Obama Service, aka Involuntary Servitude

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In
my experience, most people seem to enjoy freedom. And yet it would
appear most people fall prey to any government euphemism for slavery.
Many even vote for slavery, albeit under a different name. This
includes under the name of u201Cservice.u201D

Performing
service unto others is typically known to be a good, even a noble,
act. Private companies and citizens do it every day, voluntarily.
State-forced u201Cservice,u201D on the other hand, is merely slavery, or
involuntary servitude. Slavery is essentially Person A forcing Person
B to perform a task at Person A's request, and paying Person B at
a wage less than what they would have accepted willingly. Steven
Yates
provides a helpful definition of slavery:

. . .
slavery is non-ownership of one's Person and Labor. It
is involuntary servitude. A slave must work under a whip, real
or figurative, wielded by other persons, his owners, with no say
in how (or even if) his labors are compensated. His is a one-way
contract he cannot opt out of. A slave is tied to his master (and
to the land where he labors). He cannot simply quit if he doesn't
like it. Moreover, a slave can be bought and sold like any other
commodity.

While
most people think slavery was abolished in the US in 1865, it is
alive and well — except now slavery is institutionalized and disguised
under the more innocuous, and less conspicuous, label u201Ctaxes.u201D It
is not hard to see that taxes are a form of slavery — it is taking
the fruits of one's labor through a figurative whip; it is also
a violation of the 13th Amendment. However, let us turn from taxes
to a more explicit form of involuntary servitude, this time u201Cserved
upu201D by future President Barack Obama.

Slavery
will grow under Obama's Presidency. Obama plans to u201Cexpand and fund
AmeriCorps from 75,000 slots today to 250,000u201D through the creation
of five new Corps. Let's take a look at the description of Obama's
proposed program, the Classroom
Corps
, taking particular note of the language:

Classroom
Corps: to help teachers and students, with a priority placed
on high-need and underserved schools. The Corps will enlist
retired or mid-career engineers and scientists to provide support
for math and science teachers in the form of mentoring, student
tutoring, curriculum development, and technology support. It will
recruit neighborhood civic, business and faith leaders to offer
after-school programs and community service opportunities. And
the Corps will draft parents, grandparents, college students
or community members to mentor and provide one-on-one assistance
to students, and assist with classroom activities under the direction
of teachers. (Emphasis added.)

Using
such words as u201Cenlistu201D and u201Cdraftu201D are surely not the most marketable
terms for implementing and expanding a program which includes the
word u201CCorpsu201D — but at least the involuntary servitude is less disguised
through these verbs. Perhaps people will not be as receptive to
this thinly-veiled form of slavery.

The
AmeriCorps program is part of the government's u201CCorporation
for National & Community Service
.u201D The program is publicized
as a service and volunteer u201CCorporation.u201D Yet there are very few
volunteer programs that require almost a
billion dollars a year
of US taxpayers' money to function. In
fact, u201Cvolunteersu201D for these programs receive payment. Receiving
payment through tax dollars (i.e., theft), calling it volunteer
work, and touting it as a u201Cserviceu201D program would make Orwell proud.

This is not the end of Obama's involuntary servitude program. While
the Classroom Corps will enlist the college student, middle-aged,
and grandparent, there is another u201Cserviceu201D possibility for those
feeling left out: the middle and high school students. Here is a
description
of the program:

Expand
Service-Learning in Our Nation's Schools: In November,
Barack Obama laid out a comprehensive plan to provide all Americans
with a world-class education and give our schools a substantial
infusion of funds to support teachers and principals and improve
student learning. That plan conditions that assistance on school
districts developing programs to engage students in service opportunities.
Obama believes that middle and high school students should
be expected to engage in community service for 50 hours annually
during the school year or summer months. (Emphasis added.)

This program would more accurately be termed child slave labour.
Obama believes that service should be held as a value at the
expense of everyone else's liberty. Clearly, the state's doctrine
is obedience to the state, uniformity in all things, and collectivism.
Thus we see the danger of the state being in control of the education
system. In fact, this comes closer to the central issue. The correct
question, as Murray Rothbard
pointed out
, is whether the parent or the state should be the
overseer of the child. Do parents have a right to raise their child
or does the state? Libertarians must answer that parents, as u201Cproducersu201D
of the child, have the right to raise their children.

In
addition, parents who engage in true, i.e., voluntary, service with
their children are able to benefit as a family. Parents can teach
their children what it means to serve, how to serve, when to serve,
and whom to serve. The state, as a form of institutionalized coercion,
is hardly an example of serving others. When a child learns that
service is something required, as opposed to something voluntary,
it no longer becomes a charitable or kind act. It appears that most
of these u201Cserviceu201D activities will take place outside of normal
school hours, thus decreasing the time a child spends with their
family. We now see the state is at war, not only with every individual,
but with the family.

William Lloyd
Garrison showed the importance of abolishing slavery in the 1830s:

Urge immediate
abolition as earnestly as we may, it will, alas! be gradual abolition
in the end. We have never said that slavery would be overthrown
by a single blow; that it ought to be, we shall always contend.

It
appears that slavery in the 21st century is alive and well, and
will grow under a new Slave Master. In echoing Garrison's sentiments,
libertarians must contend that slavery be abolished immediately,
and under any mask it may appear. Involuntary servitude acclaimed
as service needs to be exposed. Fortunately, there is one sensible
voice among bureaucratic babble, Ron
Paul
, who has proclaimed liberty from Slave Headquarters itself
for years (taken
from 2003
):

Military
needs aside, however, some politicians simply love the thought
of mandatory service to the state. To them, the American government
is America. Patriotism means working for the benefit of the state.
On a crude level, the draft appeals to patriotic fervor. This
is why the idea of compulsory national service, whether in
the form of military conscription or make-work programs like AmeriCorps,
still sells on Capitol Hill. Conscription is wrongly associated
with patriotism, when it really represents collectivism and involuntary
servitude.

November
22, 2008

Chris
Brown [send him mail]
is a lecturer at the Australian Graduate School of Entrepreneurship.
He also centrally plans the Austro-libertarian
blog.

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