Yes, this is Alaska. I wanted to show you something besides a typical cliche’ AK photo likely to have been seen everywhere on Planet Earth. Credit: my friend Haley Morrisey, on Facebook
May 25, 2017
We have lived long enough in Alaska to call it home, having arrived in 1987. Thirty years (with a couple of short breaks out of state) is enough time to gain understanding of history and life outlook here.Alaska has been living in a semi-fantasy world, in which life is guided by these creeds:
- Oil revenues will continually flow.
- Federal funds will endlessly fall on our heads.
- Because we deserve it.
We have counted on subsidies from other places for decades. Federal funds flow from states not as wealthy as we. In the early days we the need of assistance was real. Even though stellar growth has taken place, assistance continues. We are like a third- or fourth-generation welfare family.
You just get used to it.
For per capita spending, only two states – Maryland and Virginia – plus the District of Columbia, get more per capita federal spending. (Scroll down to the last chart on that page.) What is common about those areas? Ravenous, self-serving Washington DC is the center.
Another part of our problem is represented by the fact we spend more per capita on ourselves than any state. (I acknowledge life in the villages inflates that figure.) This is related to OPM addiction.
Further, this state gets $1.93 for every dollar of federal tax paid. That is seventh in the nation. And, comparing federal funds received after subtracting income tax spent, Alaska gets about 2 1/2 times the amount received per person in the states like Nevada, one of the poorest states. A substantial military presence here skews these numbers, but even without that we are heavy takers.
Public assistance is no longer seen as public assistance. It is seen as embedded and a right. Federal assistance is seen in a similar way in the 49th state. As is the Permanent Fund Dividend.
Around here we have honored Ted Stevens. We named an airport after him. I’m sure he was a fine fellow. He even attended prayer breakfasts.
Why was he honored? Had he saved several lives? Was he known for personal philanthropy? Did he give his life savings to establish a hospital in some Third World country?
Stevens served honorably in the military. He helped Alaska obtain statehood. His career was pretty distinguished.
But why is he so honored? I believe it’s because he was one of the best at raiding the Federal treasury. It’s all legal and everything, but legalized theft is still theft. And he was good at it.
Well, that flow has diminished. So has the oil. But we have become dependent on both. If not for federal restrictions on ownership for far too much of our land, we could develop more resources. That adds to this problem. It’s logical, though, because control follows money. These dollars have not come with no strings clinging to them.
So, the same centralized monolithic powerhouse that withholds our own resources from us, also keeps us on the hook for their assistance. We have become so dependent that we think it is a right for them to send money over our way.
Most of us know that opium is highly addictive. We may not be quite as aware that OPM is as much or more so.
Alaskans (generally) feel we can’t exist without assistance. Someone has to come along and help us. This after 58 years of statehood. We evidently cannot believe we can make our own way. The same happens for families. Something that exists for decades becomes part of the fabric and wallpaper, and it becomes inconceivable that we can do well without it.
I believe it is similar for us. We are so used to federal funds that it pains us greatly to think of paying our own way. So we long for the federal government ongoing largess, which of course comes out of the coffers of many other states. I think we are crippled to some degree. It is nearly impossible to imagine existing without the federal government mothering us.
Added to this fact is we cannot keep ourselves in the black even with all the help. As I said OPM is highly addictive. Such a hunger and thirst are created that they can be called insatiable.
More money. More money. And more money.
Having not been very self-reliant for a long time, it seems extremely painful to think of taking steps toward that. It becomes confusing, bringing loads of fear.
We think we can fix all of our financial problems somehow while still ignoring the presence and precepts of Almighty God. We think we can do what is right in our own eyes and still gain financial blessing. Such thinking muddles the picture.
You may think I am picking on Alaska. It’s not the case. This is simply the environment in which I have lived most of the last 30 years, and is the most familiar. My point is broader and deeper than any particular state, although Alaska is a vivid example.
The point is the insidiousness of the tendency to move into dependence and expectations of someone else. These lead to debilitation.
To close, here’s one more non-cliche’ picture of Alaska. And please comment. What am I missing?