January 26, 2009 9:30AM

A Different Kind of Ownership Society

In the Christian Science Monitor today, Southern Illinois University professor William A. Babcock tries to make a case for mandatory national service — two years of forced toil in politically specified areas of “national need” that would be rewarded with two free years of college (and, presumably, no free years in jail). In addition, Babcock touts a bunch of valuable lessons that “youth corps” slav…er…members would learn, including how to be “more worldly wise,” whatever that means, and how to be “more fiscally self‐​sufficient.” Right…

I can really only see two lessons being taught by a national service program like the one Babcock proposes: (1) a college education is little more than a parting gift, not the way to gain truly advanced knowledge and skills, and (2) the state owns you. 

Unfortunately, Prof. Babcock is not alone in endorsing a bizarro “ownership society.” In fact, some guy who just became president, while stopping short of calling for mandatory service (but not the taxation to pay for it) is almost right there with the professor. It’s radical change we should all hope we’re not forced to believe in.