Cato Policy Analysis No. 190 March 15, 1993

Policy Analysis

National Service: Utopias Revisited

by Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow, a senior fellow of the Cato Institute, is the author of Human Resources and Defense Manpower, published by National Defense University.

Executive Summary

National service has long been a favorite utopian theme. Earlier this century, William James wrote of the need for a "moral equivalent of war," which would require all young men to work for the community. In succeeding decades, a host of philosophers, policy analysts, and politicians offered their proposals for national service. Now President Clinton suggests allowing perhaps 150,000 or so people to work off student loans through government service.

The scheme has a certain superficial appeal, but at base it assumes that citizens are responsible, not to each other, but to the state. Moreover, advocates of national service seem to believe that "public" service, such as shelving books in a library, is inherently better than "private" service, such as shelving books in a bookstore.

Still, proponents of national service rightly point to the problem of an entitlement mentality, in this case the idea that students have a right to a taxpayer-paid education. The solution, however, is not to say that people are entitled to an education as long as they work for the government for a year or two, but to eliminate the undeserved subsidy.

Imagine the bureaucracy necessary to decide which jobs are "service," sort through labor union objections to "unfair competition," match thousands of participants with individual posts, and monitor the quality of people's work. The incredible fraud, misuse, and waste endemic to other so-called public service programs hardly augur well for yet another, even larger, federal effort at social engineering.

National service, despite its persistent allure, would be no bargain. Clinton's proposal would create a nightmarish bureaucracy and waste billions of dollars at a time when he is asking the American people to pay more in taxes. National service is an idea whose time will never come.


National service has long been a favorite utopian scheme. Eighty years ago William James wrote of the need for a "moral equivalent of war," under which all young men would be required to work for the community.(1) He argued that "the martial virtues, although originally gained by the race through war, are absolute and permanent human goods" and that national service provided a method of instilling those values in peacetime. "Our gilded youths would be drafted off," he wrote, "to get the childishness knocked out of them, and to come back into society with healthier sympathies and soberer ideas."(2) Anachronistic though his vision may seem today, his rhetoric became the touchstone for advocates of national service: in succeeding decades a host of philosophers, policy analysts, and politicians offered their own proposals for either voluntary or mandatory national service. Some of those initiatives were turned into law. For instance, the United States imposed military conscription during four major wars and maintained it during two decades of peace. Congress also created a variety of volunteer service programs--the Civilian Conservation Corps as part of the New Deal and the Peace Corps and ACTION in the 1960s.

Five years ago the Democratic Leadership Council, to which Gov. Bill Clinton belonged, advocated a citizens corps of 800,000 or more young people that would clean up parks and handle police paperwork.(3) The system would be run by a corporation for national service, which would set the level of benefits for participants and offer them vouchers for education or housing. Underlying the proposal was an assumption of mass moral decadence that had to be rectified by the federal government. We live in a "prevailing climate of moral indolence," contended the DLC, where "such venerable civic virtues as duty and self-sacrifice and compassion toward one's less fortunate neighbors are seldom invoked."(4)

Candidate Clinton was too interested in being elected to criticize the voters in those terms, however. He used more positive rhetoric to propose allowing perhaps 250,000 or so people to work off their student loans through approved government service. He explained that his initiative would allow everyone who wanted to go to school to do so, in return for giving something back to the community. Superficially, at least, it sounded like a win-win proposition. In practice, however, any such program would almost certainly pour billions of dollars into make-work jobs and reinforce the entitlement mentality that pervades our society.

What Is National Service?

National service has always generated strong approval in opinion polls, largely because it means different things to different people. The concept--service to the nation-- seems difficult to fault, and people imagine that the service will be provided in the manner they prefer. Thus, a century ago Edward Bellamy used his novel Looking Backward to propose drafting both men and women into an industrial army for life; in 1910 William James urged conscription of young men into the most unpleasant work of the time, such as construction, fishing, and steel making. The so-called preparedness movement pressed for mandatory military training and service before the onset of World War I. The radical writer Randolph Bourne opposed U.S. involvement in that war but later proposed forcing young men and women to provide two years of service before the age of 20. Universal military training received wide endorsement after World War II, and Congress reimposed military conscription after only a one-year interregnum. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara proposed tying civilian service to the draft in the early 1960s. Sociologist Margaret Mead advocated a universal program that "would replace for girls, even more than for boys, marriage as the route away from the parental home."(5)

