Archive for September 25th, 2013

by lizard

As young people, we are told surface-level narratives explaining how complex systems work. With the economy, it’s a story about supply and demand, a fairy-tale that things called competitive markets exist, and through the competing forces of supply and demand, equilibrium settles in. The way this is managed seems so simple:

If demand increases and supply remains unchanged, a shortage occurs, leading to a higher equilibrium price.

If demand decreases and supply remains unchanged, a surplus occurs, leading to a lower equilibrium price.

If demand remains unchanged and supply increases, a surplus occurs, leading to a lower equilibrium price.

If demand remains unchanged and supply decreases, a shortage occurs, leading to a higher equilibrium price.

Supply and demand are not the factors to be taking into consideration if we’re talking about logging, and the bipartisan support among Montana’s representatives for logging mandates entangled in the timber industry gift-packaging. At the beginning of this month, Jon Tester was “feeling better” about Conrad Burns Steve Daines’ support:

U.S. Sen. Jon Tester’s long-stalled forest bill, which would newly designate acreage for both wilderness and logging in three Montana forests, could be finding some new momentum, the senator and bill supporters say.

“I feel better now about its position than I ever have in the past, and significantly better,” Tester, a Democrat, said in an interview late last week.

He said there’s a growing understanding in Congress not only about his bill, but also that something needs to be done to improve forest management in the West.

Tester and the bill’s supporters, which include timber-mill owners, wilderness advocates and scores of recreation businesses, also are hoping a new player in the political mix – Republican Congressman Steve Daines – might provide a bipartisan push that’s been missing.

Three weeks later, the White House is threatening to veto the hot mess coming from the House because the reality of the bill is coming into focus:

In response to fires that have ravaged the West this year, the House on Friday approved a bill that would expand logging in national forests despite a White House veto threat.

The measure, which would impose limits on environmental reviews to speed timber-cutting projects, was approved by the Republican-controlled House, 244-173, on a largely party-line vote.

The bill would more than double timber harvest levels nationwide to roughly 6 billion board feet of timber for sale each year, up from the average of 2.5 billion board feet sold annually in recent years.

That legislation is being proposed to increase supply, outside the forces of demand, that’s a problem. That Steve/Jon/Max all hold hands and skip along, that’s a problem as well.

This legislative push is trying to capitalize on another intense fire season. It’s cynical, short-term job-whoring for special interests, and it’s bad policy.

That Tester has kept this torch burning after snuffing Conrad Burns should not go unmentioned.

Meanwhile, climate change only gets a brief mention by Obama at the UN, and hardly anyone is discussing what’s happening in Japan.

We are in serious trouble.

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