I think MSNBC’s Chris Matthews was right in calling for the creation of a Civilian Conservation Corp to put thousands of young people to work cleaning up one of our nation’s most beautiful and economically viable areas. Even if it’s plugged tomorrow, which seems unlikely, millions of barrels of life killing crude oil has to be cleaned up. Experts are saying that the job will take us well into next year. In three seasons the ecological balance can be restored along with the sea life on which many families depend to make a livelihood.
However, if the well isn’t plugged and the oil cleaned up soon, shore areas as far away as the East Coast is in line for ruin as well.
British Petroleum should pay a dear price for the mess they have made. The oil catastrophe in the Gulf demands more fundamental solutions to their reckless business practices. BP should be nationalized and put under people’s democratic control. Let the people who care about the environment have the final say on regulation enforcement and penalties: the men and women who fish for a living, the tourist industries, unions and civic groups.
Why? Because this and other incidents show that the first priority of the big oil companies is to stuff their pockets with billions of dollars in profits by any means necessary. Worker safety and the protection of the environment are secondary to their profits. What is happening in the Gulf is the worst we’ve seen but if these profits hungry pirates are allowed to violate regulations and disregard human life and nature what is happening today will happen again and again. And what is happening now must not happen again.
“Drill Baby Drill” turns out to be “spill baby spill”, and when it comes to the wildlife and oil workers its “kill baby kill” for profits.
But back to the cleanup.
In the meantime the national unemployment is still over 10% and may go higher. According to the Joint Economic Committee of the US Congress (JEC), the unemployment rate among young workers 16-21 years old is almost 20% the ” highest unemployment rate fro this age group since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking unemployment data in 1947″. The rate for 16 and 17 year olds in April 2010 was 29% nationally. In some communities over 50% of teenage youth have no jobs. This problem is especially acute when it comes to African American and Latino youth.
If something dramatic is not done to alleviate this problem, the long-term impact could be disastrous. Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney chair of the JEC, warned that, “In light of the scarring effect this recession will have on our young workers, we have to be especially diligent to do everything we can to create jobs, to bring down the record unemployment among young people, and to help these young workers build new skills.”
An immediate measure that will help ease this problem would be to train and send thousands of unemployed youth to the Gulf Coast to do a historic public service and gain some skills. These young people should be paid decent wages and have the right to unionize and have affirmative action and full OSHA protection. Who’s going to foot the bill? Frankly I say let BP pay until the job is done.