Since then the proposals have come fast and furious. Don Eberly of the National Service Secretariat has spent years pressing for a service program, while carefully side-stepping the question of whether it should be mandatory. Charles Moskos of Northwestern University, who pushed a civilian adjunct to the draft before the creation of the All-Volunteer Force in 1973, has more recently proposed a detailed voluntary program.(6) Moskos, an adviser to Clinton, nevertheless retains his preference for compulsion, admitting that "if I could have a magic wand I would be for a compulsory system."(7) (Also mandatory, though in a different way, is the service requirement for high-school graduation now imposed by the state of Maryland and roughly 200 local school jurisdictions.)(8) In the 1980s a raft of legislation was proposed to create commissions, hand out grants, reestablish the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Works Progress Administration, create new service agencies, and pay part-time volunteers. Most serious was the DLC's initiative, which Congress turned into an omnibus grant program and the Commission on National and Community Service.

Thereafter, the issue lay dormant until last year, when the Los Angeles riots caused observers from the late tennis great Arthur Ashe to Newsweek columnist and former colonel David Hackworth to Bush campaign aide James Pinkerton to press for different forms of national service. More important, candidate Clinton began inserting it into his stump speeches.

Clinton's Scheme

According to President Clinton, "You could bet your bottom dollar" that his program would "make it possible for every person in this country who wants to, to go to college."(9) He proposed, as one of his five top priorities, creating the National Service Trust Fund. All young people, irrespective of their parents' income, could borrow for their educations; they would repay their loans either through federal withholding from future wages or by "serving their communities for one or two years doing work their country needs."(10) After the election, some advisers, including Moskos, pressed the president to also consider the alternative approach of allowing high-school graduates to earn college tuition vouchers through community service.(11)

Deficit concerns have caused the administration to initially back away from President Clinton's most ambitious campaign musings. However, explains White House spokesman George Stephanopoulos, the president "intends to fulfill his commitment to build a national service plan."(12) In a speech at Rutgers University on March 1, the president proposed starting with a pilot program, to be expanded to as many as 150,000 or more participants who would receive two years' tuition for every year's work. Apparently, students could work either before or after attending college. Total benefits--and whether participants' salaries would all be the same or would reflect differences in total aid received and forgiven, which would obviously be much greater for someone attending an Ivy League school than for someone attending a state university--remain unspecified. In return for some level of government educational assistance, explained President Clinton:

We'll ask you to help our police forces across the nation, training members for a new police corps, that will walk beats and work with neighborhoods and build the kind of community ties that will prevent crime from happening in the first place; we'll ask young people to work to help control pollution and recycle waste, to paint darkened buildings and clean up neighborhoods, to work with senior citizens and combat homelessness and help children in trouble.(13)

There is nothing compulsory about the Clinton proposal, but coercion could follow later. Proponents of a mandatory, universal system, such as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), see voluntary programs as a helpful first step and would undoubtedly press for mandatory service once national service became the law of the land. A move to compulsion, though perhaps not very likely, is certainly possible. Consider the scenario in which national service leads to a draft as sketched by David R. Henderson, associate professor of economics at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.

National service attracts few kids from higher- income families. Its advocates then argue that the only way to get broad participation across all income classes is to make national service compulsory. With the voluntary-service network in place, and with an existing constituency of organizations that benefit from the artificially cheap labor, the next step is compulsory service.(14)

Clinton's proposal to set loan repayment as a percentage of income largely involves an attempt to ease the burden on poorer college graduates. There is nothing wrong with the idea in theory, but it is not easy to implement. Congress established and then abandoned a pilot program of that sort in the 1980s, and it authorized further experimentation with that approach when it passed the Higher Education Reauthorization Act last year. Moreover, colleges that have attempted to guarantee repayment in that way have had similar difficulties (do you count a spouse's income, for instance?).

The more important and controversial issue involves the second idea--allowing repayment through "service." Service is obviously a good thing, which is why so many people feel warm and fuzzy when politicians propose "national service." The issue, however, is service to whom? All government programs ultimately assume that citizens are responsible, not to each other, but to the state. The proposals suggest that as a price for being born in the United States one "owes" a year or two of one's life to Washington. Mandatory, universal schemes unabashedly put private lives at the disposal of the government, but most of the voluntary programs, too, imply a unity of society and state, with work for the latter being equated with service to the former.

