Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I still hate volunteerism

Look, I get the need to feel like you're doing something, anything to help in the face of an overwhelming tragedy. That is good and fine and should be supported and encouraged.

But it should not be what we rely on to fix massive problems, especially those caused by humans to begin with. While it may make us feel individually better, it makes society as a whole weaker and less responsible.

We have a 10% (counted) unemployment rate. We have thousands of people on the gulf coast whose jobs in fishing and tourism are going to or already have disappeared. We can fix both those things, at least a little bit, but not by volunteering or donating money to cleaning up the gulf.

We have thousands or more unemployed construction workers. Pay their airfare. Pay for hazmat training. Pay for hotel rooms and meals at local restaurants while we pay them to clean up the gulf. And while we're doing that we pay the unemployed admins to process the time cards and A/P and make the travel arrangements. And bill it all to BP. No need to find it in the budget. No need to wait for BP to do something. Train people to give Pelicans baths. Pay people to make protective gear and masks. Put them all on federal health insurance plans. Pay people who haven't gotten oiled yet to boom the coastline from Panama City to Maine. And charge it to BP.

This is not a natural disaster. This could have been avoided. This is not a hurricane or an earthquake. It's a toxic waste dump. There is a clear villain with deep pockets. Every donation you make, every hour you volunteer, is less responsibility that company has to take for creating this horrible mess.

If you still need to do something, then someone should establish a legal fund for all the victims of this disaster. Give your money to them, so they can hire just as many lawyers as BP.

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