May 2003

Dear Shelter
    Reader Feedback

What I call environ-stupidism has created a vacuum in the wood industry, and a new situation has arisen this year. At least it has here in the Southwest. As a result of forest fires, the government is now offering grant money to companies to help clear the forests of underbrush, small-diameter trees and other bits of detritus, all of which are contributing to the devastating nature of our forest fires.

This process, known as Timber Stand Improvement (TSI), will indeed make our forests less prone to fires. But our government is spending taxpayer dollars to provide grant money to perform the TSI. This cleanup would have been done automatically if logging were allowed by environmentalists.

For years I have heard our environmentalist “friends” complain about the logging industry being subsidized by the government. However, the current grant money is being offered and provided by taxpayers.

Environmentalists shut down logging in the majority of the United States, and, as a result, the forests fill up with burnable material.

Partially as a result of losses sustained in fires, insurance companies charge much more for their product and often simply walk away from insuring wood-related operations.
As a result of increased expenses, such as insurance and/or inability to simply log, many logging companies have declared bankruptcy. 

In the meantime, foreign companies import more and more material to fill the void left by the eradication of the logging companies. United States wood-related operations need to charge more for their products making them even less able to compete with the foreign companies.

The foreign onslaught continues with the realization by foreign competition that they do not need to stop at importing lumber. They can increase their competitive advantage in the wood industry by shipping finished product to the United States, therefore eliminating the shipping of waste. 

The government starts paying companies to log. Only they are not really “logging.” They are only cutting down the small-diameter trees, leaving the forests healthier. The cost of this is born by the taxpayer, but the environmentalists do not complain. 

The U.S. government is criticized by its citizens for continuing to allow a huge trade imbalance, and this trade imbalance continues to grow. Yet, the government does not respond. 

Companies such as yours and mine continue to feel the squeeze from all of this. What we are able to charge for our finished product is held in check by low prices from our foreign competition. But our operating expenses continue to rise and our profit margins are disappearing quickly. 

I used to be frustrated with my foreign competition. But, hey, they are only doing what any of us would do; they are taking advantage of an existing situation. Who can blame them?
I think this problem began with the environmentalists. I think their environmentalists’ campaign to stop logging in the United States has opened the doors for the demise of the wood industry in our country. 

Maybe that is what environmentalists had in mind. If so, I am sure they think it was pretty smart. But, in reality, it was stupid. So stupid that I think we should change their moniker to environ-stupidists. 

Matt Allen
Mt. Taylor Millwork
Milan, N.M.




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