The case for national serviceThe article on page 48 starts out by abusively evoking the image of Benjamin Franklin ("Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?" - Franklin: "A republic, if you can keep it") - to suggest that the way to improve the health of the American republic (see Happy independence day! for more on that topic) is not to, say, introduce more political competition by devolving the power of the federal government back to the states, but by yet more strengthening of the federal government by introducing a cabinet-level programme of national service.
Millions of Americans want to help their community, their country, their world. Here's a plan to put those ideals into action
Of course, Time, Inc. is sensible enough to understand that a compulsory programme wouldn't fly in the States... yet; so what they are proposing is, for each child that is born, the government should confiscate $5,000 from the tax payers at the time of birth; then invest this money until the child reaches the age of 18-25; and then pay the resulting amount (they use a projection of $19,000) to the young adult, under the condition that they perform one year of national service. As a "rite of passage", they say.
So, here's what's happening. The Federal government has enacted regulations which have made it difficult for young people to find opportunistic ways to contribute. The minimum wage makes it illegal to employ someone as a half-volunteer. The income tax and other mandatory contributions further raise the cost of employing someone inexperienced for a potentially limited time. Unions make it difficult to get rid of people if they turn out to be of little use. The overall result of all of these policies is that employers have to be really careful about who they hire, because it is costly to make the wrong choice. So, guess what: smart employers do not hire people about whom they have any doubts:
Firing someone you hired by mistake can take months and be nightmarishly difficult, especially if they decide to be litigious about it. In some situations it may be completely impossible to fire anyone.In true socialist tradition, TIME Magazine proposes that, in order to give opportunities back to young people, the best way is not to remove the regulatory burdens that have caused the opportunities to go away, but to invent an artificial opportunity programme that introduces yet more burden on society. The solution, they think, is to require tax payers to cough up $5,000 per child; hope that the next three successive governments are going to wisely manage the money, rather than steal from the fund; and then pay the money back only to those young adults who chose to spend one year in the program of national service, in a way as dictated by the government.
The mindset being propagated in various outlets published by Time, Inc. - including TIME Magazine, Fortune and Business Week - is already alarmingly socialist as far as I've seen. However, this is the most preposterously communist proposal I've seen published in mainstream American media in recent years.
Buy The Economist. Buy Forbes. Do not buy Business Week, Fortune or TIME Magazine.