Not Working, Not Helping?
A report on volunteer rates in the United States and in Rhode Island seems to make contradictory points:
Volunteering in Rhode Island hit a six-year low last year, as more people looked for work or worried about making ends meet.
The state ranked 42nd out of 50 states and Washington, D.C., in volunteer rates, according to a report released Tuesday by the government-run Corporation for National and Community Service. …
“There’s plenty of evidence that shows that when people are unemployed and they have to focus on their livelihoods, they are less likely to volunteer,” said Bernie Beaudreau, executive director of Serve Rhode Island. “If you’re not secure” about your job or the future, “you focus on changing that.”
On the other hand:
Despite a tough economy, the number of American helpers increased by nearly 1.6 million to 63.4 million — the biggest increase in volunteers in a single year since 2003, the report says.
Americans spent 100 million more hours helping their neighbors and others.
Clearly, Rhode Island’s economy and unemployment are at the head of the pack of failure, in the nation, and there’s surely correlation with this finding about volunteerism. My gut tells me, though, that both facts are effects of something larger. Our intrusive government, for example, is premised on the local belief that government is meant to take care of problems. Why should people volunteer when they donate by way of their taxes, and why should they work to expand the economy when those donations are obligatory and confiscatory?