One job-stimulus idea: Have the federal government pay $1 million to keep several dozen people employed for just a few months while damaging a protected part of the largest intact temperate rain forest in the world.
Ridiculous as it sounds, that's what the Obama administration was bent on doing until a judge’s order stopped it this week. The U.S. Department of Agriculture had agreed to allow a lumber company to clear-cut 381 acres of the Tongass National Forest in Alaska in what had previously been declared a "roadless area," meaning it was supposed to be protected from road building. Not only that, the government was planning to pay to build the four-mile road to give the loggers access. Estimates of the road-building cost ranged from $900,000 to $1.6 million. In return, the government would get $140,000 for the sale of the timber, and Pacific Log & Lumber would get a few months of work for its underemployed crew.
As this page reported in August, even Steve Seley, the owner of Pacific Log, will tell you that the timber industry in southeastern Alaska is on its way out because of global competition. He sees a future for his company in habitat restoration of the Tongass, light logging of easily accessible second-growth timber and manufacturing locally with that timber rather than shipping the raw product.