‘Call of the Wild’: An allegory of Alaska political life




Watching movie trailers for the “Call of the Wild” started me thinking about what I once thought Alaska was about, when in 1974, I packed up Wife 1.0, kid, and dog in a Toyota Land Cruiser and set out “North to the Future.”     

“Call of the Wild” is being marketed as an “All-American” story. But it occurred in the Yukon Territory; the book’s author Jack London is about as far from a mainstream American as you get.   

Don’t get me wrong; I like some of London’s writing: “To Build a Fire” is one of my favorite pieces of writing. But London was an atheist, a Socialist, an alcoholic, and at the end of his days a morphine addict who died of an overdose. That is not an “All-American” biography.

To go with the “Buck the dog protagonist” analogy, we the people of Alaska, have to struggle with Spitz, our lead dog.  

“The Northern Lights have seen queer sights, But the queerest they ever did see…” is the Republican fratricide in the organization of the Alaska Legislature.

Much of Alaska’s history has been an existential struggle against a harsh environment.  As Jack London’s protagonist in “To Build a Fire” struggled and failed to build a fire in the Yukon wilderness, we struggled to build a state and only became one because of the Soviet Union’s relentless anti-colonial pressure.

The United States worried about our viability as a state from the outset and considered us a welfare dependency liability.  In reality, Congress only considered us for statehood because the Cook Inlet oil discoveries gave us some revenue other than from washing each other’s clothes.   

Then came Prudhoe Bay.

Since oil was discovered at Prudhoe Bay, we’ve become trust fund babies.   Like Buck when he was Judge Miller’s dog, we have become soft, pampered pets. Only about a third of our population even bothers to engage in productive, wealth-producing work; the rest are either public employees or welfare recipients.   

Welfare is so lucrative in Alaska that you’re foolish to work a job that pays much less than $40,000 a year and provides full benefits. 

Like Buck, we’re going to have to learn to be wild again.

The leadership of the House are a bunch of union-owned hacks.  I worked on the union side when I was young and dumb and learned that the ultimate goal is to get yourself into a position where a bunch of working stiffs have to work and pay union dues so you no longer have to work with the tools of the trade and you can make a salary many multiples of theirs for doing nothing measurable.

The Senate is run by a true trust fund baby and by Nurse Ratched. They are in thrall to their egos and to the healthcare racket, the education racket, and the public employee union racket.  

They happily ignore the interests of everyday Alaskans so the administrators of so-called non-profit healthcare organizations can make a million bucks a year for sending invoices to the State, and so “education professionals” can run school districts producing the least-able students in the nation.

And they ignore the interests of regular Alaskans so union officials can make multi-hundred thousand dollar a year salaries to extort money from public employees so that the employees can get and keep jobs.

The governor and his administration are clueless. They don’t have anyone in their appointee ranks that has a clue how to run State government, and they have a disloyal and barely competent workforce beneath the appointee level.   

Not only does the Administration not know what to do, it doesn’t have anybody it can ask.  In my book I recommend that any Republican executive taking over from a Democrat fire everybody s/he has a legal right to fire and let the merit system employees run the government; they’ll keep it running.   

I’m not so sure that is good advice anymore; from what I’ve seen if the merit system employees don’t have somebody telling them what to do, some portion will actively sabotage the Administration and the rest will just sit and idly stare.

Like Buck, in “Call of the Wild,” we’re going to have to find it in us to kill Spitz.  We have to hear and obey the call of the wild.  

Now that the Administration stupidly went for an expedited hearing on the Recall Dunleavy case, the Supreme Court is getting to pay Dunleavy back for the “abortion budget cut.” That’s the cut Dunleavy made to the administrative portion of the court’s budget, and shifted it over to pay for the state-funded, elective abortions that the Supreme Court demands the state cover.

Some of us learned long ago that you don’t cross swords with the people who can decide your fate. Gov. Dunleavy’s fate is to become a former governor this summer. His only hope was to have the recall on the General Election Ballot in November, as Alaskans will vote overwhelmingly for President Donald Trump and people who vote for Trump aren’t likely to vote to recall even an inept Republican governor.   

The only people who will vote in a recall Special Election are super voters and interest-group voters, and the interest groups will work their lists hard.   Of course, there really aren’t any Republican/conservative organized interest groups.   

Dunleavy is toast.  If the only hope they had was to delay the recall vote to the General Election, and Dunleavy and Attorney General Kevin Clarkson embraced the expedited hearing, then they deserve what’s going to happen to them.

Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer will be governor in November and he isn’t up until 2022, so he’ll get to oversee redistricting and try to keep the Democrats from redlining Republicans/conservatives into oblivion.   

“Killing Spitz” requires that the working, tax-paying people of Alaska eliminate the rent-seekers and tax farmers in the Alaska Legislature. It has been suggested that elected officials become like NASCAR drivers and wear all their sponsors’ logos on their jackets.  When you vote, remember you’re not voting for the candidate, but for his/her sponsors; choose wisely.

