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September 8, 2011 / philosophermouseofthehedge

Jobs? Why wait? Texas now.

Got shovel? Come on down!

That’s what I was thinking as I watched President Obama’s Labor Day speech in Detroit about jobs, and projects to put people back to work. What perfect timing! Texas is full of shovel-ready projects. We can use ya’ll right now – and  later.

Only looking at the audience, I wasn’t sure any of those people

  • Would be interested in building roads, bridges, or construction projects.
  • Would be physically capable of that type of work. (Construction work is often called labor for a reason: it’s not done sitting at a desk. Actually, it’s probably not even inside. Workers get hot, sweaty, dirty and can’t wear pretty clothes.)
  • Would be willing and able to pick up and go where the projects are located. (Job projects would most likely mean leaving their homes and moving. Are their families onboard and ready to go – or will stay behind? Do they have houses anchoring them to one place?)
  • Would they accept a job that is temporary? Once the project is over, the job evaporates.

Just look at those people. Do they look hardy/sturdy enough to work outdoors to you? Do they look like they would want to? Actually many look like they’ve been snacking too much while watching TV. They look like people who have kids enrolled in schools and wouldn’t want to change environment. They looked comfortable.

But they were clapping and cheering gleefully, so maybe I’m way off base here. Maybe they just went home and joyfully started packing.

So, good news! More jobs available in Texas immediately.

Texas. Wait, don’t walk away. The heat wave is breaking, really. This morning’s low temp. even broke records this morning. OK, low of 58 may not be much to you, but we’ve been dealing with highs over 103 with lows in the 90’s at night. So we are ecstatic. Newcomers will be, too. No snow to shovel in the winter. Just think of Texas summers as a “Backwards World” episode. It’s just stay inside in summer with air conditioning rather than being snowed inside all winter. Uh, yeah, duh, we do have ice skating and hockey – it’s just inside – all year.

But back to the jobs. Texas is on fire, literally. Fire fighters are needed to give the men working a break – and to step in when the volunteer firemen have to go back to their jobs.(President Obama did say he thought the crowd was “fired up.”)

Why would anyone want to volunteer when what you need is a real job? Looks better on a resume than just sitting around in front of a TV or computer. Besides, here, you never know who might be working along beside you. A large number of the fire fighters belong to  volunteer fire departments. Right next to you might be someone who appreciates your efforts and turns out to be an employer – or knows someone who’s hiring. Someone who might be impressed you came down all this way to help.

But fighting fires is dirty dangerous business. Probably those people in that audience wouldn’t want to risk all that smoke. But the drought and fire will create opportunities once they are over. Cities like Houston are preparing to hire contractors to cut down the city’s trees killed by the drought. Contractors will be needed to re-string power lines, cable lines and restore utilities to all those to homes. People will need machine operators, carpenters, framers, roofers, painters to rebuild homes and businesses. All which need support business like material suppliers, delivery services, landscapers, even food trucks offering breakfast and lunches on site. So there will be lots of opportunities for someone who really wants to work – even without President Obama’s grand job plans.

Here’s something really odd, though. The President could put 60 or so people back to work immediately and help Texas fight the wildfires if he really wanted to. If he cared, he could instruct the U.S. Forest Service to resolve the contract dispute with Aero Union and send those fire fighting aircraft to Texas.

Here’s the deal. Five weeks ago the U.S. Forest Service terminated the contract with Aero Union who has worked with the Forest Service for 50 years and had already been certified to fly all season. Seven critically needed P-3 Orion fire fighting aircraft are just tanning on the tarmac in California. Currently, the feds only have 11 tankers under contract to battle large fires in multiple states. (And you just know California has first dubs on what’s available. California has lots of voters, and, oh, yeah Pelosi and Maxine Waters.) Ten years ago, the Forest Service had 40 tankers to use to fight fires. So those seven planes sitting around sure would be welcomed.

So hey, wouldn’t be a great opportunity to issue one of those Executive Orders, Mr. President? You seem to enjoy using those. How about it? Order the Forest Service to clear the runway for those planes. It’s immediate gratification! You can point to an example of getting working people back to work. (Photo Op! Here’s the kids and families in California that are working because of the President’s thoughtful efforts with Aero Union! 60 people back working! Count them!) You can show how the “federal family” really cares and jumps in to help: clearing out red tape and streamlining procedures in a crisis! (Another Photo Op! Find some little kids with pets by a burned out house. (it’s easy to find one in Texas). Get that cute kid with a Hispanic surname. (Texas has that growing immigrant and minority population which the Democratic party is eyeing, even if you aren’t.) Mr. President, you could even briefly show up and walk around with the common folk and smile. Someone would put up a roadblock so you wouldn’t have to talk with that annoying Governor Perry. (He’s going to nag about disaster aid or the border crisis.) Or you could just walk really fast and say your aide will read the his note. That worked so well the last time.

So there it is. Turn lemons into lemonade! Drought and wildfires? No problem! Just components of the Federal Family’s getting-people-back-to-work-plan! (Wild applause! No?) Oh, you meant roads, bridges, and construction projects elsewhere? Where they really need them? Oh. It must be a dysfunctional family. How American.

Watching the smokey haze,

Phil, the Philosopher Mouse of the Hedge.

UPDATE: FYI. Interested in becoming a volunteer firefighter? Contact local fire departments – not all take volunteers. Length of training varies, but all require a minimum 110 hour National Fire Protection Association-certified course. Here’s a directory of contact info and dept statistics:

One Comment

  1. philosophermouseofthehedge / Sep 17 2011 4:01 pm

    Here’s some video of the Texas fires last week. And the article with a local congressman asking why it took so long to get wildfire help.


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