News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion
MONDAY, JUNE 27, 2005


Boomers’ paid ‘good work’ can help themselves, others

During the 1960s, baby boomers marched in the streets agitating for peace, love and liberties. Other boomers were fighting an unpopular war out of patriotism and a sense of duty.

That generation still hasn't run out of idealism.

A survey of 1,000 Americans aged 50 to 70, now retired or approaching retirement, shows that a lot of them want to be paid to do "good work" as defined by a San Francisco nonprofit group called Civic Ventures.

Civic Ventures and MetLife Foundation commissioned the survey. It included both post-World War II baby boomers and older people known as pre-boomers.

Many must work for income. They can't afford to be full-time volunteers. But well over half said they want work that helps others.

Many mentioned education and social services. Coincidentally, surveyors noted, the nation needs more professionals like nurses and teachers.

So we have "heartening evidence of a potential win-win opportunity of staggering proportions," said Marc Freedman, president of Civic Ventures.

The hard part is to match these people with job opportunities and qualify them for those jobs.

Only 12 percent of those surveyed think it will be very easy to find good work. Government employment offices, community organizations and Web sites could help them connect. Civic Ventures, for example, offers a "Boomer's Guide to Good Work" at

Many of those polled favor tax breaks or government funding for older Americans who work in schools or social services or who get training to prepare for such work.

These incentives could make more people available to do good work. The resulting retirement income could ease the pressure on Social Security, Medicare and other government-funded retirement programs — turning a win-win into a triple win.

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