U.S. Forest Service Policy a Contributor to Massive Forest Fires

Image

Image courtesy of Toa55 / freedigitalphotos.net

A recent Time magazine online post suggests that one of the causes of the increase in larger forest fires has been (surprise!) the U.S. Forest Service. How are they contributing to the increase in large wildfires? Their firefighting policy involves putting out any and all forest fires, even if the fire started naturally. This means that the natural process of rejuvenation, by which forest fires get rid of dead, dry trees making way for new trees, is disrupted. It resigns our forests to becoming havens of dead trees which allow forest fires to spread massively and quickly into large conflagrations.

The Time article mentions climate, humans, and the forest service as the main contributors to increasing intensity and number of forest fires, but admits these conflagrations were a part of the southwest long before humans and are a natural process in a healthy ecosystem. Despite this admission that it is a natural process of a healthy forest, the last paragraph concludes that “So forest fires are bad.” It certainly can be bad for humans living in the area, but to conclude that forest fires generally are bad is disingenuous at best.

Paul Krugman: Singapore is the new Chile

Image

Image courtesy of noppasinw / freedigitalphotos.net

Paul Krugman’s blog post today talked about how Singapore’s relatively privatized health-care system was being reformed to look more like Obamacare. With great pride he points out how George W. Bush and other Republicans consistently pointed to Chile as a ideal model of a working privatized Social Security system, but in 2008 drastically reformed the system to turn control over it to the government and turn it into another Social Security. And now, with Singapore’s formerly decentralized health-care system going over to the dark side and resembling Obamacare, Republicans no longer will have Singapore as the poster-child of working privatized health care.

Notice in the piece he makes no attempt to show the systems weren’t working; the only thing he did is bring up that they are being “reformed” and let’s us assume that they are being reformed because they aren’t working. It’s an easy way for him to be dishonest about the issue of privatization versus government handling of these issues while being able to wag his finger at capitalism and jump for joy more systems are on their way to becoming failures like Social Security and the soon-to-be colossal failure of Obamacare. Frankly, I’m not very familiar with either of these cases, but I could venture to guess that any reforming on these issues has little to do with failure on the hands of private businesses or private decisions-makers, and more to do with self-interested politicians doing their part to appeal to the Democratic masses and promise them an ever greater supply of free goods out of the taxpayer’s dole (while at the same time being responsible for any failure occurring in the system).