Government’s Role in Encouraging Volunteerism

Volunteer sign with vintage American flagThis thought-provoking article from The Commons magazine pokes holes in conventional arguments for replacing some major government functions with greater volunteerism. For one thing, as the article points out, government policies play an enormous role in whether or not people have time to volunteer. Today most Americans are far too busy putting food on the table to devote the kinds of hours to volunteering that would be required to displace government services. Strengthening government policies that promote better wages, increase access to health care, and allow for paid leave would allow more Americans to donate their time and talents to larger causes. Unfortunately, one wonders if lawmakers who decree that volunteerism can take on government’s roles will support policies that would actually allow more American volunteerism. While the article includes a partisan look at the issue it does raise some important questions. Here’s a snapshot:

Increased support for the people and institutions that help the poor and the sick, strengthen our communities, protect the environment and generally make America a kinder and gentler place (to quote the most ardent proponent of volunteerism, George H. W. Bush) never make the final cut in the right-wing blueprint for our future.

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