February Issue: Restoring Working Relationships

The most interesting presentation we’ve seen recently occurred during the recently completed Associated Oregon Loggers Annual Meeting was the preliminary report from the WSRI’s (Wood Supply Research Institute’s) Don Taylor on the much awaited national study of relationships between logging contractors, landowners, and consuming mills.

The WSRI has been around a number of years (since 1999), with most of their research coming out of the Southeastern USA, with the specific goal of promoting and improving efficiency in the wood supply system. http://www.forestresources.org/WSRI/

Taylor explained the purpose of this study, (conducted throughout the United States, including the Pacific Northwest) was studying the relationships between suppliers (loggers) and consuming mills, and the “...simple hypothesis: there are significant improvements in the ‘people part” of supply chain management...” and both production and quality benefits to be had for all parties, where “...each of the parties has confidence (in each other),” and where optimizing effectiveness in the supply chain application, optimizes inputs and outputs, (which) eliminates waste in both. In effect, improved awareness of the importance of those team work and mutual respect from both loggers and the mills results in a more efficient, stable and profitable business for everyone.

The report and study has been particularly timely considering the past four years of economic crunch everyone has experienced that has resulted in widening the gap in those relationships.

Taylor emphasized, throughout the presentation, that these are preliminary findings, and the overview of the study and its findings related specifically to Oregon, whereas the final study will be nationwide. However this preliminary report apparently reflects attitudes nationwide. Taylor led off commenting that, “...loggers tell it like it is,” then noted with the year-long effort, “I’m very optimistic,” and with good reason: this brings the issues from both the mills and contract loggers into the light of day, and most important, suggests solutions that positively impact everyone’s bottom line.

“The message to you,” Taylor emphasized, “is that if these relationships can be improved there are win-wins to be had when you identify these things, then do them. Not just doing good,” he said adding, “and we do like each other, but it’s about business and business functioning as it should.”

The study revealed what most have long felt: that we are all dependent on each other to make the business work.

The road map to success Taylor explained comes from both sides.

  • Build recognition at senior levels that the independent wood suppliers in U.S. are a VALUABLE ASSET (logging contractors are a valuable asset). “It’s in best interests of industry to do this.” He added that, “supplier companies are not a commodity. What I hear particularly in the South, you move a commodity but you’re not a commodity... it must be nurtured.
  • Provide a more stable operating environment, including face to face joint operational planning, minimizing production disruptions, and maximize longer-term commitments to established logging firms.
  • Supplier (loggers) attitudes need adjusting: logging and trucking contractors needs to be more positive, “your customer (mill) is not the enemy. “Be as positive as you can.” And finally, put the past in the rear-view mirror, “...then move on.”

“Industry is at a critical turning point,” said Taylor. “I’ve seen ups and downs. I think something basic and fundamental needs to change. It’s time for a fresh approach (trash tradition). Rebuild logging trucking capacity, rebuild business relationships,” and perhaps of greatest importance, “...rebuild trust.”

“The focus of WSRI,” explained Taylor “is of interest to the entire industry. Without what you do there is NO forestry. Its symbiotic... you have to have both and it’s a great business to be in. “WSRI provides real data that will aid intelligent approaches. We’ll continue to face those real issues,” and find solutions “...based on the best data available.

The moving baseline...

Simply stating your viewpoint as ­progressive, or moderate doesn’t ­magically make it so.

Planning ahead is essential in any business, whether it be logging, publishing, retail, or manufacturing, but even the best laid plans can at times fall completely out of your control, and such was the case when three conferences in three states each elected to meet at the same time. Associated California Loggers (ACL) Associated Oregon Loggers (AOL), and the Washington State Logging Safety Conference (WSLSC) all picked the same week for their annual meetings. In years past most of these events fall on separate weeks, or with enough time between them one could reach them all, but not this time. Thus we were left with a choice, electing back to back meetings in Eugene, Oregon, first going to the Council of Forest Engineering’s (COFE) Annual Symposium, which preceded by a day the AOL’s Annual Meeting, and by doing so was able to hear the preliminary report from the WSRI’s (Wood Supply Research Institute’s) Don Taylor on the much awaited national study of relationships between logging contractors, landowners, and consuming mills.

When you cannot be everywhere at the same time, you have to make choices... its part of real life and part of business we learn to adjust and live with, and part of how life works in the real world. We live in a competitive world demanding we prioritize, make judgment calls, and prioritize our choices. Success demands we’re able to plan ahead, focus on the best choices as part of a successful work ethic, and teach those decision making techniques on to our crew, our families, and our own colleagues.

Our offspring can be great teachers as well in that they often introduce us to new concepts and approaches we’d not previously seen, sometimes right, many times wrong, but always enlightening and sometimes harbingers of things to come whether one likes it our not.
One such lesson occurred when he was eight or nine returning from school and announcing quite out of the blue “...you can’t judge me,” getting both his mom’s and my attention. Immediately I confirmed to him, “...rest assured son, we’ll judge you because it is our job to judge you.” Then the more surprised expression on his face when we asked, “... who gave you this idea anyhow? Some one at the school, because I’ll be happy to make it crystal clear to them how I feel about it AND that I’ll go to some length to make sure they stop promoting such nonsense.”

Needless to say, his memory was blank on who might have enlightened him on the topic of judgments, but he assured me there would be no need for me to get involved.

At the very least we had one small victory in his personal growth: whether he liked it or not, it was clear that judging his actions was something we’d continue doing and he should judge as well, in that actions have rewards and consequences, both at home and in the real world.

