Being part of groups is important for people’s well being, and should be promoted throughout society.
Collaboration vouchers is a novel policy idea where all citizens are given money to spend on membership fees. These fees pay for the administration of community-based groups that they wish to join. Also known as social capital, examples of activities people might be assisted to pursue include; artistic expression, self-improvement, religion, politics, exercise, environmental maintenance, volunteer work, housing and farming cooperatives, and education. To ensure people have sufficient recreational time to participate, and are not otherwise living in poverty, collaboration vouchers would work in tandem with welfare provision, and employment regulations, such as a minimum wage.
Estimated cost for Australia: $500pp/pa allowance for vouchers = $12.5b pa.
Since collaborations would be demand-based, they highlight needs in the community. When combined with leaders who are meeting those needs, we have an incredible ecosystem to build social or for-profit ventures. New companies or charities that the leaders can found, with a ready customer base, and launch a service.
Of course, many of their customers will be underprivileged, and might continue to rely on vouchers for their income, but that’s ok. If a newly-created spin-off company provides specialised services to the collaboration (such as consultancy or amenities) it can be paid in the normal manner. Charities do the same thing, paying private companies for services.
Training new leaders
Identifying, and then importantly, training, leaders in our society is critical. We need these people to be around the general populace, to provide a ‘tribal’ version of leadership; advising on personal issues; providing counselling and guidance; and explaining the confusing, complex aspects of modern society. Similar directors fees, for a companies’ board of directors.
Those membership fees aren’t only paying to buy equipment or hire a room, they are also paying the collaboration leaders for their time and energy. If well-informed, insightful locals are not providing leadership to the average person, then they’ll instead seek guidance from ignorant friends, right-wing politicians, fake news and ‘shock jocks’.
Every collaboration could have its CoVi metrics, and purpose, published in a searchable way so that potential members to understand whether the collaboration they are thinking of joining is likely to be fun and useful for them. To be able to keep receiving vouchers from new members, groups need to ensure that their:
- Collaboration viability (CoVi) metrics are strong.
- It is open to everyone to join.
- Not participating in illegal activity.
Since this is government money, it can’t just be spent among your mates. There needs to be oversight to ensure the groups are achieving some worthwhile purpose. Since all voucher-accepting collaborations are registered by the government and publicly listed, there are three ways to identify scammers (which is very important for any voucher scheme):
- When numerous collaborations all have the same members (who are farming vouchers).
- When applications to join are refused (trying to hide the empty shell scam).
- When members think the collaboration is unviable (they’re ostracised, or nothing is happening, as per empty shell)
- This last point is where measuring collaboration health, via a regular survey of all members of every collaboration, comes in handy.
- Allows people from social classes to mix, since the poor generally have very little discretionary funds to conduct collaborative activities.
- The voucher allowance might be higher for lower-income to facilitate them joining more groups.
- Cost-effective way to promote social inclusion, and reduce mental illness from isolation and poor interpersonal skills.
- Less administration than funding charities through grants, that must be applied for, and administered.
- Quality control of charitable efforts due to funds channelled through members, who can leave if the group is not effective (similar to NDIS)
- Vouchers are an income stream for local community leaders, who currently administer groups voluntarily, which discourages those with less time.
- Provides a meaningful (giving back) source of employment for high-capacity individuals currently in high-pressure professional work (the rat race).
- Mechanism for community lobbying to inform government of local concerns.
- Mechanism for government to educate and consult with the local community, on issues of specific relevance to particular groups (e.g. housing, fitness etc.).
- Through online ratings, method of citizens establishing a reputation for being a strong team player or leader, and therefore of promoting prosociality.
- Online ratings, combined with word-of-mouth, and inter-class (the poor and rich) collaboration, may help the unemployed to find work.
- Method of promoting entrepreneurship, as customers can join a group using their collaboration vouchers, in a way similar to Kickstarter.
- Method of funding mainstream media, by allowing vouchers to be spent on subscriptions.
- Much cheaper than a Universal Basic Income, but with many of the advantages. Also does not increase prices of basic goods.
Thanks to Treehugger for the amazing images! 🙂