Taking Our Kids Hostage: The New Government Order for Mandatory
By PHS Staff
Printed in Practical Homeschooling #87, 2009.
Above the gates of the Auschwitz concentration camp, where over a
million prisoners were killed during World War II, is this motto:
“Arbeit Macht Frei.” This is German for “Work Makes (You) Free.” The
illusory promise: Do whatever the government says, no matter how
servile, and you will be liberated. The truth: The only “liberation”
Germany offered those unfortunate prisoners was death by gassing,
starvation, medical experimentation, and overwork.
Concentration camps like Auschwitz were used to house Jews, gypsies,
dissenters, and other “un-German” elements. To control the German
population itself, Hitler and his National Socialist German Workers
Party (the word “Nazi” comes from “Nationalsozialistische Deutsche
Arbeiterpartei”) had other tools: a totally compliant media, compromised
churches (uncontrolled churches were outlawed), the Gestapo, and of
course, the Hitler Youth Brigade.
First established in 1922, enlistment in Hitler Youth became mandatory
for all young Germans, with compulsory attendance at all meetings by
1939. For 10- to 18-year-old boys, it started out with enjoyable Boy
Scout-like activities, but quickly moved to training in military
discipline and tactics. Older boys were encouraged to be cruel to the
younger ones, in order to “toughen them up.” For girls, it was mainly
about becoming physically fit to be good Aryan mothers. Both groups were
encouraged to idolize Hitler and support him in every way possible,
including informing on “unpatriotic” family members.
Other dictators had their own ways of enlisting young people as
enforcers. In China, Communist Party Chairman Mao bypassed the
Communist hierarchy and set up his own personality cult, the infamous
“Red Guards.” These young adults and teens were originally charged with
tearing down the “Four Olds” of Chinese society (old customs, old
culture, old habits and old ideas). However, they quickly began
denouncing, attacking, and executing people they considered
With this background in mind, those who know history became nervous
when, in a July 2, 2008, campaign speech, Democratic candidate Barack
Obama said, “We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to
achieve the national security objectives that we’ve set. We’ve got to
have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as
strong, just as well-funded.”
The reference to a “civilian national security force” mysteriously was
scrubbed from the official transcript of the speech shortly after it was
posted, but by then millions had already seen that part of the speech on
YouTube, including your editors.
Later that year, Obama’s Republican “opponent,” Senator John McCain,
joined him at the September 11 Service Nation summit. There, they both
helped “kick off the movement to inspire an America in which, by 2020,
100 million citizens will volunteer time in schools, workplaces, and
faith-based and community institutions each and every year (up from 61
million today), and that increasing numbers of Americans annually will
commit a year of their lives to national service . . . one million
Americans a year in full-time service by the year 2020.”
Ah, volunteering! That’s all the “civilian national security force”
lingo was about. Now we can all relax.
Not exactly. This won’t be your father’s volunteering.
Mandatory Voluntary Service
I read about this 15 years or so ago in Chronicles magazine. It made
such an impression on me at the time that I still remember it.
The topic was “mandatory voluntary service,” and if you think that’s a
contradiction in terms, I couldn’t agree with you more.
It all actually started back in the early 1900s, when American
philosophers William James and John Dewey (yes, that John Dewey-the
fellow who switched American public schools from “education” to
“socialization”) invented the concept of “service-based learning.” In
1910 James wrote a famous essay, “The Moral Equivalence of War,” in
which he called for national conscription in the cause of vigorously
implementing socialist ideals.
World War I and the Great Depression came along and knocked this idea
off the frontlist, but it came surging back in 1993, when President Bill
Clinton signed the National and Community Service Trust Act. This
created AmeriCorps-a vehicle for paying young people to “volunteer” in
government-approved organizations-and the Corporation for National and
Community Service-an organization set up like a foundation, to give
money to advance the cause of mandatory volunteerism.
After 1993, a number of attempts were made to force mandatory “service”
on the American people. Senator Hollings (D-SC) tried and failed to push
his Universal National Service Act through in 2003. Congressman Rangel
(D-NY) introduced his Universal National Service Act in 2006 and 2007.
Like most bills, it went nowhere. However, support was growing on both
sides of the aisle. Neoconservatives envisioned mandatory service as a
way to teach discipline and fair play to ghetto youth in camps far away
from their drug-riddled neighborhoods. Liberals loved the idea of
getting millions of kids off in camps where they could be indoctrinated
in good liberal thinking. However, events such as 9/11 and the Iraq Wars
took center stage, while the political debate centered on issues such as
immigration and homosexual rights. There was no time or political energy
to push through an unpopular mandatory plan of civilian service.
Things perked up for mandatory national service in 2007. In September 10
of that year, TIME published an entire issue pushing the idea. Then, in
early 2008, the Service Nation Campaign kicked off. The founders of
City Year and the Peace Corps, the first director of AmeriCorps, 106
private organizations, and some well-placed corporate partners, all
“spontaneously” decided that now was the time to make their dream of
drafting all American kids-and eventually, everyone else as well-a
That’s when both presidential candidates, one of whom was bound to get
elected, joined in.
