Yep, they've completely lost the plot. In today's Times comment section, Melanie Reid suggests bringing back slavery.
We must make people do something for nothing.
This isn't the same as making criminals do community service - they are working off what they owe society (allegedly), this is about making you and I work for nothing.
So exactly how much unpaid work do you do in a month? Going to the gym, cooking, taxiing the children, loading the dishwasher - none of that counts. This must be time given freely to other people or organisations - benefiting them, not you.
Reid is concerned that there aren't enough volunteers these days. She seems to think it's because we all lead such busy lives.
Yes, thought so. You're too busy in the day job. You barely have the energy outside work to do anything for yourself, let alone your family. You even get resentful having to visit your mother.
You are but an empty husk, your resources spent on yourself, your immediate family and your bank account. How on earth can you be expected to do stuff for people you don't know and don't care about? Especially now, in a recession?
This is trite nonsense. The suggestion that we're all too busy now to do volunteer work is frankly absurd. With more labour saving devices than ever we have more spare time than ever - the difference is that we have more things to fill our leisure time with than ever before so we kid ourselves that we're "busy".
Back in the fifties gyms were for boxers. Now everyone has gym membership which they use once a month or so. In the fifties cooking a meal required shopping for the ingredients daily, peeling, chopping, preparing and cooking - it took hours. Now we just slam a M&S ready meal in the oven for 25 minutes and dinner is done. Washing up takes five minutes loading the dishwasher (honestly, how arduous is that?).
When that is all done there is the television, Internet or countless other home entertainments to enjoy till the small hours of the morning. In the fifties there was two hours of telly (if you were lucky enough to own one) or the radio.
Today we can go out to bars, clubs, restaurants and so on till late the next day - back in the fifties there was the cinema or the pub and they shut at half ten. We have more time, but more things to fill our time with - we're certainly not "busier" than our parents or our parents parents. During the war, people would work all day then spend the night fire watching - and still get up for work the next day!
To be fair to Reid, her motivation is admirable. Her approach isn't.
What we must do, I suggest, is introduce a new concept of universal compulsory volunteering ..... 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.
We do need more volunteers, but forcing it on people is not the way forward. The first thing she needs to understand is that most people feel they "already gave at the office".
By that I mean that the state now fulfils many of the traditional roles of volunteer work and pays people to do it. They can only do that because they take taxes from the workers in the private sector to pay those people - so those who pay taxes to support the public sector already feel like they've made a contribution.
A far better idea would be to give tax breaks to those who volunteer. All one would need to do is complete your yearly voluntary work, get a certificate from the charity you worked for, send it to the tax office and they would increase your tax free income for next year by £500 or so. A simple incentive which many would take up. The money lost in taxation would be recouped by reducing many of the services the state provides which are once more being performed by volunteers. It pays for itself.
It's a typically liberal progressive approach to use punitive methods to "encourage" people to do something rather than proper incentives. More people would recycle if, as they do in the USA, they gave incentives for people to do it rather than threaten punishment if you don't - but the liberal left doesn't think that way.
They lost the plot a long time ago - in fact, I don't think they ever had it.