Thursday, July 12, 2007


"Paid" volunteers are one of my public policy pet peeves. It began with President Clinton's Americorps program, which "allows" young people to "volunteer" and earn themselves thousands of dollars in cash and scholarships.

There's a word that describes what happens when a college kid shows up at a soup kitchen and mops floors in exchange for a weekly check. It's called a "job."

Now the Americorps system comes to the Massachusetts state government. State employees who don't show up for their taxpayer-fundeed jobs can still get paid--if they show up to perform "volunteer" works at hospitals, senior centers, etc.

So I show up at a community center for 8 hours, I get paid for it, and that's "volunteering?"

No, Gov. Patrick, that's called working.

Every day, millions of Americans take time out to actually volunteer--coaching Little League, visiting sick neighbors, helping through their church or synagogue, etc., etc. They won't get paid, they won't get a check, their employer won't let them do it on the clock.

That's service. That's charity. That's what most Americans do.

But Patrick's program of paying government workers to not do their jobs? That's just another day in Massachusetts.