Paid volunteerism is still an oxymoron

posted at 2:55 pm on April 23, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

James Bovard blasts the idea that nothing says America like government-run, paid “volunteerism” at IBD Editorials.  He specifically targets AmeriCorps as a prime example of the kind of government-incentivized political action that should be antithetical to the American mindset, a kind of Big Brother approach to community organizing:

Obama declared that the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act is about “connecting deeds to needs.” Ironically, the signing ceremony and a $5 billion multiyear outlay for AmeriCorps came one day after Obama called on his cabinet members to trim $100 million in wasteful government spending.

Paying people on false pretenses to do unnecessary things is the soul of AmeriCorps. Since President Clinton created this program in 1993, politicians have endlessly touted its recruits as volunteers toiling selflessly for the common good.

But the average AmeriCorps members receives more than $15,000 on an annual basis in pay and other benefits. And most AmeriCorps members go on to work for government agencies or nonprofit groups. Their AmeriCorps gig is more of a career stepping stone than an act of financial hari-kari.

Bovard then lists some of the programs which AmeriCorps pays its “volunteers” to deliver, with these two especially remarkable:

  • Paying children to surrender their toy guns
  • Convincing middle-class families to accept federally-subsidized insurance for their kids

If you see a political agenda in these kinds of programs, you wouldn’t be alone.  Putting more people in a position of dependency on the federal government certainly fits an agenda, but it’s not the spirit that built America.

Bovard has other complaints, but the main issue is that this isn’t a volunteer program, and it puts the federal government’s fingers in a lot of programs where they have no jurisdiction.  It also undermines actual volunteerism, because it outprices non-profits for available labor – although with unemployment going past 8.5%, it won’t be that much of a problem.  Instead of bolstering community involvement, the new GIVE Act amounts to a takeover of it by the government, which has turned volunteers into government employees.


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Ed did you read some of the rules in that act? Part of them is you cant participate in an anti-abortion group if you volunteer with Ameri Corps.

offroadaz on April 23, 2009 at 2:58 PM

Well – it is being suggested by an actual moron…

Okay, the president is intelligent and crafty and all that, but moron?

Yeah…

kybowexar on April 23, 2009 at 2:59 PM

Only in government, does it cost $28,000 to have people do stuff for free.

lorien1973 on April 23, 2009 at 3:01 PM

Instead of bolstering community involvement, the new GIVE Act amounts to a takeover of it by the government, which has turned volunteers into government employees.

But of course. And take away the charitable deduction, and you starve private charity for funds. Then the government may be the only place to go for “charity.”

Wethal on April 23, 2009 at 3:01 PM

Paying children to surrender their toy guns

Teach them early to submit to the State.

ZJPolitical on April 23, 2009 at 3:02 PM

I thought Kennedy was near death. Now, we have a waste of money, man made disaster program being invoked in his name….my grandad was right….you can’t kill evil.

HornetSting on April 23, 2009 at 3:02 PM

Parents? Talk to your kids, quick like. That’s how we stop it. I can see it now, these “volunteers” are going to have tables set up at the mall bugging people and ringing doorbells like the Jehovah Witnesses. I’m going sell “no soliciting plates” for doors. I’ll make a fortune. We don’t even dare open our doors anymore for crying out loud.

suzyk on April 23, 2009 at 3:03 PM

Getalife to come on and volunteer for IDIOTCORP in 3…2….1

HornetSting on April 23, 2009 at 3:03 PM

And people wonder why average citizens were protesting the current government attitude on spending?

We’re taking money out of the economy in order to pay people to “volunteer”. And what is the value-added that these volunteers are providing?

hawksruleva on April 23, 2009 at 3:04 PM

Ed did you read some of the rules in that act? Part of them is you cant participate in an anti-abortion group if you volunteer with Ameri Corps.

offroadaz on April 23, 2009 at 2:58 PM

what about pro-abortion.

oops sorry, right to choose.

ooops sorry, right to choose (to have an abortion).

Joe Caps on April 23, 2009 at 3:04 PM

If it’s an idea the government came up with, it sucks.

fogw on April 23, 2009 at 3:09 PM

Obama declared that the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act is about “connecting deeds to needs.”

