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July 08, 2008

Comments

Maybe in the schools Jonah Goldberg attended, they didn't require things like homework, or attendance, or reading, or math. It would explain a lot.

Yeee-ouch!

It'd be a shame if he paid you $40 an hour or so for that work, too.

Goldberg apparently also equates 1-2 hours a week as a condition for receiving federal funds as slavery. I suppose charging interest on a student loan is robbery.

An open question to the conservatives who post here.

Are there any conservative political writers who are worth reading? Guys like Goldberg make my head hurt.

I know there are folks like Brooks, but I always feel like he's trying too hard to be polite. I don't mind somebody with a little juice, I just can't stand to read folks who are as boneheadedly, determinedly stupid as Goldberg.

Thanks -

But... but... but... they're not government handouts if you have to work for them! The very idea of doing community service in return for scholarship money. Why, that's like doing work in an office for nothing but a paycheck.

The horror. The horror.

Are there any conservative political writers who are worth reading? Guys like Goldberg make my head hurt.

Russell: Ross Douthat, whom Hilzoy links, is a reasonably worth-reading conservative. And Tyler Cowan and Alex Tabarrok of
http://www.marginalrevolution.com/
are, despite being right-leaning libertarians, quite fascinating most of the time. So that's a starting point. I'm a lefty myself, though, and just as up for suggestions here as you are.

If Goldberg's report is accurate, this is a troubling -- and I'm disappointed that Hilzoy disagrees. According to Goldberg, Obama would mandate that schools -- middle schools, high schools, and colleges -- impose a community service requirement on their attendees in exchange for federal dollars. However meritorious public service may be, I do not think that another Federal mandate in this area is wise or necessary. Will the Federal government also mandate what is (and is not) adequate community service? Do colleges and schools get a say? How will the monitoring take place? What if a student refuses or fails to do the service -- will he or she get expelled? What about students working their way through college (and, nontraditional students, e.g., parents with kids); will they have to take on the added burden of 100 hours of community service a year?

It may be that Obama's plan has laudable responses to all of these issues -- although I'm frankly doubtful that any uniform federal plan is wise given how varied the country is.

I can't wait for Jonah Goldberg's sudden discovery that some children are told -- told!! -- to clean their rooms.

Not really relevant, is it? The greatest burdens are being placed on college students, who aren't children.

von: If Goldberg's report is accurate

That's an awfully big "if".

von,

You may have some valid points about the wisdom of Obama's community-service proposal, but you don't think it runs afoul of the 13th Amendment, do you?

Von, the college-related part of Obama's speech said this:

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.

In what way does giving someone a $4,000 credit for 100 hours of service resemble slavery? Goldberg is just lying.

Will the Federal government also mandate what is (and is not) adequate community service? Do colleges and schools get a say? How will the monitoring take place? What if a student refuses or fails to do the service -- will he or she get expelled? What about students working their way through college (and, nontraditional students, e.g., parents with kids); will they have to take on the added burden of 100 hours of community service a year?

These are all excellent questions. Perhaps you should consider trying something radical and... oh, I don't know... read the plan?

Re: MSNBC Chris Matthews: "Can Obama now win over the regular folks, white folks...?"

To: hardball@msnbc.com, phil.griffin@nbc.com, steve.capus@nbc.com, letters@msnbc.com

********

Dear Chris Matthews,

I believe you owe your viewers an explanation as exactly what you meant by equating 'white folks' with 'regular folks'.

Would you care to enlighten us? With particular attention to explaining exactly what makes non-white folks so non-regular?

Yours truly,

Name
City

Here is the full quote:

"And I will integrate service into education so that young Americans become active citizens. I will set a goal of having all middle and high school students perform 50 hours of service each year, and reach that goal by using federal support to expand service opportunities. I will set a goal of having college students perform 100 hours of service each year, and reach that goal through an annual tax credit that is tied to service, and federal support for work-study programs that include service jobs."

An expansion of work study funds to cover community service activities--the horror.

According to Goldberg, Obama would mandate...

did Obama also mandate that Congress gets no say in the matter ?

You left out the compulsory recitation of a loyalty oath.

My list of readable righties:

Volokh
Douthat
Outside The Beltway
Poliblog
Drezner
Andrew Sullivan
Megan McArdle (some of the time)
Marginal Revolution (except on water issues)

(I've given up on Q&O and Southern Appeal. Reading Redstate seems about as enjoyable as hitting yourself with a hammer; it only feels good when you stop.)

"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.
In what way does giving someone a $4,000 credit for 100 hours of service resemble slavery? Goldberg is just lying."

My law school provided about $4000 in funding to work a public interest job for ten weeks. Slavery!

