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    Change.gov: The New Slavery

    November 7, 2008 by Brandy Vencel

    LIB’ERTY, n. [L. libertas, from liber, free.]

    Civil liberty, is the liberty of men in a state of society, or natural liberty, so far only abridged and restrained, as is necessary and expedient for the safety and interest of the society, state or nation. A restraint of natural liberty, not necessary or expedient for the public, is tyranny or oppression. Civil liberty is an exemption from the arbitrary will of others, which exemption is secured by established laws, which restrain every man from injuring or controlling another. Hence the restraints of law are essential to civil liberty.

    Natural liberty, consists in the power of acting as one thinks fit, without any restraint or control, except from the laws of nature. It is a state of exemption from the control of others, and from positive laws and the institutions of social life. This liberty is abridged by the establishment of government.

    FREE’DOM, n.

    A state of exemption from the power or control of another; liberty; exemption from slavery, servitude or confinement. Freedom is personal, civil, political, and religious.

    There was a part of me that was hoping that I was wrong, that President-Elect Obama really would be some sort of delightful change and that I could rest assured that America will continue as she has been. Alas, I believe Obama will turn out to be worse than I feared. The dread grew in my heart as I watched his acceptance speech. For the first time in my experience, I watched a presidential acceptance speech given on a blank stage. Where was Obama’s family? Where was the vice-president elect? There was something very scary in this simple act, as if it was a premonition of tyranny.

    Apparently, even the liberal media began to pick up on this. A couple Newsweek reporters had this to say:

    Meacham stated that he was “very struck watching the stagecraft” of Obama and pointed out how Obama gave his victory speech by himself: “…[H]ave you ever seen a victory speech where there was no one else on stage? No adoring wife, no cute kid — he is the message.” Thomas went one step further in this vein: “There is a slightly creepy cult of personality about all of this.” Rose confronted him on his use of this phrase, and he explained that it made him “a little uneasy that he’s so singular. He’s clearly managing his own spectacle. He knows how to do it. He’s a — I think, a deeply manipulative guy…” Later, all three marveled about how it was “amazing” that Obama “watches us watching him.”

    I would highly suggest reading this whole article at Newbusters as it explains much about what we will be dealing with as a people these next four years. After all, a deeply manipulative leader means that all of us are going to need to be seriously thinking through the issues as they arise.

    Take, for instance, the case of Obama’s new website, Change.gov. I plan to dig around it and write an analysis once a week or so. If I have to stand by and watch the decline of everything that is good about America, I want to be documenting it. I want to tell my children the story of how the Constitution died.

    At the top of Change.gov is a little file tab that says, AMERICA SERVES. It sounds harmless enough. As a Christian, service is very important to me. I understand that I am a slave to Christ and that all that I do can rightfully be considered an act of service not just to my fellow man, but to God Himself. As an American, I understand that service is also valued culturally. We understand that one of the things that makes this country such a great place to live is that it is filled with many good people desiring to do good things.

    But if you click on that little file tab, you will read this {emphasis mine}:

    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.

    This is couched in rhetoric about liberty:

    “When you choose to serve — whether it’s your nation, your community or simply your neighborhood — you are connected to that fundamental American ideal that we want life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness not just for ourselves, but for all Americans. That’s why it’s called the American dream.”

    The Obama transition team deliberately appeals to the American ideal of freedom while undermining it at the same time. One of the things that makes someone a master of manipulation is the ability to twist words and cause the listener to believe that a word has a different meaning, or that somehow the listener’s own understanding of the meaning was limited by their own ignorance.

    So let’s get something straight: Service is good. Mandatory service is slavery.

    It’s that simple.

    Our forefathers did not fight and die so that a future president could require all citizens to spend their spare hours in required toil for the nation. This smacks of communism, where the government requires that all be done for the sake of the motherland or fatherland or whatever they want to call it.

    While I’m at it, let’s just cover a few other bases in this issue.

    First, the most effective form of service is person to person. Bureaucracies in general are notoriously inefficient and ineffective. Government bureaucracies are even worse. So in order to “meet the nation’s challenges” Obama would like us to all engage in the least efficient method for doing this.

    Second, as Christians, our spare time is best spent in service to our King and not this earthly kingdom. {Though I firmly believe that as Christians serve their King, the earthly kingdom reaps great benefit.} Now, there are many, many ways to serve our King. I will never tell you how you should be spending your extra time. But notice that Obama’s list is full of government agencies. Does baking cookies for a new neighbor count? Probably not. Does taking a box of food to a needy family count? Not likely. Does visiting a sick relative in the hospital count? You tell me.

    The Christian life is often characterized by taking advantage of life’s little moments. It isn’t about joining a service club as much as it is living a life of service. So what I’m really saying here is that Obama is not only attempting to legalize a form of slavery where the government is the master {this is also called serfdom}, but he is also interrupting the way Americans have practiced their faith for hundreds of years.

