The latest dumb, political idea

It’s that time of the election process, when politicians, desperate to be remembered by the voters, come up with silly ideas.

Today’s SI (silly idea) award goes to a guy whom I believe to be one of the more intelligent of the candidates, Pete Buttigieg.

This only goes to show that even smart people can be silly when under pressure.

Pete Buttigieg wants Americans to expect a year of ‘national service’ after college, 10:44 a.m., Politico,  Kathryn Krawczyk

Pete Buttigieg is serving up a brand new plan.

The South Bend, Indiana mayor and 2020 Democrat has proposed “A New Call to Service” that would push the number of people participating in national service to 1 million by 2026.

He’d like to expand the ranks of 7,300 Peace Corp volunteers and trainees and 75,000 AmeriCorps members to a total of 250,000, (then) grow that total to 1 million by 2026, with an estimated cost of $20 billion over the next decade.

Buttigieg hopes to fill all these programs by promising a credit toward workers’ student debts under the already existent Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.

That looks similar to debt forgiveness service programs mentioned by fellow candidates Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and former Rep. John Delaney.

I can almost visualize Pete and his handlers, crouched together in a locked room, sweating and mumbling:

“Bernie has Medicare, and Liz has corporate fraud. We need something. Something!
“How about student debt?
“It’s being done. We need something else. Something really unique and patriotic.
“Like military service?
“You mean college kids tramping around in the infantry?
“No. OK, wait. I’ve got it: Student debt combined with the Peace Corps.  That’s unique, liberal and patriotic, all rolled into one.”

What a wonderful idea.

To compete economically and scientifically, America needs educated people — not just high school graduates, but college grads and advanced degree people: Medical doctors, engineers, scientists — all those people that really advance our nation.

So here’s what we do. First, we already have discouraged kids from going to college, and punished them if they do go to college, by putting them deeply into debt.

Now, rather than simply relieving them of this debt, we have them to waste a couple of the most productive years in their lives by forcing them to take a low pay job they don’t want — a job that has nothing to do with their college education and expertise.

I can see it now. All those PhDs planting crops in Batswana, building huts in Burkina Faso, carrying water jugs in Eswatini.

Our indebted college grads and future leaders will flock to the idea, and it will greatly benefit American competitiveness, especially in Comoros and Lesotho (where I’m told the volunteers learn to speak Sesotho).

Of course, the alternative would be to encourage advanced education by making college free, for the same reason we already make grade school and high school free.

But then we wouldn’t be able to send our best and brightest young people to Benin (where “volunteers learn to speak local languages, including Bariba, Ditamari, Dendi, Fon, French, Mahi, and Nagot.”)

O.K., seriously, I admire the young people who volunteer to go to 3rd world countries and help. But the key word is “volunteer.”

The notion of basing the payoffs of those outrageous college loans, on a couple years of forced labor in Myanmar not only is repugnant but is counter to the best interests of America.

Pete, we should do everything possible to encourage advanced education, instead of discouraging it.

Rodger Malcolm Mitchell
Monetary Sovereignty
Twitter: @rodgermitchell
Search #monetarysovereigntyFacebook: Rodger Malcolm Mitchell


The most important problems in economics involve the excessive income/wealth/power Gaps between the richer and the poorer.

Wide Gaps negatively affect poverty, health and longevity, education, housing, law and crime, war, leadership, ownership, bigotry, supply and demand, taxation, GDP, international relations, scientific advancement, the environment, human motivation and well-being, and virtually every other issue in economics.

Implementation of The Ten Steps To Prosperity can narrow the Gaps:

Ten Steps To Prosperity:

1. Eliminate FICA

2. Federally funded Medicare — parts a, b & d, plus long-term care — for everyone

3. Provide a monthly economic bonus to every man, woman and child in America (similar to social security for all)

4. Free education (including post-grad) for everyone

5. Salary for attending school

6. Eliminate federal taxes on business

7. Increase the standard income tax deduction, annually. 

8. Tax the very rich (the “.1%”) more, with higher progressive tax rates on all forms of income.

9. Federal ownership of all banks

10. Increase federal spending on the myriad initiatives that benefit America’s 99.9% 

The Ten Steps will grow the economy, and narrow the income/wealth/power Gap between the rich and you.



4 thoughts on “The latest dumb, political idea

  1. I know ! When I was that young, I had a life ! Who is going to take care of my cat, Pete, and my garden, while I am gone for so long ???


  2. Well-said, Rodger! My thoughts exactly. This particular perennial silly idea, and various permutations thereof, keeps popping up all over the political spectrum. Even Marianne Williamson has floated a version of this idea.

    Nothing wrong with voluntary national service, of course. In fact, I agree with Pete Buttigeg (and Marianne) that the existing budget for such programs should be increased dramatically. That much I agree with.

    But, the key word here is “voluntary”, and tying college financial aid or debt forgiveness to it (at a time when higher education is more and more of a necessity) really amounts to a rather sneaky form of economic coercion.

    And it makes it seem like bettering oneself through education (which in itself is a form of unrecognized and unpaid labor that benefits both individuals and society and the economy) somehow leads individuals to accrue some sort of deficit balance with society that they must “pay back” or “give back’, which is completely backwards.

    Note to anyone who thinks I am being elitist here: I also support trade schools, vo-tech schools, and community colleges being given full parity with four-year universities in terms of being debt-free and debt-forgiven, period.

    America’s Puritanical (and often anti-intellectual) background is showing its ugly head again in that regard. The fear of “something for nothing” or “free lunches” on the one hand, and a backlash against higher education on the other hand, seems to lead even the best and brightest politicians to reflexively shy away from any proposal for debt-free higher education that doesn’t have major strings attached.

    There is this idea, whether cynical or puritanical, that *everything* must have strings attached, which upon closer examination is really quite stupid. Buckminster Fuller would likely be spinning in his grave right now.


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