NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Is Bush Going Overboard to Federalize Community Service?

March 13, 2002

Figures show Americans are well-acquainted with voluntary service to their communities -- readily opening their wallets and giving their time to worthy causes. Now President Bush wants to do more than simply encourage Americans to be compassionate people and good citizens.

In numerous public statements coast-to-coast, he has made it clear he wants the federal government to finance and organize "voluntary" activities.

  • He would combine and expand AmeriCorps, the Senior Corps and the Peace Corps -- along with an entirely new Citizen Corps -- under an umbrella called the USA Freedom Corps.
  • It would employ 200,000 new "volunteers" and cost more than a half-billion additional dollars each year.
  • Thus would voluntary service be transformed into just another bureaucratic government spending program -- with freely-given time and contributions supplanted by government funds raised from involuntary taxes.
  • Critics make the point that if voluntarism means anything, it is that actions are voluntary and real compassion involves personal sacrifice -- not people making other people sacrifice.

They argue that Washington has spent nearly a century taking control of areas of life once left to a vibrant civil society -- and in the process the private sector has been pushed into the background by the welfare state.

Now the president wants to take over the charitable sector by providing funding and volunteers and deciding which jobs should be done.

Source: Doug Bandow (Cato Institute), "Big Brother and National Nanny," Washington Times, March 13, 2002.


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