Sunday, November 09, 2008

Obama supports conscription

Gregory Mankiw points out that Barack Obama supports the conscription of youth into community service. I wonder how many aged lefties will now dump on Obama on the basis of past Vietnam Moratorium ideals. Well of course its not this aged lot who now face the prospect of being conscripted so that a certain amount of soundly-justified hypocrisy is plausible.

Maybe spending the last week in China has dented my democratic ideals but I think the Obama suggestion makes a lot of sense.


Anonymous said...

I think you have been in China too long.

I'd hate to see a massive government program taking completely decent and productive people (I don't see why it should just be young people incidentally, but then I don't see why it should be any people), putting them into slavery, and making them do some useless government approved crap for some part of their lives. I can't see any decent arguments for it at all.

Anonymous said...

That quote is dated:

The new quote removes the word "required." The proposal is for voluntary service like in a Kibbutz model. Here is the new updated proposal from

"The Obama Administration will call on Americans to serve in order to meet the nation’s challenges. President-Elect Obama will expand national service programs like AmeriCorps and Peace Corps and will create a new Classroom Corps to help teachers in underserved schools, as well as a new Health Corps, Clean Energy Corps, and Veterans Corps. Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by setting a goal that all middle school and high school students do 50 hours of community service a year and by developing a plan so that all college students who conduct 100 hours of community service receive a universal and fully refundable tax credit ensuring that the first $4,000 of their college education is completely free. Obama will encourage retiring Americans to serve by improving programs available for individuals over age 55, while at the same time promoting youth programs such as Youth Build and Head Start."

The proposal remains childish and makes no sense.

I for one am very surprised by Obama's economic advisory team. It has no real economists... I'm also surprised by his comments about Iran, sounds like a Sarah Palin quote on Africa.

Anonymous said...


Mankew claims that his blog influenced the change of the text on

That could be the case. However, the rightwing lunatic fringe blog littlegreenfootballs posted on this issue before Mankew. LGF is for reasons I can't understand very popular and a link on LGF usually results in a huge load on any server. would have noticed a link from LGF.

Anonymous said...

Classmates who did military service generally found it a waste of time. While some people (mainly those unsatisfied or looking for direction) might get some benefit from it, if a young person has a good idea of what they want to do, these proposals will usually be a waste of time.

Its a worry if Obama's economic team doesn't include economists (what happened to Austin Goolsbee?)

Anonymous said...

I don't think people should be conscripted into community service, the army or anyother activity for that matter. So I am quite happy to dump on Obama for this one, if he tries to go ahead with it.

How does the suggestion make sense from an economics point of view? If these things yield a social benefit that is greater than the private benefit (ie. a positive externality), isn't the right approach to provide some sort of incentive for people to undertake these activities rather than using coercion?

Mark U

Scott A. Robinson said...

Quite ironic that an African-American is supporting organized slavery in the US, isn't it?

Anonymous said...

Obama's economic team:

1) Warren Buffett.
2) Eric Schmidt. Apple board member and Google CEO.
3) Paul Volcker.
4) William Donaldson. Under Secretary of State in the Nixon administration.
5) Robert Rubin: Director and Senior Counselor of Citigroup.
6) William Daley. Lawyer.
7) Lawrence Summers.
8) Roger Ferguson.
9) Richard Parsons: Chairman of the Board, Time Warner.
10) Anne Mulcahy: Chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Xerox Corporation.
11) Roel Campos.

Looks like Clinton's 1992 team. But this is November 2008. Surely, a handful of academic economists are needed to balance things out. I was hoping he would have people like Darrell Duffie and a couple of financial economists from Chicago on board.

I'm spending sleepless nights (with a cold) terrified by the flow of US economic data.

Anonymous said...

i can't work out if Harry is being ironic or not ...


Anonymous said...


Thanks for the list. I guess Summers was an academic economist a long time ago. But it is a worry that either (1) he couldn't find a current one to join his team or (more likely and even more worrying) (2) that he didn't think it was worthwhile getting one.

Anonymous said...

"but I think the Obama suggestion makes a lot of sense." let me see. The US is probably a lot like Oz with lots of parents both working and not enough volunteers for everything from Scouts, Girl Guides to Sports for the munchkins. Mum and Dad are working record hours now to pay the taxes for that public sector before all the bailouts. Now the munchkins need lots more adult supervision with all these new lefty indoctrination Corps. What does that leave? Ummm...


hc said...

Back online. I think I have had a bite of the China bug. Everything is so planned and efficient here. Students here escort visitors around campuses and foreign students are looked after by local buddies. The student who looked after me also volunteered for the Olympics welcome team. Compare the treatment of foreign students in Australia where they are essentially seen as cash cows.

Isn't a bit of civic duty a good thing?