Art Chance: Alaska at the brink of helter-skelter

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By ART CHANCE

The next step in the helter-skelter scenario begins. The Left has demonstrated that it can win pretty much any consequential election in Alaska, especially those in places with built-in voter fraud, excuse me with mail-in voting.

Fundamentally, there is no organized opposition to the Left and the mortal remains of the Republican Party are nothing more than a shell; the Party needs candidates more than candidates need the Party.   

There is almost no meaningful private sector in Alaska and the oil industry might stir itself to look to its own interests but beyond that Alaska is a backwater in which it has little interest.   

Light a candle for the physical health of the pipeline infrastructure, because if they had to spend any significant amount of money to fix it, they probably wouldn’t.

For those of you who don’t know; when the pipeline is no longer transporting oil, it has to be disassembled and the right of way restored, and thus ends the oil industry in Alaska amid dancing in the streets in San Francisco.

Whether with a bang or a whimper, the days of oil are about over. The fondest hope of those who fancy themselves to be Alaska’s ruling elite is that magical day when the corpus of the Permanent Fund is safely over $100 billion. Barring a monumental Biden gaffe, that magical day will come soon.

The magic of $100 billion is that at least in the minds of the proponents of this scheme, at $100 billion in the corpus the Permanent Fund can support ongoing operations of State government and maintain the fund in perpetuity. I believe you are delusional if you believe that, but we’ll discus that later.

At $100 billion, Alaskans become trust fund babies. We don’t really need natural resource or other economic development. We don’t need a private sector other than what is minimally necessary to get our laundry done and our cars and machines fixed. Visualize the Juneau economy statewide. We don’t have to care if they disassemble the pipeline; all we have to do is wait for the check to come from the Department of Revenue.

First, that means we need to lose some population.  We need to get our population down to a minimal service population so we can get our laundry done, our food served, and routine service work done like fixing lawnmowers and the like.

Then we have our healthcare workers, our education workers, and our unionized public employees. Then we have a large, maybe larger than any of the other three, population of government dependents. Our tiny private service population and the government rackets above are the Alaska res publica. The rackets are easy to please; just give them more money, and they can buy politicians who would just love to give them that money. Those who work behind the counters and in the repair shops can just hope for some largesse.   Maybe the Legislature will come up with some extra special stipend for people who repair electric cars.

This is the brave new world the smart people envision. Alaska becomes the longtime greenie dream of a big National Park. Almost nobody does any of that nasty physical work or builds anything; we don’t need to build anything because we have everything we need and our $100 billion to keep it going. 

A third or more of our population does nothing but wait for the check and maybe make babies. It already doesn’t matter what teachers or other unionized employees do; nobody evaluates them and only a few of us mutter in the wilderness about why we spend so much for so little. 

The medical types will shed all of those with private insurance or Medicare. I’ve already learned that it is easier, better, and other than the airfare, cheaper to go to the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix. When they get rid of all us surplus people, it is lefty Utopia!

All that said, I’ve been around government for a long time. I quickly learned that the immutable law of public finance in Alaska is, “however much money there is to spend, will be spent.”  I can point you to a long list of candidates for office who promised to rein in spending only to lose to someone who promised to spend more. Sarah Palin vs. Frank Murkowski is the best example of that.

We flirted with the trust fund baby plan in this budget; we’ve scratched up every dime we could get without borrowing, and some of what we’ve done is technically borrowing, and we’re spending every dime of it. They’ve put up an attractive number for a PFD that will probably keep the masses sullen but not mutinous.

If we try to live on this “spend it all” margin, even at $100 billion, the State will be broke in five years. Alaska’s congressional and legislative delegation will be crawling to Washington, D.C. on their hands and knees to beg for money.

Welcome back to 1960. Much of America wasn’t happy to have Alaska join the union. The US was mostly just responding to Soviet anti-colonial pressure by offering statehood to two of its territories, Alaska and Hawaii. Alaska was just viewed as a welfare burden, and until the Cook Inlet oil discoveries, rightly so. Cook Inlet is all but gone and Prudhoe Bay is badly depleted. There is some opportunity for more development on the North Slope but not so long as the communists, excuse me, Democrats are in charge.

Looking at the operating budget, my “back of the matchbook” estimate is that it would take about 10%/yr just to maintain current service levels. Executive Branch wages alone cost about 4%/yr. to maintain.

State investment accounts in good years have been returning 7% or so. 

