Monday, September 12, 2011

National Review is for mandatory service—unless Obama is

At National Review today, Col. Kenneth Allard proposes that all young Americans be pressed into a form of national service—or else they lose the privileges of citizenship:
The draft worked well in the 20th century, but in the 21st we need to create a graduated system of national service. The education benefits now granted more or less freely could be tied to the completion of national service after age 18. Each young adult would be required to complete a year of service in return for enjoying the lifetime privileges of American citizenship. Completing that minimum requirement would also determine future eligibility for education benefits.
I do find it intriguing that a publication that editorializes against the health insurance mandate as an unconscionable infringement upon liberty and against the Constitution seems willing to entertain the idea that citizens should be forced to donate their bodies and labor to the government for a year. 

And I'm just old enough to remember when then-Senator Barack Obama proposed an expanded community service program in which young Americans would freely volunteer for 50 or more hours a year and get a $4,000 tax credit in return—nothing mandatory, but very enticing perhaps—NRO's John Derbyshire responded with this headline: Arbeit Macht Frei. That's a phrase best-associated with Nazi concentration camps, of course.

So: Incentives to volunteer? Reminiscent of Naziism. A year of forced labor as a requirement of citizenship? Consistent with liberty! Welcome to National Review's universe.


namefromthepast said...

Just remember NRO was anti-Obama when anti-Obama wasn't cool.

Let's not forget that there is plenty of "anti whatever the other guy is for" to go around.

Ben Boychuk said...

I disagree with your headline. As an editorial matter, I find no evidence that National Review favors mandatory service. What we have here is an article by a freelance contributor making the case for national service. Publication is not the same as an endorsement -- as you well know. John Derbyshire, who is at least a contributing editor, differs vehemently. What you've done, Joel, perhaps inadvertently, is underscored just how much of a Big Tent the conservative movement happens to be.