    Thirdly, do not underestimate the significance of this act. This is the arm of government expressing its desire to reach into your home and family life to an extent that didn’t even happen when we were ruled by King George of England! We are not a free people under Obama, and do not for a minute think that his interest lies in any of us existing as such.

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    12 Comments

  • Reply Anonymous November 12, 2008 at 1:24 am

    It comes down to you get the best work and best people for that work if they believe in it oand want to do it.but then again i guess “O” knows best.

  • Reply Brandy November 11, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    Spunky has been discussing the alteration on her blog. Here is the link to her post. She has been explaining (in the comments) the possible details of the plan based upon the fact that a program like this is a reality in Michigan and the governor of Michigan is on Obama’s transition team. In Michigan, these service hours are required for graduation from public high school. The scary part to me, however, is when Spunky explains that Chicago has been doing this since 1997. According to Spunky, this is the case in Chicago: “Students may not earn service hours by working with a for-profit business or for a religious organization if the service involves proselytizing or receiving payment for their work.” This was exactly what I feared. Due to some sort of notion of separation of Church and State, Christian students who spend many, many hours in service to their church and local Christian missions or even short-term mission trips to various foreign countries or other states will have to find something else to do. I can envision an immediate negative impact on the Church, especially churches like a church plant I visited a couple weeks ago where the people doing almost all of the work were college-aged. They have a beautiful congregation (but not a building; they live out of a trailor basically), and they all work very hard for their church. I can see this small church suffering very much if every college-aged person working to help them was required to spend two hours per week elsewhere. That would quickly add up in this church to a loss of perhaps 100 hours per week combined. If we multiply that across all the churches and missions where service will not count because they openly and regularly share the Gospel of Christ, I am sure we could see the negative impact.

    And then there is the issue of whether society can even be improved without the gospel. Our friend Flacius’ namesake believed in the total and utter depravity of man. The gospel was the sole energizing force when it came to redemption.

  • Reply Eddie G November 11, 2008 at 6:53 am

    Here’s a quote from the page as it is now: “Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by setting a goal that all middle school and high school students do 50 hours of community service a year and by developing a plan so that all college students who conduct 100 hours of community service receive a universal and fully refundable tax credit ensuring that the first $4,000 of their college education is completely free. 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.”

    Definitely different than originally stated. Seems more like this will be incentive based. At least that’s taking this verbiage at face value. Certainly could still mean whatever the administration wishes it to mean.

  • Reply Ellen November 11, 2008 at 12:44 am

    Ooooh, oooh! Brandy, click on the America Serves tab on your post again. They changed it. The word “require” isn’t in there at all anymore. Go and see! Hmmmmmmmm….

  • Reply Brandy November 10, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    Martyrologist,

    I’m working on something for today that is in response to a previous comment but I think will touch on a couple of issues you raised as well. However, I’ll try to respond a bit to the things I think won’t be covered in that upcoming post.

    I really, really, as I’m looking through the Change.gov website, want to take on what is said and not engage in speculation. With that said, I’m going to speculate. (!) He he. If Obama’s belief system is what I think it is, I think we can expect an attack on homeschooling. I think at the very least we can expect the federal government to step in and try to regulate us to death, including adding a lot of tests that will encourage us to look like public (and some private) schools and engage in teaching to the test instead of pursuing a true education.

    However, there are two issues here. One is lawlessness, which I plan to discuss later. The other is the idea of this mandatory service being in the schools. If I read the website correctly, this service is based on age rather than the institution the child (or young adult) is attending. I interpret this as meaning that my own homeschooled children will be required to give one hour per week, 50 weeks per year, in service of the government. If there is something out there that explains that this plan is only for the public schools, I would be very interested in reading that. At least it would show me a respect for the authority of parents to keep their children away from Big Government’s long arm if they choose. However, there are a number of families that go to public school because they feel that they have to, and so I am still concerned for them. I would feel very threatened by the president deciding that he can dictate how my child spends his time outside of school hours. One hour may seem harmless enough until we look at this through the lens of the president-elect’s philosophy and realize that he considers himself equal in authority to a parent.

    But I am starting to go in a direction that will be covered by my future writing.

    As far as when I said “Americans” practicing their faith, I think I should have said American Christians. Believers in America have had the unique opportunity to live with freedom and liberty for generations, and so how we serve is different than other places in the world. (Obviously, we can always serve and worship, even in the very worst of times.) I guess one example that came to mind was during the Roman Empire, where soldiers could press a noncitizen (like a Christian Jew) into his service for one mile. That is where we get the “going the extra mile” concept. Giving more service was an act of liberty in this instance–the Christian went above the requirement to both show God’s love and also act out his freedom. After all, freedom has its root in faith (which is what makes our founding documents so profound).

    My concern is what this means for freedom, not that there isn’t any Christian response to it, or that there isn’t a way to act out our faith within it. I don’t think our faith could be called true if it couldn’t be applied to every situation. With that said, I wrote American (and should have added a qualifier) because I understand that we are a distinct people and do things differently than the rest of the world. I value that and desire to preserve it while also realizing that it isn’t the only way.

