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The Politics of Timber Theft

The Politics of Timber Theft

Steal a Tree, Go to Jail; Steal a Forest, Meet the President

Republished here with permission is a chapter from Jeffrey St. Clair’s 2008 book, Born Under A Bad Sky. St. Clair has provided an outstanding report of corrupt government at work. Even environmentalists in the Forest Service who are appointed to protect our national forests are part of the looting corporatocracy.

The power of money can be stronger than the power of government. We can see the power of money in the looting of our national forests. Even the environmental agencies established by Congress to protect the environment have fallen under corporate control.

Elected politicians, even if they intend otherwise, end up serving the corporatocracy.

The impotence of government to serve the public interest and general welfare is an important lesson both for progressives, who believe in the curative powers of government, and libertarians, who believe that government is inimical to private interests.

As both parties serve the corporatocracy, elections can change nothing.

The Politics of Timber Theft

Stealing trees is as old as the King’s timber reserves. The sanctions for such sylvan thievery have always been harsh. In medieval England, it meant public torture and slow death. In the US, the levy was a kind of financial death penalty — triple damages plus serious jail time.

A couple of years ago, two tree poachers drove a log truck onto a small farm in central Indiana after midnight, cut down two 100-year old black walnut trees in the small woodlot, loaded the pilfered trunks onto their truck and fled across a cornfield. The county sheriff caught them when their truck stalled in the field and sank in the mud. It turns out that the men had been hired by a local sawmill owner, who was set to sell the lumber to a German timber broker. All three men were tried and convicted of tree theft.

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