It does strike me that few if any college students make enough to pay $4000 in federal income tax--does this mean it's a refundable thing like the Earned Income Tax Credit? If so, it's a slightly sneaky way to dramatically boost fin. aid.

In what way does giving someone a $4,000 credit for 100 hours of service resemble slavery?

Well, in actual fact, the two are totally unrelated.

But conservatives don't waste their time worrying about actual facts.

According to Goldberg, Obama would mandate that schools -- middle schools, high schools, and colleges -- impose a community service requirement on their attendees in exchange for federal dollars.

According to Obama's statement, I'm not sure that's accurate. He says: "we'll make federal assistance conditional on school districts developing service programs." 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."

To me, that reads that for middle and high schools, the schools must just provide the opportunity. It's only for college students taking advantage of the tax credit that it is compulsory. The statement "I will set a goal of having all middle and high school students perform 50 hours of service each year, and reach that goal by using federal support to expand service opportunities" makes it a little less clear, but I'm still not sure it's proposed to be compulsory for middle and high school students.

My high school had 40 hours of compulsory service during Jr. year. Once I got involved in a volunteer project, the number of hours greatly exceeded the minimum.

We called it "community service" rather than "slavery".

Of course, students didn't have to do it. They could always get a GED rather than a high school diploma.

Shorter Johan: "Ask not what you can do for you community, but what you can complain about."

"..he's essentially telling schools and college kids, you'll lose money you can't afford to lose."

I get such a warm and fuzzy boner knowing Jonah Goldberg identifies with the John and Jane lunch pail. Jonah's too modest to let on that he came up in the school of hardknocks like Dick Cheney and Richie Rich. A world in which his mommy toiled in the cum-stained garment business to provide Jonah with the wisdom to write pieces that trivialize slavery.

Best reading on right, much of which I agree with, is The American Conservative magazine on-line ( some articles are free) and blog.

Okaaaaayyyyyyy ......

Here're Obama's words:

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.

For middle and high schools, this does appear to mandate a new program. Cinco is correct that Obama does not flesh out what will happen to middle and high school students who fail to meet the "goal."

For college students, Katherine is correct that Obama's 4th of July speech makes 100 hours of community service a new, additional requirement for his "American Opportunity Tax Credit". The American Opportunity Tax Credit is the centerpiece of Obama's higher education plan. Presumably, it's intended to replace other forms of college funding -- although Obama's website doesn't specifically say this.

Obama's website does say the following(http://www.barackobama.com/issues/education/):

Create the American Opportunity Tax Credit: Obama will make college affordable for all Americans by creating a new American Opportunity Tax Credit. This universal and fully refundable credit will ensure that the first $4,000 of a college education is completely free for most Americans, and will cover two-thirds the cost of tuition at the average public college or university and make community college tuition completely free for most students. Obama will also ensure that the tax credit is available to families at the time of enrollment by using prior year's tax data to deliver the credit when tuition is due.

No mention of the 100 hrs. requirement, of course, but presumably the website is out of date. And no mention anywhere regarding nontrational students or students who are working their way through college.

Finally, although it should go without saying: of course I think that Goldberg's statements regarding "slavery" are overblown. But his criticisms of Obama's plan seem quite sound.

Mark, I'm not suggesting that community service is bad or that individuals schools shouldn't require it. I am questioning the wisdom of mandating a certain amount of community service at the Federal level.

Jonah could perform a community service by volunteering to go fight in the Iraq war for which he called for with such enthusiasm.

But hands up, anyone who thinks he'd actually do that?

Hmmm... I thought not.

Why oh why does the LATimes give a man who makes such silly and offensive arguments a platform to speak from?

By the way, my supposition that Obama may intend the American Opportunity Tax Credit as a replacement for current student aid seems to be supported by the following, further plank on Obama's website:

Simplify the Application Process for Financial Aid: Obama will streamline the financial aid process by eliminating the current federal financial aid application and enabling families to apply simply by checking a box on their tax form, authorizing their tax information to be used, and eliminating the need for a separate application.

Many public school systems require a certain number of hours of community service as a requirement for graduation. Jonah went to college at Goucher, in Towson, Maryland, and many of his classmates would have been from Maryland, where they would have been required to complete 75 hours of "student service-learning" (i.e. community service) in order to graduate. http://www.marylandpublicschools.org/MSDE/programs/servicelearning/
As Jonah apparently had no friends in college, he wouldn't have found out about this from talking to them.

As someone who had to work full-time to pay of my way through college, I do find the requirement someone onerous. Even back in the '80s I couldn't afford to pay for all my expenses and tuition with the types of work I could get, and frankly, yes, adding even a couple more hours to the schedule of work, classes, studying, and getting around town on the bus seems to me as if it would put students who need economic subsidies the most at even more of a disadvantage than they already are.

