We all know that President Obama is real big on giving. That is, of other people giving. He merely sits back and basks in the warmth of the applause. Or is that the warmth from the raised thermostat of the Orchid Office?
While watching television this evening, I saw an odd commerical. It was for an organization called “City Year”. I decided to do some investigating because it smelled an awful lot like a candidate for funds set aside in the stimulus bill for the “civil service” touted in such flowery language by our Campaigner-in-Chief.
And sure enough, City Year is right in lockstep with Obama’s socialistic agenda. Alan Khazei co-founded City Year in 1988 and served as its CEO until 2006. Listed as a non-profit with the IRS (status obtained only within the last 2 years), its 2007 annual report shows net assets of $26,775,138. It holds over $8 million in investments; and it answered “yes” on IRS form 990 to the question of whether the organization attempted “to influence national, state, or local legislation, including any attempt to influence public opinion on a legislative matter or referendum” but, interestingly, no dollar amounts were included for “expenses paid or incurred in connection with the lobbying activities”. It received government grants to the tune of some $5.6 million.
One thing always leads to another and so came a check into “bethechange.org”. This little outfit bought the domain name on 1/11/08 but isn’t listed with the IRS as a non-profit. It, too, touts Alan Khazei as its founder and CEO and its basic goals are the same as City Year.
All of this ties back to AmeriCorps, which was the subject of much debate as the “GIVE act” wound its way through Congress with a price tag of some $6 billion over 5 years. While one nefarious inclusion – that of “mandatory service” was removed from the “GIVE act”, it is instead now part of HR 1444, which includes studying (in part), “The effect on the Nation, on those who serve, and on the families of those who serve, if all individuals in the United States were expected to perform national service or were required to perform a certain amount of national service.”
Now, I’ve nothing against people volunteering to help other people. It’s part of what makes this country great. And I put a good thousand volunteer hours myself every year. But paying people to volunteer? That negates the definition of the word. And the government paying people to volunteer? The government then defining the recipients of the altruistic impulses of its citizens? Good deeds or no good deeds, the whole thing smells a little fishy to me.
In the end, it’s always a matter of following the money. In this case, the nice salaries that people like, for example, Alan Khazei collect by sitting on the boards of a non-profit – $315,500 from City Year in 2007. (He also serves on the boards of Citizen Schools, Harvard Alumni Association, New Profit, Inc., Share Our Strength, and on the Advisory Board of America’s Promise, the Partnership for Public Service, and the Center for Public Leadership at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, though from what I can tell, without pay.)
So let’s go snooping around a little more. AmeriCorps has burgeoned since former President Bill Clinton penned it into existence in 1993, and while it includes generally-lauded programs like Habitat for Humanity and the Scouting programs, it also funds City Year and Citizens Schools. It is run by the Corporation for National and Community Service, and in a 2004 longitudinal study (updated in 2007) they commissioned to measure the impact of AmeriCorps, it was determined that “there are no statistically significant effects of participation on education or teamwork and other life skills behavior outcomes.” Nor does participation have “significant impacts on measures of educational attitudes or degree attainment”.
In other words, while people helping people is a good thing, having the government control the volunteering of young people and having the oxymoron of the government paying for it is a waste of the taxpayer’s money. Of course, paying below-poverty wages to people so they can perform “volunteer work” for federal, state, or local government agencies (yes, some assignments are to do government work) is good business for the government but the government does not exist to be in business in the private sector (Tim Geithner’s misplaced wishes to control “threats” to the economy aside).
This is just plain and simple badness and money that this country can ill afford to spend. People will help people – that is the American way. Legitimate non-profit organizations that serve legitimate purposes do not need government handouts to be successful.
Besides, whose job is it, really, to instill values, such as helping others, in our young people? I do not believe it is, in any way, a function of government. The job of instilling values belongs to parents. And I don’t mean Pater Obama.
There still remains the more serious matter of the 13th Amendment:
Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime where of the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Section 2. Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
While this administration’s mad dash to replicate itself like some rogue cancer virus is frustrating, to find we are staring at yet another and decidedly direct assault on the Constitution as stated in HR 1444 is utterly infuriating. Wonder what Representative John Conyers, Jr, chair of the House Committee on the Judiciary and sponsor of HR 40 (reparation proposals for African-Americans) thinks about involuntary servitude?
In the case United States v. Kozminski, 487 U.S. 931 (1988), the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the Thirteenth Amendment did not prohibit compulsion of servitude through psychological coercion but “victim’s vulnerabilities are relevant in determining whether the physical or legal coercion or threats thereof could plausibly have compelled the victim to serve.” Yet one item in HR 1444 states, “(8) The means to develop awareness of national service and volunteer opportunities at a young age by creating, expanding, and promoting service options for primary and secondary school students and by raising awareness of existing incentives.” Think that might be something you’d call “psychological coercion”?
Referencing the same case, the U.S. Department of Justice clearly spells out, besides peonage (“debt servitude”) and involuntary servitude, what is considered the coercion of forced labor:
Whoever knowingly provides or obtains the labor or services of a person–
(1) by threats of serious harm to, or physical restraint against, that person or another person;
(2) by means of any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause the person to believe that, if the person did not perform such labor or services, that person or another person would suffer serious harm or physical restraint; or
(3) by means of the abuse or threatened abuse of law or the legal process
I believe it to be quite clear that HR 1444’s sponsor James McDermott, and co-sponsors Patrick Kennedy, Dutch Ruppersberger, Christopher Van Hollen, James Moran should all be called out as traitors. By introducing this legislation they fail to act in the best interests of their constituents by upholding the 13th Amendment as it clearly states is their responsibility, and in turn they betray this nation. Any other Congress critter who goes along with it should be considered a traitor as well. This country was founded by those who knew full well the evils of servitude both literal and figurative, and we, the people, have continued to work towards removing it as we have grown as a nation. To even consider undoing this critical freedom, regardless the flowery phrases used to clothe it in some maniacal distortion of definitions of goodwill, is inexcusable.