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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: I think it is a thin line between volunteering and slavery. What i wonder about is, why something that seems to be needed by many is not paid, and if, just with like you say "basic goods". Why keep people on the ground? If we (the society) pay billions over billions for private banks, this seems not to be a problem of money.

    I do not think that there is a financial need for volunteering. And, why is there a government needed, if the core of a state is run by volunteers? Things you list is the core element of a states legitimacy, if he can't provide this or does not want to provide this, then why do you pay taxes anymore and follow the governments law?
    • Sep 22 2012: I was thinking volunteers could provide more locally based services, helping ease up on food stamps, welfare, possibly healthcare and community projects as well as prepare for disasters on a local level, hopefully increasing sustainability, while our governments would still be in place to deal with issues of law and order, large scale projects, national defense, foreign policy, and the like.

      I have heard recently about volunteers working to reclaim their cities after it has gone through bankruptcy and services like garbage, road and park maintenance were shut down.

      As for the slavery concern, that is a valid concern I share but would hope to have it be an opt in system where it simply was inconvenient to not be involved, whether through financial incentives or for social reasons. Just as not having a Facebook can be inconvenient when meeting people who assume everyone has one. Thanks for the reply!
      • Sep 23 2012: That still does not address the real problem, which is outsourcing of meaningful employment.

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