As someone who filled out a FAFSA several years ago grumbling: "why don't they just read my & my parents' tax returns instead of me re-copying all these numbers"? No, it doesn't, at all. This game of "let's pretend Obama's policies are as indefensible as possible & McCain's policies are as defensible" is cute, though.

My comment was in response to von's 1:45 post.

Give Jonah a break. This probably sounded suspiciously like a draft to his Goucher State-trained ears and you know how much that word scares armchair warrior Jonah.

Why on earth this no-mind gets the coverage he does is beyond me. Only in Merka, pity.

Bloix, I hate to defend Goldberg, but Maryland probably didn't have that requirement when Jonah or his peers were in high school. Jonah's a few years older than I, and there wasn't a community service requirement when I was in HS here.

(and I guess "assume" would be fairer than "pretend", but it's a pretty transparently unfair & inaccurate way to evaluate the candidates' positions in either case.)

I think that Goldberg's statements regarding "slavery" are overblown. But his criticisms of Obama's plan seem quite sound.

Note the cute conservative attempt to quietly move the goalposts of the entire discussion, by changing the subject away from Jonah Goldberg's ridiculous, insane statements about slavery which were the whole point of the posting.

Nice try, von.

As someone who had to work full-time to pay of my way through college, I do find the requirement someone onerous.

but you'd get $4000 in return. that would offset some of the full-time work you'd need to do, right ?

If Jonah needs some lessons on what slavery is really about, he should read, "Slavery by Another Name," by Douglas Blackmon, Doubleday. How blacks were held in peonage and servitude and how they were treated in the period between the Civil War and WW II. A truly ugly look at racism and illegality.

Once you have Jonah...come back and tell us about slavery one more time.

Goldberg is an idiot, but the plan is not really spelled out in great enough detail to evaluate it in the speech, and the education issues of Obama's website does not shed any more insight on the K-12 portion of this plan.

The problem is that it's not like requiring math or science, because math and science have no ideological component. Pretty much any "public service" community group I can think of or imagine would, in fact, have an ideological component. Making the choice to work in a soup kitchen, rather than stuff envelopes for a 527 group, carries ideological content along with the decision. So unless the plan is going to automatically approve each and every non-profit in the country as an acceptable way to earn your "community service" credit, the proposed rule would probably violate the 1st and 14th Amendments as well as many state constitutions that guarantee equal access to education.

Then there's the simple fact that I foresee huge problems implementing this in rural areas, where there won't exactly be a wide range of community groups available to volunteer to, and those community groups that are available will be heavily clustered around churches. I'm hugely uncomfortable with a public school graduation requirement that says you have to go volunteer for a church group for X hours a semester.

Here's my stupid question:

Let's assume the worst case. Obama intends to require high school students to complete 50 hours of public service. It's not clear that actually is his intent, but let's pretend it is.

Why is this a problem?

High school students have to do lots of things they'd likely prefer not to do, in order to graduate. High schools are required to make them do those things, in order to get funding.

Is that OK, or not?

If it is, why is introducing a community service requirement an unbearable additional burden?

Thanks -

I thought Republicans were against handouts since they incentivized laziness?

So here, Obama suggests we tie government assistance to contributions, and the GOP cries slavery?

But "workfare" and welfare reform were...good?

von: Do you honestly believe that Obama is talking about decreasing Stafford loans and other forms of financial aid? Because that's ridiculously silly. He's talking about an additional credit to make college more affordable - obviously he's proposing it because the current forms of financial aid aren't sufficient for many students. Also, this credit would give a way for many students to finance their education without taking on a loan. That's not crazy at all. His proposal about getting financial aid information from tax forms rather than a separate application actually contradicts your assertion. The credit Obama is proposing is universal (it says so in what you quote), so you don't have to meet a financial threshold to get it - all you have to do is to meet the service requirements. The fact that you can opt out of a second application by checking a box on your taxes means that other forms of need based aid will still exist.

Also, how are you misreading the statement about middle schoolers and high schoolers? The burden for funds isn't on the students, it's on the schools. In order to get the funds, the schools have to construct programs that foster service. Where in his statement does it even hint at federally mandated service work for middle and high schoolers? It proposes a method for encouraging students to take up service work by giving schools a financial incentive to make such work available to their students.

changing the subject away from Jonah Goldberg's ridiculous, insane statements about slavery which were the whole point of the posting.

Again, Goldberg is an idiot, but the issue isn't slavery per se, but involuntary servitude.

Frankly, I think the military draft violates the involuntary servitude clause, and the military certainly is nothing like chattel slavery.

A great many things that don't look exactly like a recreation of the plantation slave experience can be argued to violate the amendment in question.

