The House of Representatives passed a measure Wednesday that supporters are calling the most sweeping reform of nationally-backed volunteer programs since AmeriCorps. But some opponents are strongly criticizing the legislation, calling it expensive indoctrination and forced advocacy.
The Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act, known as the GIVE Act — sponsored by Reps. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y, and George Miller, D-Calif. — was approved by a 321-105 vote and now goes to the Senate.
The legislation, slated to cost $6 billion over five years, would create 175,000 “new service opportunities” under AmeriCorps, bringing the number of participants in the national volunteer program to 250,000. It would also create additional “corps” to expand the reach of volunteerism into new sectors, including a Clean Energy Corps, Education Corps, Healthy Futures Corps and Veterans Service Corps, and it expands the National Civilian Community Corps to focus on additional areas like disaster relief and energy conservation.
It is the first time the AmeriCorps program, which was created by President Clinton in 1993, will be reauthorized, and supporters say it will have additional funding to match the renewed interest in national service since President Obama’s election and the acute need for volunteerism and charity in tough economic times.
“National and community service can help make Americans a part of the solution to get our country through this economic crisis. I hope the House and Senate will join us in moving as quickly as possible to help President Obama sign this critical bill into law,” Miller, chairman of the education committee, said after the bill was passed.
But the bill’s opponents — and there are only a few in Congress — say it could cram ideology down the throats of young “volunteers,” many of whom could be forced into service since the bill creates a “Congressional Commission on Civic Service.”
The bipartisan commission will be tasked with exploring a number of topics, including “whether a workable, fair and reasonable mandatory service requirement for all able young people could be developed and how such a requirement could be implemented in a manner that would strengthen the social fabric of the nation.”
“We contribute our time and money under no government coercion on a scale the rest of the world doesn’t emulate and probably can’t imagine,” said Luke Sheahan, contributing editor for the Family Security Foundation. “The idea that government should order its people to perform acts of charity is contrary to the idea of charity and it removes the responsibility for charity from the people to the government, destroying private initiative.”
House committee staff insist the GIVE Act will not change the voluntary nature of service.
Not change the voluntary nature? Note they ignore where the money comes from. Seems reasonable to me that if they claim ownership of 50% of my labor passively through taxation there is no philosophical jump required to claim 100% of my labor or force me to ‘serve.’
Looks like this is the first real step to national state slavery. They’ve already got plenty of mandatory service plans ready to impliment. This is really little more than a formality.