Don't buy the timber lobby's scare tacticsThe good news...

the Forum

May 18, 1993

Don't buy the timber lobby's scare tactics

The good news, reported in The Evening Sun, is that the U.S. Forest Service is preparing a plan for phasing out taxpayer-subsidized timber sales in our national forests ("Forest Service wants to ax low-price logging," April 30).

The bad news is that companies who have ridden this government gravy train for so many years are mobilizing to block the initiative. They are claiming, for example, that the government actually loses money because of compliance with environmental standards.

Would critics argue that we should revert to the days when we played erosion roulette with watersheds that supply half the West's drinking water? Or that we should not worry about the impact on fish and wildlife?

Moreover, the highest cost for the U.S. Forest Service (i.e. taxpayers) stems from bulldozing roads to remote forest areas, often up steep hillsides.

The road system in our national forests is eight times the size of the interstate highway system.

The suggestion that phasing out subsidized sales will send lumber prices into a spiral is merely an industry attempt to create a backlash to the phase-out.

As The Evening Sun reported, national forests provide just 12 percent of the nation's timber, and timber from private lands can pick up any slack easily.

Industry is also claiming that efforts to protect some of the majestic ancient forests in the Northwest are driving up lumber prices. In fact, those prices, adjusted for inflation, are now lower than they were in 1979.

Naturally, those whose jobs are now in jeopardy are angry and frightened.

Programs are needed to help communities attract new industries and diversify their economies.

Many studies show that in the regions most affected, tourism, recreation and other businesses are overtaking logging and other extractive industries as sources of jobs. A tree left in the ground has more value to the local economy than it does riding out on a logging truck.

The time to fight these forces of change is over, especially when the environmental and fiscal payoffs are so high.

Gaylord Nelson

Washington, D.C.

The writer, a former U.S. senator from Wisconsin, is the founder of Earth Day.

War on drugs

I have just finished reading your article "Teen drug use growing in state" (May 4).

I vehemently oppose any more of my tax money going into drug education, drug enforcement or anything more to do with drugs.

We have been on the same road for 20 years. Our policies never change and never work.

Our schools, especially our middle and high schools, need to concentrate on a curriculum that will satisfy the majority of the students who have a goal and a desire to learn.

They no longer need to be preached to. These children are saturated with drug education from the time they are in the first grade. If it hasn't sunk in by the time they are 11 or 12 years old, it is not going to work.

We are bankrupting our country and our citizens with this so-called "war on drugs."

Both the enforcement and the preventive education have proven to be failures. Things have gotten worse instead of better. Now we have a drug czar who wants to center his attention on rehabilitation. Nice idea, but it sounds like more money down the drain.

You cannot rehabilitate a person who does not want to be rehabilitated. Any kind of an addiction is a mental and physical disease, and the individual has to be the one to initiate the rehabilitation, not the government.

I contend that as long as there are 13-, 14- and 15-year-old kids selling drugs, our drug problems will continue to soar.

The more customers they have, the more money they make. It's called free enterprise (only with no taxes or regulations). Unfortunately, in their business, with every new customer there is another lost soul.

What the government can do for these children is take the drugs off the streets, out of the schools and put them in a place where responsible adults are in charge.

Let the doctors and nurses deal with the drugs transmitted by needles and let the drug stores or the liquor stores handle the rest.

Instead of paying more in taxes we will actually for the first time get some new revenue and put some of these young people in the unemployment line.

Just maybe they will go back to school to learn.

Jean Walker


No guts

Isn't it amazing that we are willing to bomb and slaughter total strangers -- Serbs -- while we lack the guts to dispatch those among us who murder and mutilate our own neighbors?

Instead, we give them air conditioning, color TV, medical care and early release.

Norman J. Dean


Library lay-offs

Larry Carson's article about the Baltimore County layoff process, May 7, gave the impression that 34 library workers laid off were simply part-time.

On the contrary, 23 full-time, experienced librarians were laid off.

I think the public should know this and understand why the remaining libraries seem harried, and that public service is slower than they would like or expect.

Nancy J. Liss


Why us?

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