Many public school systems require a certain number of hours of community service as a requirement for graduation.

Again, not the issue. The issue is whether community service should be a mandate of the Federal Government.

As someone who filled out a FAFSA several years ago grumbling: "why don't they just read my & my parents' tax returns instead of me re-copying all these numbers"? No, it doesn't, at all. This game of "let's pretend Obama's policies are as indefensible as possible & McCain's policies are as defensible" is cute, though.

Not sure how this relates to the issue at hand. (I filled out that same document a few years before you, Katherine, so know of what you speak.)

By the way, as you yourself note, a significant hole in the proposal is whether the credit is available to a student dollar for dollar, as Obama's speech implies.

Note the cute conservative attempt to quietly move the goalposts of the entire discussion, by changing the subject away from Jonah Goldberg's ridiculous, insane statements about slavery which were the whole point of the posting.

Nice try, von.

Fine, Jonah is ridiculous and insane. Whoo-hoo. Worst president ever.

Is that all you have? Do you want to talk substance now?

"contributions to the community" that should read

Again, Goldberg is an idiot, but the issue isn't slavery per se, but involuntary servitude.

But Obama's plan as currently enunciated doesn't actually mandate involuntary servitude.

Schools are required to create programs. Students don't have to take advantage of them.

College students can get additional aid if they do. But this is an option.

Then there's the simple fact that I foresee huge problems implementing this in rural areas, where there won't exactly be a wide range of community groups available to volunteer to, and those community groups that are available will be heavily clustered around churches.

Last time I checked, rural areas had non-trivial populations of elderly people, disabled people, and parks. All of those entities benefit from volunteer service and all such service is non-ideological and non-sectarian. Also, not to dis rural areas, but they tend to have low population densities and their population is skewed towards the older set. That suggests that the absolute number of students who would be impacted may not be very large.

von: Do you honestly believe that Obama is talking about decreasing Stafford loans and other forms of financial aid? Because that's ridiculously silly. He's talking about an additional credit to make college more affordable - obviously he's proposing it because the current forms of financial aid aren't sufficient for many students. Also, this credit would give a way for many students to finance their education without taking on a loan. That's not crazy at all. His proposal about getting financial aid information from tax forms rather than a separate application actually contradicts your assertion. The credit Obama is proposing is universal (it says so in what you quote), so you don't have to meet a financial threshold to get it - all you have to do is to meet the service requirements. The fact that you can opt out of a second application by checking a box on your taxes means that other forms of need based aid will still exist.

Although it seems clear that Obama continues to support Pell Grants, it's not at all clear whether the tax rebate is a replacement or addition for traditional financial aid.

Also, how are you misreading the statement about middle schoolers and high schoolers? The burden for funds isn't on the students, it's on the schools. In order to get the funds, the schools have to construct programs that foster service. Where in his statement does it even hint at federally mandated service work for middle and high schoolers? It proposes a method for encouraging students to take up service work by giving schools a financial incentive to make such work available to their students.

I'm having a hard time understanding why you seem to think that your explanation helps your argument.

How is what you describe not a federal mandate?

The FAFSA form largely duplicates tax returns, & could be replaced by just authorizing gov't fin. aid officers to look at tax forms. Simplifying the application process is just plain not evidence of an intent to eliminate existing forms of aid--since you have no actual evidence of Obama planning to cut existing aid (I guess he's just going to eliminate Stafford & Perkins Loans, which FAFSA is mainly used for these days? Right), you're using an unrelated issue to justify a claim you're basically making up, just as you make up a bunch of stuff to make McCain's policies seem more defensible. I agree that the tax credit could be clarified though.

von:

I am questioning the wisdom of mandating a certain amount of community service at the Federal level.

What part of Obama's plan "mandates" community service?

I can understand that your point of view thinks it horrible that the federal government should sponsor a program that creates incentives for public service. But can we at least keep the debate centered on facts rather than Goldberg-like crap in which incentives for public service becomes "slavery"?

As for fear of it being a federal program, I am sure that like so many other federal programs, the actual implementation can be performed by local governments so that they can determine how best to use the community service. More bureaucracy is always a reasonable concern, but it would be nice to hear you speak to what seems to be the actual source of disagreement -- that the government should not have any role in promoting public service. It is as if public service is some sort of intrinsically bad thing, which does seem to be a conservative meme.

Schools are required to create programs. Students don't have to take advantage of them.

If that's the case, then there's no problem. Hopefully the details of this plan will be clarified as we move forward.

Schools are required to create programs. Students don't have to take advantage of them.

Where does Obama state that schools have to create programs but don't have to require students to participate in them?

Finally, although it should go without saying: of course I think that Goldberg's statements regarding "slavery" are overblown. But his criticisms of Obama's plan seem quite sound.

