Monday, September 15, 2008

Time Magazine: second annual National Service issue

Time Magazine's second annual National Service issue arrived in my mailbox on Saturday - there's Obama and McCain with their work boots and hard hats on the cover and inside they each reveal their plans for national service.

The cover story notes that since last year's issue made the case for national serivce, this year's issue will focus on "21 big and small ideas on how you can service your community, your family, your country." But the over-arching theme of the article will sound familiar to us phil studies students. First, what is the proper role of government when it comes to service? When it comes to the presidential canditates, their backgrounds tell you a lot about their answer to this question: McCain served his country through tradition and honored military service while Obama's work with grassroots community organizing is more unorthodox. (More on this below). The other theme of the article that struck me was that "National service is part of our DNA" in America. Indeed, "service is a key part of the story we tell ourselves about this country."

You can peruse the list of 21 to-do's on your own. Of most interest to me is the candidates' plans for national service - - as I noted above, their respective experiences certainly influence their proposals. Obama's plan centers around investing in grass-roots ideas. He proposes a Social Investment Fund Network to bring together faith-based organization and foundations to expand successful programs. McCain's plan centers around enhancing educational opportunities in service, American history and civics. He also proposes a White House Serivce to America Office to streamline national serivce programs across the federal government.

And finally, if you pick up a hard copy of this magazine, be sure to pay attention to the front cover advertisement from Target. It shows a picture of a young girl at school. The tag line reads "5% Philanthropist". It says to me: the easiest way to be a philanthropist is to shop at Target becuase the company gives 5% of its income to support education, the arts, social service and volunteerism (this according to the ad). But, I don't think this ad really inspires me to be a philanthropist anymore then it inspires me to be a consumer.

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