Funny thing. I’ve read this sort of thing before:
“I. Nothing in society will belong to anyone, either as a personal possession or as capital goods, except the things for which the person has immediate use, for either his needs, his pleasures, or his daily work.
II. Every citizen will be a public man, sustained by, supported by, and occupied at the public expense.
III. Every citizen will make his particular contribution to the activities of the community according to his capacity, his talent and his age; it is on this basis that his duties will be determined, in conformity with the distributive laws.”
~Morelly, “The Code of Nature”, 1755

Send_Me on April 23, 2009 at 3:11 PM

what about pro-abortion.

oops sorry, right to choose.

ooops sorry, right to choose (to have an abortion).

Joe Caps on April 23, 2009 at 3:04 PM

You mean….we still have rights?

capejasmine on April 23, 2009 at 3:11 PM

Funny thing. I’ve read this sort of thing before:
“I. Nothing in society will belong to anyone, either as a personal possession or as capital goods, except the things for which the person has immediate use, for either his needs, his pleasures, or his daily work.
II. Every citizen will be a public man, sustained by, supported by, and occupied at the public expense.
III. Every citizen will make his particular contribution to the activities of the community according to his capacity, his talent and his age; it is on this basis that his duties will be determined, in conformity with the distributive laws.”
~Morelly, “The Code of Nature”, 1755

Send_Me on April 23, 2009 at 3:11 PM

Sounds like life in a convent. LOL

Seriously…this is scary stuff.

capejasmine on April 23, 2009 at 3:13 PM

“…the new GIVE Act amounts to a takeover of it by the government, which has turned volunteers into government employees.”

No, it gives the DEMOCRATIC PARTY license to pay interns to advance their political agenda at no cost to the DNC.

GarandFan on April 23, 2009 at 3:18 PM

Parents? Talk to your kids, quick like. That’s how we stop it. I can see it now, these “volunteers” are going to have tables set up at the mall bugging people and ringing doorbells like the Jehovah Witnesses. I’m going sell “no soliciting plates” for doors. I’ll make a fortune. We don’t even dare open our doors anymore for crying out loud.

suzyk on April 23, 2009 at 3:03 PM

Anymore, it’s my understanding that high schools–whether public, parochial, or private–often have community service requirements. I can easily see the public school kids and public school programs getting sucked into Americorps-approved projects so that grant money will flow. But I do hope that the parochial and private schools see this program for the social-engineering nonsense that it is.

Fricking Orrin Hatch and those other GOPer who voted for this stuff.

BuckeyeSam on April 23, 2009 at 3:19 PM

First order of business–let’s get a crew of kids out to repair the guardrails on a bridge in Chappaquidick.

BuckeyeSam on April 23, 2009 at 3:21 PM

Other helpful Amerikorps programs:

1) How to roll your own fatty and/or properly adjust your water bong.
2) Condoms and how to put one on before nailing you 14 year old girlfriend (who are we to judge).
3) Assuming you don’t particpate in the previous program, we’ll show you how to select the abortion clinic that’s right for you.
4) The homeless voter registration campaign. While we’re at it, we’ll show you how to sign up dead people too.
5) Environmental activism 101. Show people how to destroy 100 years of improvements to our standard of living in 3 easy steps.

Come join today!

Wyznowski on April 23, 2009 at 3:23 PM

Other helpful Amerikorps programs:

1) How to roll your own fatty and/or properly adjust your water bong.
2) Condoms and how to put one on before nailing you 14 year old girlfriend (who are we to judge).
3) Assuming you don’t particpate in the previous program, we’ll show you how to select the abortion clinic that’s right for you.
4) The homeless voter registration campaign. While we’re at it, we’ll show you how to sign up dead people too.
5) Environmental activism 101. Show people how to destroy 100 years of improvements to our standard of living in 3 easy steps.

Come join today!

PRICELESS…..LMAO!!!

SDarchitect on April 23, 2009 at 3:29 PM

I’ve always been suspect of ‘corporate charity cultures,’ a la ‘Ben & Jerry’s,’ and I’m doubly suspect of governmentally-sponsored ones. Even if the net turned out to be a 50/50 split between liberal and conservative outcomes (which it demonstrably does not,) it still fails the smell test from a constitutional perspective as far as I’m concerned.

