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Gas Pains

Tom grew up in Milwaukee, bartended in Wauwatosa in the '70s and moved here in 1984.

Commentary, observations and musings about the outdoors, life in general and maybe Tosa politics and personalities will be the order of the day. He savors a lively debate as much as terrific cooking.

Tree Farmers, Americans for Prosperity, Carbon Credits - AND a Mayoral Candidate? Yikes!

Conservation, Economics, Forestry, Politics-Other, Politics-Tosa, Public Policy

This past Saturday hundreds of woodland owners from southeast Wisconsin gathered at the Country Springs Hotel and Conference Center for what we figure might have been our 30th or so winter conference.  Inasmuch as it's the second largest woodland owner gathering in the state you'd think they'd keep better track of how many times they've done this.

As a participant in the conference's organizing committee I was there to make sure everything went-off without a hitch.

In the ballroom to the north of us was a smaller gathering; a group calling themselves Americans for Prosperity - Defending the American DreamYou can learn more about them here.  They appear to be big believers of free markets.

Anyway, the tree people had some issues with the prosperity people.  Seems they kept helping themselves to our breakfast as they wandered about the conference center.  Some wag even suggested that was likely how they got to be so prosperous.  I figured it to be a simple misunderstanding.  They probably have tree nurseries, John Deere implement dealers and portable logging winches on display all the time when they put food out at their meetings.  

The confusion was cleared-up with a simple announcement.

I bumped into some personal friends attending the American Dream meeting - and a handful of Republican politicians I am acquainted with.  I had a nice chat with former State Senator Tom Reynolds who told me about his new PAC.  I introduced myself to a conservative blogger from Boots and Sabers

What struck me about the two groups was the dichotomy in attire. 

Dark, conservative business suits contrasted by Carhartt dungarees, denim shirts and cammo ball caps.  Talk about two different worlds.

Today I read a comment posted over at Boots and Sabers about an exhibitor at the woodland owners meeting - the Wisconsin Farmer's Union.  The comment was obliquely non-complimentary - as if the farmers were somehow subversive.

As a conference organizer I can tell you that our exhibitors pay to be there.  They don't attend unless they have something they think woodland owners are interested in.  The Farmer's Union was there to pitch, among other things, a program they sponsor which allows tree farmers who engage in specific afforestation and reforestation practices to sell carbon credits through their aggregator program.

Trees are incredible carbon sequesters.  Imagine getting paid to engage in these practices. 

What a novel idea - a new market to trade in. 

However, gazing toward the north ballroom I somehow figured this idea would not settle very well with the prosperity people.

The conservative right hasn't been very receptive to embracing the notion of trading carbon credits.

Uh-oh.  Another dichotomy.  Free economics is good as long as it doesn't involve trading carbon credits. 

I got to thinking.

More than 200 years ago a couple of dozen brokers and merchants gathered under a buttonwood tree on Wall Street in Manhattan to negotiate the conditions and regulations of a heretofore speculative market.   A simple, two sentence contract formed the kernel of what was to eventually become the New York Stock Exchange.

What a novel idea - a new market to trade in.

The markets have evolved ever since.  They don't just trade stocks.  That is the beauty of a free market.

Decades from now there will be trading in things we haven't dreamed possible.

As for the concept of trading carbon credits - if it is such a bad idea why is it that Wall Street and private equity firms are all over it?

Let the markets decide the success or failure of this idea.

Isn't that what free markets are all about?

Capitalism - living the American Dream.

Tom

Wait a 'sec - almost forgot!

I saw someone else from the prosperity meeting.

The double-take when she saw me was priceless!

I think it was the identical twin sister of one of the Tosa mayoral candidates.

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