The best investment earnings we could expect are not enough to keep up with the incremental cost increases in government operations, and that requires you to assume that the Legislature won’t pile on new expenses “for the children” or some other such foolishness.

It will be 50 years in Alaska this September. I haven’t called the real estate agent or bought the “for sale” signs, but it has been on my mind.

Art Chance is a retired Director of Labor Relations for the State of Alaska, formerly of Juneau and now living in Anchorage. He is the author of the book, “Red on Blue, Establishing a Republican Governance,” available at Amazon.

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53 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks Art for your well thought out “truth” which is unfortunate for Alaskans but inevitable. With the amount of outside money pouring into our “Blue Selections” even at a very local level I am more than confident Arts outlook for Alaska will come sooner than we think because I already have had those same thoughts while looking at Anchorages recent selection results. I saw some “for sale” signs on sale the other day. Something was nudging me to buy them. Probably wont see that again. I spend more time now trying to figure out a safe haven from Democrats but the possibilities are shrinking.

  2. Wow, what a picture of optimism you paint, Art.
    You have the pipeline empty and the population, whatever will be left of it, putting up solar panels, building more wind farms, opening huge EV dealerships, and union bosses spending all their memberships money on themselves. Not much reason to hang out here in Alaska anymore, unless you’re a tourist on extended stay. Be sure to close the door and hit the light switch behind you.

    • Artfull; The door was open and the light switch on as we welcomed people to the great state of Alaska and have seen many come and go, however true Alaskans stay, just ask the ones that stayed in the mid 80s when caravan’s of U-hauls made there way down the ALCAN, ask the survivors of the 64 earthquake, we will make it, just believe, the pendulum will make another swing, and as Churchill said, ”Never give in” 😉

      • In 64, everyone worked and there were no freeloaders because they got run off. In the 80s you didn’t have the level of welfare state that exists today, nor did we have the level of idiocy running government. Good luck. After 66 years, I am checking out of this soon to be broken state. All the thieves will leave when the money is gone and there aren’t enough of us on the hamster wheel to tax to pay for all those sitting on their asses collecting the medicaid and welfare checks. The state currently blows through more money than the wage earners that don’t work in government earn!

  3. born and raised in Anc been here 95% of my life been thinking about packing up and moving but where? lots of coastal “moderates” are spreading all across the country as the coasts price them out then they take their beliefs about governments role in society(always wanting more) and push it on the indigenous populations then the growth metastasizes to any population center in a given area. It’s happening here but it seems to be happening everywhere else save for maybe a few places (south dakota, wyoming, florida)but it will soon spread there as well. where you gonna go to escape the insanity?

  4. For all the reasons Art stated, the most important is the utter lack of an effective opposition to the left.

    Our alleged Republican Party falls all over itself to see how can go furthest left and capitulate the fastest. I almost can’t blame people for not voting if this is the alleged alternative.

    They are a sad mix of unwillingly and unable to push back against the left or even offer a believable alternative. Thank Tuckerman Babcock and the Cowardly Lion of a governor for that.

    Saddest is the amount of people who will insist this is a conservative state and the results of every election in the past 15 years are aberrations.

    We are collapsing as a society and we all know it. Some refuse to accept it, more revel in it. But there it is.

  5. I think most of us from the 40,50, and 60s generation came to Alaska for the same or similar reasons. But there doesn’t seem to be any further to travel to get away from that which we fled. Trouble has found us at last, at the last foothold of the American West. All that remains is to back trail in case we may have overlooked an area that hasn’t been ruined. May not be as pretty as here. Freedom has always had a price. Just for now, I will continue to have hope that the present generation will come around and see what is at stake and drive the carpetbaggers out of the North. There’s also the possibility that when the means to heat is taken away they will flee on their own. Carpetbaggers, like cockroaches and snakes, like their heat. Heat is bad for the utopia environmentalists, except for electric. We all know how dependable that is, let alone the cost.

  6. Much truth written by Art, but not written is the collectivist totalitarian dream is itself on borrowed time (as it always is). Their money is ersatz, their elections and legitimacy are ersatz, their vision is ersatz. It will come crashing down (visions of 1989 or 1991). What I am interested in is what comes after that?

  7. Art, electric lawnmowers are as disposable as are electric cars, windmills and the myriad environmental studies for projects such as Susitna Dam or Road-To-Nowhere.

