BC's Forests Minister Says Sector Recovery Continues
By 250 News
Prince George, BC - Today marks the start of National Forest Week in Canada, during what has already been proclaimed International Year of Forests, and BC's Minister Responsible says both designations provide a great opportunity to reflect on the benefits our forests provide...
Steve Thomson says the province's forest sector accounts for more than 55-thousand direct jobs and contributes $7.3-billion dollars to BC's GDP. Thomson says, "With a number of mills reopening throughout the province, including mills in Kitwanga, Midway, Savona, and Vavenby, hundreds of workers are back on the job and communities are seeing the benefits of the forest sector as it continues to recover."
And he points to rising lumber exports, particularly exponentially increasing demand from China, as an indicator the future looks bright. Thomson says efforts continue to diversify the forest economy. "Now over 50 communities are enjoying the benefits of forestry by managing local community forests for local values," he says. "As well, 144 First Nations are enjoying the benefits of forestry through revenue-sharing agreements and direct access to timber."
But the Minister says forests aren't just about jobs and he's encouraging British Columbians to take time during National Forest Week to get out into the woods and take time to enjoy the province's numerous recreation sites and trails.
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2007-10-11 (really??? I thought this was 2011)
MCFC is currently planning our winter harvesting program. If you are interested in purchasing logs from us please contact:
Operations Supervisor and Log Sales
phone (250) 569-2229
fax (250) 569-3276
cell (250) 569-7122
So I can just bid on logs? Are there any export restrictions? Are these logs only available to industries in McBride to support their economy by creating jobs?
from their 2003 management plan with updated progress to 2007 (again, where is the current update?)
Timber should remain in the Robson Valley and be utilized for value added and specialty production.
Offer a proportion of available tenures or sales to local operators based upon proposals which include the creation of something in the order of one full time job per 1,000 m3 as well as guaranteeing the production of value added or specialty products.
. Have tried to keep local specialty mills supplied (i.e. Gibbs, Syncra, Cedar 3)
You are kidding!!!
If this is a reflection of how community forests are run, it is a travesty!!! Where are the auditing reports???
Which really has nothing whatsoever to do with the number of 'jobs' created. And everything to do with whether there is any REAL consumer demand for the 'specialty products' after they've been made; and if there is, can it be made an EFFECTIVE demand. Not only *will* those who want the product pay a price that covers the costs, plus enough of a profit to make it worthwhile continuing to repeat the process, but *can* they?
Properly, 'value-added' should be defined as "any further process beyond the initial stages of any product's manufacture that can return its costs plus an additional profit". If it can't do that, there has been NO "value-added".
When we put up the creation of 'jobs' as being the 'value-added' we're after instead, we don't have to use any wood products whatsoever to achieve THAT kind of value.
Any old bare piece of earth and a pick and shovel will do. For we can create endless 'jobs' just having people dig holes and then fill them in again. If we need an excuse to give them an income from doing something that'll never pay.
Cutting lumber and making specialty products therefrom is primarily a process of 'separation'. In this, it is highly akin to the diamond industry. Sometimes the greatest real "value-added" comes from the LEAST amount of separation.
If anyone took a large raw gemstone, like the Hope diamond, or the Cullinan, or some of those other near priceless baubles that are in the British Crown jewels, and suggested that the original gemstones they came from could be "value-added" by cleaving any of them into four smaller stones, thereby multiplying the overall work of the diamond cutters by four, and then imagine that any of those four finished smaller stones are ever going to return the value of the one big one, let alone the additional costs that went into their finishing, they're dreaming in technicolour. And so it is with lumber.
And if we move beyond the process of 'separation' cutting lumber and making specialties primarily is, and enter into the numerous processes of 'combination' that might follow in an effort to "value-add"? The greatest value-adders of them all are always completely overlooked ~ the carpenters who build and finish a house.
The real problem is NOT with tenure or who holds it ~ it IS with the way our money system currently operates.
It will FORCE the liquidation of timber at a faster and faster pace to try to keep even with ever rising costs. Ones that will always rise faster than can be obtained for lumber products coming onto the markets.
If we don't fix the REAL problem first, those communities who see owning their own patch of forest as the key to their continued existence and future prosperity are going to be in for an awful disappointment.
Blah Blah Blah Blah ..now.. yes.. ok.. time for an election
I would like to hear how this "REAL" problem is going to be solved.
In the meantime, there is a NOW situation here and you got to start somewhere. The products may be marketable today and not tomorrow. I mean, we all know that by now and adjust to it the same as the natural worlkd - things die and things regenerate. That is the nature of sustainability. The individual is not sustained, the collective is.
Do you want to use the fibre content or not? If so, do you want to ship them off for $1,000 a pop, or do you want to create something from the same timber and sell that product for $10,000and invest it back inot the forest, the community, and the people?
Don't think too long about it because otherwise someone else will fill the need, want, demand, whatever.
I am starting to wonder how you ever reach a practical decision in your life.
