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By David R. Stancliff
March 22, 2001

Politicians have long been famous for misleading the public with their pronouncements and predictions. Unfortunately for them and fortunately for the rest of us most of these public officials are not very creative with their methods of misleading. They tend to find a phrase that has some value in it and repeat it until we all wonder if they have traded in their brain for a computer chip.

Take for instance the attempt to convince us all how well Alaska is doing economically. We hear unemployment is down. What we don't hear is how little the current jobs pay. We hear about the dollars brought in by the Commercial Fishing Industry. We don't see all the state costs of supporting the industry. We hear of increase in tourism. We do not hear of the strain and costs on our infrastructure and services to support all our visitors.

Now we are hearing about the need for a fiscal plan. What we are not told is the plan is to keep government healthy. We are told we will run out of money. We are not told it is government that will run out of money. We are told that we need revenue. We are not told that revenue will be in the form of taxes from the people to pay for government.

Our nation and all the states are feeling an economic downturn. Why would anyone in their right mind suggest raising taxes at this time? Alaska is a storehouse of natural resources. Why would anyone suggest we continue to bet all our cards on oil and fish? Our present lack of leadership in the Administration not only has placed us in a more vulnerable economic condition that has seen our individual wealth slip to all time lows, they continue to suggest that Alaskans need to give government more money in the form of taxes.

Perhaps our Governor should not ask what we can do to preserve government, but how Alaskans can get more revenue into their pockets and get government out of the resource blockade business. If you are a small or even intermediate size business, Alaska is not open for you. Regulations, permits, and inspections await you at every juncture. If government can not make a significant buck at your expense do not expect your business to survive long in Alaska.

In my 18 years of legislative efforts I have seen how government has wormed it's way into every viable economic facet of Alaska's economy. Businesses are afraid to object to the actions of government because big brother has so infiltrated all levels of commerce that one bureaucratic enemy in the wrong place can suffocate or shut off essential revenues.

We are presently in a economic death spiral with a government fighting to find revenues and a private sector economy nearly entirely dependent on government to survive. No wonder we here major corporate interests and prominent business people urging people to support government through taxes. Their interests are mutually served if not directly benefitted.

The danger to Alaska in this scenario is an irreversible economic collapse. Unless we develop other resources and produce and better distribute private wealth government will be capable of starving what is left of the free market economy in Alaska and in the end cause a major implosion of itself.

The permanent fund and the earnings have created a sense of security that has prevented economic panic. Unfortunately it has also lulled people into a complacency that only leads the state further into an economic swamp. Only a change of philosophy at the Governor's level and a firm agenda to develop land and resources through private ownership can avoid deeper and deeper economic downturns.

When the residents of Juneau rejected the PFD raid, it should have been quite clear that even state employees who depend on revenue realized that taxing themselves to keep their jobs and grow government is a bad idea and has but one dismal end. How anyone can think that the people can be fooled into believing that funding government is an essential aspect of a healthy economy is beyond me. Only a socialist would buy such nonsense.

Alaskans have some tough choices to make about future leaders. If we are to reverse our economic death spiral we must choose leaders who will instruct government to assist those who it feeds from. We must insist that our resources and lands be put into private ownership and wealth created so that revenues for government services can be something other than taxes on residents. Finally we must constitutionally constrain government spending and insist that programs be justified as essential. All others can be funded at local levels by local governments based on the economic and social standards within each community.

Picture Alaska as a patient in the operating room. The people in charge of the operation decide the patient needs more blood. When the attendants ask the chief administrator for blood he simply says we have no blood in our bank. He then suggests that the surgeons just tap into the patient to provide some blood for the bank so that the patient can get what he needs. That's about how much sense it makes to suggest taxing citizens to keep the economy healthy. Of course some people think you can jump off the floor of a crashing elevator and save yourself too, but they shouldn't be Governor.

Dave Stancliff biography:
--Proud father of four Alaskans
--A legislative assistant since 1981
--27 year Alaska Resident
--9th generation American
--7 family members fought in Revolution, one with Washington at Brooklyn Heights
--4 family members fought in Civil War, one died in Andersonville
--Numerous family vets in WW I and II.

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