I am a life-long Alaskan (72 years), I am finally jumping in to the debate over SB21 … that I do so now is due to a sickening sense that folks are more concerned about jobs and ‘now’ than they are about what I see down the road … an avalanche of debt for the State of Alaska, and no way to get rid of it. Well, of course, there IS a way to eliminate the debt … three ways, actually … tap into the Permanent Fund, reinstitute State income tax, or institute a state sales tax.
First, the oil companies are not here because they love us and want to see Alaska do well. They are here for the oil. Period. And until that last drop runs down the pipeline to Valdez, they aren’t leaving. They posture and protest, and threaten, that jobs will be lost, work will slow down, the sky will fall … because they have to pay Alaskans, who own the oil, a fair share of taxes.
Here’s a little history: I lived through three of the four resource extractions that have been taken out of Alaska. I missed the gold rush. After that, were the canneries, who used fish traps with impunity to rape and pillage nearly the entire salmon industry in Alaska. Statehood stopped that.
Next on the scene was the timber industry. Alaska had always supported a small thriving sawmill industry that sustained itself, but there was all that timber, virtually free, and in popped two pulp mills … one in Ketchikan, 1954, and one in Sitka in 1959. Having to log under ‘rules’ didn’t suit them, so by the 1980’s they had abandoned Alaska with their riches.
And then came oil. Different though. Oil was after a finite, non-renewable resource. Fish hatcheries and reforestation will never replace oil when it’s gone. With oil, we felt rich. We were rich. We had people like Gov. Hammond giving us the PFD so we could all share, and people like Byron Mallott ensuring it was set up for our benefit. We had many leaders who cared more for the well-being of the State than for short term gain. We got railroaded. The resource rapists are several giants who are sitting on our resource and threatening us. They quit buying legislators, and instead made sure they got ‘company people’ elected into positions which would guarantee the oil companies would be writing the laws to get oil as cheaply as possible. What do the people of Alaska have to hope for when the oil is gone? Go back to paragraph one. That is what our choices will be.
I live in Alaska because I love it. I hate to see it suffer at the hands of interests who don’t care. Alaska deserves better. We deserve better. We deserve not to be left holding the bag of interminable debt. Sending SB21 back to the legislature for a rewrite so that Alaska gets a fair and equitable share of our resource money will not make the oil companies go away. What do you want our future to look like? If you don’t care, well, so be it. If, however, you can see down the road, let’s work together to make sure Alaska gets its fair share now, so we can invest in a future when there is no oil.
Read the pertinent material; know the truth; vote early; vote smart.