Thursday, March 19, 2009

National Civilian Community Corps Program

Recently, a flap about this has been circling the internet, specifically among the more right leaning sites. Some say that it will lead to an American "Brown Shirt" style of organization. While my particular jury is still out on that assessment, I offer you the summary of H.R. 1388, the Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act (GIVE).

According to the Congressional Research Service (via GovTrack):

"Includes among eligible AmeriCorps programs: (1) an Education Corps to address unmet educational needs; (2) a Healthy Futures Corps to address unmet health needs; (3) a Clean Energy Corps to address unmet environmental needs; and (4) a Veterans Corps to address the unmet needs of veterans and their families.

Creates AmeriCorps Opportunity Corps programs that include certain existing programs and new programs to: (1) increase community access to technology; (2) engage citizens in public safety, health, and emergency preparedness services; (3) mentor youth; (4) reduce recidivism by re-engaging court-involved youth; and (5) support the needs of veterans or active duty service members and their families.

Establishes an Education Awards Only program authorizing the Corporation for National and Community Service (Corporation) to provide fixed-amount grants to programs that have approved national service positions, but no AmeriCorps funding.

Sets the National Service educational awards for full-time AmeriCorps, NCCC, and Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) participants at a level equal to the maximum available Pell Grant available to students under the Higher Education Act of 1965.

Includes among needs to be met under the NCCC program, disaster relief, infrastructure improvement, environmental and energy conservation, and urban and rural development.
Requires states to develop comprehensive plans for volunteer and paid service by Baby Boomers and older adults."

The words "disadvantaged youth" and are there as well. They would probably form the bulk of the members. Keep in mind that the resolution defines this as:

DISADVANTAGED YOUTH- The term ‘disadvantaged youth’ includes those youth who are economically disadvantaged and one or more of the following:
(A) Who are out-of-school youth, including out-of-school youth who are unemployed.
(B) Who are in or aging out of foster care.
(C) Who have limited English proficiency.
(D) Who are homeless or who have run away from home.
(E) Who are at-risk to leave school without a diploma.
(F) Who are former juvenile offenders or at risk of delinquency.
(G) Who are individuals with a disability.

Questions within the wording of this measure ask:

"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 and overcome civic challenges by bringing together people from diverse economic, ethnic, and educational backgrounds." ~ H.R. 1388 (6104 [b][6])

This among other points in such a law are suspect however, I still question whether this is an "under the table" approach to bringing about the "Obama Youth".
It does sound radical, and in my eyes, it is, but there is a gaping loophole here:

This is an opportunity for Conservatism.

We as Conservatives have for many years (or pretty much as long as there have been Conservatives) complained about the kids on our lawns, the baggy pants around their knees, the staying out at all hours, the flagrant disregard for authority, the disrespect to their elders, the lack of cohesive communication skills, etc. These are those kids. We will happily tell them to go away, but will we offer them better choices for their lives?

If we simply sit back and complain about such programs and not offer our experience as competent and moral Conservatives to these youths who may very well be "drafted" (probably by court order in some cases) into it, then we will have no one but ourselves to blame if it breeds a mass of young ideology-driven Liberals.

An infusion of Conservative values to these "disadvantaged" youths would be the best thing for them, and by the same measure, for America. They are already in situations and environments where Liberalism appears to be the only feasible answer. We need to show them that there are two sides to every story. That the tenets of good American civil-mindedness (questioning authority and holding them accountable, help others in need, independent thought, freedom from oppression, etc.) are values to be embraced and lived by.

I have witnessed first hand Liberals at colleges decry the Military without ever considering joining it to change it into something more, well, Liberal. As a college graduate, they would be in a position to become officers, and therefore truly bring about whatever changes they saw fit to implement. Volunteering for such a thing is not their style as you may have realized, but it is ours. We have gladly joined the ranks of the Military for generations to defend what we hold dear. This is simply taking all that experience and giving it to tomorrow's young Americans.

They're going to need it.

As a disabled Vet (who had his issues with the law, Conservatism, and society in general) I believe that I am eminently qualified to mentor these kids. I suspect that most of you are too.

Blind opposition without real action is Obstructionism. Taking a program that may very well have been conceived to strengthen the Liberal base, and turning it into a springboard for tomorrow's Conservatives is how you counteract these things.

Never forget the Law of Unintended Consequences, because I assure you, they have.

“Do not worry if you have built your castles in the air. They are where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” ~ Henry David Thoreau