Saturday, July 28, 2007

Is a public service academy a good idea?

Via Drudge:

Clinton: Create Public Service Academy

Jul 28, 4:04 PM (ET)


COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - Presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton told college Democrats on Saturday she would create a national academy to train public servants.

"I'm going to be asking a new generation to serve," she said. "I think just like our military academies, we need to give a totally all-paid education to young men and women who will serve their country in a public service position."

An older woman carrying a sign that said "She doesn't care, all she wants is the power" yelled at Clinton while the New York senator was speaking in a ballroom on the University of South Carolina campus. Students attending the College Democrats of America convention shouted down the woman down and pushed her from the room.

"One of the things I love about politics, you never know what the day will bring," Clinton said.

Several people at the convention said they were inspired by Clinton's speech and her experience in public service after law school.

Clinton was an intern with the Children's Defense Fund, which advocates for minority, poor and disabled children.

"I loved her personal stories. ... It wasn't her generic speech," said Katelyn Porter, president of the College Democrats chapter at Roger Williams University in Rhode Island.

Porter, who is from Boston and works for a nonprofit organization that helps low-income families, said she has not decided which Democratic candidate she will support. "But Hillary is definitely at the top of the list," she said.

Clinton spoke about her conversion during college from a born and raised Republican to a Democrat.

"I woke up in my dorm one day and I thought, 'Well, I'm not sure I am a Republican,'" she said to enthusiastic cheers. "I was at the time, embarrassingly enough, the president of the Wellesley College young Republicans."

Later, in Beaufort, she told supporters she was running for president "because I think we can set big goals again. There is still so much to be done."

She mentioned universal health care, ending dependence on foreign oil, expanding early childhood education and safely withdrawing troops from Iraq.

Helen Gilbert, a retired government worker originally from Virginia, said she believes women - especially older women - may be Clinton's biggest hurdle.

"We're brought up to believe the men know it all," said Gilbert, 75. But Clinton's track record is what has earned Gilbert's support.

"She knows so much and she's done so much and she's been involved so much," Gilbert said. "She's going to be the president. I think it's about time, don't you?"


Associated Press writer Evan Berland in Beaufort contributed to this report.
I am sympathetic to the Confucian tradition, and the idea of a "public service" academy might resonate with the tenets and history of Confucianism. Still, book learning can supplement, not supplant, virtue, and it is not clear to me that a U.S. Public Service Academy would have the correct idea about virtue.

How has civil service changed with the rise of bureaucracy? What sort of education is really necessary for a civil servant? What was required by the British Empire, or the Spanish Empire or the Holy Roman Empire for that matter? Some form of a liberal education, I would think, even if that has evolved much over the past 5 centuries. How does the program at the USPSA compare? If it aims at having a diverse student body, does it nonetheless acknowledge the Natural Law? And what about a proper understanding of the Constutition? (I doubt that the notion of states' rights and the account of federalism that it generates will get much play there.)

"The campus ethos and daily pace of life will be more akin to a military academy than a typical liberal arts college. Students will be held to the highest standards of behavior and character through the Academy Honor System, which will underpin all campus activities. "

Will there be co-ed housing? Any rules against fornication? Drunkeness? I am a bit wary of training Federal civil servants who are then "posted" to different states--especially if there is a deliberate attempt to place them somewhere other than their home state. (Shades of the Chinese Empire.) I also am concerned about the reinforcement of a Federal/imperial arrogance which looks down upon the locals.

"It will offer students a broad-based liberal arts education that emphasizes a commitment to public service but maintains the academic rigor and wide-ranging intellectual experience essential to flexible, critical thinking. Academy students will earn a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Sciences degree in traditional subjects such as English, economics, biology, or physics."

Sounds normal for most "liberal arts" schools these days. But nonetheless a bad idea. A Great Books program would be better than this.

In addition to their Academic Major, students will participate in a systematic leadership development program that builds students’ leadership responsibilities progressively through the four-year undergraduate program. Modeled on the Cadet Leadership Development Program at the United States Military Academy, the program will involve academic work, extracurricular programming on campus, and service in the community. All students will enroll in a service-learning class each semester. This community service will improve living conditions and promote civic well-being in the local community, while contributing to students’ sense of responsibility and leadership. Through their community service projects, students not only will interact with local people and see firsthand some of the challenges that citizens face on a daily basis, they also will gain practical leadership experience. The hands-on experience will help guide students in their choice of the public service fields in which they want to work.
Have I ever written about why I dislike community service programs/activitiets as an element of liberal education? In a true polity, education in such virtues would be necessary for all, not just a few, and the responsibilities enumerated here would be common to all citizens, not just those who are admitted to the elite. (This is a essential part of relocalization.) And so I am suspicious of a project such as this, which may produce more imperial bureaucrats who serve not the people, but the oligarchy.

British Civil Service - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

What about a school for diplomacy or international relations? It is difficult for me to say anything bad about the idea, as it seems that the Vatican's school for diplomacy has much prestige behind it. (One assumes that since the students at the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy are clerics, they should know that their service is ultimately ordered to God and should be bound to their spirituality.) In the abstract, the training of diplomats would probably be similar to that of civil servants, though it would also require some knowledge of languages and other cultures and customs, and so on, plus more concentration on that part of statecraft that is involved in diplomacy. Still, I am also suspicious of contemporary programs in International Relations, for the same reason that such training seems to emphasize formal learning rather than growth in the virtues and the practice of citizenship in a community.

U.S. Public Service Academy
Help Us Build the U.S. Public Service Academy U.S. Public ...
youtube clip from the debate

What's this?
Whitehead School of Diplomacy and International Relations
American Graduate School of International Relations and Diplomacy
GU SFS: Institute for the Study of Diplomacy
Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce
Graduate School of International Relations - The Fletcher School ...
Welcome to Geneva School of Diplomacy and International Relations ...
Plus a host of other programs for International Relations

Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy - Index
Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy Celebrates 300 Years
The Vatican State
Agenzia Fides - VATICAN - The Pope addresses students of the ...
Pope's Address to Ecclesiastical Academy: "All Will Clearly See the Atypical Character of Pontifical Diplomacy"

English School of International Relations
English School of International Relations Theory (homepage)
The English School and Diplomacy
The English School on Diplomacy
The English School, Herbert Butterfield and Diplomacy
International relations - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
English school of international relations theory - Wikipedia, the ...
Realism (international relations) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Anonymous said...

Guy,Dont be so serious ,be happy in live will make you bettet;

Chris Myers Asch said...


Yours is perhaps the most thoughtful critique of my idea to build the U.S. Public Service Academy that I have yet read. I appreciate your attention to detail and the thought with which you have analyzed the Academy. Obviously, I disagree with your conclusion, but I enjoyed the critique.

I'm not sure if you clicked on the "Learn More" tab on our website, but if you do you will be able to download our Draft Blueprint. The blueprint explains in more detail what we hope to achieve with the Academy. I would be very interested in your feedback.


Chris Myers Asch said...

Here's the link:

papabear said...

Mr. Asch,

Thank you for your response and the suggestion. As I am leaving for a short "vacation," I will read the Draft Blueprint as soon as I have good internet access and some time.