Jonah Goldberg:

Forced servitude in America?

The U.S. already has high rates of volunteerism, but that's apparently not good enough for our presidential candidates.
July 8, 2008

There's a weird irony at work when Sen. Barack Obama, the black presidential candidate who will allegedly scrub the stain of racism from the nation, vows to run afoul of the constitutional amendment that abolished slavery.

For those who don't remember, the 13th Amendment says: "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime ... shall exist within the United States."

I guess in Obama's mind it must be a crime to be born or to go to college.

In his speech on national service Wednesday at the University of Colorado, Obama promised that as president he would "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."

He would see that these goals are met by, among other things, attaching strings to federal education dollars. If you don't make the kids report for duty, he's essentially telling schools and college kids, you'll lose money you can't afford to lose. In short, he'll make service compulsory by merely compelling schools to make it compulsory.

It's funny that, when the right seeks to use the government to impose its values, the left screams about brainwashing and propaganda. When the left tries it, the right thunders about social engineering. But when left and right agree -- as seems to be the case on national service -- who's left to complain? As ever, the slipperiest slopes are greased with the snake oil of "bipartisanship."
Interesting article.

LA Times