Oxymoronic compulsory volunteering


A few weeks ago Melanie Reed wrote a piece in The Times in which she called for voluntary work to be made compulsory. Waiting for the punch line I now realize that she was not joking. She does indeed believe that we should be forced to volunteer.

This is how Reed’s vision play out:

What we must do, I suggest, is introduce a new concept of universal compulsory volunteering. (As practised in the Army: “Right lads, we need three volunteers - you, you and you.") Everyone aged 12 to 85 would have to devote a minimum of 12 days a year to the service of others - causes of any kind, as long as they are worthwhile. It might be giving financial advice to a charity, walking dogs, mentoring young offenders, gardening for the elderly. People could choose; but they must make a commitment.

What, you might ask, would happen to you if you choose not to volunteer? Well, “months of community service, or raised taxes“. One wonders whether Reed had even thought before writing this, and more importantly why she is not writing for The Guardian. The main reason people don’t volunteer is because politicians have stripped us of so much power, money and time that we have little left to give. Forcing us to volunteer would be the pièce de résistance in the historic failure of public policy as social engineering.

Let’s hope Cameron doesn’t read The Times. He has already dabbled with the idea of forced volunteerism before. With a bit of a facelift we could see this become Conservative policy. It is entirely possible; take a look at Obama’s plans to forced volunteering.