  • Reply Martyrologist November 10, 2008 at 8:00 am

    I have some initial thoughts on this after reading through the post. I’ll think more and maybe offer something a bit more solid later.

    And I’ll preface this with saying I did not vote for Barack Obama (or John McCain).

    There is talk of homeschooling rising in the coming years as a result of Obama being President. That remains to be seen, obviously, but still may be quite true. And not because of government programs to help parents homeschool, but because of the madness that will ensue in public schools, and Christian parents being fed up with it or scared.

    As far as the required, mandatory service in the schools, I honestly don’t see a problem with it. To have community service be a part of the public school curriculum/program is OK with me (granted I support homeschooling first and foremost). High schools in California seem to geared toward one thing right now: exit exams. The quality of education offered has dwindled; I could see the difference between my high school experience and my younger brother’s, who was a freshman two years after I graduated, and he attended the same high school I did. And these younger generations are lazier, more apathetic; they could use some hands on experience. Private schools tend to have some sort of community service/ministry credit requirement already. I know in my public high school we had a community service requirement in one of our senior classes (can’t recall if it was government or something like that); if we didn’t complete it, we didn’t pass and didn’t graduate. Unless something has changed in the last 10-14 years, the pieces have been in place for a while.

    You stated, “but he is also interrupting the way Americans have practiced their faith for hundreds of years.” I think you’ll need to clarify your use of “Americans” there. Not all Americans are (including the people throughout the history of the USA and colonies) Christians or people of faith.

    And none of this to say we should not be concerned with the likelihood’s and possibilities of what will happen to our abilities as parents to govern our own homes and dictate the educations and livelihoods of our own children. It is wise to keep watch of what this new White House and congress will do so the Church can best act and react. But, our Church is quite disjointed at the moment. Hard for us to unify on anything.

  • Reply Brandy November 9, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    Rahime,

    So…fun is the word you’re using for this, hm? 🙂 I suppose we shall see…

    Anonymous,

    Yes, the peaceful transfer of power is rare throughout history and something we should all appreciate. What we saw on Tuesday’s election was nothing other than a revolution, and yet it was accomplished without a shot fired. Very few changes of this magnitude have been made without violence, and this is something we should be grateful for, regardless of how much we disagree. Of course, those of us who disagree should be also attempting a peaceful counter-revolution at the next election. That is the beauty of American politics!

    Unless, of course, we look at the local level and watch the continual riots in West Hollywood these days. But I digress…

    Flacius1551,

    I think this last comment is important enough to merit a follow-up post. If all goes as planned, I’ll have my answer to you posted Monday…

  • Reply flacius1551 November 8, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    OK–I will now out myself as a college professor: what O. is proposing is more or less simply a formalization of a situation that I see as relatively common among students these days. That is: the only kind of paid work they can get is in in the various lowpaid service sector–retail, fastfood, waitressing, etc.–so they can’t use their work experiences as effective resume fodder. Particularly if they are majoring in something without a direct application (e.g., most liberal arts majors, but also some of the social and natural sciences, esp. psychology or sociology) they have to find a way to get some sort of para-professional experience if they hope to find an entry-level job. I welcome that someone in a leadership position in public life (as opposed to private life) is willing to say that service work with people in an area of interest to you is important. Hopefully this will lead to broader recognition of this situation and benefits for those who participate.

  • Reply Anonymous November 8, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    I get more and more worried about this every day. Many college students today are going to school and pulling long hours at part time jobs just to pay their bills. Many plan to give back to the community when they have the means, but they simply can’t afford that 100 hours now.
    This socialist government-to-be scares me. I can only hope that the American people are smart enough to stop these policies when the time comes. I like to remember that this is, in fact, a democracy. And we have the power to peacefully boot someone out of office if they don’t please us.

  • Reply Rahime November 8, 2008 at 6:37 am

    Fun times we live in, eh?

    I too had this fleeting moment–when the darn optimist deep within me got out–during which I thought, “hey, maybe our new president-to-be will bring good changes”. That thought was quickly checked after hearing part of his acceptance speech and reminding me of the repercussions of slavery, I mean socialism.

  • Reply Brandy November 8, 2008 at 5:31 am

    You know, I thought about that (the assassination idea) when I saw that he would be delivering his acceptance speech in front of such a large crowd in such an open area. I know that that naturally flowed from his campaign style with all the large crowds, but it did look risky to me, and we all know there are crazies out there. Now, I’m not sure that that is why he did what he did, but I see your point…

  • Reply flacius1551 November 8, 2008 at 3:00 am

    Frankly, if I were him, I wouldn’t have had my family out on that stage at all. Credible plots to assassinate him are being uncovered every week now, and having his entire family out there stationary on the platform is like an invitation to crazies to take potshots.

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