Did you know that by last count 12,895 angels can dance on the head of a pin? ;-).
The BC government's presumption was that by reducing the volumes held under tenure from the majors and providing the opportunity of more open market competetive log supply would answer the demands of the softwood coalition.
Well... it didn't appease the US assault against our market pricing (stumpage)system nor did it create more competition because it didn't create any more players or demand for the timber that was supposed to be competetively sold.
Community forests are often touted as the means to diversify the forest industry into various value added operations and therefore assist with the competition for logs. This is obviously completely ridiculous to expect any serious levels of investment into any value added manufacturing if it is only to sustain itself with competetive timber supplies. There is something telling in that it isn't happenning and more so that it shouldn't happen because it is a wreckless basis for a business investment and almost certain to fail.
What was the real agenda here? Is it about defending our low rate stumpage system for the benefit of the large existing forest industry giants? Is it about giving the appearances of improving competition while actually preventing it from happening?
The question is whether that was a planned outcome and thus making this a deception to allude the americans as well as the ongoing community aspirations from within BC to diversify our forest industry into value added products.
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Community Forests: Rhetoric and Reality
I was recently alerted to a disaster in the making regarding logging rare low elevation rainforest in the magnificent Robson Valley, home of the original “Tree Beard” old growth forest east of Prince George, British Columbia.
The conservation group in the area, Save The Cedar League, alerted me that the McBride Community Forest Corporation was intent on logging in an enormous area totaling 16 square kilometres. (One square kilometre is an area ten times the size of a regulation soccer pitch, including sidelines.) When I heard this I thought, ‘Wow, that is a lot of forest for a little community forestry operation to be logging, and it is precious and rare low-elevation forest that has historically been spared the axe.’ Not long ago the area was even recommended for protection by the conservative Forest Practices Board. So what, I thought, is this community group, specifically created to log in a kinder and gentler way, doing?
I started doing some research into community forests in BC and found out that although they were inspired by thoughtful people trying to give forestry a better environmental and social reputation, some of them have turned against these principles and embraced the very style of logging they were intended to replace.
A History of Greed
Community forests are a recent innovation in BC, dating only to the mid-1990’s, ironically coinciding with the collapse of many of the corporate forestry titans. The history of forestry in BC can be summed up in a nutshell: greed manifested by more greed. Corporate titans rapaciously over-logged our publicly-owned forests, producing massive quantities of low-end, cheap products (like rough cut 4x4’s, plywood, shingles, fence-posts and pulp) from our high quality wood, until other warmer jurisdictions figured out they could grow trees twice as fast as us. Instead of re-tooling their mills to produce high-end products from our high quality wood, the corporate titans simply produced more and more of the same, and made efficiencies like ripping up their social contract to operate mills in small communities, consolidating lumber mills, and getting government to relax environmental standards.
Eventually the supply of easily accessible timber gave out and many of the titans packed up and left, abandoning the communities that became dependent on them. As the timber titans were leaving, the province had to act quick to keep revenue flowing in. They did it by allocating 20% of the corporate harvest to communities and to the BC governments own logging company, BC Timber Sales.
In an effort to generate employment in small towns, and avoid the mistakes made by the departed timber titans, the BC government established community forests and allocated them a guaranteed supply of timber, as long as they agreed to log at a rate dictated by government. About 20 community forests are operational today and 30 more are in the process of being approved. Unfortunately Community Forests took the easy way out; the forests surrounding small communities, including their drinking watersheds, were typically not heavily logged by the titans in an effort to preserve quality of life for citizens.
Absence of Government Leadership
Unfortunately, in a misguided effort to generate start-up revenues to re-open idle mills, many community forests soiled their own backyard; they began logging forests long held sacred, even by their faceless corporate predecessors. Many small communities now have clearcuts instead of pristine forests for views. Snowmobile, biking, hiking and horseback trails have been logged, drinking watersheds sullied and muddied, and old growth forests and endangered species habitat mowed down. Although some communities have access to timber principally on lands more suitable for timber production and have held true to the virtuous social focus of community control and environmental stewardship, others have not. The problem is not community forests per se, but an absence of government leadership and vision to guide them.
Legislation guiding the creation and management of community forests is woefully inadequate. As former BC Forest Minister Gordon Wilson highlighted in 1998, “we have no definition of community forests and what that means, what its tenure means, who controls it, who makes decisions on it, and how its application is going to be handled.” None of the concerns raised by the minister have ever been clarified and this has led to the bastardization of well-intentioned community driven enterprises, turning many of them into mini versions of their faceless corporate predecessors.
At best, community forests represent a last ditch effort by a government, abandoned by its forest industry friends, to create employment in small towns to generate tax revenue by logging some of the last large patches of big-tree, easily accessible forests in the province. At worst, community forests are a deceitful and deliberate attempt by government to log forests surrounding small rural communities, and in the process eroding the small town quality of life they say they are so concerned about preserving. Some community forests have in fact torn small towns apart, pitting neighbour against neighbour, with citizens co-opted by government and industry naively destroying some of the attributes of small town living.
