Week of 25 Apr 11: Jesse Jackson, Jr. and the AF & PA
Jim Thompson (email@example.com)
For you readers outside North America, the name Jesse Jackson may hold little significance. However, the Rev. Jesse Jackson has long been a force in the African-American equality movement(s) here. His son, Jesse Jackson, Jr., is now a member of the United State Congress.
On Friday, 15 April 2011, Jesse Jackson, Jr., on the floor of the United States Congress said this, in reference to Apple's iPad device:
"...[the iPad is] probably responsible for eliminating thousands of American jobs." Explaining further, he offered, "Why do you need to go to Borders anymore? Why do you need to go to Barnes and Noble? Just buy an iPad and download your book, download your newspaper, download your magazine." Borders, a large bookseller in the US, recently filed for bankruptcy. Barnes and Noble is another large bookseller here.
Mr. Jackson's revelations about the demise of the printed word continued, but I'll not bother to bore you with all that. We in the pulp and paper industry have known about the demise of the printed word for nearly two decades. You long term readers know I have told you to get over it and move on to paper used for its tangible qualities (packaging and tissue).
Mr. Jackson's points are not the points I want to make, though. My question is this--where in the world is the AF & PA (the American Forest & Paper Association) and what have they been doing? They are, for all intents and purposes, the organization that (at least I thought until now) was supposed to keep the US Congress informed about the issues of the Pulp and Paper Industry in the United States.
It appears they have not been doing their job or I don't understand what their job is (I suspect it is the former). If I were the CEO of a large pulp and paper company, after the speech by the Honorable Congressman Jackson, I would have called AF & PA and asked them how on earth a Congress member could display such a lack of understanding about what has been going on in the pulp and paper industry for the last twenty years? And if I could not get a satisfactory answer, I would ask for twenty years of dues to be returned to my company.
If the AF & PA has not educated every congressional member and staff person on the conditions of the US pulp and paper industry and the loss of tens of thousands of high paying jobs, your humble writer is at a loss as to their purpose. If Mr. Jackson thinks the loss of the clerical jobs at the bookstores is something to become agitated about, image how incensed he should be about the loss of high pay papermaking jobs and the concomitant damage to small towns closed mills used to support.
As you know, I am a bit of a maverick in our industry and I cannot just stand by while a perfectly good industry goes down the drain. I could list a number of non-profit organizations (not the pulp and paper schools--the schools, by and large do a good job) which have failed in their duty to show at least a tiny bit of support to their members. And, again, I am no luddite, I firmly do not believe in propping up obsolete industries. However, I do believe in doing a great, creative job of redeploying our assets (people, trees, plant and equipment) as much as possible. Have you seen any conferences, talks, sessions or anything come out of the traditional organizations to deal with these matters? I haven't either, which gives you a good clue as to why I invest the time and resources I do in Paperitalo Publications (Don't write to me about biofuels or value prior to pulping--these concepts appear at this point in time to be nothing but the alchemist's dream of turning lead into gold whose only real purpose is to line private pockets with federal largess).
I apologize for being a little upset this week, but I am sick and tired of seeing smiley faces instead of serious initiatives to address the issues our industry faces today. In fact the ones I see addressing today's and tomorrow's issues are mavericks like myself working outside the "polite society" of pulp and paper's conventional coteries. Thank goodness for mavericks.
For our quiz this week, we'll be asking if you are aware of any help for the industry you have seen from any conventional non-profit. We'll also ask you what you think should be done about this. You can take the quiz here.
For safety, being a maverick is probably not a good idea. Plan your work, especially your non-routine work, and execute it carefully.
Be safe and we will talk next week.
Want to see the column earlier on Thursday? Follow me on twitter here. They are usually posted around noon US Eastern Time.