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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 21 2012: Ran out of room and I guess the questions are somewhat scattered above, but essentially, Can we use another system of incentives or mandates to get people helping with those who can't afford basic services?

    America was founded upon the ideal of a nation "By the people, for the people", however our government is "Paid for by the people," not actually by the people.

    By getting people to act in their local communities for the common good, could we make more efficient use of our resources than the government spending of our taxes?

    Either through a government mandate of 2hrs/month or some sort of incentive based system?
    • Sep 23 2012: What you are looking for is tribal psychology , but mandated by the government. You can't mandate social capitalism.
      Social Capitalism does exist where I live. It is something that is taught, not mandated. I am having trouble understanding how Social Capital can co-exist with free-market Capitalism on a large scale ?
      Please explain how they can co-exist together because they are very opposite ideologies, which living in a small town where it is taught works , but large scale ?
      • Sep 23 2012: Yes thats definitely not something I should have written, more like a platform to enable it and encourage a small amount of service with some incentive. I definitely am not a fan of mandates.

        I like what you mention as it being taught, not mandated, and that is what I was envisioning. My idea would be something like corporate philanthropy, just as many places here in America give military discounts. In order to serve in the military they give a certain amount of time towards protecting our nation, if other civilians decided to help serve our neighbors, they could receive similar benefits.

        As it is now, several companies, like Tom's Shoes donation program or any other companies advertising their philanthropic goals, receive a large benefit from concerned citizens. Right now I spend a lot of time going to certain websites (Facebook, Gmail, Twitter, Ted, etc.) and each one facilitates a different niche activity. WIth one focused on getting people out and about helping in the community in a wide range of , I expect it would become a daily part of one's life, getting them out in the neighborhood and simply spur good will. Which I've found to be contagious when genuine.

        Large scale would just mean being able to make each person like a contributor to the community, which I would think means keeping it fairly local, while still somewhat connected nationally or internationally.

        My favorite opportunity would be to help us avoid another poorly handled disaster like Hurricane Katrina. If you get people engaged in every city signing up for roles in disaster prep, with specific roles, then people would be much better prepared to help out in the case of an emergency. There would probably be some basic guidelines and roles to fill in each city, but people could also be free to sign up to help at a local food bank or mentor children or be a caregiver for someone with disabilities. It would be voluntary, but with some suggested operations and duties for each region.
        • Sep 24 2012: I am going to save your email because , I was recently reading about a co-op in which credits were given instead of cash. So like a plumber could go and help someone without the cash to pay for it and exchange credits for some food, other services etc..... It is located in more than one city . I can't think of the name of it.
          It is a social capital building ideal . This left the person who was poor or had little skills the ability to also give , by caregiving, babysitting, baking you get my drift. Would you like me to try and figure out where I saw the information ?

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