Throughout the past decade, there has been plenty of rhetoric from government on community forests. After the first community forest in Harrop-Proctor, near Nelson, was exposed as an anti-environmental attempt to access high value forests in long-protected community drinking watersheds, government re-grouped by making smart partnerships with southeastern BC selection loggers, environmentalists, and First Nations. A number of community forests that followed Harrop Proctor were much better planned and logged in a more thoughtful manner. Some skeptical observers, myself included, stopped paying much attention thinking that perhaps a lesson had been learned and that the community forests, although far from perfect, were an acceptable compromise to promote economic resiliency in small towns recently abandoned by big industry and government.
No sooner than we had put down our guard, however, the BC government reverted back to its old ways. As the wave of industry exodus from small towns escalated across the province, the government embarked on a desperate attempt to increase royalties and taxes to fill its coffers.
The lesson learned is to be wary when big industry comes knocking saying they can help take care of small communities. When a community has a primary employer flooding markets with high volumes of low value products, a stable economy is impossible. Small communities will economic enterprises after the big companies.
Community forests are a great idea, but they can veer away from the sustainability path when they emulate big corporate models of production. The current path of many community forests in BC is drifting inexorably back to the same unsustainable corporate model that almost destroyed them last time. Rather than keep producing low-value forest products like fenceposts, shakes, plywood and rough dimensional lumber, community forests need to follow another model. They need to produce and niche market specialty, high value products that require less volume of timber. They need to protect forests adjacent to their communities and also protect forests that are important for wildlife and values like carbon storage and water filtration. Only then will they be sustainable.
Community forest legislation needs to be amended to reflect values of sustainability, and government needs to better fund startup costs so communities are not forced to make bad choices that limit future options. The purpose of community forests is not to log where others have dared not. It is to follow the visionary language about community forests on their own websites, rather than ignore it as many do today. Government also needs to back off and stop demanding that communities log at rates determined by bean-counters. Communities should be able to use government information to decide for themselves where to log, based on the collective interests of all stakeholders including wildlife and Mother Nature, not just logging interests.
In forthcoming blog posts, I will take two examples of community forests, in McBride and Whistler, to illustrate problems first identified by former maverick MLA, and Forest Minister, Gordon Wilson, over a decade ago.
Andy Miller | Staff Scientist
Wild lands ›
Community forests gone wrong
This is part 2 of a blog series I am writing about community forests in British Columbia, which in my opinion are a great idea that nevertheless sometimes gets applied with disastrous consequences.
The first blog was an overview and this blog is a closer look at two examples where I believe there have been negative impacts. Finally my last blog will be about two other community forests that I feel embody the intent of the legislation that enabled them.
Two very different but equally troubling community forests are those operated by the communities of McBride and Whistler. These cautionary stories demonstrate the need to regroup and reform the democratic and potentially lucrative idea of community forests. If you have a story to tell about any of the 50-odd community forests in BC, tell us your tale, whether good, bad or ugly!
McBride: Following the forest industry’s bad example
The village of McBride, established as a railroad stop in 1913 and named after Premier Richard McBride, has perhaps been treated more poorly by government and industry than any other forestry dependent community in British Columbia. This once single-industry town went through boom and bust economic cycles for decades under a variety of forest companies that mowed down the region’s forests producing vast quantities of low-value commodities. Eventually they all either shut down operations or went bankrupt, leaving the town high and dry.
During the bankruptcy-driven timber upheavals that rocked McBride and the rest of the province over the past decade, the BC government, having lost much of its natural resource royalty revenue, slashed civil service budgets by an average of over 50%, adding to the McBride region’s unemployment misery. But its scrappy citizens survived by embracing tourism that now comprises more than half of the town’s income. Finally, in 2007, the BC government awarded McBride a community forest agreement that saw the limited re-opening of the mill and the creation of about a dozen jobs. Unfortunately, the agreement was hobbled by entrenched government forest mismanagement and a requirement to log at unsustainable rates and in areas that should have been spared for environmental or water quality reasons.
McBride created their community forest out of the ashes of Zeidler and McBride Forest industries, who closed mills for what seemed like the last time in 2006, shortly after tens of millions of dollars of BC government subsidizes failed to keep these companies alive. To this day, many forest industry workers in McBride have yet to be paid back-wages from those tumultuous times. After the big corporate titans abandoned McBride, bankruptcy teams repackaged loans and re-opened one of the mills in 2007 for the new McBride Community Forest.
Many people, myself included, were excited at the prospect of a community like McBride finally getting to control their forests and logging for all the right reasons and in the right places. Unfortunately, although the McBride Community Forest website says that their forests are to be managed for all products, including nature, nothing could be further from the truth. The newest logging plans advocate clearcutting in high-value low-elevation spruce and cedar forests. Some of the proposed logging areas are far from McBride, within the communities of Loos and Crescent Spur, whose citizens are aghast at the plan. The McBride Community Forest, if allowed to proceed with its mega-logging plan, will do more damage than its industrial forbearers. The BC government meanwhile has mandated that the McBride Community Forest clearcut at unsustainable rates and in controversial places where not even the greedy corporate titans of the past would have cut, out of fear of community and scientific backlash.
