September Issue: Strategic Planning

We’re heading to the 17th annual American Loggers Council (ALC) meeting in Wisconsin in late September, in no small part because from the beginning we’ve felt the ALC serves a vital role in the future of logging, and as an independent voice for loggers particularly at the national policy level with the federal government.

Prior to the ALC's formation in 1994, individual states and regional associations would lobby in Washington DC and have a reasonable level of success, but still lacked the stature of a nationally recognized organization speaking for the professional loggers. While there were, and are several national industry associations, and landowners with a presence in Washington DC until 1994, none of them truly represented the voice of working loggers per se, and thus loggers had others speaking on their behalf without a lot of say in the message.

That changed with the formation of the ALC. The loggers perspective may be in concert with the landowner, the industry, the environmental organizations, or we may be in conflict with good reason. Since 1994, and constantly growing in stature and reputation, we now have a strong and reliable voice that is both heard and respected.

The summer meeting’s concentration was on strategic planning, assessing goals, direction, and changing with the changing times and in recognition of the economy we’re all a part of. Take the time, both individually and through your state and regional associations to better understand the value of the American loggers Council both nationally and to the profession we call logging. It’s your voice nationally and has strengthened your image, and given you a national policy clout that is essential in today’s world.

The incandescent bulb

In their infinite wisdom, amongst the other good deeds of the environmental industry, was the successful push for legislation essentially banning the incandescent light bulb in 2012, mandating more “efficient” lighting standards. Perhaps... just perhaps... that would be a good thing. We began to buy the “more efficient” bulbs a few years ago because it made sense if everything delivered as promised. There-in lies the rub, delivery as promised... from our (albeit limited) experience, the replacement “fluorescent bulbs” in fact can deliver a bright light with lower power consumption, but claims that a bulb will last far longer than incandescent and perform similarly are simply not true.

First, the florescent type replacement bulbs, even with state and federal subsidies, are still a lot more expensive, two to three times more expensive, even more were subsidies removed.

Second, perhaps they do last longer, but the circumstances to achieve that longevity have little in common with actual home use where you turn lights on when you enter, and off when you exit, as anyone would who is responsible. Apparently this on and off behavior is not a good thing for the florescent bulbs, at least through our direct experience.

We’d remodeled our kitchen some six or seven years ago, and just in the past years some of those “old style” incandescent lights finally gasped their final breath of light and needed replacing following several years of faithful service. We made the conscious decision to use the “energy efficient” lights from Costco, and while it takes them a while to warm up to high output light, they seemed to be fine. And fine it was for some, but not so for others, which croaked a mere few months after installation.

What’s wrong with this picture? Performance! A few months is not the “years” promised, plus we’ve come to find out that these same bulbs need special treatment when they’re disposed of because of “environmental concerns” from the bulb’s components.

We’re not “down” on the new technology, but await a replacement, which will actually measure up to the hype.

When we returned the box and dead bulbs to the place of purchase (Costco) I explained, the product was somewhere between over hyped and being complete crap, and hoped they’d pass that on to their purchasing department. We believe in new technology, but sheer hype is second to actual performance in the real world. When one can demonstrate environmental trade-offs as being 1) good for the environment, 2) cost effective, and 3) actually performing reliably and repeatably, the market place will respond accordingly. Until that actually occurs, thinking people will not only challenge (as they should) and criticize those selling snake oil rather than products built to actually perform up to and preferably beyond their promise.

Chicken Little... self-fulfilling prophecies

(when you believe the hype)

From its inception, our country has been blessed with strong competent leadership emerging at the time of our greatest need... until now. In fairness to President Obama, he has performed to our expectations.

This president campaigned on the tried and proven promise of hope and change, with no details, and no challenges whatsoever from the “guardians of freedom,” our national media. Any who had the audacity (not of hope, but to question at all) to challenge his vagueness was quarantined as “racist” or “red neck” for holding this candidate to standards demanded of others. Two years of campaign prattle with no explanation beyond further vague promises of the magical “green economy” and still nothing, exacerbated further by his having no track record at all of having run anything ever in his lifetime, and having achieved nothing of note either in the Illinois legislature nor in the US Senate. His meteoric rise seems to be orchestrated with good reason. He is a talented speaker, especially so with a teleprompter, charismatic, consoling, above the fray, especially when he goes unchallenged.

Thus he has certainly met our expectations: He’s the best social worker we’ve ever had as president, and is performing just as we’d expected, a small player on a world stage, unprepared, and trying the best he can given his background of Chicago thug-style politics. The leadership style we’ve seen three years of is his bouncing from one crisis to another, working for the political gain of the moment with no apparent long range vision short of encouraging class warfare, and polarizing politics that encourages the entitlement mindset over accountability and personal responsibility.

The favorite crutch for this administration has been the same since they won the election, pointing out they inherited a mess, which they did. The economic near collapse that helped catapult Obama into office was considerable, however after three years of policy “magic,” a multi-billion dollar “stimulus” package, and a health “reform” package created behind closed doors in the dark of night and force-fed to the public (giving a whole new meaning to “governmental transparency” delivered by then Speaker Pelosi), the Obama administration has itself catapulted a bad situation into an even worse situation, striking parallels to the worst presidency in the modern generation, that of Pres. Jimmy Carter.

The good news comes in that we have the opportunity in 2012 to change course from the Chicken Little “sky is falling” management style of the Obama administration providing we have a candidate for the office who can actually lead through reason rather than hot air. Who that might be is impossible to say for months to come.

What is certain is the process of primaries, campaigning, etc., which each of us must be part of that process (posting signs, contributing money, encouraging everyone to vote) if we really are committed to change we can live with. As was demonstrated in the last congressional mid-term election, a lot of voters are energized to deliver the vote back towards responsible, accountable representation.

Should you cling to the idea that your vote means nothing, witness the effect the often dismissed “Tea Party” candidates had on the national debate over federal spending and raising the debt ceiling over the summer. For all the “negative press” cast at the Conservative base represented by the Tea Party movement, their collective insistence on fiscal responsibility finally pushed the out of control federal spending into the national spotlight. For the first time in a very long while fiscal responsibility and accountability was brought back as a “matter of principle,” shocking the hell out of the status quo mentality of the elected class. Fiscal responsibility was a good start, but its only a start. From within the beltway, the overall hope is this will be a passing fancy soon to be forgotten... as has been the long term-experience of most of the elected and bureaucratic class.
There is, however, a difference this time, in that as a whole much of the public is feeling the pinch of reality from the dismal economy, which is affecting everyone, and many are correctly recognizing the political spending spree is a genuine threat to our liberty, and our children’s future.

The focus of the debate will require leadership and vision to re-vamp the entitlements that as they presently exist are unsustainable: Social Security, MediCare, and the behemoth that is the national health care mess passed in the last congress. No one wishes to upset this apple cart due to the ferocious political clout of those special interest group of voters, thus it will require the courage of conviction coupled with the support of the electorate to brings these entitlements under reasonable control.

Just as we’ve seen with the most recent manufactured crisis over the debt ceiling and federal spending, none of this was unexpected or unanticipated, it was ignored and the can kicked further down the road. Sweeping legislation (such as the health reform legislation) frequently is sold as “reform” when the realities of the actual payment for such irresponsibility is set to take effect after those responsible are retired from office, or have moved on to other ventures. immediate gratification, paid for on credit someone else gets to pay for. It is worse than “Chicken Little” reasoning, it is in knowing you made a mess but by design left it for someone else while you enjoy the spoils today.

Those days of mortgaging the future at our kid’s expense must end if we intend to preserve our liberties for future generations.