Good to see the Directed Distribution program became permanent, after being invented as an emergency measure last year.
I have to agree, as some things have to be dictated by basic common sense and compassion, not just stated principles.
Not everyone puts in hours of work every weekend to make some cool project or volunteer. I am talking about people who spend at least 100 hours beyond their basic survival needs and are contributing a large fraction of their personal discretionary income to make things or make things happen at the burn.
From my experience, 50,000 people simply are not doing this. This does not mean that there is a problem, that their contributions are not valued, I don't think one has to obsess over this year round in order to have a positive influence on the event. Let's also face it, a significant fraction people don't even give a shit at all and just want to party, see shows, or whatever.
I have seen this from both sides. While I did contribute to BM 2012, it was relatively minor - I helped a bit with a newspaper and worked with the DMV - but nothing all that consuming. If I didn't win the lottery, it would not crush me. For a regional burn, I collaborated on a good sized art sculpture made specifically for the burn, and I did spend on the order of 100+ hours working on it. It was THE focus of most of my personal free time for a good while. Not getting a ticket after doing that would have been miserable and depressing.
People who spend a significant fraction of their free time and income year round to literally BE the show at a big event should at least know that they get to go to that event.
This was the only thing that truly bothered me last year - watching people who had been making all this stuff wonder if they would be allowed to go. Of course people are going to be paranoid and irrational when they cannot even go to the show that they worked all year to put on.
Some of the distribution tickets are just resold and "wasted" anyway, so I think that it should be opened to new projects. Basically, if you can show (with pictures) that you are already working on something serious for the burn, or really spending a lot of your free time to make it happen, you should get a distribution ticket. As it stands, I don't think that it is fair to new projects that they have to wait until February to see if they have enough tickets to make it happen, and who wants to take a chance on a project anyway when one or more of your key collaborators doesn't get to come. Sure, everyone can say that they will find something in August, but who really wants to put their heart and soul into a thing without an invitation. This is what I imagine it feels like:
"Hey, I hear you are working on flame cannons for my birthday - that is really cool. Sorry I couldn't get you an invitation. Just hunt around the week before the party and I am sure that you will find one somehow."
This is the problem that directed tickets tries to fix. Currently it seems to help large established projects, but I think that it could also help smaller and newer efforts. Going for a directed ticket is establishing a relationship with the org, so if people abuse it just don't give them tickets the next year.
Note: In order to de-Puritanize and de-Calvinize my post, please replace every incidence of the word 'work' with 'play' in this post. I stand by the statement either way.