  8. Alaska has become a Nanny state. Left leaning states are Nanny. And Nanny states seek Nanny mates.

  9. One day this state will have to grow up. Glad to see Art becoming a realist. Eventually the old, worn out and expensive pipeline will no longer be able to transport oil at a reasonable market based cost. The sooner everyone else realizes this, and begins planning for the shutdown, the better off this state will be in the long run.

  10. Our city’s churches aren’t anymore discouraging than you because i think not enough people come to church. If anyone serves anything than only God, then
    he sets himelf up be disappointed. We face disappointments anywhere we go there trouble in every state.
    I don’t see – Florida, idaho, wyoming, the dakotas, iowa, arkansa- any better the next 10 years, they taken in thousands of runaways or drifters who make not the best fighters. Our purpose is to glorify our Father in heaven by our faith, works, and love anywhere we are residing, anywhere HE plants us.

    • You don’t know what you’re talking about. The states you mentioned are leading the country on what you should be doing. They actually still look like America.

      • Only if you’re trying to increase the numbers of undocumented Democrats. If you haven’t noticed, we’re being invaded.

        • You can’t induce progress by treading water or stepping backwards in time. You have to go forward and yes that means increase the population, infrastructure taxes to pay for it all. Things that you write against. In case you haven’t read the funny papers lately, Florida is doing fine. And for the time being, liberals are voting for republicans. Alaska may be lost in that the old Republican guard is a thing of the past. You have a republican governor who seems afraid to get off the pot for fear of being unelected. For several decades now you’ve had a house controlled by liberals who are in bed with rhinos. There are still pockets of the old school ways left, but you can’t govern a state with pockets. Mostly those are small little city-states trying to save what they got. I don’t see that Alaska has changed much in the 20 plus years since I’ve been there, only that there are some Left Coast people moving in because it is become more habitable to them. Why else would anybody come up there? It cost them more than the $3,000 they’re going to get from the PFD. After I figured in travel expenses, moving expenses, higher rents and postage and freight fees to ship everything in, I could have made more money in the lower 48 and stayed home. But I didn’t come up there for the money. You’re sitting on your tier one all fat and sassy, but not all public employees have that luxury. I think Anchorage and Alaska is fulfilling its destiny. Some people just refuse to look at the big picture.

      • I’m not at all sure you’re in a position to be lecturing anyone about preaching what you don’t know.

          • I am. As much as I dislike Jen’s constant misuse of the Bible for her own purposes, at least she professes faith and is occasionally correct in her interpretations.

            Congratulations on serving the state of Alaska. However it doesn’t mean you know or understand a thing about my faith.

            As shown by your comment, you clearly don’t. If you wanna yank her chain for her opinion, go for it.
            But using your own words. Stop preaching what you don’t know.

  11. With all due respect to my friend Art, I don’t consider the Governor’s election along with majorities in the Legislature and the mayor of Anchorage to be inconsequential elections. My slightly more optimistic viewpoint has an export gas line with long term Asian contracts as its anchor happening in the next decade. Plentiful and affordable energy to all the communities along the route as well. With Willow, Pika and other projects, I see several hundred thousand barrels of additional oil through TAPS in that same period, keeping the pipeline viable for decades longer. Despite the rhetoric of the greenies, gas and oil will fuel the world’s energy needs for many years to come. A new conservative President in 2022 is essential and I believe that will happen.

    • What universe are you living in? Are you one of these people swearing Anchorage is a conservative community?

      The Governor is the epitome of useless. The majority in the legislature is left of center, regardless of the letter behind their names.

      All the contracts on earth are worthless to a nation that refuses to produce energy. Russia and the Saudis are happy to take up that slack.

      A conservative POTUS is a profound long shot, regardless of the letter behind their name.

      The GOP, statewide and nationally, with a very few exceptions, is so lame if they were a horse they’d be shot and put out of everyone’s misery.

      • It sounds to me like you and Jen kind of have a make it up as you go kind of religion and that’s fine. But she constantly Misuses the written Canon from the Bible. Now if your religion happens to be in line with formal Christian beliefs, that is something that I know quite a little bit about. If it’s some other cult following then I’m afraid you’re on your own.

        • What a stunning mix or ignorance and arrogance.
          I’m actually impressed you could pull it off.

