Oil cleanup: The next jobs program

Young people need jobs. The Gulf Coast needs workers. Add it up


Robert Reich
June 7, 2010 1:07AM (UTC)

Friday's job report was awful. For most new high school and college grads finding a job is harder than ever. Meanwhile, states are cutting summer jobs for disadvantaged young people. What to do with this army of young unemployed? Send them to the Gulf to clean up beaches and wetlands, and send the bill to BP.

Florida's panhandle beaches are already marred with sticky brown globs of oil. Workers with blue rubber gloves and plastic bags are already losing the battle to keep them clean. Pelicans and other wildlife coated in oil tar are dying by the droves.

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It will get far worse. Most of the oil hasn't hit land yet. When it does, hundreds of thousands of workers will be needed to clean beaches, siphon off oil from wetlands, and rescue stranded wildlife. Tens of thousands more will have to bring in new landfill, replace tarred sea walls, and rebuild shoreline infrastructure.

Yet we've got hundreds of thousands of young people sitting on their hands right now because they can’t find jobs. Many are from affected coastal areas, where the tourist and fishing industries have been decimated by the spill.

The President should order BP to establish a $5 billion clean-up fund, and immediately put America's army of unemployed young people to work saving the Gulf coast. Call it the new Civilian Conservation Corps.

(The old CCC -- created by FDR at another time of massive unemployment and environmental stress -- gave millions of young Americans jobs and training to reforest lands that had been degraded, provide emergency flood relief in the Ohio and Mississippi valleys, and build the infrastructure for our national parks.)


Robert Reich

Robert B. Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written 15 books, including the best sellers "Aftershock", "The Work of Nations," and"Beyond Outrage," and, his most recent, "The Common Good." He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, "Inequality For All." He's also co-creator of the Netflix original documentary "Saving Capitalism."

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Environment Gulf Oil Spill Unemployment

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