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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: There is an elegant system that has been extant for 1000's of years called the free market. It is fantastically successful. For just the purpose you seek without all the BS.
    • Sep 22 2012: You are correct. The free market system has been wildly successful and a more creative force than anything in human history. But it is clearly not perfect and has gotten us into a bit of a hole with its current set up and regulation. If you look at our government the issue of social welfare seems to be a divisive issue. Democrats tend to want more social welfare and republicans want to minimize the role of government regulation.

      The free market works on an incentive based system; be productive, get paid, ideally. But it creates negative externalities and encourages accumulation of wealth over creation through productive efforts. Also its not entirely free (as in laissez fairre), we all pay a portion of our income (a proxy for our productive efforts) in taxes to go towards funding projects for the general goodwill of the community, to solve large scale problems we can't take on individually, like fight our wars, police our streets, monitor our safety, pave our roads, sweep our streets, and build our parks and schools.

      People could simply give some of their productivity to the people through labor as a volunteer, and maybe pay less in the form of tax dollars or shopping costs and as long as it was done through a trustworthy system. It could possibly be more efficient than our government spending and give an opportunity for the unemployed to take part in productive efforts in exchange for basic services rather than relying upon government runs programs. Citizen run programs rather.

      By eliminating or reducing the issue of government handouts from congress's responsibility, funds could be freed up, resources better allocated and perhaps the people would help to solve a lot of our problems in education, healthcare, poverty, etc.,. Possibly, it was a thought I wanted to get discuss, with people who are open to new ways of thinking about a problem.

      There is always room for improvement, and I'm hoping to further explore that with this thread.
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        Sep 22 2012: I would contend that which is not perfect is not the free market. Externailities are covered just fine by extant laws.

        The area that needs improvement is the understanding of what already exists.

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