Free Work, Emphasis on the Work

The New York Times clocks in this morning with a superb article on the Heritage Foundation's attitude towards its Summer interns.  Rather than the wageless servitude ambitious, affluent kids generally go through, Heritage offers a $2,500 stipend, palatial living quarters (at least by intern standards), intellectually rigorous work, and a lunch series where interns trudge through the conservative philosophical canon.

Sweet deal.  And not just for the interns.  These kids, due to the living quarters, will network with each other.  These kids, due to the work, will actually have the opportunity to prove themselves.  They'll be further indoctrinated into conservative ideas and exit the Summer with a tidy little sum.  The Heritage internship program, in short, is a perfect inversion of a normal program: for Heritage, it's about serving the interns, not the other way around.

It's certainly tilling no new ground to exclaim over the conservative movement's attention to its young and their devotion to cultivating college talent.  So I'll save you that -- I'm not even sure how much this sort of thing matters.  After all, the same connections can be made without the living quarters, the same experience had (assuming you can pay for it, which is a major, and often untrue, assumption) without the stipend.  What's different is the work.