Wednesday, July 09, 2008


Leviathan Is The Slaveholder

Okay, let's stipulate that Jonah Goldberg makes a pretty silly argument in his Los Angeles Times column. Getting young people to volunteer more is in no way slavery and, in fact, were Obama not black, it's doubtful that the "irony" cheap-shot valve in Jonah's brain would kick in.

That said, in slapping Jonah down, Jeff Fecke misses an important point himself:
Wha–? Did Jonah Goldberg just make the argument that adding a curriculum requirement for colleges and schools is tantamount to slavery? Really? I mean, by that logic, isn’t compulsory education itself slavery? Does this make No Child Left Behind the Dred Scott decision of the 21st century? And if so, does that mean the anti-choicers have to stop using it as a dog-whistle?
Cheap allusions to the 13th amendment should be as off-limits in political discussion as similar ones that invoke the Holocaust, Hitler, concentration camps, Kristallnacht, etc.

However, Fecke unwittingly points to a major problem that those on the right have had about NCLB, almost from the beginning. The greater role the federal government assers in an area that should ideally be left to state or local authorities, the greater likelihood that the federal government will find ways to increase that power -- depending upon who is in power. Under Bush, the feds essentially turned most local schools into mega-testing centers. Now Obama comes along and thinks, " addition to testing the kids on reading and math, lets make sure that every school system has some sort of volunteerism requirement in its curriculum."

Now, personally, as I've alluded to before, I don't have a knee-jerk opposition to the idea of some form of universal national service. However, one can see almost immediately where the likely ideological battlefields will spring up over Obama's idea:

Will the local Planned Parenthood be considered a legitimate charity where little liberal Lisa can volunteer?

Or how about the local Birthright, where little conservative Connie might want to counsel someone out of having an abortion?

Will both be considered "valid" volunteer options by either local or federal powers-that-be?

In short, this would immediately open up another field for the "federal funding for abortion" fight.

Now, this is the very serious discussion that should be had -- how the federal leviathan inevitably extends and expands its fingers into every part of society.

Smartass "slavery" rhetoric does nothing more than obscure where this debate should be centered.

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