Volunteerism is not in our country’s best interest. I do not think
that a former president did a fine thing when he encouraged, even exalted,
volunteerism. We should feel good to work for nothing. Just imagine
the fuzzy feelings we get. Oh sure we old folks are doing good things
in many niches in our community. Many jobs are getting done that otherwise
an employer would leave undone. That’s great!
But is it?
Let’s look at what really happens. I go in and fill a gap made because
of budget cuts and is the employer happy? You bet! No need to put money
into that space. Since that was so easy the bean counter in the company
makes more budget cuts. Cry help. No money. Job won’t get done. In steps
more volunteers. And the company does just fine. Oh volunteers aren’t
always dependable but then they are not being paid so the company can
put up with human foibles. The job isn’t always done quite as well as
it should be. What the heck, it’s free. Those volunteers have just come
out of the workforce and were consciencious on the job. They don’t get
lazy or careless. Many times a better job is getting done than previously
with paid employees. Business hands are rubbed with glee. Everybody’s
So what’s wrong here?
The company didn’t value the work enough to figure in paid employees.
I maintain that volunteers, and most are well into retirement, are
taking jobs away from younger folks with families to support, people
who would pay taxes if they could find work.
I am one of those old folks, long past retirement and understanding
that keeping busy is healthy. Doing a job otherwise undone is satisfying.
I was conscientious on my paid job and will do no less without pay.
It is a job worth doing and I enjoy the results. In the real world it
is a job that would be filled equally competent by a younger person
who needed to put food on the table. Perhaps a person could be innovative
and make more of the results than I do. On the other hand if no one
did the job, no big deal, it was only a voluteer position after all.
But the results have raised the standing of my employer in his circles.
Would there be loss of face if this work disappeared?
Who knows? If the work was considered important to the community it
would warrant a paid employee. It never will as long as we try to keep
old folks happy doing community service for nothing.
See one year at McNary NWR. or Look
what happened in 2003.