December Issue: Complacency Isn't an Option

Each year we attend a couple of safety conferences, one of which, the AOL (Oregon) Statewide Logging Safety Conference, we attended a few weeks ago. The underlying message from any of the safety meetings, whether they be statewide or crew meetings is this: be prepared, be vigilant, be alert to the circumstances where accidents can occur. Good advice not only in the business of logging, but in the business of life as well. Anticipation, preparation and prevention all work the odds in your favor.

Thus last week, as I was heading home down the two-lane road to the freeway, my seat belt on (per usual), attention to my surroundings as it was dusk, and the sun was just setting, with another vehicle approaching from the other direction... not a big deal. As we approached each other, separated by 30-50 feet, suddenly a doe was in front of my vehicle, followed immediately by the crunch of plastic, and the boxes in the back sliding forward.

Aside from the unfortunate doe, and what will be at least $2,200 to repair the vehicle (which is fine to drive), all else went according to training... no swerving into the car or ditch, braking, putting on the safety lights, etc. I checked the car's condition first, then the deer, which was hobbling off and finally collapsed in a ditch nearby.

Next was figuring what to do with the fatally injured deer, being as I don’t carry a gun. Fortunately the driver of the other car, who lived nearby, called her husband, who was a federal game officer, and came with a revolver to dispatch the animal, wherein we pondered what to do with the carcass so the meat could be put to use. We were surprised, and damned annoyed that were this a decade ago, this could have been taken to the local jail, some church, or a needy family today, but now because of the potential of a lawsuit from some scum sucking legal firm, this is not advised because it is “wild” game and not inspected and certified by the proper legal authority.

How bizarre is that? Certainly a part of one can understand, but to just let it rot when we have groups who could (and have until recently) put it to good use is yet another reminder of how far the attorneys have encroached beyond the realm of practical and charitable for the sake of their own incomes.

Optional laws

What has been referred to as the “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrations occurring at various media centers throughout the country have gotten an enormous amount of press, certainly by design, and from a sympathetic media trying to relive their “sit-down, anti-war strikes” of the 60s...another reason I rarely watch the network (the liberal-progressive) news. Certainly these folks have a right to protest, and a right to assemble. And again, they have every right to be upset with the current state of the economy and those responsible, but they need to closely examine who all is at fault. That would include: Congress. First and foremost, congressional interference with the markets in strong arming lenders to make loans to people who didn’t qualify played a significant part in this melt down, but it doesn’t stop there. Also complicit in this were the: banks, insurance agencies, regulatory bodies, realtors, builders, land developers, etc. In short the greed was not limited to the few but the many, and the many were willingly sucked in to the idea of making a “fast buck” demonstrably oblivious to the poor economics underpinning that ran long and hard for two decades plus before finally plummeting back to reality.

Now the few have been co-opted into the political dreams of some in the “Occupy Wall Street” demonstration that have dragged on and degenerated into a camping slum in urban centers, contributing to the decline of small business people and generally partying for no particular purpose beyond its being unique, and an opportune place to carry on a host of clandestine activities.

The media is even getting tired of this it seems as they find themselves and their representatives at some risk in covering what used to be an easy story.

What these demonstrations have demonstrated, beyond whatever their original intention was, is the importance of our existing law (good or bad) and why we are a nation of laws. where things have gone particularly awry is where our elected officials have decided on their own to exercise “optional” law.

We live between Portland and Seattle, with demonstrations ongoing in each city, but we see more information relating to Portland, though we see this cavalier use of “optional” law being exercised even nationally. For instance in Portland you’re supposed to have a permit to march, and it’s illegal to camp within the city limits, to mention a few. In the course of this demonstration, those laws were optional.

Our own congress and this president in particular similarly ignore and do not enforce laws as is the case in enforcing our borders. We’d thought the oath of office was to be taken seriously, but at present, optional acceptance seems acceptable.

As much as it annoyed me when my father would say, “like it or not it is the law and you’ll recognize it until that law is changed,” I’ve found with time that is the best resolution. If you don’t like it, change it. We wonder what the current trend by public officials to enforce the law when it is convenient, and ignore it when its not convenient, will mean in the long run. It is enforcing the notion that our laws have little meaning, or worse yet they are on and off on a whim. It’s an anarchist’s dream to have such disorganization, and allowing the mob to be the tail wagging the dog.

Waste not, want not

While traveling back from Bend, Oregon over the Santiam Pass, we passed through the B&B Complex fire of ‘03 where some 94,000 acres were consumed most of which is dead, remains rotting and has lost all value. While the waste from fires is nakedly obvious, the second waste in doing nothing with it to retrieve some value, is far worse, and something one cannot help but believe will have a day of reckoning. And we don’t just mean the waste from the standing dead wood’s potential to burn a second time, or the delay and interruption in growing a new forest from as the dead trees fall. Nature’s way, no question, but were this your property, would you take this approach as the “best utilization” of the forest?

The general publics disconnect with the value in the forests and this ongoing waste has diminished only slightly, depending of course if you live in the urban or rural parts of the Western United States.

With most government entities, especially the schools, looking for additional income streams, they need some reminding that back in the decades when we used a portion of the timber receipt revenues from the public forests, thus having the public lands pay their share of infrastructure costs. As we’d rather suspected, when congress established a “temporary” federal fund to bridge the loss of timber receipts 20+ years ago, the congressional enthusiasm for that has constantly eroded, even more so in this tough economy. Those within those rural communities have long felt the loss of the jobs and infrastructure from this change in public policy, and now with the economy having a lengthy decline, this reminder to public services and schools, should give some cause to wonder if it is wiser to allow our public forests to burn and rot, or try to reduce taxes by utilizing those forest assets as they were originally intended, to help pay for and support those entities.

Merry Christmas

This has been an improvement on 2010, and a vast improvement over 2009. Take some small bit of pleasure in knowing the very newspaper and television pundits who were prattling on about our industry as being “inflexible” and unable to “change” finds itself on the brink of financial ruin from that very cause. It’s sad that what should have been an “independent” voice of the national media has degenerated into “one speak” of political correctness, which certainly is part of the basis of their downfall. And yet while the logging industry has been thrashed over the past 20+years, we owe our resilience, ability to change, and creativity to our being here.

We wish you all, your business and families a very Merry Christmas, and pray we see a better 2012, especially in November of next year.