In this world, there are those that get it, and those that don’t.
Here in Alaska with a $4 billion hole in the budget due to a combination of the crash in oil prices, declining throughput in the TAPS system, and a bloated state government is triggering everything from people putting their fingers in their ears yelling la, la, la, la, la to a real concerted effort to do something about it.
Democrats are doing their best Alinsky routine, using their leverage in the House to keep the conservative majority in the legislature from dipping into the budget reserve that needs 75% majority to be tapped. Simultaneously, they are preparing a “throw the b@$sards out” campaign aimed at the conservative legislature this summer and fall. Their union supporters have been funding an ad campaign for most of the past year urging the state to adopt income taxes, shut down the PFD, and raid the Permanent Fund to pay for government. The publisher of the local fish wrapper is pushing their line in hopes of helping the governor turn the Permanent Fund into a sovereign wealth fund so that her husband’s Carlyle Group can manage it, allowing her and those she supports the ability to dip into $50 billion to pay for things they want to do.
These people get it, and they are doing what we would expect democrats and those on the left to do. They are aided and abetted by the abysmal ability of the legislative majorities to publicly educate the public about their plan to execute substantial cuts to the size and cost of state government.
Among those that don’t get it are those that inhabit rural Alaska and take advantage of the artificial economy the State of Alaska funds for them.
Magical thinking is running rampant to the point where the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation last week came out against the proposed Donlin Creek Mine in the Kuskokwim watershed.
Donlin Creek is to be built on native land, is about one tenth the size of Pebble, and will mine the same sort of metals. New local jobs during the construction phase are expected to be around 3,000. There are some 800 – 1,400 long term, high paying jobs is expected to be created. The Y-K Health Corporation’s rationale are based on their concern that newly employed locals with economic freedom might want to improve their lot and that of their families by moving elsewhere, out of the economic dead end of a subsistence lifestyle. The Health Corporation would rather its clients be on welfare, with high rates of spousal abuse, high suicide rates, and high rates of drug and alcohol abuse, all pathologies of current Bush Alaska village life than having high paying, stable jobs.
They don’t get that the decades old gravy train is fast approaching the end of the line as the free money gets turned off.
Alex Gimarc lives in Anchorage since retiring from the military in 1997. His interests include science and technology, environment, energy, economics, military affairs, fishing and disabilities policies. His weekly column “Interesting Items” is a summary of news stories with substantive Alaska-themed topics. He is a small business owner and Information Technology professional.