Bill Richardson: Should we have a national service?
Bill Richardson is the Governor of New Mexico and former candidate for the 2008 Democratic nomination. Of Hispanic descent, Richardson was born in Pasadena, California, but spent most of his childhood in Mexico City. Richardson graduated from Tufts University, from which he also received a Masters in International Affairs. In 1982, Richardson was elected to the United States House of Representatives. During his time in the House, Richardson focused on foreign affairs as well as on issues of importance to the Native American community. In 1997, Bill Clinton appointed Richardson United States Ambassador to the United Nations; Richardson left that post in 1998 to become Secretary of Energy. Richardson is known for his "shuttle diplomacy" and has been nominated five times for the Nobel Peace Prize. Richardson was first elected the Governor of New Mexico in 2003; he was reelected in 2007 in a landslide, earning 69% of the vote. Richardson is the author of two recent books: the campaign autobiography Between Worlds: The Making of an American Life, and Leading by Example: How We Can Inspire an Energy and Security Revolution.
Question: Should we have national service?
Bill Richardson: National service? Absolutely. And I would promote national service. I would expand the Peace Corps, Action, AmeriCorps. But as I said, not only would I expand those programs – especially those for seniors also – and give them incentives; I would try to set up another program besides that national service that links college loans . . . Kids today, the college loans, the banks, the lending agencies are . . . they’re literally ripping them off. And I would get rid of those entities and create a national endowment of all our loans and grants, favoring more grants than loans. But I would set up this system where in exchange for two years of tuition, one year of national service. And that national service could include service in Action, in the Peace Corps, in AmeriCorps, and try to combine them; but try to have those young people and middle-aged people that use these projects, that use this service get some economic benefit; get some sense of national service for the country.
Recorded on: 11/20/07
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