  12. I am sorry to break the news Mayor Dan but do you really expect another term from mayor Bronson after how the Assembly has misused and abused their power. I am not even sure he has the stamina to withstand the new round of misfits selected to the assembly unless the rapping fool from New York isnt a loser. Even with a new selection clerk to replace assembly appointed Barb Jones I cant imagine anyone with the real courage to take on the pathetic Rapper and their gang of Tyrants. Sadly Dirty Harry is too old to run. But I still admire your optimism and hope you are right but my bags will still be packed as My grandchildrens education comes first which is expensive and hard to find with enrollment backlogs at the few decent private schools available. ASD is a definite loser! Thanks for your time at the Helm but the storms of today make your time as mayor seem like a paddleboat across Taku lake. Hopefully your vision for the state will evolve but their will be plenty of opposition.

      • I very much like my neighborhood and its people, most of them anyway. What I don’t like is federal pressure to eliminate single family zoning and programs to have the federal government buy up single family homes that go on the market and replace them with mulit-family housing.

        • As you know, not everyone can afford a place of their own. Especially in Alaska where prices are about as escalated as anywhere in the country. But I get what you’re saying. For Alaska to survive, there needs to be industry moved in. The state needs to make it more palatable for companies to set up shop. Alaska isn’t going to make it on the pipeline as you mentioned because those days are numbered. They’re not going to make it on haircut and places and lawn mower repair places or even Mama Os. It’s going to take something larger than that. It’s going to take people, not necessarily train people just people smart enough to learn how to operate a machine on an assembly line. Anybody can do the same thing over and over again. The state gets revenue which they sorely need, the workers get a decent pay, and I know you hate unions but that might be what happens. I was never a member of a union in my life. I always let my work performance guide my employer on what I was worth. And it’s going to take decent housing and if you put all those in the mix, stand back and watch Alaska prosper and grow and one of these days they might even build a road over to Nome so everybody can watch the sled dog race.

          • We can’t compete with the places where people do the same thing over and over again. There’ve been some studies done by State and local government about attracting industrialization and development here. The general consensus is that we didn’t have the workforce and they couldn’t bring a workforce because they wouldn’t live here. I know that if I were a 20-30 year old man with some prospects, I’d be on the next plane out of here. I can’t imagine dating here if your objective is an actual relationship. And, of course, there has always been a shortage of women without a price tag here.

            Our education system is abysmal; it is bad enough that most come out pig-ignorant, but they come out with no idea of what work and accepting authority is about. I know in my experience working in retail for a couple of years, the young kids for the most part had no concept of actually following procedures; at most they viewed them as silly suggestions.

            I have friends and associations going back decades here and I don’t have a demanding social life; my concert days are pretty much behind me, and besides, most of the bands I like are older than I am. There are a few good restaurants. There are a few good places to get together with associates over lunch. I’ve done pretty much all those “Alaska” things, though I might still be up to a drive to Nome.

  13. Where do reside Masked Avenger? You’ve got nothing good to say about Anchorage, Alaska, it’s people or it’s government- local or statewide. Are you inCalifornia,Arizona or Florida?

    • I live rent free in your empty head.

      I’m curious: do you wanna take me to dinner? Date me? Have me teach you some of the many things you don’t know? Do you want to see what I look like in a tight pair of jeans?

      I am impressed you figured out for yourself I have nothing good to say about Anchorage. Did someone help you with that? Anchorage is a Portland starter kit, except Anchorage used to have conservatives. I’ve watched what was once one of the best cities in America devolve into a 3d world crap hole. Partly due to the heavy in migration of leftists but mostly due to the laziness of the alleged conservatives who live there. You (Anchoragites) have done this to yourselves, then turn around and whine about it.

      I’ll always be with you, living rent free in your head.

  14. Decent screed Art. It’s true Alaska is rapidly going to hell in the proverbial handbasket. Too few adults involved in government and way too many dead horses on the public account.

    We get what we deserve in this little experiment in democracy up here in the Lost Frontier.

    • You and I didn’t always agree on what should be done, but we both knew how to get things done.

    • Alaska hasn’t evolved much since the early days. It’s still pretty much a gold camp be that yellow or black gold. Everybody’s trying to get what they can get. Nobody’s really looking at infrastructure or long-term. Until that mentality changes, I’m afraid it’s just going to be a continued downward spiral and turn into a ghost town like most former thriving places. You have to build yourself a platform to stand on otherwise when the shaky ground beneath you collapses you will come tumbling down.

