Our friend Shane pointed me to an interesting piece that gives insight into what we’re probably about to see from the Obama administration. Emmanual, the new Chief of Staff wrote a book a while back called The Plan: Big Ideas for America [Amazon].
Below is some content from this book, and based on the fact that Obama’s been talking like this during his campaign, I’d say we should expect to see type of thing coming from our new President very soon.
- A new social contract — universal citizen service, universal college access, universal retirement savings, and universal children’s health care — that makes clear what you can do for your country and what your country can do for you.
- A return to fiscal responsibility and an end to corporate welfare as we know it.
- Tax reform to help those who aren’t wealthy build wealth.
- A new strategy to use all America’s strengths to win the war on terror.
- A Hybrid Economy that cuts America’s gasoline consumption in half over the next decade.
Universal Citizen Service
If you forget everything else you read in these pages, please remember this: The Plan starts with you. If your leaders aren’t challenging you to do your part, they aren’t doing theirs. We need a real Patriot Act that brings out the patriot in all of us by establishing, for the first time, an ethic of universal citizen service.
Universal College Access
We must make a college degree as universal as a high school diploma. More than ever, America’s success depends on what we can learn. We have an education system built in the last century, with a school year left over from the century before that. In this new era, college will be the greatest engine of opportunity for our society and our economy. Just as Abraham Lincoln gave land grants to endow our great public universities, we will give the states tuition grants to make college free for those willing to work, serve, and excel.
Universal Retirement Savings
From now on, every job ought to come with a 401(k). An aging society cannot afford to keep saving less and risking more. We need new means to create wealth, based on the needs and responsibilities of twenty-first-century employees and employers. Employers should be required to offer 401(k)s, and workers will be enrolled unless they choose otherwise. If they switch jobs, they can take these accounts with them. When their paycheck goes up, so will their savings. Instead of a work force in which only half the workers have retirement savings plans, every American will have one.
Universal Children’s Health Care . . .
A return to fiscal responsibility and an end to corporate welfare as we know it . . .
Tax reform to help those who aren’t wealthy build wealth . . .
A new strategy to win the war on terror . . .
A hybrid economy that cuts America’s gasoline use in half . . .
Ask what you can do for your country: the premier component of the new social contract.
John Kennedy was right: A nation is defined not by what it does for its citizens but by what it asks of them. If your leaders aren’t challenging you to do your part, they aren’t doing theirs. We need a real Patriot Act that brings out the patriot in all of us by establishing for the first time an ethic of universal citizen service. All Americans between the ages of 18 and 25 should be asked to serve their country by going through three months of basic civil defense training and community service.
This is not a draft, nor is it military. Young people will be trained not as soldiers, but simply as citizens who understand their responsibilities in the event of a natural disaster, an epidemic or a terrorist attack. Universal citizen service will bring Americans of every background together to make America safer and more united in common purpose.
So, in showing me this, Shane was asking me, from a libertarian to an Obama supporter, what I thought of this type of program. It’s a good question.
My first reaction is that I both love it and hate it. I pretty much feel like I’m being asked if someone can pump 5 pints of someone else’s blood (life force) into my veins. My initial answer is no, due to my libertarian leanings, but when I realize that I’m in a hospital, and that I’m dying for lack of blood (soul), then I realize it might actually be what I need.
In other words, the fact that this kind of thing might be necessary represents a complete failure of the American system. This kind of soul and sense of civics is supposed to be innate in America, not infused from the outside. That’s the libertarian ideal.
Where the libertarian ideal breaks down is that it fails to recognize the severity of the fact that it DOES NOT exist. We are not the country that feels and does these things innately, and to pretend to be that, and to resist the external help to reinvigorate these things within us, is a grave mistake.
So yes, I do think this can be a good thing if done properly. And more importantly I think something like this is needed right now. I don’t like the idea of a degree being mandatory for people, however; I think that should be degree (or vocational training), i.e. some method of becoming productive. And I wince at hearing a few other bits of the plan, but I’ve been doing a lot of wincing anyway. I am in a hospital bed, after all.
So it goes back to my comments on Socialism, Libertarianism, and ideal government. This type of program is necessary to get to where we need to be, i.e. more libertarian. Libertarian structure requires educated people who respect the rights of others. We don’t have that right now, and we’re not going to get it by letting people fend for themselves. In fact we’ll get the opposite.
This type of social uplifting, to get everyone on a similar and positive wavelength, is the way to grow the sense of individual responsibility and the ability to succeed within our country.
In short, you don’t teach a child to tie shoes as a means of control or in order to remove their ability to do it for themselves. **You do it so that you’ll never have to show them again.**
This touches on the heart of my disagreement with some libertarians. The socialism I’m advocating (and I’m now convinced that “socialism” is the wrong word) is not about transferring responsibility from the individual to the government. It’s about nurturing responsibility, and compassion, and self-sufficiency within individuals through liberal education and social policy.
It’s about promoting intelligent decisions when it comes to reproduction, i.e. not having a bunch of kids that you can’t afford and will annoy you as you try to live your adolescent life. This leads to broken families and grandparents raising their grandchildren. It’s a fucking epidemic in this country.
And every single issue like this comes back to education. The most non-libertarian concept I harbor is the notion that you don’t let your fellow humans fall. You don’t let giant swaths of your neighborhood NOT get educated. You don’t allow it. Allowing it is literally genocidal. You can’t sit and watch because you don’t want to be judgmental (a major liberal problem). That kind of feel-good “I won’t judge another person” garbage kills more kids than anyone would like to discuss, and it’s caused by the cowardly unwillingness to say to failing parents that, “You’re doing it wrong.”
The point is that we need to lift the bottom. And it’s not by giving them a bunch of money from the rich. They’ll just go buy lottery tickets and televisions with it. That’s not helping anyone. The solution is to say, “Yes, there is such a thing as raising a kid poorly, and we won’t stand for it in this country.” Get your fucking kids in school. Demand that they learn. Turn off the TV. Turn off the video games. Read a book. Go to the museum. Build something with them.
We’ll know we’ve made progress when you can go into a full bookstore on Saturday, with over a hundred people in it, in a 50% black and 50% white city, and see more than one or two black people per hour. That’s change we can believe in.
This country needs to re-intellectualize. It needs to be cool to read. It needs to be cool to study and learn. And we need to make social pariahs of those who don’t promote such a direction for their children. Don’t prosecute them–ridicule them. Look down on those who have children who don’t like to read, and who aren’t curious, and who don’t enjoy learning. That’s their fault as parents. They are the break in the education chain.
Yes, sometimes it’ll be unfair because ultimately the parent didn’t know any better either, but at some point you have to take responsibility. Now is that time. Call it what you will, but it’s our only way out of this void of intellectual interest, education and personal responsibility. And only once we’re dealing with an educated population can we get where we need to be, which is more libertarian.: