Stewardship Contracting

Under a new plan hidden in a spending bill last month, logging companies will be allowed to clear milions of acres of public forests. Under the plan, the companies will be doing the country a "favor" by clearing small trees and brush, which pose the biggest risk of forest fires. In exchange, they'll be allowed to cut the big trees, too.

Full disclosure. Here at the Lab, we're not such big fans of this scheme. This article offers up plenty of good reasons to be worried, not least the snide attitude of Mark Rey, the former timber industry executive who oversees the Forest Service. In his words, "Maybe we'll offer The Wilderness Society the opportunity to bid on a contract and see if they can do a good job at it."

But still, here at the Lab, we're not really experts in forest management, the timber industry, or environemntal policy. What we know about, from extensive personal experience, is rank stupidity. And when we look at a policy that can be boiled down to "Let's stop forest fires by cutting down all the trees," our dumbometers (that's dumb-OM-e-ters, not dumb-o-MEE-ters) go off the chart.

Be your policy wise or foolish, if you hand your opponents such a potent rhetorical weapon, you deserve all the trouble you get. I can see the editorial cartoons and Daily Show jokes already.