Sunday, November 11, 2007

Disaster relief disastrous

By Libby

So let me get this straight. When disaster strikes our president tells us we can't depend on the government to bail us out and have to depend on each other. But when the citizens show up to help out, they're told to go home and leave it to the government, even when it's apparent the government is not doing the job. As in this latest oil spill in California.

Hundreds of would-be oil spill cleanup volunteers who wanted to do something were told on Saturday in San Francisco to go home and do nothing. Spilled oil is just too dangerous for ordinary citizens to clean up, the experts said.

The word came at an "informational session" for would-be volunteers at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium sponsored by the state Department of Fish and Game.

And this is especially interesting.

At the volunteer meeting, everyone at the gathering was given an official-looking state volunteer application to fill out, complete with a loyalty oath. The fish and game people said volunteers might be contacted later, for non-hazardous duties.

A loyalty oath? Loyalty to what? To whom? Or is it just that they are using the standard forms leftover from Bush's town hall meetings?

Meanwhile, ordinary citizens who decided to start the clean up anyway have been threatened and arrested for taking immediate action in the absence of any 'experts' to be found on contaminiated beaches. I'm sure I don't need to point out that a timely response would minimize damage that would be caused by allowing the washed up oil to be washed back into the sea.

The government claims that large clean up crews would frighten birds from landing on the beaches but am I wrong in thinking that oil soaked birds can't fly in the first place and in the second if no one is there to clean them, they're going to die anyway?

Oddly, I don't remember citizen assistance being such a huge problem during the Valdez spill in Alaska. It seems to me the Bush administration is so hellbent on selling government incompetence as an excuse for privitization that they're willing to deliberately compromise the public safety in order to create incompetence where it never existed before.

One can only speculate at this point, which GOP crony corporation will be designated as the sole 'experts' able to cope with the clean up but I feel confident in predicting they will end up spending a whole lot of tax dollars on setting up the administration for 'rescue efforts' that will never be completed.

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