Compulsory Public Service

Someone on my LJ friends list is in favor of having a sort of compulsory public service instituted in the US.

As a rational anarchist1, I’m against that.

This is not to say I am against public service projects. Not in the least. What I do say is that they should be voluntary.

I challenge anyone in favor of compulsory public service: If you haven’t done so (and perhaps many of you have. Good for you if you do!), pick a public service project and donate ten hours a month of your time to it.

Volunteerism on a regular basis doesn’t happen as often as it could. There are a lot of reasons for this. Housewives used to be the big volunteer base in the US, and between high taxation and a higher perceived “minimum” standard of living2, the stay at home mom is a rare bird. (For good or for bad. Me? I prefer to support myself, but that’s a personal taste thing). Government services have increased to the point where we genuinely believe that it is the Government’s job to take care of social needs, and we seem willing to pay for charity to be a highly specialized profession. We have a mental blind spot about it.

I’m not saying this as someone who spends a lot of her time volunteering. Maybe you count Polyfamilies as a community building volunteer type project. If so, I don’t do it any more, and that’s five years out of 37, ya know? And I don’t really count it. I’m neither proud nor ashamed of the fact I haven’t spent much time on community service, but I did want the facts straight.

I do think community service is a good and worthy thing. I just don’t think we should use our young adults as slave labor because we can’t be arsed to get off our butts ourselves! We’d be setting ourselves up for another fiasco like Social Security! I’m all for setting an example. You think community service is important? Go do it! Yes, many readers do. And good for you! Talk it up on your LJs, cause people should see a good example to follow.

1 “A rational anarchist believes that concepts such as ‘state’ and ‘society’ and ‘government’ have no existence save as physically exemplified in the acts of self-responsible individuals. He believes that it is impossible to shift blame, share blame, distribute blame . . . as blame, guilt, responsibility are matters taking place inside human beings singly and nowhere else. But being rational, he knows that not all individuals hold his evaluations, so he tries to live perfectly in an imperfect world . . . aware that his effort will be less than perfect yet undismayed by self-knowledge of self-failure.” — The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Robert A. Heinlein

2 House size has increased threefold since the 1950s. —

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