An open hand lifts better than a pointed finger.

9 06 2010

Blame fixes nothing.

When I first started posting a few things here and there on this site I kind of told myself that maybe I could just have some fun and not get too political about things. Unfortunately when the political side of things really start nagging at you, comes a time when you need to vent just a little bit.

Anyone who knows me knows I tend to lean to the “leave me along and let me live my life” side of things. I think I am capable of raising a few chickens in my backyard without paying the town $50 for a note that says it’s OK to raise a few chickens in my backyard. The town contributed nothing for the money they would receive, so it’s kind of like the local street gang telling a store owner to pay for “protection” – when the only thing they are protecting the store owner against is themselves. When a thug does it, it’s called extortion. When the government does it, it’s called your civic duty. If the town would give me a couple sacks of feed or bedding that would be one thing. When I get nothing, it’s just another hand in my pocket.

I came across this interesting little bit when I was fartwaffling around the web yesterday:

There is a factory in Maine that manufactures oil booms. You know, those long white sausage-looking things that keep oil spills sort of contained away from the shore and the marshes and the beaches and birds. They’ve been making these things for years and the product is perfectly fine for corralling oil. When this whole debacle started in the Gulf, the guy who runs the factory says to himself, “You know, they’re going to need a lot of boom down there. I’d better ramp up production.”

So he does. And this is where things get sickening. We have the people who are supposed to be going into action fixing this problem expending their time, effort and energy into an embarrassing display of finger wagging, posturing, throwing blame and preparing litigation. Everything except STOPPING the actual disaster. Nero is fiddling madly away while his First Alert’s battery has gone dead from screaming “FIRE!!!”

Read and weep:

John Lapoint of Packgen in Auburn, Maine, says he’s got plenty of floating oil containment boom and can make lots more on short notice. There’s just one problem: no one will buy it from him.
He’s already had a representative from BP visit his factory and inspect his product. The governor of Maine, John Baldacci, visited the facility and made a video plea to no one in particular to close the deal. Maine Senators Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins wrote a letter on May 21 to the secretary of the Interior, the administrator of NOAA, and the commandant of the Coast Guard to alert them to the existence of Packgen, their supply of boom, and their demonstrated capacity to make more. I have no idea if those are the correct persons and agencies to notify about the manufacturing capacity and the availability of boom. One wonders if the senators know…


…The ASTM specifications for containment boom aren’t rocket science, and Lapoint’s business was used to dealing with that sort of thing. So Lapoint took a chance and started manufacturing oil boom, figuring that Packgen would be able to sell it to help in the containment and cleanup effort. He added shifts and employees, and started cranking out the oil boom right away. It was a big financial risk — and he knew that — but he also figured that in an emergency of that magnitude, you had to act quickly, and figured that BP and the federal government would have to act quickly as well, and every single foot of boom he could make would be useful and in immediate demand.

He figured wrong.

Maine, like the rest of the country, is suffering from very high unemployment. But its residents aren’t out of work because they aren’t useful; they’re useful, but out of work because there’s nothing much useful to do. Lapoint was able to immediately add two shifts of competent and motivated workers, and by the fourth day of production was making forty thousand feet of boom a day.

It’s likely they could make even more. But no one was ready to purchase it.


New England Cable News reported on June 3 from Packgen’s facility, interviewing John Lapoint about the frustration of trying to get anyone from either BP or the federal government to commit to purchase his boom:

Two weeks ago BP sent a quality control person to Maine, looked at the factory, and was impressed by what he saw. Packgen was feeling confident. That confidence has now turned to frustration. Packgen says BP controls who the boom suppliers are going to be — and they have yet to approve Packgen’s design.

John: “We’re going to allow BP, who caused the problem, to monitor and determine who gets the money and how that money is spent and how the land is going to be protected?”

I weep for the future.

Read more, and weep with me:

Pajamas Media: Miles of Oil Containment Boom Sit in Warehouse, Waiting for BP or U.S. to Use




One response

22 06 2010
Jo Major Ciolino

You are a genius. But I already knew that. I’m posting this around – it’s a great, informative read that makes you want to call BP and/or Congress and raise some hell – and have a gin and tonic. All at the same time. My kind of multi-tasking.

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