Universal service on the ‘national agenda’?

Last month in the Wall Street Journal, Gen. McChrystal blessed us with a proposal in which he declared that what the United States really needed right now was “universal national service.” (A free copy can be found here.) That’s right.  In a time of never before seen debt levels and frustratingly important scandals that include Orwellian surveillance revelations, Americans ought, if they know what’s good for them, to submit to a state-defined “national agenda,” and the general puts it, for the beginning of their adult lives. He wrote:

Universal national service should become a new American rite of passage. Here is a specific, realistic proposal that would create one million full-time civilian national-service positions for Americans ages 18-28 that would complement the active-duty military—and would change the current cultural expectation that service is only the duty of those in uniform.

McChrystal contends that his plan — essentially a civilian draft — will revive the “duties of citizenship [that] have fallen” from the mindset of today’s younger generations.

Now of course, such a proposal is outstandingly ridiculous. But McChrystal isn’t the only one pitching this idea. Just this week, the Washington Post‘s Michael Gerson also gave his approval of something like universal service, titling his piece “National Service Can Heal a Divided Nation.”  

But that’s not all. Just two days ago Michael Brown reported the endorsement of the following notables for a similar plan:

former Secretaries of State, Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, former National Security Advisor General Jim Jones, and Generals Ann Dunwoody and Stanley McChrystal.

The whole ordeal is concerning at best. A single approved and unilaterally sanctioned “agenda” for the nation as whole is, to be frank, the very antithesis of a free society. No matter your philosophical perspective, there’s no way to spin this proposal as a step toward liberty.

As I wrote here in a longer response to these suggestions, in a society of mass spying programs, secret courts, and a presumption of guilt, to indicate that there is a “national agenda” is so far fetched, it should be immediately dismissed as lunacy and conspiracy against the common man.

Beware the national agenda.

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