Yet Americans have worked in their communities since the nation's founding, and opportunities for service today abound. Some 80 million people, roughly one-third of the population, now participate in some volunteer activities.(15) Businesses, churches, and schools have taken the lead in helping to organize their members' efforts. In a cover story Newsweek reported that "many of the old stereotypes are gone. Forget the garden club: today working women are more likely than housewives to give time to good works, and many organizations are creating night and weekend programs for the busy schedules of dual-paycheck couples. Men, too, are volunteering almost as often as women."(16)

Much more could be done, of course. But it would be better for government officials to lead by example than to concoct multi-billion-dollar schemes to encourage what is already occurring. True compassion is going to be taught from the grassroots up, not from Washington down. The underlying assumption of the Clinton program--that there is a debilitating dearth of service that can be remedied only through yet another raid on the taxpayers--is simply false. Moreover, the Clinton program, while cloaked in public- spirited rhetoric, nevertheless relies heavily on economic incentives.

A second bias held by advocates of national service is that "public" service is inherently better than "private" service. Yet what makes shelving books in a library more laudable or valuable than stocking shelves in a bookstore? Many workers in the private sector provide enormous public benefits--consider health care professionals, medical and scientific researchers, business entrepreneurs and inventors, and artists. Working in a government-approved "service" job neither entitles one to be morally smug nor means one is producing more of value than the average worker in the private workplace.

Entitlement Mentality

Still, proponents of national service rightly point to the problem of an entitlement mentality--the idea that, for instance, students have a right to a taxpayer-paid education. Why should middle-class young people be able to force poor taxpayers to put them through school? The solution, however, is not to say that students are entitled to do so as long as they work for the government for a year or two, but to eliminate the undeserved subsidy. People simply do not have a "right" to a university education, especially not a professional degree, at taxpayer expense.

Advocates of national service respond with shock. Education, they argue, will be increasingly important in an increasingly technological age. True enough: the greatest divergence in incomes in the 1980s reflected the gulf between those with and those without college degrees. That increased earning potential primarily benefits the students themselves, however, and the probable lifetime gain of $640,000(17) should allow them to borrow privately. The interest rate may be higher than it is with today's federal guarantees, but that hardly seems unfair given the added earnings students can expect.

Nevertheless, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), an advocate of the Clinton program, contends that even middle-class families can ill afford to send their kids to college. That contention is now accepted as a truism, but it is not obviously correct. More than three-quarters of the best students currently go on to higher education.(18) More than half of New York City's high-school graduates eventually enroll in just one college--the City University of New York--and many others, of course, go to other institutions. Qualified students unable to get a college education because of finances are few. What President Clinton, Senator Dodd, and others seem to envision is luring additional, marginal students into the university, but those advocates are exhibiting the worst sort of elitism by assuming that everyone needs a college degree to find fulfillment in life. Some young people are not academically oriented or interested; others have found more satisfying ways to spend their lives. The federal government should not be pushing them to go to school.

Anyway, the fact that higher education, especially at elite private universities, strains many family budgets is hardly surprising, since the dramatic increase in federal aid to education has helped fuel a rapid rise in tuition. Further flooding the educational system with money is likely to benefit administrators more than students. The point is, if there is more money available for schools to collect, they will do so.

Moreover, it is because of free-spending legislators such as Dodd that government now takes roughly half of national income, which makes it difficult for families to afford higher education. Politicians worried about middle- class taxpayers should cut federal spending, not hike costs by billions of dollars by instituting a national service program. In short, while the jump in federal educational assistance in the 1970s undoubtedly helped more students attend college, there is no reason to assume both that the majority of those marginal attendees benefited more than the cost of their education and that they could not have afforded school had tuition not been artificially inflated and their families' incomes been so sharply and unnecessarily reduced by taxes.

The problem with national service is not just theoretical, however. Like every other national service plan, the Clinton proposal would break down in practice. Of course, it is hard to evaluate the specifics of the system because they do not yet exist. Admitted the president shortly after his election: "I feel very passionate about" national service, "but there are a lot of factual questions that have to be asked. How much money should everybody be able to borrow a year? What contributions should people's families be expected to make, if any? If you put this into effect, how are you going to keep the colleges and the universities of this country from using it as an excuse to explode tuition even more?"(19) Good questions all, and all go to the viability of any program.

