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Can a volunteer-based-system ease our governments burden of providing social welfare?

Here's an abridged quote from Robert Kennedy to begin:

"Our gross national product ... counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage... It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armored cars for police who fight riots in our streets.

"Yet [it] does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials... it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile."

The goal of an economy is to make sure everyone is productive and receives the goods they need. Suppose the role of money is purely to verify that those we are providing goods for have done their productive duty, proven by the $X they have to spend on your goods. Then why can't we develop an additional system of verifying that someone has been productive in their actions?

By adopting a volunteer based service that delivers basic social goods, can we verify that people are being productive and give them basic services in return? Thus helping eliminate poverty, hunger and homelessness in exchange for volunteering for the social good and easing the stress on our nearly bankrupt governments. By having volunteers run local farmers markets and community feeds, help in hospitals, or mentor children we could do a lot of good.
Our world seems to be shifting towards one of abundance; if we only need 2% of our workers to grow food, we should be able to easily feed us all if we all chip in

As doing good becomes a habit, one expected by all our neighbors, kindness would ideally become a way of life, and our children would grow up this way.

I'll end with another Rob Kennedy quote as it seems fitting:
Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this wor


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    Sep 22 2012: Volunteerism is indeed a wonderful way of improving the quality of life in cities and towns. Probably every city, including yours, has a website announcing ways people can help in your local area, and places like Volunteer Match and United Way also post opportunities with non-governmental social service organizations.
    At least where I live, and I assume many other places, there are always many members of the community ready to answer the call without any sort of compensation. In fact where I live there are typically many more people willing to volunteer (without compensation) than social services organizations are able to supervise!
    At the level of children, service has become an academic requirement in many if not most high schools and many middle schools, which is another way it has the potential to become part of a way of life.
    So I think the spirit of volunteerism is nicely alive!
    • Sep 22 2012: Thanks for the response, and I understand it's well and alive, but I can't help but feel there can be more done.

      I've heard a lot of discussion of mandatory service in the armed forces, and wonder what would happen there was a required amount of volunteer service at home, on a nationwide scale. My idea is that although there are a lot of people willing to volunteer, those who actually do are still in the minority. With some sort of mandate/tax breaks/private benefit or just a general shift in the attitudes of the people, can we find a way to provide all or most of the social welfare we now rely upon our tax dollars to provide? Our tax dollars are generally spent very inefficiently, by those far away from the problems.

      I guess I'm looking for opposition, or discussion on the different types of platforms that could be used to make such an idea of "all for one" realistic. Kind of the Facebook of volunteering per se, where everyone might be involved
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        Sep 22 2012: Oh, I see. You want a universal compulsory thing, kind of like the draft but for everyone. And I guess you want an infrastructure that indicates needs and who has them? And then some way of matching people up with the tasks for which they have the skills and then distributing whatever is produced to the appropriate locations? And you want some verifiable accounting of hours or days spent to assure compliance.
        Do I get the picture now? Kind of like a planned economy to produce and distribute what is needed without compensation to those doing the work other than receiving what they may need?
        • Sep 22 2012: Yea something along those lines. In the novel/movie Starship Troopers, you need to serve in the army to become a citizen, so you can't vote without it but it's not compulsory service. I'm not suggesting anything that extreme but perhaps even something like a military discount to say thanks to those who serve their neighborhoods in addition to those who serve the armed forces. You mentioned Volunteer Match they seem to have a pretty nice interface set up but something along those lines.

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