<< The Body Politic

Mid-week roundup

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

Some recent happenings in the citizenship world:

  • We highlighted Thomas Ricks’s call for the creation of a community service or military draft here. Writing in The Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf disagrees with Ricks, focusing on the economics of Ricks’s proposal: “So let me get this straight. Presuming that these 18 months of conscription don’t affect college plans, except to delay them for two years, its effect will basically be to shift two years of a person’s working life from whatever they spend their career doing to menial labor compensated at below market rates. […] This would result in a lot of curious tradeoffs. For example, America would have 18 fewer months of Steve Jobs the entrepreneur and inventor, and 18 more months of Steve Jobs painting barracks. […] Are any of these good tradeoffs?”
  • There are less than two weeks left before the National Conference on Citizenship’s Civic Data Challenge officially closes on July 29. Head to the website to create visual representations from the civic health and community attachment data that the NCoC provides. Winners will be announced on September 14.
  • Meghan Clyne at National Affairs draws lessons in liberty and citizenship from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series: “Among the effects of such an attitude [of dependence on the government, of the sort which we are now experiencing] can be a loss of personal liberty, as the government we permit to act for us constrains our options and pushes us around. This has tended to put us in mind of the tyranny our nation’s founders sought to overthrow, and so has led some Americans to imagine that we are in the same position. But we are not: Our problem is not a foreign oppressor, but rather our own failure to grasp the preconditions for truly living free. It is not that we are denied our liberty, but that we do not want it–that we do not aspire to live as self-reliant citizens. […] Our time calls for a renewed appreciation of Laura Ingalls Wilder as a teacher of liberty. Her books make accessible to the rising generation a vision of freedom deeply rooted in virtue: a vision that posits a balanced ideal of ordered liberty between the extremes of overbearing government and radical individualism; a vision of the free life that is also a vision of the good life.”
  • A recent survey looks at the connection between participation in online communities and increased civic engagement: “Youths involved in online groups based on common interests, even if those interests were not political, were more likely to increase their level of volunteering, charitable giving, and expressing themselves about community issues, compared with similar peers who were not involved in online groups. […] While being part of online groups tied together by hobbies or interests was linked to increased civic engagement, merely socializing with friends through sites like Facebook was not.”
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