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Steve Lunetta: Slight of hand

Posted: April 6, 2009 1:14 a.m.
Updated: April 6, 2009 4:55 a.m.
When I was a kid, I loved watching magic shows. Guys like David Copperfield, Doug Henning, Andre Kole and Lance Burton would hold my attention for hours.

Henning had that big, bushy mustache and always seemed rather nerdy while working his wonders. Kole made the Statue of Liberty disappear - still can't figure out how he did that one. I'm thinking helicopters and lots of mirrors.

Copperfield was known for illusions that bordered on musical theater and drama. His magic was always woven into a story either about love or humor. He always had the best-looking girls, too. Not that I ever noticed.

Lance Burton will always be famous for the "Anyone Can be a Magician" magic sets that sold on TV, usually during Scooby Doo or Speed Racer (note to anyone younger than 30: this was the era when cartoons were still cartoons and not computer-modified live action movies).

Lance was the master of slight-of-hand and misdirection. His miracles were amazing until you began to understand that you had to look at the hand away from the action. That's the one that had the ball.

President Obama is like a modern-day Lance Burton. While, with one hand, he is charming the world at the G-20 summit, firing CEOs of major U.S. corporations and rescuing major businesses by spending billions of dollars, his other hand is very busy behind the scenes. His hidden hand has the ball, and if we are not very careful, we will miss it.

A little over a week ago, the House of Representatives passed a measure that would radically change a Clinton-era program called AmeriCorps. The Generations Invigorating Volunteerism and Education Act (GIVE - isn't that cute?), sponsored by Representatives McCarthy (D-N.Y.) and Miller (D-Calif.), was approved by a vote of 321-105.

GIVE will cost $6 billion in the next five years and create 175,000 "service opportunities" to expand volunteerism into things like education, health, veterans service and clean energy. Supporters say that volunteerism and charity are needed in these "tough economic times."

For example, a 10-month hitch in the National Civilian Community Corps yields $4,000 in living expenses and $4,475 toward school. This will probably rise under the new program.

Strange. My mom always taught me that charity begins at home. And, if you get paid to do volunteer charity work, doesn't that mean it's no longer charity? Isn't that really a contradiction?

The hand is quicker than the eye....

The most frightening part of the legislation is the creation of a "Congressional Commission on Civic Service," a bipartisan group that will examine "whether a workable, fair and reasonable mandatory service requirement for all able young people could be developed and how such a requirement could be implemented in a manner the would strengthen the social fabric of the nation" (, 3/18/09).

Let's understand this. The government may soon compel young people into mandatory service. No more lazy summers, video games, pick-up basketball games, choir practice, fishing and skateboarding. Obama's GIVE program will structure your youngster's time so that he/she won't "waste" it. Your little slothful ingrate will be taught the true meaning of selfless service by people who truly know how to give - your friendly Federal Government.

And for my next trick...

It is also very interesting that most of this new "volunteerism" will probably be spent on organizations with a distinctly liberal bent. Larry Hart, director of government relations for the American Conservative Union, stated "it's allowing taxpayer funding of left-wing organizations." You can bet that Obama's pet political pals like Acorn will be major benefactors of GIVE.

When did charity and volunteerism become the job of the federal government? As I recall, the early Judeo-Christian church was the source of charity and generosity within the community. Those who had in abundance shared with those in need voluntarily and without compulsion. The church was the welfare office, the pregnancy counseling clinic, the runaway home and the homeless shelter.

Why not kill these expensive programs and cut taxes so that private citizens can give to the charities of their choice? Many give a 10 percent tithe to their church after taxes. Just think what that percentage could be without the burden of forced giving through tax revenues.

Obama, once again, shows his deceptive hand. Our president believes that you are not competent and fair. You are not able to give adequately to charitable organizations that are best for the community. Therefore, he will remove your money, your time and your children because he and the Democrats know what is best.

So much for freedom. Ala-kazam! It's gone.

A final chilling point comes from Obama himself during a campaign stop in Colorado Springs last year: "We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we've set. We've got to have a civilian national security force that is just as powerful, just as strong, just as well funded," he said.

Is part of Obama's hidden plan to force compulsory service in a national domestic security force that is as powerful as the U.S. military? Is this compulsory service just a thinly veiled effort to indoctrinate a new generation into the magic and wonder of socialism?

This is clearly an elephant that conservatives and common-sense folks would like to make disappear. I wonder if we could get Copperfield to do the job?

Steve Lunetta is a Santa Clarita resident. "Right About Now" runs Mondays in The Signal. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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