The implementation problems are likely to be enormous. First, President Clinton says that he will not allow any job displacement, which guarantees that participants will not perform the most valuable work to be done. The DLC's proposed program had the same feature--to forestall opposition from organized labor, the group promised that its program would neither impair existing contracts nor limit the promotion possibilities for existing workers. The latter promise, however, is virtually impossible to keep: if national servers end up in local school districts as teachers and teachers' aides, will the districts hire as many other teachers and teachers' aides in the future? Almost any job that might be performed by a municipal union member is likely to be excluded from any national service program or, if it is not, generate significant political opposition.

Even assuming that problem can be overcome, national service is not likely to produce significant social benefits. What work would participants do? Past government "service" programs have always been very limited in scope. Advocates of national service like to point to the Peace Corps and VISTA, but those two programs, along with more than 60 state and local programs, involve only some 18,000 people. Even during the military draft the government had little use for the labor of conscientious objectors, placing only 30,000 in service jobs from 1951 to 1965. What will even 150,000 people a year do?

Meet current "unmet social needs," advocates of national service respond. Previously, proponents of national service have glibly estimated the number of jobs that need to be done at as many as 5.3 million. According to one study, for instance, libraries need 200,000 people, and education needs six times as many.(20) But as long as human wants are unlimited, the real number of unfilled social "needs," as well as unmet business "needs," is infinite. Labor, however, is not a free resource. Thus, satisfying most of those "unmet" needs is simply not worthwhile. One of the great benefits of the market process is that it balances benefits and costs throughout society, using wages as a signal that activities warrant undertaking. National service would treat some jobs as sacrosanct and ignore disfavored, but more socially worthwhile, alternative tasks that could be performed instead.

Opportunity Costs

Indeed, opportunity costs may be the crux of the national service debate. Paying young people a generous compensation--they will receive tuition relief plus salary and health care benefits--for painting darkened buildings, one of the president's ideas; or doing police paperwork, something proposed as part of the DLC's program; or performing other "service" entails forgoing whatever else could be done with that money. Moreover, it entails forgoing whatever else those young people could do. "Public service" has a nice ring to it, but there is no reason to believe, a priori, that a dollar spent on national service will yield more benefits than an additional dollar spent on medical research, technological innovation, or any number of other private and public purposes. Indeed, the Clinton program would delay the entry of tens of thousands of people into the workforce every year, an economic impact that the president and his advisers appear not to have calculated. Yet the relative value of labor may rise in coming years as the population ages.(21) As a result, the opportunity cost of diverting young people into extraneous educational pursuits and dubious social projects could rise sharply over time.

Another potentially important opportunity cost is that of diverting top-quality men and women from the military.(22) The end of the Cold War has sharply cut recruiting needs, but it has also reduced some of the allure of volunteering as well as the perceived national need. As a result, by summer 1992 the Army, which typically has a more difficult recruiting task than the other services, was about 10 percent behind in signing up recruits for 1993. Observed Gen. Jack Wheeler, head of the Army's recruiting effort, "I'm not panicking, but the numbers are disturbing."(23) The military has even seen recruiting fall off in such traditional strongholds as northern Florida and other parts of the South. Yet various programs of educational benefits have always been an important lure for attracting college-capable youth to the military. Providing similar benefits for civilian service may hinder recruiting for what remains the most fundamental form of national service--defending the nation. The military rightly fears the potential impact of national service on a system that has been working well. Observed Thomas Byrne of the private Association of the U.S. Army after the DLC proposal was unveiled, "We don't want high-caliber people who might otherwise join the Army off planting trees instead."(24) The result, again, would be higher costs: economic, as more money would have to be spent to attract quality people; military, as the armed forces might become less effective; and moral, since military service would lose its preferred status, warranted by the uniqueness of the duties involved.

Still, there are undoubtedly many worthwhile tasks that people could do. The problem in many cases, however, is that government effectively bars private provision of such services. Minimum wage laws effectively forbid the hiring of dedicated but unskilled people and inhibit rehabilitation programs, such as the one run by the Salvation Army. Restrictions on paratransit operations limit private transportation for the disabled. Licensing, zoning, and other unnecessary and often nonsensical regulations increase the price of day care.(25) Similar sorts of restrictions harm private voluntarism as well. Health regulations prevent restaurants in Los Angeles and elsewhere from donating food to the hungry, for instance. In short, in many cases important needs are unmet precisely because of perverse government policy.