I did enjoy his use of the term, “The Tom Sawyer Model of Virtue.” That one is going into the holster.

CaptFlood on April 23, 2009 at 3:31 PM

Only in government, does it cost $28,000 to have people do stuff for free.

lorien1973 on April 23, 2009 at 3:01 PM

This president makes my head spin like no other. It’s stunning.

scalleywag on April 23, 2009 at 3:32 PM

Yeah, the getting paid part sucks all of the virtue out of “volunteering”.

obladioblada on April 23, 2009 at 3:35 PM

Getalife to come on and volunteer for IDIOTCORP in 3…2….1

HornetSting on April 23, 2009 at 3:03 PM

I’ve often wondered if spamming these threads IS getalife’s AmeriCorps job….

Mr. D on April 23, 2009 at 3:39 PM

I can’t wait to see the uniforms and hear the theme song!

kringeesmom on April 23, 2009 at 3:42 PM

Paid volunteers are not volunteers, they are employees! DUH!

milwife88 on April 23, 2009 at 3:48 PM

Obama: Volunteers=Paid Ideological Drones.

Hey, it worked for Hitler, and Putin, and Acorn…

Maquis on April 23, 2009 at 3:51 PM

I Americorps bound by national and local minimum wage laws?

Does the government pay payroll tax for these people?

Just wondering.

29Victor on April 23, 2009 at 3:54 PM

I’ll volunteer, for $100K a year.

Star20 on April 23, 2009 at 3:57 PM

Getalife to come on and volunteer for IDIOTCORP in 3…2….1

HornetSting on April 23, 2009 at 3:03 PM

Why? The welfare probably pays more…

Upstater85 on April 23, 2009 at 3:58 PM

If my knowledge of the daughter of a former colleague is any standard by which to measure these paid “volunteer” programs, AmeriCorps attracts those who have been “educated” or who have earned a degree in some nebulous feel-ggod field yet lack any marketable skills. These same “volunteers” spend a bulk of their time railing against capitalism and the marketplace, too. They also spend their free time protesting on behalf of “social justice” issues. Yes, they are DNC recruits with few critical thinking skills.

onlineanalyst on April 23, 2009 at 3:59 PM

Obama: Volunteers=Paid Ideological Drones.

Hey, it worked for Hitler, and Putin, and Acorn…

Maquis on April 23, 2009 at 3:51 PM

Nothing smells like fascism more than paid volunteerism!

Upstater85 on April 23, 2009 at 3:59 PM

If my knowledge of the daughter of a former colleague is any standard by which to measure these paid “volunteer” programs, AmeriCorps attracts those who have been “educated” or who have earned a degree in some nebulous feel-ggod field yet lack any marketable skills. These same “volunteers” spend a bulk of their time railing against capitalism and the marketplace, too. They also spend their free time protesting on behalf of “social justice” issues. Yes, they are DNC recruits with few critical thinking skills.

onlineanalyst on April 23, 2009 at 3:59 PM

And if they can’t find a job of “volunteering,” they simply get a job at their local university at the office of diversity or Obama studies

Upstater85 on April 23, 2009 at 4:02 PM

A jobs program by any other name is still a jobs program.

Welfare by any other name is still welfare.

Wrapping up horse manure and calling it prime beef doesn’t make it prime beef.

Oxymoron, this paid volunteerism?

Yep.

But, given our growth of the “what’s in it for me” society the nanny-state has spawned, you really don’t expect people to actually really volunteer…for free? Oh, merciful heavens…what kind of thinking is that? /s

coldwarrior on April 23, 2009 at 4:02 PM

Volunteer work must comply with state labor laws. Today, there are other considerations that do require money, such as doing background checks if children are involved, etc.

Plus, we will see an increase in legal problems, as volunteers get themselves into messes.

It’s really a kick-back to the 60′s, and we’ve “been there, done this.”

We know what’s coming.

What’s really disgusting to me? I’ve been involved in volunteer work for 20 years now. Good gravy. They act like they discovered this. :)

AnninCA on April 23, 2009 at 4:04 PM

•Paying children to surrender their toy guns

Most of what you learn in life is learned before the age of six. Teaching children that owning guns is bad insures that as adults they will support the goals of those that see a need to disarm the masses.