The McBride Community Forest criteria for logging include laudable goals of proximity, innovation, water quality, recreation and tourism, conflict reduction, private land rights, and respect for wildlife. Their logging plan however achieves none of these goals. The logging proposed near Loos and Crescent Spur is 60 km away from McBride, in another community altogether, yet their citizens have no right of refusal nor meaningful participation. The logging is not innovative in the slightest; in fact it is the opposite, considering the sensitivity of the areas proposed. The McBride Community Forest logging produces much of the same low-value products (fenceposts, sawdust, and rough-cut lumber) as their industrial predecessors and at a net loss to the province. Even the small amount of high-value guitar wood once cranked out by the community is gone. To try to compensate for the lack of valuable wood products it produces, the community forest even got itself exempted from environmental limits on how much old-growth cedar it can cut.
Logging plans endanger fledgling tourist industry
The area proposed for logging is mostly river floodplain with shallow water tables, valley-bottom forest that is characterized by innumerable wetlands, pockets of ancient forest and areas that provide drinking water to area residents. The logging plans compete directly with the fledgling tourism industry that is rapidly growing due in part to the recent Forest Practices Board recommendations for a logging moratorium in the area, and due to heroic efforts by locals and university forest scientists to promote nature protection. Finally, if a goal is to reduce conflict over logging, this has failed with equivalent of a red-hot poker stuck in the eyes of the citizens of Loos and Crescent Spur. Unfortunately there is no legal mechanism whatsoever for citizens to affect change.
Contrary to popular belief BC has no laws mandating environmental stewardship, but rather a slew of bureacratic policy “recommendations” that are often ignored. What little power the BC government retains, after giving most responsibility for forest management over to industry, is guided by superfluous, weasel-word studded policy statements that amount to a license to clearcut. Even the opinion of the local Lheidli T'enneh First Nation, which among other things seeks protection for the a critical chinook salmon run in the area proposed for logging, has been ignored.
Whistler: Another troubling story
In Whistler a far different though equally troubling story emerges when the new Cheakamus Community Forest is put under the microscope. Whistler has a diversified economy with no need for logging. In fact Whistler has been fighting provincial government sponsored logging of old growth forests in its backyard for decades. Citizen concern over the environment in Whistler even led to the election of several members of their local environment group to city council and even mayor. In recent memory the controversy of logging got so heated that few corporate timber titans wanted to log around Whistler, so the BC government’s own logging company, BC Timber Sales - widely known for its willingness to clearcut in sensitive environments home to endangered species – took over. In the past few years, the rate of logging has decreased dramatically as revelations surfaced that BC Timber Sales was clearcutting endangered species habitat throughout the region at a loss to taxpayers of about $40 million annually.
Whistler is more dependent on standing trees than perhaps any other community in BC; tourists visit Whistler in large part because of its natural splendor. At the time the province advocated a community forest for Whistler, the question that should have been asked of Whistler residents was, “Do you want to log your old-growth forests?”. Instead the BC government issued a threat saying something like, “If you don’t log your old-growth forests, we and our corporate friends will, and we will cut a lot more and in a much less friendly fashion than you.” Whistler mayor and council, feeling boxed into a corner, reluctantly struck a deal to log its forests a bit more sensitively that industry would have. Unfortunately they agreed to send the high-value wood to a low-value plywood mill in far away Richmond.
Unfortunately, the reality is that Whistler, similar to many other community forests, will likely end up losing money on their logging operations because it is too small scale and producing too low-end of a product to compete with other timber industry players in more southerly latitudes producing similar low-end products in far greater quantities. Thus, the stage is being set for Whistler to fail and for the BC government to intervene and force the communities to log at even higher rates so they can attempt to break even or turn a profit. It’s a vicious cycle that nobody can win and a desperate, veiled attempt by the province to keep a little timber royalty revenue flowing into its decidedly “third world” economic coffers.
Facing this bleak situation, Whistler inadvertently did the worst thing they possibly could have by trying to give this logging a green face. In an attempt to give the logging an eco facelift, Whistler contracted an environmental group with expertise in forestry to design the logging plans and seek eco-certification for the logging. This attempt to make the best out of a bad situation may have seemed honourable at the time, but was in reality terribly misguided. Logging of old-growth forests can’t be given a green seal of approval; it is a fundamental contradiction in terms. Numerous regions around the world have already banned old-growth logging and the movement is mounting in British Columbia. If Whistler, the most popular tourist destination in Canada, can’t protect its cherished old-growth forests from logging, nobody can. Whistler’s eco-sanctioning of the logging will end up making it harder for other communities around the province to fight off the bully, the cash-strapped provincial government
What the province of BC desperately needs is a citizen uprising seeking an old-growth forest protection plan that immediately bans all old-growth logging and instead focuses logging in second growth forests. Indeed that is exactly what the citizens of Whistler and groups like the Wilderness Committee and the Ancient Forest Alliance have done. Citizens of Whistler even circulated a petition and gathered thousands of signatures in the hope that the province will realize that its old-growth forests are an economic and ecological asset if left standing.
