, or took off a year of his life volunteering to clean bedpans in the public hospital. In full disclosure, I could not find the organization linked on the meme, so it may be a complete falsehood. But it got me thinking, what is it with liberals and “mandatory” volunteerism?

It has become fashionable in many school districts to require some many hours of “public service” to graduate high school. That is an additional requirement onto graduation requirements (so many semester hours over the years) public school, which I vehemently disagree with. The job of the public education system is to, ready for this, educate the children in the schools. It is not to provide labor for Mardi Gras parades or local political campaigns.

A recent article in Foreign Policy , a very liberal analysis magazine, suggested a mandatory service requirement for young men and woman is needed now:

…It’s become increasingly apparent that something visionary and ambitious will be required for Americans to heal their democracy and transcend their divides. A program of mandatory national service, if designed effectively, would bring together young Americans from across the country and all socioeconomic groups to work on public interest projects and accomplish common goals for the good of the country. The public services a program along these lines could provide are virtually limitless: They could include tutoring and mentoring; participating in after-school enrichment programs; improving environmental conservation; building public housing; organizing youth networks; providing real-time information during natural disasters; assisting small businesses through outreach to young consumers; and helping in the construction, rehabilitation, and maintenance of public parks and facilities.

Essentially, participants would provide much-needed public services and, in return, receive significant benefits, including covered college or trade school tuition and living expenses, that would lessen the country’s socioeconomic divide. In doing so, they would interact with Americans from other communities, gain life skills, and transform their own futures—and that of the country itself. There is a precedent for a similarly visionary, transformative, and generous program: the GI Bill passed near the end of World War II that gave millions of Americans returning from the war a free education and a ticket to the middle class. If the U.S. Congress did it then, it can do it now

My aneurisms are getting worse. Can you imagine the indoctrination opportunists this would give the radical left in this country? “Tutoring and mentoring” of whom? School children? Of what? The propaganda being put out by the universities is beyond belief (1619 Project anyone?) this would be used to indoctrinate young people even more. What is an “after school enrichment program?” I think kids would be more “enriched” in their school years seeing how people can be successful without 250,000 in college loans and a worthless women’s studies degree. “Environmental conservation?” That is nothing but propaganda, and dissenting opinions are not welcome. Or “helping in the construction, rehabilitation or maintenance of public parks?” We have a term for this, involuntary servitude. It’s specifically outlawed in the US Constitution, Amendment 13.

Back to this concept for mandatory service after high school. I know this is a quaint notion, but where does the Constitution authorize the federal government to force a young man or woman into a volunteer program? Yes, I think a draft is constitutional under certain circumstance, as the preamble states we must, “provide for the common defense,” and Article 1 authorizes the Congress to “To raise and support Armies…” and “To provide and maintain a Navy.” There is no question, national defense is a task for the federal government. How it provides for that has fluctuated over the years, and we’ve gone from all draft to a volunteer force in the post-Vietnam era.

Now let’s look at the numbers we’re talking about. A few years back I wrote an article for The American Thinker, “This nation does not need the draft.” From that article, approximately 3.9 million people turn 18 each year. Assume 80% qualify for the service, that’s 3.2 million inducted each year. That is World War II levels of induction into the service. Assume one third go to the military, two thirds go to AmeriCorp or the next big boondoggle we’ll create, that’s doubling the size of the armed forces every year. Right now our active component army is just over 500,000. How are we going to pay that?

Now, what happens if a significant number of people say, “I ain’t going, and you can’t make me!” to either the military or mandated civilian service. Are you going to arrest them, charge, try and upon conviction, send them to prison? Really giving them a lesson in civics I see. What if they ROTC (Run off to Canada) like their grandparents did in the 1960s and 70s? Will Joe Biden put Kamala Harris in charge of tracking these people down? Also, the history of federal “volunteer” organizations is not good. The ClintonCorps, aka AmeriCorps, is filled with waste and abuse (GAO and CBO).

But this has not stopped the powers that be to push for it. In 2019, a federal government panel looked at setting up a requirement for public service (GOP, if you get the Congress this fall and need to look for a budget cut, right after the Army Uniform Board, here it is!)

Should Young Americans Be Required To Do Public Service? Federal Panel Says Maybe

Should the U.S. require its citizens to perform public service? Should its young women register for the draft?

A federal panel says it is working on answers to those questions — and is considering how the nation could implement a universal service program and whether it should be mandatory or optional.

“In a country of more than 329 million people, the extraordinary potential for service is largely untapped,” said Joe Heck, chairman of the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service. On Wednesday, he and his fellow commissioners unveiled the panel’s interim report to Congress.

An overarching goal of the commission, Heck said, is to “create a universal expectation of service” in which every American is “inspired and eager to serve…”

There are countless people who, on their own, volunteer for church groups, Meals on Wheels, assist in hospitals or senior living facilities, without an expectation of financial compensation. And they are doing it on their own, not because a federal potentate has decreed as part of citizenship, you must give your labor to something you want nothing to do it. People are not inclined to be used as pawns for “community organizing,” or manual labor.

In all fairness, we’ve got a large number of people used to making more money sitting at home then working at entry level jobs. Then again the federal government should not be warping the labor market like it has over the last few years. But that does bring one other item up. With the Biden administration bringing in millions of illegal aliens into the country, and they are getting a free education in countless public schools, are they going to be “inspired,” i.e., forced into volunteerism? A serious question as we used to require immigrants to learn our language, history, and culture. Assuming a democratic congress gets this through, will actual citizens be forced to give a year of their time, while the children of illegal aliens begin college or employment immediately?

The concept is hairbrained and a major abuse on the liberty of our young men and women just as they are starting to step out in the world. And being pushed by people who never put their body on the DMV in Korea. Plus it will weaken really needed volunteer programs, like churches, hospitals, etc. But if the Congress is so concerned with “volunteerism,” how about we set their income to a dollar a year. Shouldn’t that make them “inspired and eager to serve.”

Michael A. Thiac is a retired Army intelligence officer, with over 23 years experience, including serving in the Republic of Korea, Japan, and the Middle East. He is also a retired police patrol sergeant, with over 22 years’ service, and over ten year’s experience in field training of newly assigned officers. He has been published at The American Thinker,, and on his personal blog, A Cop’s Watch.

Opinions expressed are his alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of current or former employers

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2 thoughts on “Forced Volunteerism”

    • You got it. And again, you want to help people, there are countless legitimate ways to do so. An old girlfriend volunteered in an ER on Saturday nights (some awesome stories from her), and it was a major forming experience in her life.

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