This week the House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on H.R. 2857, the Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act, more creatively known as the GIVE Act. If passed and signed into law, the bill would revise and reauthorize appropriations for numerous community service programs through Fiscal Year 2012.
Among the revisions to some of the programs is the addition of four “purposes” to the National and Community Service Act of 1990. These include “providing year-round opportunities in service-learning; involving citizens in emergency and disaster preparedness, relief, and recovery; increasing service opportunities for retiring professionals; and encouraging service by Baby Boomers and continued service by national service alumni.”
Yes, you read that correctly. Congress is now in the business of specifically encouraging community service by Baby Boomers and national service alumni.
Perhaps our elected leaders think Baby Boomers are too selfish and national service alumni too short-sighted to serve or continuing serving. Perhaps these groups need Congress to lend them a helping hand and show them how to serve. Who knew this was one of the obligations and enumerated powers of Congress under the Constitution?
The bill goes on to authorize hundreds of millions of dollars for various service programs, including the usual emphasis on reaching out to Indian tribes, “disadvantaged youth,” “underserved communities” and two particular minority groups. In other words, the groups Congress has a habit of over-serving, creating within these communities an unhealthy dependency upon government handouts as a stimulus for civic, educational, cultural and economic improvement.
Paul M. Weyrich is the chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation. This op-ed is excerpted from his column.