To the extent that serious problems remain, narrowly targeted responses are most likely to be effective. That is, it would be better to find a way to attract several thousand people to help care for the terminally ill than to lump that task with teaching, painting buildings, and a dozen other jobs to be done by a force of 150,000 or more. Talk of millions of "unmet social needs" is meaningless.

In any case, local organizations are not likely to use "free" labor provided by the federal government efficiently: staff members would face an almost irresistible temptation to assign hated grunge work rather than more suitable tasks to national servers. There are good reasons many tasks that are not performed today are not performed, a fact ignored by advocates of national service. In fact, a similar problem of perverse incentives has been evident in federal grant programs that allow states to use national money for projects to which the states contribute little. Observes David Luberoff of Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government, "One of the lessons of the interstate project is that in general . . . if you don't require that states put up a reasonable amount of the cost, you run the risk of building stuff that is probably not that cost-effective."(26)

Real voluntarism, in contrast, works because the sponsoring organizations offer valuable enough work to attract well-motivated volunteers. But the Clinton program would simply assign people, people whose motivation would likely be working off a school debt by "serving." In fact, the government risks subverting the volunteer spirit by paying loan recipients too much. The DLC suggested that its program would promote sacrifice, yet University of Rochester economist Walter Oi estimated that total compensation-- salary, health care benefits, and untaxed vouchers for education and housing--for "serving" was the equivalent of $17,500 annually after taxes, well above the mean earnings of high-school graduates. The Clinton administration has estimated the per participant cost of its proposed program to be at least $18,000 annually, but that figure is probably low. Two years' tuition--the reward for one year's service--alone could easily run $20,000, in addition to nearly $9,000 in minimum wage compensation plus health care and other benefits. As a result, students will see national service as a financially remunerative job option, not a unique opportunity to help the community.

Further, imagine the bureaucracy necessary to decide which 150,000 or more jobs are "service." Who would sort through labor union objections to "unfair competition," match participants with individual posts, and monitor the quality of people's work? Could national service workers be fired? What if they refused to do the work assigned to them? What if they showed up irregularly or performed poorly? And so on.

Unwieldy Bureaucracy

Those are not minor problems to be solved after the program is in place. To the contrary, the specifics go to the heart of the viability of any national service proposal. One possible model is the old DLC proposal. A corporation for national service would make grants to states and local sational service councils, and state governments would establish national service plans. Local national service councils, composed of community groups and local government officials, businessmen, and representatives of unions and education, would hire staff, prepare plans, and oversee their implementation.

That sort of unwieldy bureaucracy is not likely to promote inexpensive and innovative ways to meet human needs. Unfortunately, controls and regulations will inevitably follow federal labor and money. It is fear of just such consequences that has led the Guardian Angels, cited by national service advocate Moskos as one of the most "striking examples of civic-minded youth volunteers,"(27) to reject federal grants. So does Habitat for Humanity, the Christian organization supported by former president Jimmy Carter, that constructs housing for poor people.

Even worse, federal involvement is likely to politicize much of what is now private humanitarian activity. Members of Congress would oppose efforts to close local government offices; interest groups would lobby to twist social programs to their own benefit; labor unions would mobilize to block proposals to contract out work. A program offering the free services of thousands of young people would provide a massive honey pot that would attract the worst sort of political infighting.

Such battles could spill over into the courtroom. Religion pervades the volunteer sector--could churches and parachurch groups participate in the Clinton program? Equally problematic is the issue of controversial political, sexual, and social lobbies. One can imagine volunteers, backed by Democratic party interest groups, wanting to treat work with Act-Up and Planned Parenthood as "service." The Clinton administration's attitude toward would-be volunteers at church day-care centers and nonliberal public-interest groups such as the National Taxpayers Union would probably be quite different. Those considerations bring us back to the basic questions, what is service? and who decides?

The larger the federal program grows, the more cumbersome it is likely to become. Small programs under charismatic leaders, such as the San Francisco Conservation Corps, have performed well, but their objectives are more limited, better defined, and more manageable. Moving from a few hundred to a few hundred thousand is no easy task. Alas, the incredible fraud, misuse, and waste endemic to other "public service" programs, such as those of the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act, hardly augur well for yet another, even larger, federal effort at social engineering.

