Obama’s leap-of-faith-based charity

Paul Jacob
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Posted: Jul 20, 2008 12:00 AM
Obama’s leap-of-faith-based charity

Is there any governmental goofiness Democrats won’t support?

Having abandoned limited government, Democrats are left with mere prejudice as a guide: As long as a program uses the power of the federal forces in Washington, and, in at least some backhanded way, increases that power, it just “must” be good.

There’s one exception, I guess — when Republicans think of it first.

So, what’s next?

Charity. Governments now duplicate a lot of charitable efforts. But charities remain somewhat independent. For too many politicians, that’s a bug, not a feature.

When Alexis de Tocqueville visited American shores on his 19th century sociological survey, he was astounded at how vibrant Americans were regarding charity and social betterment. See a problem? Then do something. Americans formed committees. Societies. Projects. They went to work. They accomplished things.

Now, though, after years of government usurpation of many of those causes, and the creation of a vast Leviathan state that Tocqueville did not witness this side of the Atlantic, our voluntary community sector seems weak. But that may be an optical illusion, in comparison with the old days . . . and with that very same federal government. In any case, it is said that Americans increasingly “bowl alone”; and, alone, become increasingly disengaged from their communities, their neighborhoods, etc.

The solution?

Join a local group, take to the soapbox, ring doorbells, hold festivals and bake sales and seminars? Publicize your cause using the new tools of the Internet . . . or that retro mimeograph machine you bought for 50¢ at the flea market? Raise money, and direct it to specific goals? Lead by example?

No. That wouldn’t do. Can’t have anything like that! Why, such techniques might actually smack of good ol’ American can-do-edness.

What we need, apparently, is more government.

Why? Well, ask Barack Obama, the Democrats’ presumptive nominee for the presidency.

His solution is to bureaucratize charity. Regularize it. Marshal the people of the United States into renewed “service” under massive federal programs.

“Service.” Ah, it sounds almost yummy, at least to the Judging Amy crowd. But it comes with a catch. It would all be organized in Washington.

Just what we need, another FEMA, FBI, or (heavens!) Department of Education. Or, as Obama himself recently put it, a humungous new department, filled with civilians doing good deeds, and funded on the order of the $439 billion-a-year Defense Department:

We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.

Barack Obama says he’s a leader on this issue. Not merely does he seek to become Spender-in-Chief, he promises to “set a goal,” his website says, for “all middle and high school students” to engage in at least “50 hours of community service a year.” That requirement would double for college students.

After generations of governmental gear-grinding and dashed promises, Obama still unashamedly cranks out the Old Time Religion: Barack Obama will “develop national guidelines for service-learning and will give schools better tools both to develop programs and to document student experience.” Ah, yes, those national guidelines! They’ve worked so well in the past.

Obama wants to “invest in the Nonprofit Sector,” too. He talks about “federal seed money” and “leveraging” the private sector to innovate (locally, at first), and test new ideas, and then — yes, then-and-only-then — “expand successful programs to scale.”

Of course, Obama’s party has resisted the testing of federal programs since the days of “scientific” Progressivism. And the federal government has proven itself incompetent at choosing and prioritizing anything. Adding a vast array of now-voluntary non-profits into this realm, and organizing and nurturing and training them, can only be described with one word:

IDIOTIC.

The idea that the least responsible element of modern society would be tasked to prop up America’s allegedly waning volunteer spirit has all the merit of trying to break dance one’s way out of a minefield.

Apparently too politic to support complete socialism, Obama’s not arguing to nationalize Microsoft and Apple. He’s arguing, in effect, to nationalize the Elks. Oh, and the local hospital, and a million other independent institutions.

He aims to bring them all in. To government.

And we’re not supposed to notice?

Of course, it’s not as if Republicans haven’t prepared the way for this very moment, when such a preposterous notion now possesses a snowball’s chance of starting an avalanche. Indeed, the whole “faith-based charity” movement is nothing but one sure step (and precedent) in Obama’s maniacal direction.

This is not change we can believe in. This is change we must snort at in utter derision.

Obama’s new movement is the same old socialistic usurpation as before, disguised as aid — and starting out as voluntary, except for the funding source — but now targeted at the most vulnerable section of society, the section that really does, earnestly, wish to improve things. Senator Obama is correct that “the American people are . . . the answer.” But not as cogs in some massively expensive federal program.

The best thing that one can say for Obama’s call for service is that it might even be too stupid for Congress.

But that remains to be seen. Congress is filled with Democrats, and other politicians.