Friday, June 18, 2010

We Represent the Lollipop Gang

I have to spill.

I have to spew.

I have to get it off of my chest.

My home is in Louisiana. My home. Everything I grew up with, my family, my new family, my job, my friends, the roads I travel. Everything I know.

My father was a trawler. He caught shrimp for a living, and a hard living it was. And although we lived right on the poverty line, he did his best and raised us as right as he could. His line of work rarely allowed him to be home. He'd take his boat out for a week (longer in the winter because the ice in his hold didn't melt as quickly), come home for a day or two, ice up, grocer up, and go out into the wild once more. He did this for ever until the day he retired.

I remember when his boat burned down, when it sunk, when the engine broke, when the wench went kaput, when the hold had a leak, when crab traps were caught in the wheel, and a multitude of other things that threatened his livelihood occurred.

Those were scary times for our family, but there was always hope because the boat could be fixed.

I'm not so sure this can be fixed. The BP oil catastrophe had shut down Louisiana's shrimping industry. It has shut down it's offshore fishing. It has contaminated a way of life for many of its people. While I am fortunate enough to have a career in a different field, many of the students I teach cannot say the same. Everything they know is perilously hanging by an extremely then thread.

However, many of our local fishers are seasonal trawlers. They have a shrimp season in the fall, and one in the spring. This is the time of year where the wild life and fisheries allow them to trawl the "inside" fresh waters for shrimp. It lasts a few months, and when the shrimp become small, the season is closed. Unless you have a large trawl boat, you usually find something else to do for the winter season. Some people crab, some people fish oysters, some people find a temporary job at Wal Mart, but most people find a job working offshore, on an oil rig.

Louisiana has been hit hard. It's coastline is drenched in crude. The offshore fishing industry is all but shut down. And now they want to put a ban on deep water drilling.

I know the argument. It's better for the environment, it's better for our way of life, it's better for you, and it's better for me.

So tell me, what alternate energy source are they going to use in place? Where are they going to find the thousands of dollars for unemployed shrimpers that go on unemployment, where are they going to find the thousands of dollars for the thousands of soon to be unemployed oil field workers that go on unemployment...

Wait a few months for the trickle effect...when the big companies that came to our area pack up and leave. They will no longer be using our banks, our stores, our hotels, our real estate, our rental properties, our cars, our air ports, and this list goes on and on.

Wait a few years when our thriving city becomes a ghost town.

When families that have lived here all of our lives have to move in order to find work.

When our stressed economy loses all elasticity.

Guys, I'm all for a cleaner world. I'm seeing first hand the devastation this disaster has caused. But instead of working to fix it, people are pointing the blame finger, telling them it's your responsibility...clean it up. Shouting, now see what you've done? It's your fault, now I"m going to punish everyone.

Get. It. Done.

Stop fighting each other, and work together.

BP can't do it alone.

The coast cant do it alone.

Stop it. Stop it. Stop it.

Stop turning this into a "they f'ed up, now lets stick it to them" kind of thing. Fix it, then whack them with the ugly stick.

Just fix it.


  1. Thanks for sharing this point of view, Alex. It's not one that I've thought about before. Of course, I'm aware of how the spill has effected the coastline, the ecology, the animals and of course the fishing industry. I didn't realize that fisherman worked on oil rigs during the off season. This is obviously a very complicated problem. My heart goes out to you and all of your fellow Louisians effected by this awful event.

  2. well written--do you ever wonder why politician's fail to grasp things especially when us common folks seem to get the picture without too much help. You should send this post to your congressman and senator

  3. You probably don't want to hear my rant on this subject...I could go on and on and on.
    But mostly I agree with you...I sure as hell hope they get their heads outta their asses in DC soon.

  4. Thanks for posting what could be termed "The rest of the story" with respect to environmental issues, fuel, its consumption and the full ramifications! I can relate to what you say here because you see, I am a coal miner's daughter, granddaughter and great-granddaughter! The area where I live was hard hit back in the 80s with environmental issues pertaining to coal mining as well as coal usage and boy, lots and lots of jobs dried up quickly then. Sadly though, very little has come back into this area to replace what used to be the major employers in the area -the coal companies. Some still operate but very few by comparison to what it used to be. Not that folks here were getting rich from working in the mines or the strippings, but it beat the hell out of finding a job flipping burgers! And those people who frequent the fast-food joints also have to have a job to be able to do that so, as you said, it's round and round we go with no definitive answers either! I'm not saying the environment be damned, full-speed ahead on anything and everything, but at least for the government to stop and consider all aspects -everyone gets hurt the way things often are done these days!
    Hope some solutions are forthcoming soon!

  5. As a fellow louisianian I back you up sista!