His main criticism (the one that drives the logic of the piece) is entirely true: Obama *is* black.

How is what you describe not a federal mandate?

Because no one has to do it if they do not want to.

von: If it's a tax CREDIT, then yes, it's available to all students, dollar for dollar. Terms of interest:
CREDIT - subtracted from your tax burden; if it goes below zero, you get the remaining money
DEDUCTION - subtracted from your taxable income, but it cannot push your tax burden below zero.

True Brian. That is my read based on Obama's language, but clarification would help.

Where does Obama state that schools have to create programs but don't have to require students to participate in them?

Where does it state that schools have to require students to participate in them?

As someone who had to work full-time to pay of my way through college, I do find the requirement someone onerous.

but you'd get $4000 in return. that would offset some of the full-time work you'd need to do, right ?

Exactly. If you can make more than $40/hr elsewhere you can skip the requirement.

Suppose Obama had said,

"We are going to provide funding to community service organizations and local governments to hire college students at $40/hr for up to 100 hrs/yr."

Same thing. Yet you can bet Goldberg would be complaining about that just as well. Of course he'd have to find a different way to be stupid, but I bet he could pull it off.

But can we at least keep the debate centered on facts rather than Goldberg-like crap in which incentives for public service becomes "slavery"?

To me there is a problem when the Federal government designs financial incentives for local and state governments and then attempts to use those incentives to contrive a way to get people to volunteer to surrender their Constitutional rights. If US v. Butler had not been gutted by subsequent courts, this would not be an issue, but right now it is.

If we weren't talking about community service, but instead were talking about a proposal to withdraw all Federal aid from school districts that did not require all students to sign a loyalty oath as a condition of getting a diploma, I think some people here would be more upset. Or if the condition was that to get a diploma you had to attend anti-abortion indoctrination. Et cetera.

In such a circumstance, the argument, "Hey, it's just an incentive. Don't take the federal money if you don't want it," would not carry much weight with progressives.

Simplifying the application process is just plain not evidence of an intent to eliminate existing forms of aid--since you have no actual evidence of Obama planning to cut existing aid (I guess he's just going to eliminate Stafford & Perkins Loans, which FAFSA is mainly used for these days? Right), you're using an unrelated issue to justify a claim you're basically making up,

I thought that I said it was unclear what Obama intends to do with these other, potentially duplicative programs (although he clearly supports Pell grants).

just as you make up a bunch of stuff to make McCain's policies seem more defensible

Huh?

As for fear of it being a federal program, I am sure that like so many other federal programs, the actual implementation can be performed by local governments so that they can determine how best to use the community service. More bureaucracy is always a reasonable concern, but it would be nice to hear you speak to what seems to be the actual source of disagreement -- that the government should not have any role in promoting public service. It is as if public service is some sort of intrinsically bad thing, which does seem to be a conservative meme.

I can't speak to the conservative meme -- I am not a conservative -- but I can speak for myself. Public service is a great thing. It's something that the federal government should be encouraging, but only where such encouragement is worth the costs. As I've said, Obama's plan does not appear to be particularly wise.

von: From this quote here:

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.

He doesn't say that he will require students to take advantage of them. He's "setting a goal". While he doesn't specifically say, "I will not force students into service," I don't think you can take that to mean the opposite. There's no indication in his speech that his goal is to mandate service. If you wish to read in a nefarious plot, feel free, but that's not really a fair reading.

Finally, I think we've already seen that Obama doesn't really like mandates from the health care issue. He usually favors incentivizing, and letting the 'market' sort it out afterwards.

Volunteerism is good. But why does every good thing need to be orchestrated by government? Most people think that churchgoing is a good thing. Does that mean the government should fund churches? That's what they do in Europe and -- surprise! -- most pews sit empty.

I think this is the heart of Goldberg's argument: government shouldn't be in the business of making people do things, even if they're good.

My question is: why not?

Every good thing doesn't need to be orchestrated by government, and it won't be. Some good things would be encouraged by government.

Why is that bad?

And, BTW, we do subsidize churchgoing in the form of tax exemptions. In may jurisdictions it amounts to a whole lot of money.

I don't think Obama is calling for mandatory anything, but I'd like to push back on the conservative bogeyman anyway.

What if he was?
Why is it bad?

What is the problem here?

Thanks -

Florida requires high school students to do a certain number of community service hours in order to receive a Bright Futures scholarship. These scholarships are funded by the state lottery and can cover full tuition at a state university for HS students with reasonably good grades.

"Although it seems clear that Obama continues to support Pell Grants, it's not at all clear whether the tax rebate is a replacement or addition for traditional financial aid."