I am a teacher who has taught first to fourth grade, middle school and all levels of high school. I can tell you that the teacher becomes the fountain of all knowledge and truth for young children. Their young minds are open slates for the foundations of what they later believe in. Just to be clear, it is not the teacher who has the choice about what is taught. They are often required to follow with out question, teaching stratigies and views that have been determined by the adgenda’s of administration, state and federal agencies, with no alternative choice other than to leave.
I think what we are seeing today is the fruit of a socialist agenda from seeds that were planted in the generations now coming of age.

my grandad was right….you can’t kill evil.

Your grandad was so right. You chop off one head and two more take its place.

Franklyn on April 23, 2009 at 4:09 PM

Why do people need a government program to volunteer? I don’t get that.

Having been involved for so long, I absolutely know the gift of this lives in the fact that it’s for fun and for free.

Nothing better in life, in my opinion.

AnninCA on April 23, 2009 at 4:12 PM

Obama is trying to run the program. He wants to take these efforts from non profits where he has no control. He will try to do that by disallowing charitable contributions.

I also see that if they tell the volunteers what to do, how and when to do it, they are under minimum wage laws.

seven on April 23, 2009 at 4:27 PM

And mandatory unpaid volunteerism is still slavery.

hicsuget on April 23, 2009 at 4:29 PM

seven on April 23, 2009 at 4:27 PM

Soon, the Boy Scouts, and a host of other United way/Combined Federal Campaign organizations will be declared illegal. Thus, the only volunteers permitted will be those who have submitted to government-controlled paid-volunteer organizations. The new age of the brown shirts may be closer than we’d care to think.

coldwarrior on April 23, 2009 at 4:29 PM

I can’t wait to see the uniforms and hear the theme song!

kringeesmom on April 23, 2009 at 3:42 PM

Haven’t you heard the theme song yet?

Uniforms to follow.

rihar on April 23, 2009 at 4:38 PM

Do you think we should warn these “paid volunteers” to read about the “Night of Long Knives,” or let them be surprised by the lesson of history?

poplicola on April 23, 2009 at 4:49 PM

Instead of bolstering community involvement, the new GIVE Act amounts to a takeover of it by the government, which has turned volunteers into government employees.

Very low paid government employees.

Griz on April 23, 2009 at 4:53 PM

Very low paid government employees.

Griz on April 23, 2009 at 4:53 PM

“Think of the savings. It is like a tax cut.” — B. Obama, 2009

coldwarrior on April 23, 2009 at 5:04 PM

Haven’t you heard the theme song yet?

Uniforms to follow.

rihar on April 23, 2009 at 4:38 PM

I refuse to click on that link, ‘rihar;’ I already know what’s waiting on the other side and it’s taken me the last five months to get that creepy ‘Obamanots of the Corn’ song out of my head…

CaptFlood on April 23, 2009 at 5:11 PM

I refuse to click on that link, ‘rihar;’ I already know what’s waiting on the other side and it’s taken me the last five months to get that creepy ‘Obamanots of the Corn’ song out of my head…

CaptFlood on April 23, 2009 at 5:11 PM

Nope, you’re wrong.

It’s not the ‘Obamanots of the Corn’ song. Actually I’m not familiar with that one.Frankly, I don’t care to be.

It’s the Glenn Beck Obama National Anthem. Verry funny, but just as difficult to remove from your head than the Gilligan’s Island theme song.

rihar on April 23, 2009 at 5:25 PM

They’re going to build the Eddie Kennedy Memorial Olympic Size Swimming Pool in Massachusetts.

Dhuka on April 23, 2009 at 5:26 PM

sorry, “AS the Gilligan’s Island theme song”

rihar on April 23, 2009 at 5:28 PM

CaptFlood on April 23, 2009 at 5:11 PM

Just a parody on Obama and the “Gyim Sovetskogo Soyuza,” the old Soviet National Anthem.

Actually, quite well done. Think Hunt for Red October when Captain Marko Ramius told his crew to sing, just before engaging the caterpillar.

coldwarrior on April 23, 2009 at 5:29 PM

Dhuka on April 23, 2009 at 5:26 PM

A drive thru?

coldwarrior on April 23, 2009 at 5:30 PM

•Paying children to surrender their toy guns

I am so buying my kids some new toy guns. I used to love cap pistols as a little girl – I wonder if they’re still around.

