Forests and greed

Tom Condit tomcondit at igc.apc.org
Fri Sep 22 17:26:24 MDT 1995


Weyerhaueser did more than just shift production to the Southeast
U.S. as the timber on public lands began to run out in the West.
A large part of the salmon sold in North American restaurants now
comes from fish farms run by Weyerhaueser in Chile--as the effects
on western rivers of siltation from their clearcutting began to be
apparent, they invested in a replacement industry for the salmon
they were wiping out.  This is price regulating industry.

As for there not being any privately-owned forest left, that's
quite wrong, and yet another instance of the power of the modern
mass media to filter out dangerous information.  Here in northern
California we have had a running war for months over the plans of
the Pacific Lumber Company and other companies to cut their
privately "owned" timber, including the last large stands of virgin
redwood forest left.  Hundreds of people have been arrested, and
there was a demonstration of over 2,000 people in the tiny Humboldt
County town of Carlotta just last Friday, and another is in
progress as I write.

Pacific Lumber was a family-owned company which went public and was
taken over by a corporate raider named Charles Hurwitz in a
leveraged buyout. Hurwitz financed the takeover with junk bonds
issued by Drexel, Lambert Burnham, which also was involved in his
looting of a Texas savings and loan to the tune of $1.6 billion
(paid for, of course, by the U.S. taxpayers).  He also looted the
workers' pension fund (although a federal court has ordered him to
pay that back--he's appealing).  To pay off the junk bonds, Pacific
Lumber, now known in modern corporate jargonese as PALCO,
accelerated clearcutting of the forests, aided and abetted by the
tame state and federal regulators.  Hence the resort to direct
action by opponents.

(I have much, much material on this in electronic form for people
who want to know more.)

The libertarian thesis that someone who "owns" something will take
better care of it than someone who doesn't applies only so long as
the "owned" object can't be converted into cash which then can be
invested somewhere else.  In modern capitalism, with its emphasis
on fluidity of assets, "ownership" is merely a license to destroy.

Tom Condit

P.S.  Just to show that virtue is rewarded, Hurwitz' chief aide in
the Texas S&L scandal has been made Chancellor of the California
State University system.


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