What "traditional financial aid" do you think he intends to cut or eliminate, specifically, & what is your evidence for his plan to do so? Eliminating Stafford Loans is even less plausible than eliminating Pell Grants. Replacing rather than supplementing traditional federal work study is slightly less implausible, but it's not as if there's actually any evidence for that either, and if that is the plan--$4000 for 100 hours of service? Is not exactly going to increase the "servitude" burden on fin. aid students; I would have had to work over 500 hours at the school library to make the same amount of money (and I did some community service stuff anyway). But, actually increasing aid to students has been a traditionally Democratic policy for oh, decades, and I think that's what's actually going on.

Where does it state that schools have to require students to participate in them?

So schools are going to be required to to create a program that but, once creating the program, don't need to have anyone participate in it? Isn't that the worst of all worlds?

But you're right: as I was getting at, there are some big holes in Obama's program that need to be filled in. I just don't know that your inference is the most reasonable one.

I can't speak to the conservative meme -- I am not a conservative

OMG, Von, you're a liberal? Why did no one ever notice this before? ;-)

Sorry. Returning to the more serious business of mocking Jonah or trying to undercut Obama.

Fine, Jonah is ridiculous and insane. Whoo-hoo. Worst president ever.

Is that all you have? Do you want to talk substance now?

The fact that one of America's most important newspapers provides a prominent platform to someone who's ridiculous and insane actually is a pretty important, substantive issue.

Public service is a great thing. It's something that the federal government should be encouraging, but only where such encouragement is worth the costs.

One to two hours a week, by all reasonable appearance an optional commitment, in the lives of young people?

The horror, the horror.

So schools are going to be required to to create a program that but, once creating the program, don't need to have anyone participate in it? Isn't that the worst of all worlds?

They could incentivize students taking advantage of such programs in a number of ways. Participation could be tied to scholarships, there could be community/school awards and participation would look good on college applications regardless.

Already, schools establish many extracurricular activities on the assumption that if you build it, students will come.

That's not such a bad thing to me, let alone the worst of all worlds.

Thanks Hilzoy, it took your nonsense to finally make it so that Jonah seemed correct on the issues.

As others have pointed out, forcing my kids to make their beds, or forcing them to take math is not the same as forcing 100 hours of "service" out of them. It may not be slavery, but I think it's a first amendment violation. What if "kids" just plain think that free service is wrong? What if they just don't want to do it? Why should that be linked to their education?

Why don't we let students do what they need to be doing: studying. Encourage the behaviors you want from them. Mandating them isn't going to get us anywhere.

Or.... So Hilzoy, since 100 hours of service is so good we should mandate it as as a condition of a scholarship, why not just draft every kid into the Army or America Corp, regardless of whether they go to school or not?

At the moment, I am pretty sure that neither Goldberg nor Hilzoy are reporting on this accurately, or in the right context.

And no mention anywhere regarding nontrational students or students who are working their way through college.

40$/hr is actually pretty good money for people working their way through college. It's also enough to pay a babysitter, fwiw.
Not saying there won't be flaws, either in the plan or the implementation, but this seems like a reach, esp when there may well be details that address these situations later.

Finally, although it should go without saying: of course I think that Goldberg's statements regarding "slavery" are overblown. But his criticisms of Obama's plan seem quite sound.

What exactly are his criticisms? Reading his column, his slavery thing was just an attention-grabber (he disavows it later)- but his criticism appears to be No, national service isn't slavery. But it contributes to a slave mentality, at odds with American tradition.
He doesn't do any of the policy critiquing that you're doing here. Maybe you're agreeing with his assessment *and* offering additional policy criticisms, Im not sure about that.

[btw- why is it that McCain's ambiguity was good for him (a few posts ago) on the budget, and we weren't to criticise his proposals until they stopped changing- but here, Obama announces a new initiative that has yet to be fleshed out and you're Ok with imaging details and then attacking them?]

von,
By the way, my supposition that Obama may intend the American Opportunity Tax Credit as a replacement for current student aid seems to be supported by the following...

but later

I thought that I said it was unclear what Obama intends to do with these other, potentially duplicative programs...

That's not what you said at all- you didn't say that your speculation was definitive, but you certainly suggested that it was supported by evidence. btw, Im still unclear why you think that streamlining the application process suggests anything about what programs are being applied for.

It may not be slavery, but I think it's a first amendment violation

?!??

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Can you explain the 1st amendment violation to me?

What if "kids" just plain think that free service is wrong? What if they just don't want to do it? Why should that be linked to their education?

What if kids don't want to say the pledge of allegiance, dissect frogs, or attend sex education do to a religious or ethical scruple?

What if they have difficulty fulfilling their PE requirement because of some physical disability?

