The Tom Sawyer Model of Virtue

The American Conservative discusses the implications of the GIVE Act, as well as the existent program it addresses, AmeriCorps:

In 2003, the Office of Management and Budget concluded that “AmeriCorps has not been able to demonstrate results. Its current focus is on the amount of time a person serves, as opposed to the impact on the community or participants.” The General Accounting Office criticized the organization for failing to make any effort to measure the actual effect of its members’ actions.

But Congress continues to fill AmeriCorps ranks because it puts a smiley face on big government. Whether or not they produce anything, as long as AmeriCorps’s gray shirts are out there getting PR for helping people, Leviathan can be portrayed as a giant engine of compassion. “National service” is really just any subsidized activity that burnishes the image of the federal government.

Aside from matters of ineffectiveness, the article argues, AmeriCorps is at best “the Tom Sawyer model of virtue — some people getting paid to sway other people to work for free.” Worse yet, such programs make government the good guy, and it “is a sad day when people line up to have their virtue certified by the most exploitative, dishonest class in the nation.”

Read the rest here.

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