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November 3, 2012
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Publishers Notebook: 'Our economy is driven by trees'

On this Sunday before Election Day — it’s finally here — I thought I’d talk about jobs.

And not the kind of jobs we hear politicians promise, such as the green ones nobody I know has. I think they tried to create some so-called green jobs in California not long ago.

The federal government “loaned” a solar company millions of dollars to build solar panels until … uh-oh … they discovered that China could manufacture solar panels cheaper than we can and the company went bankrupt.

Our government has a very poor track record when it comes to running businesses. For proof we need look no further than our federal deficit, which has more zeros than I saw inside a downtown bar not long ago.

Not too many years ago the federal government took control of a Nevada brothel when its owner fled to Brazil to evade taxes and his successor was arrested on racketeering charges.

Within a few months the brothel went belly up, (pun intended) which begs the question: If Uncle Sam can’t run a whorehouse, why would we entrust him with our health care?

As a newcomer to Douglas County, it didn’t take me long to realize that our economy is driven by trees, lots and lots of trees.

This county and this state are rich in natural resources, and if we are to put people back to work, in real jobs we need to strike a balance between the need to protect not only an owl, but a family’s ability to put food on the table.

There are too many able-bodied Oregonians sitting home today because our courts and people who would not know an oak from a Douglas fir have destroyed an industry that built this county.

And the costs are far more than a lost paycheck. What value do we place on self-worth, the kind that comes with earning a wage and bringing home a paycheck and not a government check?

How has this once-proud nation become a nation of entitled, where a third of its citizens (more than 100 million) receive some sort of government subsidy (unemployment, housing, welfare, etc.)?

Our schools continue to cut costs because families have left our area to seek employment elsewhere and because timber revenues that supported those schools have dried up.

And what does the end game look like if we continue down this path?

I suspect we need look no farther than Greece, or Spain, or France for those answers. Show me one example where these liberal entitlement policies have worked?

Last I checked, Spain’s unemployment rate was a stunning 25 percent (more than 5 million are unemployed). This in a nation that eight years earlier was thriving.

And then they elected and re-elected a Socialist government and things began to fall apart, starting with businesses that began to shut down under the burden of heavy taxes needed to pay for all the promised entitlements.

At the end of the day bills must be paid, and those who that burden falls upon start to make choices. Not even the government can force someone to invest in his business. There’s a book titled “Atlas Shrugs,” which details a scenario where the giant industrialists get tired of carrying the economic weight of the world and simply “shrug,” and disappear, leaving the economy to collapse.

Where is the incentive to invest in business today; to create something from nothing; to be a pioneer, or realize a dream? Just to have government waiting with its hand out for a piece of the action? And that piece seems to grow by the day because there is nothing more terrifying than a starving bureaucrat.

This economy will not improve from the minds of bureaucrats, but from those small business people who choose to invest in a dream. Our economic future is tied to theirs.

Nobody knows our natural resources better than those who work with nature every day. I have yet to meet anyone who knows the forest better than a timber man. I’ll guess there is a respect that comes with anything that sustains us and the result is a sustainable forest practice that Oregon has adopted.

The challenge is to persuade those on the other side of the continent that there is a good way to manage a forest, a way that can put able-bodied people back to work doing what they do best, which is not sitting home feeling more worthless with every passing day.

Worthless becomes hopeless and hopelessness results in nothing good. Our drug and alcohol and crime stats attest to that.

So my hope on this eve of a new election is that we elect people who understand that a person’s worth is not in a handout, but in the promise of opportunity to feel productive again.

Jeff Ackerman is publisher of The News-Review. He can be reached at 541-957-4263 or

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The News-Review Updated Nov 3, 2012 09:20PM Published Nov 12, 2012 10:36AM Copyright 2012 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.