Monday, March 12, 2012

A Myopic Perspective

Said a critically ill PhD
To his young, volunteer EMT:
"Your work, while essential,
Is only tangential
To raising the raw GDP."

Dr. Goose attended the annual Glen Ridge, New Jersey Volunteer Ambulance Squad Recognition Dinner and was impressed once again by the spirit of those who give their time, literally freely, for the well-being of others. Afterwards, he reflected on the value of volunteer work and how it is generally ignored in economics. Certainly, if one googles the "economics of volunteering," one finds some earnest attempts at bringing the third sector (after commercial and government activity) into the fold. However, volunteer work is not figured into national economic output, nor are those willing souls tallied like the ranks of the jobless and the gainfully employed. Perhaps the primary motivations for volunteers - a sense of personal achievement, giving back to society, learning a skill, or finding camaraderie - are just too hard to measure, though we know we could not survive without their selfless service.

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