Published on March 23rd, 2009 | by Jennifer Lance99
HR 1388 “GIVE” Act Could Force Mandatory Service Requirement on All Young Americans
Passed by the House of Representatives with a 321-105 margin, HR 1388: the Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act, dubbed the “GIVE” act, would require the US government to develop a plan to implement a “mandatory service requirement for all able young people”.
Already males ages 18 through 25 living in the U.S. register with Selective Service to keep records in the event Congress and the President authorize a draft. What is the purpose of the service requirement under the GIVE act?
The purpose of the GIVE act is to “To reauthorize and reform the national service laws”, specifically the National and Community Service Act of 1990. HR 1388 reads:
‘(9) recognize and increase the impact of social entrepreneurs and other nonprofit community organizations in addressing national and local challenges;
‘(10) increase public and private investment in nonprofit community organizations that are effectively addressing national and local challenges and to encourage such organizations to replicate and expand successful initiatives;
‘(11) leverage Federal investments to increase State, local, business, and philanthropic resources to address national and local challenges;
‘(12) expand and strengthen service-learning programs through year-round opportunities, including during the summer months, to improve the education of children and youth and to maximize the benefits of national and community service, in order to renew the ethic of civic responsibility and the spirit of community to children and youth throughout the United States;
‘(13) assist in coordinating and strengthening Federal and other service opportunities, including opportunities for participation in emergency and disaster preparedness, relief, and recovery;
‘(14) increase service opportunities for our Nation’s retiring professionals, including such opportunities for those retiring from the science, technical, engineering, and mathematics professions to improve the education of our Nation’s youth and keep America competitive in the global knowledge economy, and to further utilize the experience, knowledge, and skills of older Americans;
‘(15) encourage the continued service of the alumni of the national service programs, including service in times of national need;
‘(16) support institutions of higher education that engage students in community service activities, provide service-learning courses, and encourage or assist graduates to pursue careers in public service in the nonprofit or government sector; and
‘(17) encourage members of the Baby Boom generation to partake in service opportunities.’.
HR 1388 specifically targets Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) and the National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) which Congress expects will reach 250,000 participants by 2014. From school-based service learning programs to focusing on severely economically depressed communities, the GIVE act sounds good until you get to part about the mandatory service requirement for youth. How can volunteerism be mandatory? The Future explains:
Section 6104 of The Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act requires that a commission be established to investigate, “Whether a workable, fair, and reasonable mandatory service requirement for all able young people could be developed, and how such a requirement could be implemented in a manner that would strengthen the social fabric of the Nation and overcome civic challenges by bringing together people from diverse economic, ethnic, and educational backgrounds.”
Of course I imagine cadres of youth working on environmental projects such as tree planting; however, I can’t get on board with the involuntary servitude. It’s even scarier when you consider Obama’s chief of staff Rahm Emanuel coauthored The Plan: Big Ideas for America that calls for compulsory service for Americans ages 18 to 25:
Here’s how it would work. Young people will know that between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five, the nation will enlist them for three months of civilian service. They’ll be asked to report for three months of basic civil defense training in their state or community, where they will learn what to do in the event of biochemical, nuclear or conventional attack; how to assist others in an evacuation; how to respond when a levee breaks or we’re hit by a natural disaster. These young people will be available to address their communities’ most pressing needs.
In fact, Obama and Biden ran on the idea of required community service for our youth:
Obama and Biden will set a goal that all middle and high school students do 50 hours of community service a year, and will establish a new tax credit that is worth $4,000 a year in exchange for 100 hours of public service a year.
I like the idea of a tax credit for public service, but I do not like the idea of mandatory service for our youth. Mandatory requirements do not ensure our youth will develop a sense of lifelong community service, and many churches and high schools already have such requirements for youth.
HR 1388 is currently on the Senate’s calendar. A cloture motion on the motion to proceed to the measure has been presented in Senate. Although I am in favor of community service, I am not in favor of mandatory service, as the GIVE act could take away our individual freedom. I am also concerned at what the goverment will deem service, like biochemical attack training mentioned in Emanuel’s book. What happens if a child does not complete their mandatory service requirement if the GIVE act passes and one is developed?