An excerpt from the Whistler petition calls on the B.C. government, Whistler’s mayor and the CCF board to: Undertake a provincial old-growth strategy that will inventory and protect the remaining old-growth forests in regions like Whistler and the Southern Mainland Coast; ensure the sustainable logging of second-growth forests… (and) undertake new land-use planning processes to protect endangered old-growth forests for future generations.” Sounds pretty reasonable to me.
Andy Miller | Staff Scientist
It is a deferal of responsibilities from the province to these communities to sort out how to manage these areas and forcing the community to choose its path of sustaining the community forest financially. That in itself isn't all bad and many communities have embraced the challenge of working through the various interests for and against logging these sensitive areas. In theory this is where the decisions should be made at the local level as to how these areas can/should be best managed.
It is also expected that these community forests also provide a means so that it can enhance the local forest industry establish and produce various value added businesses to benefit the local economy.
Again the theory is right however very difficult to excercise in practise.
The result is that for every patch of timber there are a countless number of viewpoints as to how best to harvest or protect it...and for every log harvested another countless number of viewpoints as to what that timber is to be made into and where it can be made into a product of some sort. All of that must be done with demands upon the community forest managers to ensure it operates its community forest with financial returns to the community.
That is where the original objectives and expectations of only using special harvesting sytems AND to provide logs ONLY to local value added operations becomes a very complicated and expensive method to achieve these supposed results.
From that you could estimate that the only place where a community forest can achieve all this is where it has the highest value timber AND it harvests this as efficently as possible AND there are enough LOCAL value added facilities in place AND well capitolised AND there is actually competition for those logs...from companies who can and will pay the extra costs associated with having an extra cost center (being the community forest owners/operators themselves).
The actual formula: log old growth, conventional harvesting, as much volume as possibly allowed, sell the logs to whoever can pay the highest price no matter where and for what products are made. Because there are very few existing value added manufacturers and a competetive only timber supply won't attract new value added investments..the reality is that it is only the majors who will bid on this timber.
So much for the theory of noble objectives having a snowballs chance of becoming reality.
Our financial system thereby fails to properly reflect the physical reality inherent in the natural law of cost. Without correction, the type of forest products industry that I believe most of us would desire, one which can operate sustainably and produce and deliver products best made from any particular log supply, will simply never work.
Who are you going to sell that $ 10,000 product to, and how are they going to pay you? You can no more "make" people buy those kinds of products than old Henry Ford could "make" everyone buy a black Model T. It is CONSUMERS who ultimately control 'production', not PRODUCERS.
We don't have a monopoly on forest products, where we can dictate to our customers what they're going to buy and how much they'll have to pay for it.
Additionally the vast majority of the wood supply we do have does not lend itself towards making 'labour intensive' so-called "value-added" products. The highest value we can get out of most of it is putting it into the products that we already do make from it.
Any attempt to 'commoditise' the specialty products we do make will only result in a fall of price of those products to the point where nobody makes enough to cover their costs, let alone any additional profit. So far as "value-added" is concerned, if some product CAN be made, and there's a dollar to be had in making it, it WILL be made. But first there has to be that dollar.
For instance, you state:
"You can no more "make" people buy those kinds of products than old Henry Ford could "make" everyone buy a black Model T."
Who said everyone had to buy a model T? In fact not everyone did or could, but those who could did so more often than not. Henry Ford didn't "make" anyone buy anything but he sure sold a lot of model Ts. If Henry Ford looked at the world the way you do he would never have made anything.
If Henry did not make them we would have never known how successfull his approach to manufacturing would have been nor how many people wanted his Model T.
Measuring Ford's success by units sold and understanding that is what works FOR Ford but it is only successfull as long as there are enough resources to make this high speed wheel of low value supply and demand keep turning. The question of what to make and how to make it is different when the resource is that of the people's. If you represented the best interests of the people and administered a limited resource (which they all are) wouldn't you have a responsibility as government to try to make the most from them?
The second nonsense point you make:
"Any attempt to 'commoditise' the specialty products we do make will only result in a fall of price of those products to the point where nobody makes enough to cover their costs, let alone any additional profit."
Who said we must "commodotise" anything and I don't know how or what protection you should expect from competition for the products you or any other specialty producer makes and sells.
The big forest industry players have done and are still doing this flooding of the markets, suppressing prices and yet we do not limit or reduce the amount of resources they want. No matter how cheap the products they make and how little they have to pay in stumpage or how many zillions of board feet they make with practically no employment..we are programmed to believe that is as good as we can expect from OUR natural resources!
