Many eons ago I read a book on anarchist theory and anarchist economic theory. Without boring my beloved readers the entire model was the exchanging of time between people, all time being equal. I mention this because the government recent big idea http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11657006 reminded me of this economics of time.
Now if you are a regular reader of my blog (bless you, and get a job!) you will know I am a cynical man. I have always believed that if we wish more people to volunteer or indeed is we wish to staff the big society we needed to create some incentive for volunteering (and oddly enough a non-monetary solution).
Now I know nothing about Japanese politics and I could find no English article discussing Hureai Kippu so I cannot base my comments upon the original policies successes or failure so I will have to base it upon theory. Firstly there is a uniquely British aspect to this idea. Britain has post-education tuitions fees; in short Britain has and will have a sizable per-portion of its population that owes the government vast sums for these fees.
It seems relevantly simple to me to arrange a big society exchange in which often unemployed or ill experienced ex-students can participate in community voluntary schemes in return for deductions in there student loans. Added to ex-students we can add people seeking to pay off their parking / driving fines or even minor criminals fines.
Now this is not the whole solution there are of course others who have no loans or fines and so would choose some other incentive or at least non-monetary reward. Maybe those who volunteer with no loans could earn the time of those re-paying their and apply it to their own voluntary community schemes
In addition to the speeders and ex-students there is another group of a person whom rewarded voluntary work could reach and that is the unemployed. I am sure there some reading this blog who will simply say they should be forced to undertake voluntary work (a punishment we reserve for criminals).
Not only do I believe forcing innocent people to work is deeply questionable but it also places a very heavy burden of enforcement and monitoring onto the voluntary organisations that they are supposed to be assisting.
No dear reader even the unemployed should be incentivised to volunteer, of course the training and value of voluntary work must be communicated to the unemployed, indeed one of the calls that the big society needs to answer is making it easier and more rewarding for the unemployed to get involved. Added to these minor benefits for the unemployed maybe subsidies for a course of their choice or the right to go on holiday or vouchers for school clothing and toys.
My point is that the best way to staff the big society is via existing volunteers and new semi-volunteers. We must enable people to choose from a range of reward, yes time for time is one of are tools but time or student fees or time for school uniform vouchers or gym membership is perfectly acceptable and in the end the salvation of the big society.