National Service

Time Magazine runs a cover story about national service which was recently hotly debated here at Coming Anarchy. Interested readers should take a look.

A snippet:

But there is something else we are seeing in the land. Polls show that while confidence in our democracy and our government is near an all-time low, volunteerism and civic participation since the ’70s are near all-time highs. Political scientists are perplexed about this. If confidence is so low, why would people bother volunteering? The explanation is pretty simple. People, especially young people, think the government and the public sphere are broken, but they feel they can personally make a difference through community service. After 9/11, Americans were hungry to be asked to do something, to make some kind of sacrifice, and what they mostly remember is being asked to go shopping. The reason private volunteerism is so high is precisely that confidence in our public institutions is so low. People see volunteering not as a form of public service but as an antidote for it.

Read it all.

About Chirol

Sir Ignatius Valentine Chirol (1852 - 1929) was a journalist, prolific author, world historian, and British diplomat. He began his career as a foreign correspondent and later became editor of the London Times. After two decades as a journalist he joined Her Majesty's Foreign Ministry as a diplomat and was subsequently knighted for his distinguished service as a foreign affairs advisor. Additionally, he wrote a dozen books on foreign affairs including The Far Eastern Question (1896), Serbia and the Serbs (1914), The End of the Ottoman Empire (1920) and The Egyptian Problem (1921). He is generally credited with popularizing "Middle East" in reference to the Arabian Peninsula with his book The Middle Eastern Question (1903). "Chirol" is a US citizen and graduate student studying Defense and Strategic Studies and government contractor. As with the historical Chirol, he has traveled to over two dozen countries and lived abroad for many years. Chirol speaks English and German fluently with basic knowledge of manyl of others.
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12 Responses to National Service

  1. Kurt9 says:

    This means that our society is inherently functional.

    If there is something that has to be done, why rely on the bureaucracy of the federal government to do it when private individuals are more the capable of doing what needs to be done.

    FEMA really screwed the pooch on Katrina. They should have had a website listing everything they needed and anything that needed to be done so that people contributing stuff or their time could do so effectively. There were planty of people willing to go down to New Orleans (and other gulf places) to help clean up and rebuild. There were even more people and companies (especially building materials manufacturers) who were more than willing to contribute supplies and what not as well. Many of the volanteers were turned away by FEMA or were required to attend “diversity” seminars and the like before being allowed to work in the affected areas.

    But FEMA insisted and insists on running everything top-down, which is why they have been rather ineffectual in getting anything done.

    Rather than FEMA, the old civil defense networks ought to be recreated. They were more decentralized and run on the local level than FEMA is. Given the threat of terrorism, not to mention the more mundane economic suffering if the economy becomes bad, decentralized networks of volanteers, like CD, would be very useful in time of need.

    It is no coincidence that Carter, one of our more liberal-left presidents, created FEMA as a replacement for the old civil defense networks.

  2. shane says:

    Not so fast, Kurt9. While FEMA was ineffectual during KATRINA, the fault lies more with the lack of response by Gov. Babineaux and Mayor Nagin. They didn’t ASK for help, even shoo’d the Feds away in advance of the storm, assuring everyone they had it “under control”. FEMA had tons of ice and water in semi-trailer rigs in Arkansas near the border, ready to roll when asked.

    Today, FEMA is not about “top-down” direction. The spirit of the National Incident Management System (NIMS) is to define common principles for incident command, common terminology and rank structures, and common standards for communications interoperability.

    If you have not taken the online courses at FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute (they’re free of cost and take just a couple hours), I urge you to check out http://training.fema.gov/IS/ .

  3. Morenuancedthanyou says:

    “People see volunteering not as a form of public service but as an antidote for it.”
    When I first saw this sentence, I thought, wow, what a colossally stupid statement. To be fair, we’ll never know the writer was unaware of the inversion of the meaning of the word “service”, but even if he wasn’t, he did not seem to think it necessary to discuss or even mention it. Or perhaps he thought it would go over the heads of the remaining TIME readers?

  4. Kurt9 says:

    Shane,

    You’re certainly right about the governer of LA as well as the Mayor of New Orleans. LA has always been a nortoriously corrupt state. The Katrina fiasco confirmed it.

    However, there were still a great many problems with FEMA which I think would be resolved with the old civil defense networks.

  5. Mark says:

    I would be in favor of a mandatory national service only because it would spur resistance against the corrupt federal government by the normally apathetic young. Every government oversteps due to its overestimation of its strength and popularity. Some of these oversteps are fatal, thankfully.

  6. Another snippet from the Time article that folks may be interested in concerns the effort to build a U.S. Public Service Academy. Modeled on West Point and the military academies, it would offer a free education in exchange for five years of mandatory post-graduation service in the public sector. As one of the two guys behind the idea, I’m obviously biased, but I hope you will learn more:
    http://www.uspublicserviceacademy.org

    It’s not universal, it’s not mandatory, and it’s not expensive compared to some of the other ideas floated out there. But it could transform the way young people perceive, prepare for, and pursue public service.

  7. Mark says:

    And where in the US Constitution is a monstrosity such as a Public Service Academy authorized, if one still cares about the Constitution? I’m sure the Founders would be appalled at such an idea.

  8. shane says:

    In response to Mark’s question about Constitutional authority of a “Public Service Academy”, I ask him: where is ANY Cabinet department “authorized” in the Constitutition? Article II (The Presidency) describes the selection of and limits placed on the Executive Branch — and it does so in less than two (2) pages, and barely 1,000 words of text. The only mention (and a passing one at that) of any Cabinet department is in Section 2 of Article II. In other words, I don’t think the Framers would be appalled — though they would very likely be surprised that we’ve only amended it 27 times in 220 years (and two of those — the 18th and 21st Amendments — cancel each other out).

  9. Mark says:

    The Framers would be part of the revolutionary army fighting against the corrupt leviathan from D.C. They did not tolerate such levels of taxation and regulation.

  10. lirelou says:

    Mark, perchance do you ride a horse named Rocinante, and have a ladyfriend named Dulcinea? My hat is off to you for your consistency. We may disagree, but the world can always use an articulate and critical voice, even if it grates upon some of our brain cells. I don’t believe that the framers of the Constitution, particularly Hamilton, would have been opposed to the idea of a professionally trained burocracy, akin to the French Ecole National d’Administration, though I believe this latter is considered a professional degree granting institution.

  11. Michael says:

    Reading through the previous debate, one of the things that came to mind was that most or all of the non-mandatory methods for improving participation in the military (or other forms of public service) target immigrants and poorer segments of society by definition.

    Likewise, volunteerism and charity appeal most to people who HAVE time and money to volunteer– aka, the people not targeted by the above-mentioned methods. This suggests that the best approach might be to put serious effort into these non-mandatory programs. The poor and recently-arrived get a leg up and a chance to become more fully a part of this country, but the wealthier people’s volunteerism isn’t discounted either.

    As for Beowulf’s question about financing. . . if Bush had canceled his tax cuts and taken the time to build up the military BEFORE invading Iraq, would we be in the situation we’re in today? More broadly, ANY solution to the problems facing our country is going to require money. If we can’t pay for non-mandatory, or for a draft, then we can’t pay for much of anything else.

  12. Time magazine is warped.

    Would you be willing to spread the word about http://www.draftresistance.org? It’s a site dedicated to shattering the myths surrounding the selective slavery system and building mass civil disobedience to stop the draft before it starts!

    Our banner on a website, printing and posting the anti-draft flyer or just telling friends would help.

    Thanks!

    Scott Kohlhaas

    PS. When it comes to conscription, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!