We get about ten dollars a truckload for stumpage if we allow them to do whatever they want with our forests. We get the HST rammed down our throats so that they pay less tax than ever while ours goes up. We pay carbon taxes so that the government can give grants to these companies so that they look like heroes for building green power plants because they arrange secret and lucrative power supply contracts to BC Hydro...and we pay more. On and on and are we happy yet?
We don't limit them because they are the only forestry industry allowed to establish and succeed because they now run our entire system of government because they don't want any competition either. The gobble gook financial bs that you profess is no better than the disingenuous excuses our government uses to protect the corporations which have no interests in our future wellbeing.
The purpose of any sane economic activity is to produce goods and services that are first required, and then desired, by CONSUMERS. In the most efficient manner possible. Not to make 'jobs' for everyone.
Jobs which have nothing really to do with any 'economic' necessity in a world which is rapidly replacing human labour as a factor in production, yet steadfastly refuses to recognise this FACT because of some outdated 'moral' perception that we need an excuse to make everyone work before they can receive an income.
So long as we are determined to follow a policy of "full-employment" we will also follow policies which lead to the enormous waste of both human and natural resources. Simply so we can have a 'moral' excuse to distribute incomes, which still, in their totality, will NEVER be sufficient of themselves to ever 'buy' all that we've produced.
All of the perversions you've noted above, the HST, the carbon tax, the ridiculous low return to the Crown on forests that are being overcut, the attempts by other countries to restrict our exports to prevent erosion of their own country's producers market share in their home market, all these things, and more, are a result of our failing to separate the 'economic' reality from the outdated 'moral' myth.
Production SERVES consumption, and it is the spending options of Consumers that is the proper determinant of what should be produced. Not the dictates of some Producer who's only going to make what HE wants to make, yet still expects the public to buy all he produces. But for that to happen, Consumers have to be provided with sufficient "effect demand" ~ money ~ and 'jobs' alone, in our modern industrial, automated world, simply will not do the trick.
If you want to talk about extremes in employment then lets just imagine an extreme scenario like this:
Say that the BC government gave rights to all of our forests to one foreign owned corporation who has the technology to remove all of our forests with just one employee who lives and works here in BC. Imagine that an invention allowed giant balloons to extract and fly our forests to some place beyond our provincial borders and do this completely automatically. (Remember that employment is to be avoided at all costs according to your theory so it doesn't matter what it costs to make foreign built and serviced automatic logging balloons) Then imagine that the company only pays minimum stumpage for say 60 million cubic meters of timber which equals about 15 million dollars for the entire provincial AAC.
You can bs your way in circles about ~money~crapola~ all you want, but a cheque for 15 million canadian dollars is exactly what is paid and exactly what is recieved by this province ~on this planet~. Thats probably enough change to afford the heat for some of the government buildings and yes utilities are paid in real money.
This corporation has the "market demand" for the full volume and it is very efficent and it provides a product to its customer that is very cheap (cheaper than anyone else because it is competetive and we like that) and the corporation's canadian books shows it is breaking even but is not profitable. It pays nothing in income tax and whatever amounts that its operation does pay in HST is entirely refunded back to the corporation because it exports all of its product. Just say that all of its energy requirements are free as a result of carbon taxes paid by whatever population lives in BC and must heat their homes and travel wherever.(where these people would get the ~money~ from to do either is one question because they don't have jobs)
OH BUT now that we see our ignorance of how things really should work (by having no employment in your world) and no longer "steadfastly refuses to recognise this FACT because of some outdated 'moral' perception that we need an excuse to make everyone work before they can receive an income."
So lets just assume that you are that one lucky employee of that one great corporation (that is efficently serving the consumer demand) and its up to you to pay the taxes to have anything operate or function in this province in the way of services. So in your fantasy world of "distribution of wealth" does your employer pay you enough to sustain everything that is required to exist? Not just you but everyone else must exist as well. (somehow I doubt that you consider that little detail)
Where did your unending wealth come from OR did everything just become free in your fantasy world? Oh but government used real money that was either paid in taxes or borrowed from that nice corporations home country. So you as the one lucky employee are just about taxed out trying to afford paying the costs of operating this province so borrowing money is really the only option. The lenders are still part of this real world and they still want real money repaid to them and it is you or your children's responsibility to pay them back in REAL MONEY!
So in short order you have no schools and no hospitals and no roads or electricity or gas and you cannot cut firewood because the corporation doesn't let you have any.
You as that one lucky employee have no disposable income because you are taxed to death because no one else can pay taxes because they don't work and the great corporation is not taxed because we are proud to have the largest and most efficent corporation look after distributing (their wealth extracted from our province) to everyone but us by serving consumer demand.
The sick part about this extreme story is that we are moving towards this end via the wisdom used to justify the HST and that of oxygen starved thinkers who serve to promote the "markets rule philosophy".