These are all issues the rise from things kids are required to do as part of their schooling. They're all legitimate, and they all come up every day. We, the nominal adults, figure out reasonable ways to deal with it.

Again, what is the substance of the objection to mandatory community service? Did someone say it already, and I'm missing it?

Thanks -

"Does that mean the government should fund churches? That's what they do in Europe and -- surprise! -- most pews sit empty."

First, as mentioned, we do fund them by making them tax-free. But more importantly, what does funding have to do with attendance? Churches in Europe are also, on average, far older than ours. Perhaps that's the reason the pews are empty. Also, many of them don't use English in their sermons. That must be the reason. Or maybe it's because they don't have talking in tongues and faith healing and raising the dead and all that entertaining stuff.

You really need a course in logic. After you finish your 100 hours of community service, of course.

Jerry,

Where does it say mandate?

As others have pointed out, forcing my kids to make their beds, or forcing them to take math is not the same as forcing 100 hours of "service" out of them. It may not be slavery, but I think it's a first amendment violation. What if "kids" just plain think that free service is wrong? What if they just don't want to do it? Why should that be linked to their education?

The use of "force" here is something I am entirely unfamiliar with.

Brian,
If we weren't talking about community service, but instead were talking about a proposal to withdraw all Federal aid from school districts that did not require all students to sign a loyalty oath as a condition of getting a diploma, I think some people here would be more upset.

First, I think that public service is not unreasonable as a part of education. My counterexample would be making funding contingent on teaching math and english- is that so unreasonable?
Second, I would object to the loyalty oath on it's own merits, regardless of the enforcement mechanism. I would object to it as an innovation of my local school board.

You might feel that a volunteer program fails the second criteria (ie you find it objectionable under any circumstances), and you might even find that it fails the first (ie you think it has nothing to do with one's development). But you cannot pretend that only the second criteria is being applied by liberals- I wouldn't necessarily be happy with a federal funding/mandate to increase pet ownership, even if I think pet ownership is a good thing.

So we've established that if we interpret any ambiguities in Obama's plan in the worst way possible, we get something that might be a bad idea. Since McCain also favors national service, we'll now have to have a similar discussion in which any ambiguities in McCain's plan (which if experience is any guide will be much more numerous) are interpreted in the best way possible.

That's not what you said at all- you didn't say that your speculation was definitive, but you certainly suggested that it was supported by evidence.

Supporting evidence = the programs are duplicative (at least in part).

btw, Im still unclear why you think that streamlining the application process suggests anything about what programs are being applied for.

Tying financial aid to a tax return seemed in line with making financial aid primarily based on a tax credit. Katherine, however, has convinced me that this is not the only interpretation of the proposal.

As others have pointed out, forcing my kids to make their beds, or forcing them to take math is not the same as forcing 100 hours of "service" out of them.

This is what is popularly known as a "conclusion". One likes to see things like "arguments" attached to them- otherwise Im afraid that Im reduced to the age-old "Is Too!"

Eric (in response to your comment to Jerry):

Are you suggesting that Obama's plan doesn't involve an (unfunded? unclear.) government mandate for middle and high schools (at least)? Or are you quibbling that the mandate may not extend to actually requiring students to participate in these mandated programs?

"Tying financial aid to a tax return seemed in line with making financial aid primarily based on a tax credit"

I think I'm beating a dead horse at this point, but I've seriously never applied for any form of need based fin. aid that didn't want to see copies of my parents' & my tax returns to verify the reported income levels. It's been a while since I filled out a FAFSA, but I vaguely remember it mainly asking info on the tax returns (college aid forms tended to be longer & ask all sorts of additional, annoying questions about expenses).

As someone who had to work full-time to pay of my way through college, I do find the requirement someone onerous.

And as someone who worked, volunteered and carried a full course load, my anecdote trumps your anecdote.

As others have pointed out, forcing my kids to make their beds, or forcing them to take math is not the same as forcing 100 hours of "service" out of them. It may not be slavery, but I think it's a first amendment violation. What if "kids" just plain think that free service is wrong? What if they just don't want to do it? Why should that be linked to their education?

What? The 100 hours is for college students to qualify for a tax credit. Forcing them to take math (or a shitty history class) is exactly the same in intent as having them serve (the notion behind public education is to benefit society as a whole -- which is why people who don't have kids still pay property taxes to fund schools)

What if "kids" just plain think that free service is wrong?

I'm sure they think sitting through a Spanish class is wrong too. And they have to do that instead of working, so what's your point?

Von,

If you read Jerry's comment, then mine, I think you can deduce from context.

Jerry was talking about students being mandated to serve, I responded.

In your defense, he also makes this logically, er, strained argument:

So Hilzoy, since 100 hours of service is so good we should mandate it as as a condition of a scholarship, why not just draft every kid into the Army or America Corp, regardless of whether they go to school or not?