It was one of our first personal collisions with the world of political correctness that permeates our system of education, which gained a toe-hold in our colleges and universities in the 1970, infected the academia, spreading through the student body, who ultimately graduated and took that ill conceived notion back into the public schools to complete the insidious cycle of infection.

The cancer that is political correctness is a masterfully spun public relations scam, wrapped in veil of tolerance, coated with misplaced social conscience sensitivity, all in the name civility with the none-to-subtle threat of public ridicule and label of ignorant, backwards, bigot or worse used to squelch and/or totally stop public discourse, and ultimately judgment. Dissenting opinion or vetting of options need not appear when the sword of political correctness is unsheathed as the debate is simply not allowed because the decision has been made the subject has simply been approved by the brighter and more elite amongst us, period, end of story, amen. Now go about your business, the issue is closed.

Thus a new standard, a new fad, obnoxious fashion, throwing out the baby with the bathwater, and as we’ve seen repeatedly more frequently over the past several decades no debate is allowed, all in the name of political correctness and no one dare to shout the word censorship simply because they disagree, because with the mere act of questioning the political correctness of the action, they open themselves to a very public labeling and shunning as the worst of all heretics for questioning purity and sanctity of the ever so righteous politically correct.

The interest is not in discourse and reason, but in accepting without question. Thus standards are eliminated, self-censorship enforced, certain topics are to be accepted at face value, never questioned and we all will be better for it.

Sheer poppycock... shades of Orwell’s “1984.”

Pure and simple the idea of ending bigotry, embracing tolerance of others, and eliminating blind prejudice, the admirably placed very high ideals of the civil rights movement were in fact about filling the information void, providing a fertile ground for ideas, shining light on the platform of ideas and exposing to the light of day all ideas for a vigorous and open debate. All of these terms, building blocks of liberty, were in fact co-opted by the radical factions of the day, re-packaged, and represented as political correctness from the 70s to today, where in real world use it has served not to open but to close the debate as unsuitable due to its not passing the litmus test of political correctness. And who wields this power, and is the final arbiter... today’s political left, and the media who cheerfully serve as their lap dogs.

The shame of the PC scam comes from the “free pass” given to the left, and the open ridicule, and labeling, of any opposing points of view... and there are many... though the political correctness filters of the entertainment based electronic media, the withering print media, and the constant ding of the Internet consistently, and predictably shift the goal post further and further left of center. Thus in the current political arena, rather it be public policy on management of public lands, the Endangered Species Act, Environmental Quality, or choosing who is running for office, Democrats are simply Democrats, and Republicans are “extreme, radical, conservative, pro-business, anti-family, etc.” It would seem, based on what we continue to hear and read that political correctness has not eliminated bigotry, increased tolerance, or opened the debate but served only to effectively propagandize our youth into a one-size fits all approach to life where judgment is shunned, self-esteem is embraced, excellence is passe and everyone should be compensated equally regardless of how they perform not only in our country, but on the world stage.

That, my friends is a far cry from the thinking, courage, search for quality, sense of exceptionalism and service to mankind that was a hallmark of our society and our nation prior to the cancer that is political correctness. Prior to 1970, judgment was expected, the world was our stage, technology was our future, and excellence was expected.

The goal posts need desperately to be placed where debate is open and the resulting policy debate is about what will work rather than the all-or-none mentality we’ve so often seen the past few decades, most recently with the ill considered “health reform act” and “stimulus” programs.

The idea in self-governance is to make our laws, rules, and regulations accessible, and for the benefit of everyone, father than reward one group and penalize another. To achieve that end we must be able to label the issues and actions clearly, prioritize, and make a clear judgment on what will work. That path was present not so terribly long ago, when the object of our government reflected our independent spirit and founding principles. The playing goal posts were predictable, and media was skeptical of all sides, and working to inform rather than propagandize, and shift the goal posts to the point of where liberalism of the past would find today’s positions untenable.

One small example of how far left of center we’ve come is by reviewing the words spoken by President John F. Kennedy at his inauguration in 1961. “And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country.”
We all have seen Kennedy delivering that time and again over our life time, but what’s left is the last of his remarks:

“My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

“Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.”

Today that likely would be viewed as far too politically incorrect and needing watering down. Do you seriously believe with the demonstrated agendas of Nancy Pelosi and Barney Frank, they’d find John F. Kennedy to be liberal enough for them? Fortunately that preceded the PC epidemic, and while it would gall the left wing, what it demonstrates is how far they’ve veered from their own path. 

Running on his record

A White House spokesperson noted on a newscast we recently heard that “the President is running on his record and vision.” Clearly this is a new path for this president, having an unremarkable past, but a remarkable campaign for the past election, presented through an adoring media, mired in political correctness, and happy to convey the vague feel-good symbolism absent any calls for details, or road maps for the “change” he spoke of. 

This president now has a record, achieved through Chicago-style politics; complete with behind closed door, one-side-only, the take-it-or-leave-it dynamics, and a spending jig that even takes the breath from Washington DC insiders.

The Republican debates have been good cover for Pres. Obama, as the media is only too happy to let his leadership “style” drop from public light into the background.

His vision for the future rings shallow with good reason: it conflicts with his actions and policies. Unlike his campaign he now has a record that could not be clearer if one simply examines his administration’s multiple failures and lack of vision short of paying off his friends. While that seems to have worked for Chicago, this is not Chicago. We far prefer a vision that includes the pursuit of excellence, encouraging independence, levels the playing field, and gets the grossly bloated federal behemoth government out of our business, schools, and livelihoods.