or “A modest Proposal”
Category: Viewpoint from Pelham
Okay, I am going to contradict myself—sort of, but the spending program I am going to describe may be one tactic for steering the ship of state back on course. I believe that each able-bodied individual should perform some form of community or public service as part of being a citizen of the United States.
I guess I envision a program not unlike the Great Depression era Works Progress (or Projects) Administration or the Civilian Conservation Corps (WPA or CCC)—I’ll call it the National Service Corps (NSC)—where people unemployed and/or welfare recipients on “public assistance” would perform some form of public service. I would also have new high school and college graduates perform some form of public service for 12-18 months after leaving school. For one example, I could see the nation’s national, state, and local parks being tended to by NSC members. Our national parks need maintenance and cleanup. Someone needs to do it, and the required skills and knowledge could be learned/taught on-the-job.
Some students who have trained for and become qualified for specific professions such as medicine, teaching, law enforcement, etc., could meet their public service requirement by completing a minimum specified period of internship or employment in their chosen jobs.
There would even be positions for people required to manage and administer the NCS program.
Of course, a minimum period of military service in any branch of the military would satisfy the requirement for public service.
Having a job helps teach and instill responsibility in individuals. Many of the “jobs” that I envision would teach both vocational skills (e.g., welding, carpentry, etc.) and intellectual skills (math, problem solving, history, civics, etc.) that could be valuable to them in the future after “graduating” from the program.
This would require a serious investment by the people of the US (i.e., taxes to support the program) but I would rather support people working than people on welfare–I might feel like my “public assistance” money was more of an investment than a handout. Also, businesses could earn tax breaks by employing NSC participants in appropriate job categories.
Many of us in “real life” have done whatever job was available, and gone wherever we needed to go to work. Not all of these jobs paid what I needed, but it was better than nothing. Not every job was convenient nor fun and fulfilling—but they provided a paycheck. In some cases, I had to uproot my family. There were good periods and some not-so-good periods. No one said it was going to be easy. I just knew it was my responsibility to take care of myself and my family.
I believe the United States should to be a “leadership society” in encouraging and developing a responsible, self-sufficient citizenry. Just for the record, there will always be people, through no fault of their own, find themselves in need of help, and should receive that needed help.
I can see many factors that make such a program challenging, but I can not see any reason not to. Comments??
And if you have not already read it, you really should see Governing, Part 4….