Dylan‘s new WKM piece is–as Dara said–excellent. But because I’m a blogger, and quibbling is what I know, I’m going to quibble with a tangential point he raises in the last paragraph. He says:

Furthermore, Obama’s campaign proposal to grant a $4,000 tuition tax credit to students who engage in service is borderline disturbing. The liberalism I know does not regard education—higher or otherwise—as a privilege to be parceled off only to those who merit it.

I say “tangential” because as far as I can tell from reading the linked article, there was nothing in his proposal to specify that the community service had to be done through a service liberalism outlet like the ones he spends much of the article justifiably deriding. With that in mind, I can’t quite figure out what was so objectionable about the idea. It’s not like the government doesn’t already disperse merit-based scholarships, and one that emphasizes civic duty and responsibility sounds like a pretty good idea to me.

I’d add that it sounds like a good idea to the extent that it supplements healthy government funding for need based scholarships. But I don’t see why we can’t ask for both. Proposals like this are what I was applauding Obama for yesterday, because they service the dual functions of providing financial help to people who desperately need it and fostering a sense of communitarian responsibility and civic virtue.

This latter function, I am convinced, would give us more politically engaged and socially conscious citizens. And that could create more vocal support for the sort of social welfare programs that both Dylan and I support.

Ned Resnikoff

Ned Resnikoff