Jonah Goldberg, writing an editorial for the LA Times has taken issue with Barack Obama's speech to which Obama said 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."
Barack Obama gave a speech on July 2, 2008 on "A New Era of Service" where he said he would set a goal for students to perform a certain amount of "service" a year and that he would attach strings to educational monies to assure they did so.
Obama went on to say he would attach strings to educational dollars to see to it those goals were met.
Goldberg goes on to quote from the 13th amendment which says, "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime where of the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."
Goldberg doesn't let John McCain off the hook either as he points out that John McCain and President Bush both are in favor of "Washington-led (and paid-for) "volunteerism."
He also points out that both Christopher J. Dodd and John Edwards used compulsory service in their campaign platforms.
In pointing out the data and statistics of Americans that willingly give their time and money, he says:
Americans are vastly more generous with their time and their money than Europeans. According to social demographer Arthur C. Brooks, in 1995 (the last year international comparative data on giving was available), Americans gave 3 1/2 times as much money to charities and causes as the French, seven times more than the Germans and 14 times more than the Italians.
In 1998, Americans also volunteered 21% more than the Swiss and 32% more than Germans -- two countries with compulsory national service. And yet we're continually told we should emulate them so that America too can have a "culture of service."
Goldberg readily admits that national service is not slavery but he contends that compulsory national service contributes to the "slave mentality".
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.
Is Goldberg right that forcing people to volunteer by threatening the funding of their education is contradictory to the literal definition of the word "volunteer"?
1. a person who voluntarily offers himself or herself for a service or undertaking.
2. a person who performs a service willingly and without pay.
Is making service compulsory, for a nation that already gives more time and money, run the risk of going against the 13th amendment?