Monday, December 07, 2009

Timber program becomes vast entitlement

No bleep sherlock, every government subsidy is an entitlement program with their own army of lobbyists who continually expand the program.

Nicknamed "county payments," the timber program was supposed to assist counties shortchanged when national forests limited logging to protect the northern spotted owl and other endangered species.

Since becoming law in 2000, the program has distributed more than $3 billion to 700 counties in 41 states with national forests and helped fund everything from schools to libraries to jails.

The federal largesse initially focused on a handful of Western states, with Oregon alone receiving nearly $2 billion.

Spending of that magnitude, though, sparked a new timber war — this one among politicians eager to get their hands on some of the logging money.