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 developing a plan to require 50 hours of community service in middle school and high school and 100 hours of community service in college every year. 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. [Italics mine]
Mankiw correctly identifies this for what it is: conscription. Putting children in the service of the government in order to teach them the virtue of sacrifice to the collective: is it just because I’m listening to Penderecki’s Threnody that I find this incredibly creepy?
UPDATE: Within a few hours of Mankiw pointing this out, Obama’s website has changed the language from to require to setting a goal. If that demonstrates anything, it’s that Obama’s rhetoric does not reflect his intent unless, like Mankiw or Joe the Plumber, you can catch him in a rare mistake.