30 Aug 2010, 1:38pm
Politics and politicians Private land policies
by admin

“Sustainability” Is an Unsustainable Marxist Hoax

We are pleased to announce that a new W.I.S.E. White Paper has been posted in our Forest and Fire Sciences Colloquium [here]:

Travis Cork III. 2010. The Market Illiteracy Embodied in the Politically Correct Version of Sustainability. W.I.S.E. White Paper No. 2010-4

This White Paper is an excellent cutting-edge review of the folly and fallacies of “sustainable forestry” programs, whether run directly by government or by government-affiliated special interest groups.

By way of introduction to the topic, the following note from the author describes some of the tragic consequences of the red tape Gordian Knot that is “sustainability” in practice.


Pick Your Poison While We Pick Your Pocket

By Travis Cork, Practicing Professional Forester and Forestry Consultant

When my client Bud E. called to find out why his property had been decertified as a Tree Farm, in his opinion “given a black mark,” he also asked if there were any advantages to being in the Tree Farm system.

I told him that there are no advantages, but there are plenty of disadvantages.

The parent of the Tree Farm System, American Forest Foundation (AFF), is an aggressive supporter of the one entity on Earth that most threatens sustainability. That entity is government at all levels. AFF supports programs that will allow their members to pick the pockets of other taxpayers, all supposedly in the name of sustainability.

That these programs are adding an unsustainable debt load that our children and grandchildren can never pay, does not seem to be a concern to AFF.

Apparently the one way Bud can remain in the Tree Farm system is to allow a bureaucrat with the South Carolina Forestry Commission (SCFC) to write a “management plan” that incorporates all of AFF’s standards of sustainability.

What about the SCFC? If we took it off the taxpayer teat, how would it pay its way? How would it be sustained?

The SCFC has survived as long as it has due in large part to the fact that the productive economy has created enough wealth which SCFC can siphon off without causing an uproar among taxpayers. By pricing the subsidized services it offers at below-market-rates, it finds and maintains a clientele simply by pricing competition out of the business. It also survives because of its access to government’s monopoly of legalized violence. It uses its regulatory authority to force its existence on us, even though there are superior ways to deal with issues such as BMPs and timber theft.

In fact, there is no person less qualified to write a management plan advancing true sustainability than a bureaucrat with any bureaucracy, be it SCFC, USFS, NRCS, FSA, or any other. Bureaucrats are isolated from any measure of profit and loss. For the NIPF [non-industrial private tree farmer], profit and loss matters. For the bureaucrat, as long as it can force the taxpayer to support it, profit and loss has little relevance. (If bureaucrats understood the true nature of sustainability, they would not be bureaucrats.)

True sustainability cannot be measured by bean-counters doing commodity drain surveys. The only meaningful measure of sustainability are prices. The only meaningful prices are those based on voluntary exchanges of private property. Shadow prices, prices developed by bogus surveys such contingent valuation, and prices arbitrarily set by bureaucrats or legislators, are worse than meaningless. They are destructive. The individuals who develop prices by these means do so because they want the prices to lie so that they can advance their anti-economic agendas.

Looking at a letter supporting carbon incentives, the list of supporters includes the AFF and the Southern Environmental Law Center. SELC is no friend of private property or profitable forestry. Should we not be concerned that AFF and SELC are allies?

Supposedly an advantage of the Tree Farm system is that it provides a cheaper alternative for “sustainability certification” than FSC (another entity hostile to private property and timber management) and SFI. AFF Tree Farms are supposed to be recertified on five year intervals. By my count, it has been nine years since Bud’s property was last recertified. Who is going to certify all of these Tree Farms? Will this be the equivalent of a jobs bill for state forestry agencies? No one can believe that all NIPF will voluntarily submit to the certification process, even if it is cheaper. Can anyone doubt that groups like SELC will file lawsuits to make participation in a certification program mandatory? Can any one doubt that the SCFC will sign on for the opportunity to play a role writing plans. What regulatory bodies will be created to deal with inevitable disputes over chain-of-custody?

We know from experience that SCFC will go on private property without permission to check for possible BMP violations or do a “courtesy BMP exam.” (Silly me, I thought courtesy required one to get permission to go on someone else’s property.) EPA and the COE are worse. Why should we not believe that getting in these programs will only heighten the scrutiny of the property. In an age where EPA is becoming a law unto itself, exposure is the last thing an NIPF needs.

This process is fraught with danger for the NIPF. It will not produce a result that is

The infamous Supreme Court case, Wickard v Filburn, gave us a warning. “It is hardly a lack of due process for the government to regulate that which it subsidizes.”

The Tree Farm system is no friend of private property. If Bud E. want my advice, he will accept decertification gladly and and stay as far from the Tree Farm system as he can.



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