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Why AmeriCorps?

Posted by Richard on September 14, 2005

On the news this morning, I heard that additional AmeriCorps workers from Denver are leaving today to help with Katrina relief. According to the news story, they’ll be doing everything from distributiing supplies to staffing call centers. I have two questions about this story.

First, in the fifth year of a Republican administration with unemployment at 5%, why the heck does this kind of WPA-style socialist anachronism still exist?

Second, why aren’t workers to distribute supplies and work in call centers being recruited from among the Katrina refugees? Hundreds of thousands of people have no jobs at the moment. I’m sure a significant number would jump at the chance to work at even minimum wage instead of sitting helpless in a shelter. Why bring in and house people from Denver?

And by the way — yes, they are refugees, despite the criticism of the term by demagogues looking for an excuse to take offense. The people who flee from hurricanes have been called refugees since forever (some blogger actually hunted down news stories about refugees for every major hurricane in the last 40 years, but I don’t recall who). That’s because it’s the appropriate word. A refugee is someone who’s seeking refuge. Not a foreigner seeking refuge, or a black person seeking refuge, or a "second-class citizen" — just someone seeking refuge. Got that?

I won’t discard half the words in the dictionary just because some people willfully misunderstand them.

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