In fact, CETA, with its system of federal funding for local jobs, is an important model. Before its termination by Congress, CETA, reports policy analyst James Bovard, spent $30,000 to build an artificial rock for rock climbers to practice on, gave $500 a month to a communist agitator in Atlanta to, in his words, "organize for demonstration and confrontation," and paid for a nude sculpture class in Miami in which aspiring artists practiced Braille reading on each other. The usual racketeering abounded.

In Philadelphia, 33 Democratic party committeemen or their relatives were put on the CETA payroll. In Chicago, the Daley political machine required CETA job applicants to have referral letters from their ward committeemen and left applications without such referrals piled under tables in unopened mail sacks. In Washington, D.C., almost half the City Council staff was on the CETA rolls.(28)

Finally, money has to be an issue in a year when the federal deficit is expected to be some $350 billion. National service will not come cheap--there will be more loans and thus more defaults, as well as the salaries and benefits paid to those who take government service jobs. During the campaign, the president acknowledged that his program could more than double the cost of the student loan program, which is currently between $4 billion and $5 billion, to some $12 billion.(29) Alas, the long-term cost would probably be far higher. "It would be a lot more expensive," warns David Merkowitz, spokesman for the American Council on Education.(30) For that reason the White House is proposing a more modest program that it says will cost $9.5 billion over five years. However, a full complement of 150,000 participants would cost that much in just two years. Moreover, the political dynamic of concentrated beneficiary groups versus the larger taxpaying public tends to promote the constant expansion of benefits once they are established. Even if the costs remain only an extra few billion dollars, one has to wonder at the justification for spending that much money in that way, especially when the president is calling for big tax increases. Hiking expenditures so that private individuals can go to school for private gain is a dubious enough use of public money. Using national service to effectively hire 150,000 or more young people to do jobs of questionable worth is an even bigger waste.


As did the mythical Sirens, national service retains its allure. Argues Roger Landrum of Youth Service America, "Clinton has a shot at mobilizing the idealism and energy of a very significant number of young people, as Roosevelt did with the Civilian Conservation Corps and John F. Kennedy did with the Peace Corps."(31) Alas, President Clinton's scheme would be no bargain. It would create a nightmarish bureaucracy and increase an already out-of-control deficit. National service would also reinforce today's misbegotten entitlement mentality while siphoning tens of thousands of young people out of productive private labor into make-work projects. Finally, if the program inflated tuition levels as has student aid in the past, it probably would not even benefit many participants, since it would provide more funding for college administrators than for students.

What we need instead is a renewed commitment to individual service. People, in community with one another, need to help meet the many serious social problems that beset us. There is a role for government: officials should commit themselves to a strategy of "first, do no harm." We need to eliminate public programs that discourage personal independence and self-responsibility, disrupt and destroy communities and families, and hinder the attempts of individuals and groups to respond to problems around them. The private activism that would follow would need neither oversight nor subsidy from Big Brother. Some voluntarism could be part-time and some full-time; some could take place within the family, some within churches, and some within civic and community groups. Some might occur through government and some through profit-making ventures. The point is, there would be no predetermined definition of service, pattern of appropriate involvement, set of "needs" to be met, or tasks to be accomplished. America's strength is its combination of humanitarian impulses, private association, and diversity. We need service, not "national" service. National service is an idea whose time will never come.


(1) William James, Essays on Faith and Morals (Cleveland: World Publishing, 1962), "The Moral Equivalent of War," p. 326.

(2) Ibid., pp. 323, 322.

(3) For a fuller discussion of the history of proposals for national service and a discussion of its potential effect on the armed forces, see Doug Bandow, "National Service: The Enduring Panacea," Cato Institute Policy Analysis no. 130, March 22, 1990.

(4) Democratic Leadership Council, Citizenship and National Service: A Blueprint for Civic Enterprise (Washington: Democratic Leadership Council, 1988), p. 3.

(5) Margaret Mead, "A National Service System as a Solution to a Variety of National Problems," in The Military Draft, ed. Martin Anderson (Stanford: Hoover Institution Press, 1982), p. 442.

