Most government jobs are not "public service."
There is a lot of talk about the idealism of "public service," especially after Obama became president-select in November. There has been endless columns about how wonderful public service is, how it will make America stronger, how it is so necessary, and also, that there is some sort of untapped need for service. But what is "public service"?
First, we need to remember the answer to the question of, why do we have a government in the first place? The main reason we have a government is to protect individual rights (especially the right to life and the right to personal property). Thus, the purpose of the government is to prevent force between relationships of individuals within a civil society. That is why we have the police and other law-enforcement agencies. They are there to ensure that the strong members of society are not able to harm or steal from the weaker members of society. Secondly, we have a military to protect us from the threats of foreign invaders who would be quite willing to subject us to the will of another nation. Without a military, any nation with evil aims would have the opportunity to subject all Americans to the power of a foreign nation. We have a military to prevent such a threat from being realized. Thirdly, we have the civil court system to ensure that individuals can resolve disputes under objectively created laws. This ensures that the whims, or violence, of one person, or that of a group, are not the deciding factors in terms of the rights, duties, responsibilities, and claims by one person to another; rather, the deciding factor is a combination of facts applied to objectively created laws. That is the nature of government in a nutshell. Thus, to the extent that one wants to participate in a necessary governmental service, one should consider joining their local police force, the fire department, the national guard, the United States Military (which consists of five branches: the Marine Corps, Navy, Army, Coast Guard, and Air Force), an attorney (to argue the facts and the law on behalf of one's client in a civil dispute), and for attorneys, they should consider working as a state or federal judge.
Of course, the government does a lot of other things that are not necessary and are actually rather harmful to our republic, including farm subsidies, creating and managing re-education camps known as public schools (or as I call it, 'government-run schools'), bailout of financial institutions, rent/housing subsidies, the payment of tax dollars for health care services, wasteful subsidies to so-called "clean" but inefficient forms of energy, as well as staffing agencies that few people can understand--such as commissions on "aging" Americans, etc, etc.
The newest government scheme that the incoming Obama administration is proposing is this misguided notion of youths performing "public service." To the liberals, public service amounts to doing that which government officials dictate as "public service." The term that politicians have been using--"public service"--is misleadingly vague because it enables citizens to craft their own impression of "public service" that is likely benevolent, exciting, and benefiting a large number of individuals. However, these impressions would be quite wrong. "Public service" serves a variety of purposes to politicians: it conditions citizens to become mere subjects, willing to listen to the dictates of government officials, rather than acting according to their own self-interest. Secondly, rather than serving the interests of many of the individuals within a geographical boundary, it is most likely designed to ensure that a politician, or a group of politicians, will win re-election. (Politicians are always focused on the next election). Thirdly, what about the interests of the young citizen? Why should they be conditioned to think about the interests of others instead of their own interests? It is through entrepreneurship and through exercising their rational faculties towards profit-oriented enterprises such as Google that these individuals truly benefit not only themselves, but others. Thus, capitalism itself serves as a check on whether one's activities truly have "value." The fact that people are willing to voluntarily enter into a contract with them and pay for their services is the strongest indication that their labor has real value. When the government creates make-work "public service" jobs, the young citizens are not aware of whether there is any true objective value to their work since the people paying for the young citizen's services--the wealth creating tax-payer--were forced to pay for services that they may or may want.
Further, there are more than enough opportunities for someone to volunteer their time, money, and motivation to causes that they support. There are no legal constraints that stop a young citizen from donating their time or money to such causes. America is the most generous nation on the face of the planet. If a young citizen wants to volunteer, what is stopping them? Do they need a politician's call to service? Why? If one wants to volunteer, they should do so based upon their own desire and interest, and not from the call of a politician trying to enlarge their own source of power. Thus, the idea that the government should compel them them to perform certain tasks sounds anti-American in this land of liberty. For these reasons, Obama's proposed "national service" scheme ought to be vigorously opposed and defeated.