Do you want a society similar to the one that existed in some of the former Communist countries? Where an all powerful bureaucracy decided what should be produced, and how much each citizen should be allowed to have of it?
Possibly you want a society that exalts in what some call the 'dignity of labour'. I'm told such a society existed in East Germany, where one plant that made ball bearings, from producing the steel right through to the finished product, regularly trundled all their unsold finished production, (which was far more than what they WERE selling), back around to the blast furnaces to go through the whole process again.
Not because there was anything wrong with the bearings turned out the first time, but because this "kept everyone working." And you can't have a 'Worker's Paradise' where there's no work. Surely we are smarter than that? Or are we?
B.C. continues to export record number of raw logs
Continued increase in demand in China has renewed contentious debate on issue
The Daily News
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Freighters loaded with B.C. logs are heading overseas to supply China's appetite for fibre, renewing debate about raw-log export restrictions. In 2010, B.C. log exports increased by more than 50% with more product shipped to China than in the previous 20 years combined. Ministry of Forests officials expect another record-setting year.
In the first three months alone, B.C.'s coast exported 40% or 1.3 million cubic metres of logs harvested. That's a 300% jump from the same period in 2009.
The surge has critics calling for tougher export restrictions to limit exports and better support domestic mills, which they claim can't afford to buy logs.
Forestry insiders say the China market single-handedly pulled the industry out of the 2008 recession and is helping to maintain jobs. Without foreign markets, forestry companies wouldn't have the incentive to harvest and there would be fewer logs available for mills.
The issue has the Ministry of Forests reviewing its export policy to see if there's a better balance to be found between the volume of logs shipped and domestic demand from sawmills.
While the province has had measurable success selling finished wood products to China, it's also seen log exports rise dramatically over the past two years as the Chinese government prepares to build 35 million low-cost housing units.
B.C. shipped 1.1 million cubic metres in 2010, a record amount, up 214% from the 350,000 cubic metres in 2009, according to the Ministry of Forests. It's become the top destination for log exports, taking over from the United States. Log exports still only take up a small share of the total forest product exported at $300 million compared to $3.6 billion for lumber.
These export opportunities have given the logging sector incentive to harvest land, create less waste in forests and maintain forestry jobs, said Rod Bealing, executive director for the Private Forest Landowners Association. The U.S. virtually stopped buying forest products from B.C. when its market crashed in 2008 and the domestic sector hasn't been able to pay enough for logs to make harvesting worth the effort, he said.
International markets pay up to $100 per cubic metre for a quality log, while the domestic offers between $40 and $60. It costs $65 per cubic for companies' to produce, so if they can't ship logs overseas, "we can't afford to harvest," Bealing said.
As it is, 30 million cubic metres of timber goes unharvested.
Under the export policy, private companies can only export logs if they prove through a surplus test the logs aren't needed by B.C. mills. The test, which has companies advertising their product, gives the domestic sector first rights over harvests. According to forestry experts there's more supply right now than local demand, which is why people are seeing freighters carry logs to foreign countries with more frequency than in previous years.
Rick Jeffery, president and CEO of Coast Forest Products Association, represents saw mills, pulp mills and forestry on the coast and said foreign markets are " a good thing," providing greater profit to logging and manufacturing companies that can turn around and hire more workers.
The trick is maintaining the balance between sectors.
Lumber, pulp and paper count for 95% of forest products. It wouldn't be correct to ban log exports, but when "you look at value proposition, most of other value generated is from manufacturing, so we need both," Jeffery said.
The New Democrats are calling for tighter restrictions on logs, believing it would create more jobs with forestry products having to be made domestically. Nanaimo MLA Leonard Krog says consituents are constantly calling the office, concerned about the number of logs leaving the port, when mills have limited hours or are shutting down.
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives claims 5,000 jobs have been lost because of an increase in log exports.
The Ministry of Forests is undergoing a review of its export policy to see if the surplus test is working and whether more needs to be done to balance exports and domestic needs.
Parksville-Qualicum MLA Ron Cantelon, who sits on a committee looking for ways to help the forest industry, was unavailable for comment on Tuesday.
Bealing said he's worried enough political and public pressure will persuade government to place more restrictions on exports and that the industry will lose the gains made in jobs since 2008 as a result.
China is "the only show in town" and B.C.'s logging export is depending on it for jobs. If the province isn't providing enough material, the country is going to turn to competitors in New Zealand and the United States.
"It's an complex issue, dominated by emotion," Bealing said. "We just hope all the facts are looked at and the public makes an informed decision."
© The Daily News (Nanaimo) 2011
Without being able to write a book and not being so arrogant as thinking I can deliver an answer to everything i would answer your question like this:
-Foregn ownership represents a different animal than that of local ownership.
-Multinational corporate agendas are not likely to serve us as well as smaller and more locally owned and locally committed enterprises.
-Beware of what "efficent" means as to benefits or lack there of from that efficency.