Anna on April 23, 2009 at 5:33 PM

I refuse to click on that link, ‘rihar;’ I already know what’s waiting on the other side and it’s taken me the last five months to get that creepy ‘Obamanots of the Corn’ song out of my head…

CaptFlood on April 23, 2009 at 5:11 PM

Nope, not the Obamanauts and their little political officer teaching them to sing. This one is pretty good — you HAVE heard this before, just not this way.

AZfederalist on April 23, 2009 at 5:33 PM

•Paying children to surrender their toy guns
I am so buying my kids some new toy guns. I used to love cap pistols as a little girl – I wonder if they’re still around.

Anna on April 23, 2009 at 5:33 PM

Not sure where you hail from, Anna, but ‘Six Gun City’ up in New Hampshire sells cap guns and holsters just for the kiddies. It’s a wild-west theme park, hokey as all get-out, but just the greatest place ever if for no other reason than I could enjoy the sight of my then nine-year old daughter gunning down anyone wearing Birkenstocks with her pink-handled six-shooters… Sweet!

CaptFlood on April 23, 2009 at 5:51 PM

Thank you ‘rihar,’ ‘coldwarrior,’ and ‘AZfederalist,’ I will definitely listen to Beck’s ‘Obama National Anthem’ as soon as I get home… I’ll admit it, I was terrified the link would lead to that hideously creepy ‘Sing for Change Obama’ song that featured the kiddies singing in a manner only a moon-faced North Korean dictator could love…

CaptFlood on April 23, 2009 at 6:01 PM

CaptFlood on April 23, 2009 at 5:51 PM

That reminds me of a place near where I grew up – Frontier Town near Snow Hill/Berlin, MD. I’m just glad they still make ‘em… I guess soon enough cap pistols will be tossed in with assault rifles or something, ’cause they’re scary and whatnot.

Anna on April 23, 2009 at 6:09 PM

Getalife to come on and volunteer for IDIOTCORP in 3…2….1

HornetSting on April 23, 2009 at 3:03 PM

No, notaclue is a liberal, he doesn’t volunteer! That’s for little people.

mr.blacksheep on April 23, 2009 at 6:15 PM

They’re going to build the Eddie Kennedy Memorial Olympic Size Swimming Pool in Massachusetts.

Dhuka on April 23, 2009 at 5:26 PM

Will that be a drive-in?

mr.blacksheep on April 23, 2009 at 6:17 PM

Picture speaks volumes:Murderer & Moobama. Twin frauds.

BHO Jonestown on April 23, 2009 at 8:08 PM

That would be a drive by.

Dhuka on April 23, 2009 at 9:00 PM

Why do I keep thinking they’ll be wearing berets and a brand new Obamaesque logo on their V-neck polo shirts?

Can they listen to their I-Pods and talk on their cell phones whilst ‘volunteering’?

Dr. ZhivBlago on April 23, 2009 at 9:40 PM

Actually, I have seen Obama’s Youth Uniforms. Boots, Camo pants, Dark Blue t-shirt and a cute beret to top it off on a sunny day.

See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4yloipsoZ0

Those of us who pointed it out before the election were labeled, “reactionary, fear mongers, etc”. Obama said he wants a Civilian Security Force as large and as strong as the Army. Here it is.

Sing to our Dear Leader! Sing Comrade!

GunRunner on April 24, 2009 at 12:33 AM

Barack is cutting the D.O.D. by $5 billion while funding little ACORNS. Meanwhile, as Doug Ross reminded us last week, Scary Barry is talking about civilian security forces again:

America must balance and integrate all elements of our national power. We can not continue to push the burden onto our military alone, or leave dormant any aspect of the arsenal of American capability. That’s why my administration is committed to renewing diplomacy as a tool of American power and developing our civilian national security capabilities.

Buy Danish on April 24, 2009 at 8:08 AM

sounds like allot of good gov jobs for ACORN

tboltdon on April 24, 2009 at 11:06 AM

Sounds like allot of jobs for the ACORN bunch. Will the gov hire felons.

tboltdon on April 24, 2009 at 11:09 AM