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When Volunteerism Goes Bad


Representative Lois Capps wrote in her recent newsletter that Big Oil must be held accountable for the recent oil spill off Refugio; what she failed to note is that the public and volunteerism are contributing in large part to Big Oil not being held accountable.

In this case the cause was a rupture in a pipeline owned by Plains All American Pipeline which is based in Houston and in the first quarter of this year alone had a revenue of $5,942,000. When the spill occurred Plains hired a staffing firm to recruit a target of 50 people at a pay rate of $15/hour to clean up the mess — work was scheduled to last from two to four weeks, full time.

But then enter the volunteers. So many that Plains recognized that there was no reason to buy the cow if you get the milk for free. So the company cut ties with the staffing firm that had already assembled a crew, and Big Oil has its wrist-slapping seriously mitigated. After all, the cleanup after a spill is a huge expense for Big Oil, and they learn less of a lesson when they don’t have to pay it.

I don’t blame the volunteers, they had the best of intentions, but the road to hell is paved with the best of intentions. And 50 people lost income because of it.

Next time let’s really hold Big Oil and Big Corporations accountable and not give them a handout but hold them to their financial responsibilities. Big Oil and similar giants hate spankings because it is the thing they dread the most; it hits them right in the wallet.

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