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<p>Richard Armey's opinions of AmeriCorps are egregiously uninformed ("Have faith in the people," Opposing view, Future of AmeriCorps debate, Wednesday). He argues that AmeriCorps is "rooted in the un-American idea that the people of this country have to be enticed into community service with monetary incentive." However, research suggests that incentives do influence peoples' contributions. For instance, studies indicate that Americans' charitable contributions are influenced by the incentive of tax deduction. Moreover, young people considering joining the military are offered the incentives of financial aid and student-loan forgiveness, as well as pay.</p>
<p>I wouldn't call citizens' response to such incentives "un- American." Rather, it is an issue of pragmatics.</p>
<p>Armey goes on to assert that AmeriCorps is an example of "well- paid social activism." Actually, the volunteers' benefits -- including the stipend and educational grant -- amount to a value below the poverty level. Given that Armey was paid $161,200 as House Majority Leader last year, one would think that he has an idea of what "well paid" means.</p>
<p>The people of AmeriCorps improve their communities in a very real sense. And they make these contributions in the name of the American people and for something more profound and elusive than the promise of a tiny paycheck. These facts are apparently lost on Armey.