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LETTER: Steidle’s comments on forest investment reflect a special interest


Letter to the Editor

In response to Mr. Steidle’s letter “Investment, not conservation, threatens forestry worker.’ I applaud the efforts of Mr. Stiedle’s efforts to end the use of herbicide in public forests through his Stop the Spray BC campaign. One can see that Mr. Steidle works hard on this important issue and his heart is in the right place. 

His position on investment in forestry is, however, one that reflects a position of special interest and is, unintentionally, immoral. 

The human condition has been driven by compounding economic growth. People can lament this and yearn for the good old times of the past but this is a well documented human bias that requires further reflection. Infant mortality, life expectancy, the burden of drugs and disease all drop with long term economic growth. This is well documented and can be seen geographically and over time. 

Run a simple mental experiment. Pretend you could go back 150 years in time and convince governments and business leaders to reduce investments in technology to save jobs and thus reduce economic growth by say one per cent compounding per year. Do some math and figure out our new current gross domestic product per capita and compare us to countries with similar rates and then look at their health and well-being figures. You’d find most people reading this article would be past life expectancy or not exist due to a childhood disease. Public Health leaders have long cited poverty as one of the upstream factors of poor health. 

So why would we try to stop this growth now and rob future generations of health and the ability to face problems like the impacts of climate change? If going back in time and slowing growth would result in the deaths and misery of millions, why would one advocate for it now?

The argument that we shouldn’t invest doesn’t even hold in the example provided. If other industries didn’t invest in manufacturing and technology, one couldn’t buy a wood=mizer, a logosol planer nor have the transportation options to utilize them. Especially at the costs provided. Manufacturing these things and all their components is the result of  technology investments and also people –  perhaps a displaced forestry worker. 

One would not make the argument that we should go back to having most humans become farmers, like times of old, to improve employment in the farming industry. This would reduce the supply of doctors, nurses, teachers, scientists and artists. So why forestry? 

With the deepest respect, Mr. Stiedle, this is a special interest argument. The unemployment rate is lower now in B.C. than your time frame of 50,000 jobs in the forestry sector. The forest sector today can’t get enough labour as it is. 

Of most concern and the fundamental error in Mr. Stiedle’s argument is that ‘out-of-control’ capitalism is the root of the issue. Market based, capitalism has been the best way to improve human health, wealth and well being. This isn’t my opinion alone but one of consensus with the last 25 Nobel laureates in economics. Everyone today likes to say that they ‘believe in science’. Then go ask the scientists who literally study the improvement of the human condition. 

Please continue your efforts with Stop the Spray BC, Mr. Steidle and perhaps consider that it is the lack of ‘market-based’ capitalism rather than capitalism itself as a source of problems in the B.C. forest sector. 

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