-All eggs in one basket, be it product types or a specific market dependance or monopolies in ownership. That is a surefire deadend economic strategy but that is what we are being pushed and or drawn but continuously moving towards.
-I do not beleive in socialism or communism, but make no mistake that our socio-economic system is also centrally controlled by government that can and does manipulate who, what and why things are done in any particular way. We actually have numerous controls measures which work to regulate our personal choices, ie luxery taxes on certain goods, carbon taxes to supposedly reduce emmissions, sin taxes so we won't smoke or drink as much and we have various taxes that all determine what our net disposable incomes really amount to. We have controls and restrictions like the ALR and designated forest lands and what types of activities are allowed and by whom they are licenced to.
-Practically every major forest tenure in BC was allocated under a social contract and yet all of the benefits that were to flow to the people have been removed in order to benefit the corporations who own these forest tenures.
-The HST as an example of manipulating wealth and it is important to know why that mindset preoccupies our governments agenda in numerous other ways as well.
-The carbon tax is another example of transfer of wealth and control of our taxes that are given to corporations so that they can charge us more for power and people need to ask why the context of "green" means nothing but money transferring to the best corporate friends.
-The government proceeds with many initatives that are stated to be in our best interests such as dumping the equipment of our BC Rail in about as shady a fashion as possible, forcing all its lease tenants to purchase or leave the railyards, then leasing the BC Rail lines for 999 yrs.
NONE of this crap makes any sense towards the wellbeing of this province's economy or especially its citizens. The proof in that statement lies simply with the fact that we have enourmous amounts of numerous resources AND YET we are borrowing huge amounts of money even though we are liquidating numerous assets and we are giving the corporations who control our economy a free right and longterm commitments to what ever they want in exchange for next to nothing.
But one of the common reasons for foreign ownership was because the Canadian owned company could not get the market it needed abroad if it was to grow. And if it didn't grow , in the face of costs which were continually rising, and many of which were completely beyond its ability to control, it simply could not survive.
Canadian banks would oftentimes refuse to lend to local owners, because those owners had no assurance there would be a sufficient export market for the additional products they needed to make.
Could Crestbrook have ever got into the pulp market in Japan without Japanese participation that gave them majority control of that company? Would they have had an assured market in Japan that would've been solid enough to "take to the bank"?
Could the original Boundary Sawmills have ever raised the capital in Canada to enter the production of small-log 'third band' timber if Pope and Talbot not got involved? Would they be sure of a market in the USA for that much additional lumber if they'd remained locally owned?
Go back a bit further. Canadian Western Lumber Company once operated the largest sawmill in the British Empire, at Fraser Mills in the lower mainland. They even "value-added". With a private timberland holding on Vancouver Island that was second largest, maybe even first, at that time, in all of BC.
But would Canadian banks finance the Elk Falls Pulp and Paper mill that company needed to better utilise their timber resource if Crown Zellerbach had not acquired them?
I could go on. And on, and on. The point is, the foreign owned company is NOT necessarily 'more' profitable than the local counterpart, but it often has a better assurance of a market abroad in the perception of those institutions that are called upon to fund it. Our Canadian, (and for the most part Canadian-owned, by the way), banks.
Now what's the solution to that? Do we "make" them finance the local company when there is far less certainty that it'll be able to obtain and RETAIN a market abroad? Is that really sensible? It might generate some 'jobs', for awhile, but what happens when those markets fail?
And that was then, and this is now. Where are those companies like Crown Zellerbach, and MacMillan Bloedel, and BC Forest Products, and their successors like Fletcher Challenge and Weyerhaeuser? Gone, or they have now completely reversed course from being totally 'integrated' to progessively 'disintegrating'.
TimberWest, the eventual 'core' business of Fletcher Challenge, and only recently 'disowned' by a subsidiary of our Canadian banks that acquired it from FCC, is down to selling off its private timberlands as real estate.
Weyerhaeuser in the USA is now a Real Estate Investment Trust. As are many other of that country's former forest giants. They're "selling the farm", so to speak, rather than still farming it. Why?
It all comes back to the way our 'money system' currently functions. Under it, the small local company couldn't stay small and local and remain profitable enough to remain in business.
And the large firm that supplanted it, whether it was foreign owned or domestic, could never get big enough to do the same thing.
We criticise "corporations" as those faceless, artificial entities that rule the world. But do they REALLY rule the world? Or does ultimate control reside in those who operate our money system, but can't, with the way it's currently set up, make it function to the benefit of themselves and all the rest of us, too?
And so we end up with what? All the perverted things you've listed above, that's what. Every one of them is an "effect" of a system of accounting, for that's really all any money system is, that does not accurately REFLECT in 'figures' the actual physical 'facts' of production and consumption. We could correct it, but we won't.
Instead, we'll go on dreaming about how a Small Business Forest Enterprise Program, or a Jobs and Timber Accord, or banning all log exports, or a multiplicity of likely well-intentioned initiatives to come will set things right. None ever have yet, but no matter, hope springs eternal, as they say.