The United States would be strengthened at home and abroad by a fresh emphasis on public service, Senator John F. Kerry said yesterday, as he outlined a citizenship program whose hallmark would be a free public-college education for anyone who spends two years as a volunteer.
The Democratic presidential contender, speaking first at an American Legion post and later at the prep school he attended, also proposed a federally mandated -- but locally designed -- requirement for public service by high schoolers; a ''Retired but not Tired'' work program for senior citizens; a ''Summer of Service'' program for teenagers not yet old enough to work; almost a quadrupling of the Peace Corps from 6,700 to 25,000 volunteers; and a recruitment drive led by the commander in chief to expand the ranks of the US military.
The Massachusetts senator accused President Bush of failing to quench a public thirst for service in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and of not fulfilling his campaign promise to ''rally the armies of compassion.'' Kerry's program would cost an estimated $3.2 billion annually, which he said could be paid by closing more than $60 billion in corporate tax loopholes.
Taking money from corporations that earn it to subsidize volunteers who are leeching off the government. Sounds like a fine way to instill a sense of perpetual dependency in our young. As blogger Joanne Jacobs opined about Kerry's proposal: "I envision eager youths and cheerful seniors marching off to their work assignments, singing patriotic songs. Only they're singing in Russian, for some reason."