  15. Art, thanks for sharing your thoughts once again.
    I was conceived, born and raised in Alaska, as was my Grandfather. Grandfather became a Mining Engineer and in the 1930’s was unable to find employment in Alaska, causing him to leave the Territory. Aside from Commerical Fishing and constructing Federal projects, meaningful employment opportunities were pretty slim and seasonal in Alaska. The Oil Discovery at Prudhoe Bay changed all that. Unfortunately we squandered our chance to leverage that Oil wealth by not building infrastructure to provide more development.
    Today’s youth in Alaska are not unlike my Grandfather, if they want to succeed in their chosen field, they probably will have to go elsewhere.

    • I have four kids, three born and raised in Alaska and one raised here from 5 or 6 through college. One remains in Alaska and if she and hers would make the commitment to move, I’d help with moving expenses.

    • There’s a lot in this concept. We had a moment when the oil money could have helped us create an infrastructure that would have made it easier to develop the state.

      A better road system, bring affordable energy to the interior, get rail service northward and westward. And more. But we didn’t and are paying the price now.

  16. Don’t worry, thanks to the war mongers in the white house, WWIII is coming. Russia will take Alaska back, start drilling again, and put the tranny pinkos in labor camps, then the neo liberal facists will flee to the lower 48 with their tail between their legs screaming, ” Russia, Russia, Russia!”

  17. The Spell of the Yukon
    By Robert W. Service
    I wanted the gold, and I sought it;
    I scrabbled and mucked like a slave.
    Was it famine or scurvy—I fought it;
    I hurled my youth into a grave.
    I wanted the gold, and I got it— 
    Came out with a fortune last fall,—
    Yet somehow life’s not what I thought it,
    And somehow the gold isn’t all.

    No! There’s the land. (Have you seen it?)
    It’s the cussedest land that I know,
    From the big, dizzy mountains that screen it
    To the deep, deathlike valleys below.
    Some say God was tired when He made it;
    Some say it’s a fine land to shun;
    Maybe; but there’s some as would trade it
    For no land on earth—and I’m one.

    You come to get rich (damned good reason);
    You feel like an exile at first;
    You hate it like hell for a season,
    And then you are worse than the worst.
    It grips you like some kinds of sinning;
    It twists you from foe to a friend;
    It seems it’s been since the beginning;
    It seems it will be to the end.

    I’ve stood in some mighty-mouthed hollow
    That’s plumb-full of hush to the brim;
    I’ve watched the big, husky sun wallow
    In crimson and gold, and grow dim,
    Till the moon set the pearly peaks gleaming,
    And the stars tumbled out, neck and crop;
    And I’ve thought that I surely was dreaming,
    With the peace o’ the world piled on top.

    The summer—no sweeter was ever;
    The sunshiny woods all athrill;
    The grayling aleap in the river,
    The bighorn asleep on the hill.
    The strong life that never knows harness;
    The wilds where the caribou call;
    The freshness, the freedom, the farness—
    O God! how I’m stuck on it all.

    The winter! the brightness that blinds you,
    The white land locked tight as a drum,
    The cold fear that follows and finds you,
    The silence that bludgeons you dumb.
    The snows that are older than history,
    The woods where the weird shadows slant;
    The stillness, the moonlight, the mystery,
    I’ve bade ’em good-by—but I can’t.

    There’s a land where the mountains are nameless,
    And the rivers all run God knows where;
    There are lives that are erring and aimless,
    And deaths that just hang by a hair;
    There are hardships that nobody reckons;
    There are valleys unpeopled and still;
    There’s a land—oh, it beckons and beckons,
    And I want to go back—and I will.

    They’re making my money diminish;
    I’m sick of the taste of champagne.
    Thank God! when I’m skinned to a finish
    I’ll pike to the Yukon again.
    I’ll fight—and you bet it’s no sham-fight;
    It’s hell!—but I’ve been there before;
    And it’s better than this by a damsite—
    So me for the Yukon once more.

    There’s gold, and it’s haunting and haunting;
    It’s luring me on as of old;
    Yet it isn’t the gold that I’m wanting
    So much as just finding the gold.
    It’s the great, big, broad land ’way up yonder,
    It’s the forests where silence has lease;
    It’s the beauty that thrills me with wonder,
    It’s the stillness that fills me with peace.

  18. Thanks NORTH. Best Comment I ever Read. You and Robert Service showed us
    the direction we need to go. Let’s GO, We are Burning Daylight.

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