“Require You to Work”
In a February 3, 2008, speech at UCLA, Michelle Obama said:
Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you
shed your cynicism. That you put down your divisions. That you come out
of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zones. That you
push yourselves to be better. And that you engage. Barack will never
allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed.
Mere over-the-top political-speak? Not so. Below is what the original
“America Services” page on Obama’s official “President-Elect” transition
, used to say. (After a number of bloggers and
speakers commented on it, the page was changed to remove the word
“required,” which has been highlighted in the direct quote below from
the original page):
The Obama Administration will call on Americans to serve in order to
meet the nation’s challenges. President-Elect Obama will expand national
service programs like AmeriCorps and Peace Corps and will create a new
Classroom Corps to help teachers in underserved schools, as well as a
new Health Corps, Clean Energy Corps, and Veterans Corps. Obama will
call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by developing a plan to
require 50 hours of community service in middle school and high school
and 100 hours of community service in college every year. Obama will
encourage retiring Americans to serve by improving programs available
for individuals over age 55, while at the same time promoting youth
programs such as Youth Build and Head Start.
That went over like a lead balloon, so a carrot was added in place of
the too-obvious stick. Here’s what the updated page currently says
(boldface emphasis mine):
Obama and Biden will call on citizens of all ages to serve. They’ll set
a goal that all middle school and high school students engage in 50
hours of community service a year, and develop a plan for all college
students who engage in 100 hours of community service to receive a
fully-refundable tax credit of $4,000 for their education.
Great! Since our economy is doing so well, let’s dish out $4K per
student for “volunteering.” But at approved volunteer sites only, of
Law professor Eugene Volokh’s blog reported on July 23, 2008:
Here are Service Nation’s more specific goals as laid out in Powerpoint
slides on their website (number 13 is mandatory universal service for
both men and women):
Engage 1 million Americans in full-time service, leveraging an
additional 100 million volunteers each year.
- Enroll one million Americans annually in a revitalized and
expanded AmeriCorps national service program. Create new corps focused
on education, public health, disaster relief, and energy conservation.
- Send 100,000 Americans overseas each year through the Peace Corps,
Volunteers for Prosperity and Global Service Fellowships.
- Engage students in service learning opportunities by expanding
Learn and Serve America to reach 3 million students.
- Engage teenagers in a “Summer of Service” to address problems in
their own backyard.
- Provide opportunities to returning war veterans who want to
continue to serve their country through a civilian service opportunity
at home or abroad.
- Make permanent the Citizen Corps and engage 500,000 Americans.
- Create a new initiative of “Encore Service Careers” for
baby-boomers and seniors.
- Offer new support and performance standards for 400 volunteer
- Create the permanent National Service Council to play a similar
role as the National Security Council and National Economic Council.
- Establish a U.S. Public Service Academy.
- Convene new Citizen Congresses.
- Create regular Youth Constitutional Conventions at the National
- Launch a debate about why and how America should become a nation
of universal national service by 2020: debating baby bond, lottery
draft, new GI Bill, etc.
- Create a Social Investment Fund to create a research and
development (R&D) arm and growth capital market for the social sector.
The fund would provide the financial infrastructure and leverage needed
to identify and support promising innovations in the social sector, test
their impact, and take them to scale.
- Offer social entrepreneur fellowships to graduates of national
service programs who have identified a need and a creative solution to
meeting that need in order to bring their program model to fruition.
- Create an office of “Social Innovation and Results” in the White
Volokh later reported, “ In response to my posts, Service Nation has now
scrubbed its list of goals (quoted above) from its website.” That
doesn’t change the fact that their original stated purpose was for
“universal national service by 2020.”
“Universal” means everyone, ladies and gentlemen.
This is already being implemented. The “GIVE Act,” H.R. 1388, was signed
into law on April 21. It massively expands and funds the National
Service Corporation, in a bid to “manage” up to 8 or 9 million
“volunteers.” H.R. 1444, the “SERVE Act,” also establishes a
Congressional Commission on Civic Service, among whose tasks is figuring
out “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 . . .”
Now comes the “Tuition-Free Public Service Academy Bill” sponsored by
Rep. Jim Moran, D-VA. In his own words, it would create a new four-year
academy “modeled after the current military service academies at West
Point, Annapolis and Colorado Springs.” The idea? To “cultivate and
groom a new generation of young leaders dedicated to public service. The
Public Service Academy would offer four years of tuition-free education
in exchange for five years of civilian service following graduation.
Eligible fields of service would include public education, public
health, law enforcement and government.”
Since four-year colleges already offer degrees in public education,
public health, law enforcement, and government, we have to wonder why a
special quasi-military academy is needed for this. Unless the goal is to
force every kid, and eventually everyone of all ages, to “volunteer.”
Then it will certainly help to have well-indoctrinated “leaders” for the
The freedom for our kids to volunteer-or not-and to choose where and how
long they volunteer, is as vital as the freedom to homeschool.
We’ve won other political battles; God willing, we’ll win this one, too.
Let “Freedom of Choice in Volunteering” become our watchword. It sure
beats “Arbeit Macht Frei.”