(6) See, for example, Charles Moskos, A Call to Civic Service: National Service for Country and Community (New York: Free Press, 1988).

(7) Quoted in Jacob Lamar, "Enlisting with Uncle Sam," Time, February 23, 1987, p. 30. Many other supporters of volun tary initiatives today, such as Sens. Sam Nunn (D-Ga.) and Charles Robb (D-Va.), have long backed mandatory service.

(8) In Maryland, for instance, the state Board of Education voted last July to require that, starting with this fall's class of ninth-graders, students will have to complete a set number of hours of "community service" to graduate. Local school systems will have the duty of defining what constitutes "service." Two state senators have proposed legislation to repeal the regulation. Lisa Leff, "Service Require ment for Students Attacked," Washington Post, January 28, 1993, p. B3.

(9) Quoted in Charles Green, "Clinton's College Proposals May Fail Tests," San Diego Union-Tribune, November 26, 1992, p. A8.

(10) Bill Clinton, Putting People First: A National Economic Strategy for America (Little Rock: Clinton Presidential Campaign, 1992), p. 12. President Clinton has also proposed a national police corps, through which the federal government would hire some 100,000 policemen to serve for two years; the government would provide them with educational benefits as well as salary. Jerry Seper, "Clinton's Police Corps Idea Called 'Goofy,'" Washington Times, October 30, 1992, p. A5. That proposal is obviously closely related to na tional service.

(11) Gerald Seib and Cathy Trost, "Clinton Is Fervent about Tying College Loans to National Service, but Cold Realities Set In," Wall Street Journal, November 30, 1992, p. A14.

(12) Quoted in Gwen Ifill, "Clinton's National Service Program Will Have Modest Start," New York Times, February 5, 1993, p. A15.

(13) Thomas Friedman, "Clinton Offers Tuition Aid Linked to National Service," New York Times, March 2, 1993, p. A18.

(14) David Henderson, "For College and Country," Reason, February 1993, p. 41.

(15) Marshall Ingwerson, "Bush Unveils Plan That Encourages Volunteering," Christian Science Monitor, June 23, 1989, p. 1.

(16) Barbara Kantrowitz, "The New Volunteers," Newsweek, July 10, 1989, p. 36.

(17) Democratic Leadership Council, p. 11. Much of the growing gap reflects the declining quality of a high-school education, so we would do the most good by enabling more students to get a decent high-school education.

(18) Charles Murray, "Bad Lessons," New York Times, January 8, 1993, p. A25.

(19) Quoted in Seib and Trost.

(20) Richard Danzig and Peter Szanton, National Service: What Would It Mean? (Lexington, Mass.: Lexington Books, 1986), pp. 40-41.

(21) For an analysis of future employment trends, see, for example, William Johnston, Workforce 2000: Work and Workers for the 21st Century (Indianapolis: Hudson Institute, 1987).

(22) National service advocates have often argued that their proposals would enhance military recruiting. There is good reason to doubt their claims, however. See, for example, the debate between Doug Bandow and Charles Moskos, "National Service," Orbis 34, no. 3 (Summer 1990): 371-97. However, President Clinton has made no such claim for his scheme, which makes no special provision for military service, as did the DLC plan.

(23) Eric Schmitt, "As Military Cuts Back, It Still Seeks Recruits," New York Times, September 12, 1992.

(24) Quoted in Jeffrey Sheler et al., "The Push for National Service," U.S. News & World Report, February 13, 1989, p. 22.

(25) Karen Lehrman and Jana Pace, "Day-Care Regulation: Serving Children or Bureaucrats?" Cato Institute Policy Analysis no. 59, September 25, 1985.

(26) Quoted in Patrick Lee, "The Potholes in Public Works Programs," Los Angeles Times, November 15, 1992, p. D9.

(27) Moskos, p. 79.

(28) James Bovard, "The Failure of Federal Job Training," Cato Institute Policy Analysis no. 77, August 28, 1986, p. 4. Footnotes omitted. For an analysis of other federal employment programs, see James Bovard, "Busy Doing Nothing: The Story of Government Job Creation," Policy Review 24 (Spring 1983): 87-102.

(29) Anthony DePalma, "Ambitious Talk on College Loans," New York Times, November 25, 1992, p. B7.

(30) Quoted in Green, p. A8.

(31) Quoted in Seib and Trost.

1993 The Cato Institute
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