So he bounces back and forth from mandating service to mandating service...as a condition to obtaining a scholarship!

As if most scholarships are handed out without any criteria at all!

I see no difference between Hilzoy's "compulsory" and "mandate."

Regarding the first amendment, forcing service under various circumstances is a free speech violation. The first amendment does need to be balanced by other rights though.

So for instance, forcing a restaurant to serve african americans IS a free speech violation, but one that the Supreme Court believes is okay to violate when balanced out with the rights of others. But the Supreme Court ruled (IIRC) that the Boston St. Patrick's Day Parade does not need to allow gays to march as that forced act was forcing speech was a free speech violation.

Similarly, I think that various courts have found that mandatory attendance at "diversity programs" is also a free speech violation. (If courts have not found that, I know that that has been one argument.)

Forcing service, especially if it is somehow restricted as to who the service must be given to, might very well be an unconstitutional first amendment violation.

It's been awhile since I attained a scholarship, but in general, there were NO strings attached. What conditions are you referring to? Especially service conditions apart from making the team, being in the band, or maintaining a GPA if it is to be renewed?

I can't speak to the conservative meme -- I am not a conservative

I, too, wonder about this. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, even if being a duck is no longer in with the Kool Kidz, it's still a duck.

Again, what is the substance of the objection to mandatory community service?

I think the objection to this, rather than to, e.g., requiring "things like homework, or attendance, or reading, or math", is that the latter all primarily benefit the child, whereas with the former it's at a minimum unclear who the primary beneficiary is. Generally speaking, of course.

IOW, community service = working for someone else; getting an education = working for yourself. You usually get paid for the former.

So other than the strings that are attached to most scholarships, what strings?

It's been awhile since I attained a scholarship, but in general, there were NO strings attached.

This is not true for a wide variety of scholarships from government sources.

I, too, wonder about this. If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, even if being a duck is no longer in with the Kool Kidz, it's still a duck.

Oh that's just crap and you *should* know that. People should be able to disagree without fear of some douche such as yourself coming along and trying to somehow smear them, dehumanize them, delegitimize them.

This business of calling anyone who disagrees a troll or concern troll or whatever is just speech and thought policing. If there really was a Godwin's Law, it would say that attempts at speech and thought policing mean you lose the argument.

It's been awhile since I attained a scholarship, but in general, there were NO strings attached.

Without getting into cases, I think it's fair to say that many, many scholarships, both private and publicly funded, come with "strings attached" in the sense of conditions that must be met for the aid to be awarded.

Thanks for the expansion of the 1st amendment objection. I'm not sure I agree but I appreciate your explanation.

Also, thanks to all for the recommendations upthread on good conservative commentators.

Thanks -

So other than the strings that are attached to most scholarships, what strings?

So enlighten us. What strings are attached to most scholarships? And what strings are attached to government grants/scholarships/loan guarantees?

It's been awhile since I attained a scholarship, but in general, there were NO strings attached.

GI Bill? Military service?

What conditions are you referring to? Especially service conditions apart from making the team, being in the band, or maintaining a GPA if it is to be renewed?

Military service? Currently, there are scholarships for students that do public interest law, students that agree to teach in inner city schools, students that agree to practice medicine in rural areas.

And why wouldn't continued service in the band or on the basketball team be deemed less onerous than community service?

Especially when the time spent on community service would pale in comparison?

Or are you quibbling that the mandate may not extend to actually requiring students to participate in these mandated programs?

Since Goldberg's objection, and most of the other objections in this thread (other than yours, apparently), are based on exactly that supposed requirement, that's hardly a quibble.

Supporting evidence = the programs are duplicative (at least in part).

Yeah, because that's stopped the government before. :)

If service is such a great thing, why force it on those that need scholarships? Why not just have a national service that EVERYONE is required to join. (Miltary and/or Americorp?)

Jerry,

See, also, Google. Which pointed me here:

http://www.charityguide.org/volunteer/fifteen/community-service-scholarships.htm

Scholarships given to college bound kids that...have performed community service!

People should be able to disagree without fear of some douche such as yourself coming along and trying to somehow smear them, dehumanize them, delegitimize them.

I had no idea that suggesting that someone was a conservative was such a heinous act, jerry. And are conservatives now contiguous with trolls?
Or maybe you didn't follow the thread of the conversation?

If service is such a great thing, why force it on those that need scholarships? Why not just have a national service that EVERYONE is required to join. (Miltary and/or Americorp?)

Is that a serious argument?

Offering scholarships/incentives for meritorious behavior is, um, not the same as simply passing a law requiring people to join the military or americorp.

The difference is...THE DIFFERENCE!

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