When is involuntary servitude not slavery?

Apparantly, when it's proposed by a black president.  I concede that Obama has since backed off that claim, even if his key advisors haven't.  But because Obama no longer advocates making his community service involuntary -- only strong recommended, with financial penalties for non-compliance -- apparantly some people are convinced that the comparison to slavery was overblown.

I don't buy that.

Involuntary servitude, no matter what nice name you drape it in, is slavery.  And that includes "strongly encouraged" servitude, when the encouragement comes in the form of graduation requirements or tuition inflation. 

The author compounds her error by responding to a commenter:

Dave, the slavery comments I read and HEARD were made well after everyone knew he changed the wording. The people who said those words were well aware of the change yet still chose to use the word slavery.

By the way, there are many high schools across the nation that require some form of community service for graduation. Nobody was complaining about that. But suddenly, that?s slavery.

I graduated from a high school that required community service as a condition of graduation.  I complained. I still do.  I did not call it slavery, because it was not, but it was nonetheless disturbingly close, because the practical alternatives for someone at that stage in their life are few.  And I will further add that as a mechanism for accomplishing anything at all it was completely useless

That a program has moved from an explicit call to involuntary servitude to a slightly-less-strong call to semi-voluntary "service" does not redeem it.
Obama would encourage a goal of 50 hours of community service for high school students. That?s 50 hours over the course of a year, hours that could be spent cleaning up a park, reading to the elderly, working in a soup kitchen, assisting developmentally disabled children, delivering meals, collecting clothing for shelters, or working with local community programs like Kiwanis. There are myriad ways in which the youth of America can get involved with their surrounding communities, providing a give and take that benefits both the student and the community at large.
That's 50 hours that could be spent working a decent job and preparing for success, or studying, or even just relaxing and having fun... in other words, however the person chose to spend their time.  Having a government program make that choice for students is not an improvement.
On the college level, Obama's plan would ensure a $4,000 tuition credit to students who complete 100 hours of community service a year. With the cost of college education soaring, that $4,000 is like a windfall to a college student. The student would be rewarded monetarily, but the reward of completing service toward the community is something that will stay with them, as well as the community, forever. Service to others is a lasting gift.
The cost of college education is soaring because the number of loan programs, tuition aids, and other government subsidies for education are producing tremendous tuition inflation.  Is there any reason to suspect that colleges will not simply raise their tuition by approximately $4000 a year following enactment of this program?

Mind you, that $4000 a year is coming out of the taxes paid by other hard-working Americans.  Taxes that those Americans earned, often at a rate of skilled labor substantially less than $40/hour. 
Community service is not a dirty word; nor is it an idea to be tossed aside because you don't like who is delivering the message about it. Encouraging our youth to take part in something selfless is encouraging them to be better human beings. What could be better for this country?
To quote Ayn Rand in response:
Capitalism demands the best of every man - his rationality - and rewards him accordingly. It leaves every man free to choose the work he likes, to specialize in it, to trade his product for the products of others, and to go as far on the road of achievement as his ability and ambition will carry him.

This entry was published Fri Nov 21 08:54:13 CST 2008 by TriggerFinger and last updated 2008-11-21 08:54:13.0. [Tweet]

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