Alaska’s people do not have to live out the existential crisis of “Call of the Wild.” Our Yeehats are not among the People of the State, but rather among a largely self-anointed elite of rent-seekers and power mongers. We don’t have to have Buck’s existential battle with the Yeehats, we just need to send some legislators packing in the next Primary and General elections.

If you haven’t read Jack London’s “Call of the Wild” or haven’t read it in a long time, pick up the book and give it a read; it is a good allegory for our time and place. Watching the new movie won’t do, because that’s Hollywierd.

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. 


  1. Art, wonderfully written. When the Gov came on board he not only needed to cut the head off of the snake, he needed to take it half way down the body. Why not? The Libby Bakalar’s and co. were going to squeal like pigs anyway at the slightest change. He should have changed everything down to the carpet.
    You’re right. I think the days of the merit based employees running the show might be behind us. I’m afraid my old state employee joke has come true “do you know why a state employee doesn’t stare out the window in the morning? Because then they wouldn’t have anything to do in the afternoon!”

  2. This should be a rallying cry for all conservatives in Alaska. Dunleavy came into office to clean up the Big State mess and reduce government spending before this state becomes a Socialist stronghold, taxing people to pay for bigger and bigger government. Alaskans are already paying $1,500 per person in taxes from their Permanent Fund dividend and soon the dividend will be just a token amount. People need to get organized. If they don’t, then Art’s prediction will come true.

  3. Thanks Art. I agfee with Forkner. Dunleavy should have not been so kind with his minimal cuts Leave a few snakes in the room to appear diplomatic and, “Bam!” they bite with venom. So, he does a token cut to the judiciary on principal that really won’t affect anything but speaks to his and many others’ principles that we can’t always be the State with a free ride, including mothers demanding we pay for their abortions (geez, it’s not like he said mothers still couldn’t go out and stiff their unborn kid, just that the State shouldn’t pay for it…but still would).

    And these true words, Art: “Some of us learned long ago that you don’t cross swords with the people who can decide your fate.” I hate that truth.

  4. Wonderfully written Art. Keep it up. Cold hard facts is the only thing that can save us. Seymour Marvin Mills Jr. sui juris

  5. The phrase ‘Alaska Republican’ is, and always will be, an oxymoron. I expect Trump to carry Alaska by 24,000 votes (158k-134k) (7%), the product of the specific polarization he has created. The majority of those 39,000 Alaskans who voted for third-party candidates in 2016 will once again have no use for this overly self-involved charlatan — and so vote as such once more. The sheer incompetence of ‘Disco Ray’ in the uncontested Senate election invariably depressed turnout among those otherwise inclined to support Hillary. The Senate and House elections will be properly contested in 2020, rendering a bigger turnout among DEMs.

    Alaska will always be a globalist, secular paradise, and thus produce capable Democrats. The Conservatives who moved here to explode the population between 1969-1986, exclusively because of the Oil industry boom, now find themselves confronted by the land’s natural homeostasis. (Yes, some of us as the direct descendants of those Oil Conservatives, now vote for Democrats!)

    • Trump’s only inconsistent move to-date is that he didn’t fire all of Obama’s folk at the DOJ. Had he done that at the outset, he would be taking more trips to Mar-a-lago.

  6. Well thought through and well written display of what most of are thinking but do not have the writing skills to put a pen to. I certainly agree it will take a lot of ‘faith’ for the Governor to prevail but I believe he will indeed prevail and go on stronger than ever….

  7. It has been all over for conservatives since they/we ceded control over K-12 education, the University and the legal profession. Once those take-overs were complete it has only been a matter of time. Virtually all of the Millennials and large numbers of others can no longer think for themselves. Stalin is smiling.

    Governor Dunleavy has gone out if his way to avoid hiring people with much knowledge of government and an inclination to help him. And he is now in a bit of a mess.

  8. Wow Art,
    Congrats on an artful and inciteful piece. First time I have read, heard anyone nail the interest groups and their champions grabbing the dividend for their constituents, who are in this case the government employees, the education industry and the health care industry. All are dependent on the funding of government.

    The irony of the current situation: I guarantee you that the average Alaskan has no idea that their dividend is being held hostage by a billionaire heiress whose wealth is based on one of the most reviled banks in the nation, Wells Fargo. But the painful truth of it is that there are few dogs, in the reins pulling or at a desk filling out grant forms, that wish to get seen biting that hand that feeds!

  9. Only critical comment on an otherwise brilliant expose’… I think it was the Recall Dunleavy group that pushed for the expedited hearing before the Supreme Court. The final “lower” Court decision was to halt the signature collection, and that was the fourth decision it made in a row…

  10. Dunleavy won huge over the best the evil party had to offer. This same “best” candadate the evil party ran also got beat by a political unknown with the same name as the former Anchorage Mayor… my point is that the people of this State have in times past displayed their collective disdain for the Power Brokers and Parasites .

    Republicans are the party that says “Govenment doesn’t work, ” after they come to power they prove that statement correct.

    All is not lost Art, like Buck we must relearn the Law of Club and Fang!

  11. Gather ’round the campfire children, Grandpappy Arty is going to spin one of those mesmerizing yarns for you! Yes, it’s always the same at its heart but the additions to every edition are why you want to engage! Fortunately you, you will grow up and will amusingly recall his batty, utter, claptrap.

