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