Volunteer… or else

Every Michigan Congressman, except Peter Hoekstra, voted in favor of increasing the number of AmeriCorps type, federally paid “volunteers” from 75,000 to 250,000 via H.R. 1388: the Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act. The link above is nice since votes can be sorted by state, party, district or name.

That vote count comes from GovTrack.us, which I recommend and which I have added to the blogroll. You should also know about OpenCongress.org, where you can find the text of these bills and comment on them.

HR 1388 at one point contemplated mandatory federal service, but the people in charge must have realized that compulsory volunteerism is a step too far into the realm of the oxymoronic. One bit of generational robbery at a time, please.

As TOC noted last November, the idea of “compulsory volunteerism” is Obama’s. HR 1388 is the setup for HR 1444, the Congressional Commission on Civic Service Act, which includes the following provision:

6) 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.

So, we’re going to ask a panel of Democrats whether they can come up with a “reasonable” way to draft young people as community organizers? Why bother. Of course they can.

If you don’t like slavery, you shouldn’t like the idea they’ll even study this.

In the post linked above you’ll find the concept came straight from Obama’s campaign. He warned us all, everybody is going to get their turn at community organizing and end up with résumés like this.

These efforts to make people “volunteer” are a part of the forever-plot to increase dependency on government. Another prong in that fork is Obama’s budget proposal to reduce the deductibility of charitable donations. The talking points followed quickly after Obama decided he knows better which charities are most deserving, and that government should get credit for his perspicacity. The ultra-left Center for American Progress takes up the cause and tells us why charities should approve of Obama’s plan: Higher tax rates combined with lower deductions should encourage higher donations so as to achieve the same level of tax saving. That’s as well as I can explain it. Here it is from the horse’s mouth:

The charities opposing the Obama proposal, however, are probably not worried about good or bad tax policy. They’re worried that they might see reduced donations. But if these charities are opposed to lowering the size of the tax break for donations by the wealthy, it stands to reason that they should be enthusiastic supporters of higher tax rates on the wealthy. Why? Because if they believe that the smaller subsidy of high-end charitable deductions reduces donations, then higher tax rates with the resulting higher subsidy should result in higher levels charitable giving—which should make them very happy indeed.

Presumably, when President Clinton raised the top tax rate to 39.6 percent from 31 percent in 1993, charities should have been overjoyed. After all, their wealthy benefactors saw the value of their tax deductions go from 31 cents on the dollar up to 39.6 cents on the dollar. And they must have been dismayed when George W. Bush cut the top tax rate to 35 percent, and the capital gains top rate to 15 percent. Now, they should be thrilled that Obama’s plan is to let the Bush top rates expire.

The entire argument can be read at the link above. I am not recommending that, I’m just proving it really exists.

The CfAP also tells us that even if a reduction in charitable giving results from Obama’s proposal, that would be a small price to pay for “health care reform.” This is just another way to say that individuals should not have the freedom to direct their own philanthropy, Government knows how to use that money better than they do. The CfAP is of the opinion that no matter what you do to people producing wealth, they have to continue to produce the same amount, they don’t get to volunteer to produce it.

Just as government knows high school and college students would be better off as volunteers working for ACORN in $15,000 paid internships than they would be …well doing whatever they want… whether it’s playing World of Warcraft, taking an entrepreneurial risk, twittering each other about how cool Obama is or actually volunteering at a homeless shelter. This is yet another attempt to redefine the meaning of a common English word to fit a political agenda. You cannot volunteer under compulsion or as a result of bribery. What life lesson do you draw, what personal sense of accomplishment, what connection with others do you derive from compulsory service?

When we come to depend on government to decide how to distribute charity we give up, to faceless bureaucrats, the right to favor one cause over another, eroding the sense that what we do as individuals matters. We come to think it’s government’s job and since we’ve already paid our taxes, we need not be further concerned. That’s exactly what Barack Obama and the Center for American Progress would prefer.