  12. Liberal synapses fire slowly. When they finally do fire, they have to go through the usual scrutiny: focus grouped, more processing, central agreement, emotional spin and unification. Then……they can release. Group effort, like sheep jumping over a fence in the road, even when the path around is obvious. But Art, you already know this.

    • Don’t forget the reflexive name-calling and appeals to identity politics. They cannot restrain themselves. It has become part of the DNA.

  13. “ Do I have to come in there and fix that state?” …Pres. Trump will eventually say. He’ll take note of one shenanigan after the other up here in our legislature and will say “ Knock it off guys!” ….because Alaska is important to the U.S. ( I think).

    We’re all free loaders. We didn’t intend to be. I’ll give merchants a free pass. They are living by their wits. We must support them or we’ll lose them.

    We allow Murky to represent us and we shouldn’t. No one needs that kind of irritation. Sen. Dan Sullivan is working his back side off for Alaskans. Anyone else?

    Legislators, look in the mirror and ask “ What have I done to make Alaska a better place to live?” Also ask yourselves “ How many fights am I in? How much money am I making by being a troublemaker in this state. Have I fixed anything?”

    Sen. Lora Reinbold has consistently been on numbers and the constitution. And there are more Senators and Reps in our State who actually care about our fiscal future.

    It is NOT all about the PFD. It’s about the blind leading the blind!!! ( and always has been) We need a few more bright people up here like Senator Dan Sullivan and Lora Reinbold.

    Be sure to vote a paper ballot if possible. God help us if selfies become a way to vote and elect legislators.

    ( looking at the forest, and it is diseased!!!)

  14. Everyone in non profits, and other welfare entities have their hands out. Now we have legislators on the board of directors of non profits (Sponholz and Imhof) and we allow these “quid pro quo” situations-and they won’t change it. I propose a new law-no lobbyists in Juneau-and no legislator on or in any capacity working with a non profit. You want “feel good” go to California or Chicago. We are givi mg the State away-one non profit and one welfare recipient at a time. Dunleavy tried to cut the head off-and we didn’t support it enough-that shows you the corruption level in Juneau.

  15. You know what a non-profit is? It’s a group of three people who decide they’ll start one. They have to decide on a cause. They hand in their paper work, and then the money starts flowing in as salary to those three people. And if they hire people who can help them manage this non-profit, then more money starts flowing in as more salary. And when they acquire some experience at how to promote their cause, they even resort to asking us Alaskan citizens to contribute by hitting “ click and give” when we file for PFD. I challenge anyone reading this to give me a list of non-profits who have benefited you.

      • Explain.

        Is that the salmon hatchery at Gulkana, or…
        the group who sponsors field experiences for kids who live in the “field” 24/7


        • Field experiences for kids is one of the organizations programs. The program that in my opinion brings the most benefits to Alaskans is their culvert program.
          The CRWP has been mapping and identifying culverts that are impeding fish passage. This issue is of primary importance to fry. The case of Washington v. United States which went to the Supreme Court highlights the importance of culverts to fish habitat.
          CRWP has obtained funding for many culvert restoration projects. This funding has provided work for engineering companies and construction material sales companies in Anchorage. The projects have brought in millions of dollars to Cordova construction companies creating jobs in the community. I personally have benefited from participating in the design and construction of these projects.
          More importantly by promoting the health of the fishery many people benefit.
          The tourism industry benefits from the sport fishing industry. The commercial fisherman benefit from increased catch. Personal use and subsistence users benefit from the healthy salmon runs. The people that benefit cuts across political identities. The watershed is filling a role that was being ignored. If the Matanuska Borough had an organization like CRWP involved in their watershed they would have healthier fisheries.
          I consider myself a hard working person who appreciates hard work. I have nothing but respect for the employees of the CRWP. When ever I walk buy or stop in the office everyone is working and it is reflected in the results they get.
          This is just one non profit that has benefited me and many others.
          Curious on your opinion of Amanda Price the Department of Public Safety Commissioner.

    • And Alaska has a huge number of non-profits; I’m told the highest number per capita of any state. I suspect that armed with a small team of forensic accountants, I could put a lot of people in jail, or at least remove their non-profit status. We on the Republican/conservative side of the ditch are on the back side of the curve on this because for us doing something that you don’t plan to profit from is an unnatural act.

  16. Congratulations. Your response is the beginning of an important discussion. My interest is a focus on non- profits and their accomplishments…and i cannot answer any questions or state an opinion on personalities/individuals. What we all need to know is the impact of non- profits in the state of AK. We would hope to see more responses from non-profits such as you have given. Thank you. You have spoken well for CRWP. The coverage of state issues by MRAK is vast, reaching 1,000s.

    • The first question that needs an answer is what is the difference between a million dollars distributed as dividends to the shareholders of a for-profit corporation and a million dollars paid to the head of a “non-profit” corporation. I submit that there is no difference.

  17. Suzanne Downing and Art Chance…..the two best commentators in Alaska…….best writers too. These two need to host a radio talk show that broadcasts throughout the state.

Comments are closed.