by Paul Jacob
On April Fool's day, it did command The Washington Post front page. Maybe the story was just a funny joke. But I didn't get it.
The article, "Corruption Stains Timber Trade," details total disregard for both the law and the environment in a number of repressive regimes — Burma, China, Russia and Indonesia. Logging companies pay off government officials to ransack land supposedly protected. There's scant regard for private property and lots of looking the other way.
No surprise, just another argument against tyranny and repression.
But no, the lead quote in this article features an unnamed "American environmentalist" explaining that, "Western consumers are leaving a violent ecological footprint in Burma and other countries."
The violent villains are you and I. And our wood-buying neighbors and friends. Anyone who callously pulls out a credit card for two-by-fours without first turning all of Asia into a model of environmental responsibility.
I wonder . . . Are carpenters the worst evil-doers? Or is it the single mother buying a wooden cradle for her baby who produces the most "violent ecological footprint"?
My wife, a consumer as charged, just purchased wooden letters that spell my seven-year-old's name to paint and put on the bedroom wall. How could she? The brutality of her bourgeois action!
Heaven forbid, we cast blame at the Burmese government's disregard for property rights. Or bad-mouth the environmental record of those friendly Chinese rulers. Or come down on the logging companies bribing corrupt officials.
Nah, it's the Western consumers.
Paul Jacob's "Common Sense" is published by the Sam Adams Alliance. Their website can be visited at www.samadamsalliance.org.