The American Government is Retracting its Social Contract Essays

The American Government is Retracting its Social Contract Essays

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Alexis de Tocqueville, a well- known critic of democratic participation in government
institutions, stated in his book, Democracy in America, that volunteerism “prompts [Americans]
to assist one another and inclines them willingly to sacrifice a portion of their time and property
to the welfare of the state” (Tocqueville 507). Although many members of American society still
subscribe to the idea that sacrificing a part of their lives ameliorates “the welfare of the state,”
many critics of volunteerism insist that the responsibility of “the welfare of the state” lies within
the United States government, and not individual members of American society. Critics of
volunteerism insist that the federal and state taxes that they pay each year should be sufficient to
ensure the social welfare needs of the less fortunate members of U.S. society; therefore they
should not be required, nor asked to volunteer. In contrast, proponents of volunteerism argue that
federal and state taxes do not produce enough money to financially assist all members of U.S.
society that need aid; therefore it is society’s responsibility to make-up for what the government
cannot provide. This cycle of transferring social welfare responsibility from the government to
its citizens is becoming increasingly contentious 1.

1 As society grows in numbers, many Americans are left without basic survival needs. This is why transferring
responsibility is becoming contentious. As society’s population increases, the more people are in need of
government assistance.


While the United States government continues to encourage members of American
society to volunteer by creating agencies such as the Corporation for National and Community
Service (CNCS), many Americans2 oppose the government’s solicitations for free labor. The
CNCS is one of the government’s solutions that encourage Americans to volunteer so that the
government does not have to provide paid employees to do similar work. By creating the CNCS,
the government is attempting to solicit free labor to provide non-monetary support for social
welfare programs that the government implicitly declines responsibility for. The CNCS uses
political support of the U.S. government to persuade Americans to volunteer in their
communities to argue that volunteering is a vital characteristic of Unite...

... middle of paper ...

... World.” Comparative Political Studies 39 (2006): 1220-1242.

Hall, Michael R. “The Impact of the U.S. Peace Corps At home and Abroad.” Journal of Third World Studies 24 (2007): 53-57.

John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address. .

Keeping Kennedy’s Promise. 2003. 20 Nov. 2007.

Light, Paul C. “The Volunteering Decision.” U.S. National Debate Topic 2006-2007: National Service. Ed. Ronald Eniclerico. New York: H.W. Wilson, 2006. 23-28.

Milkis, Sidney M. “Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Economic Constitutional Order, and the New Politics of Presidential Leadership.” The New Deal and the Triumph of Liberalism. Ed. Sidney M. Milkis and Jerome M. Mileur. Boston: University of Massachusetts Press,
2002. 33.

Reagan, Ronald. “Radio Address to the Nation on Volunteerism.” White House, Washington D.C. 24 May 1986. .
Tocqueville, Alexis de. Democracy in America. Ed. J.P Mayer. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1969, 507-508.

White House Office of Private Sectors Initiatives. 2007. 20 Nov. 2007.

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