Kevin McCabe: Good legislation deserves honest dialogue, not rhetoric



Primum non nocere, originally a medical maxim, translates to “first, do no harm.” This principle of ethics is the medical establishment’s guiding belief in virtually every country and is the hallmark for ethical medical practice, requiring healthcare providers to weigh risks and benefits carefully.

Whether prescribing medications, performing procedures, or making treatment decisions, the imperative to avoid harm guides every step. In the legislature the same ethical decision making must apply.

If we do apply the same principle to the Alaska State Legislature, it highlights our duty to preserve and protect the well-being of all Alaskans. As we navigate complex budgetary landscapes, this well-known maxim should shape our responsible care for the future of Alaska.

While it is essential to weigh the future risks our current budget decisions create, we must not forget the programmed funding increases that already plague our budget. This includes the $7 plus billion-dollar pension liability (from the previous defined benefits program) that remains unfunded, and the current education foundation formula spend.

Healthcare professionals are also cautioned to consider the potential harm any intervention from them might cause. When faced with a choice, it may be better to refrain from action if the risk of harm outweighs an uncertain benefit. This same principle must underly every decision, bill, and monetary choice the legislature makes. We must consider what any legislative decisions will cost Alaska in the next decade or century.

Just as physicians prioritize patient safety, legislators must prioritize the wellbeing and future welfare of their citizens when crafting legislation. Much like doctors tailor treatments to individual patients’ needs, legislators create laws and policies, through debate and deliberation, that directly impact Alaskans current welfare as well as the future health of Alaska itself.

Likewise, do no harm thinking should inform the various groups that are advocating for huge, programmed spending increases. With our current dependency on oil revenues, where is the money going to come from now, as well as in the future?

How is this spending going to affect our children and our grandchildren? Is there a quantifiable and measurable return on investment? Or just an uncertain benefit with a murky fiscal note? And if the benefit is uncertain, would we be better to refrain from passing a bill or spending the money?

Two bills currently in play that highlight what should be our process are SB 140 (the so called “BAG” bill which contains the possibility of a significant BSA increase); and SB 88, the Defined Benefits bill. 

SB 140 currently has an increase of $300 in the Base Student Allocation. This is not education funding as everyone seems to want to call it. It is school district funding. It goes to fund the business end of the school districts and will not necessarily filter quickly to the classroom in any great quantities. 

In some districts, such as the MatSu borough school district, increased funding does translate into current increased outcomes for our children. But does such an increase also create possible future harm to Alaska? At a price point of $27 Million for every $100 dollar increase to the BSA, a $300 increase will add $81 million dollars to every single budget going forward – a programmed increase to an already huge $2.7 Billion dollar education budget. 

Can future Alaska — our children and grandchildren — afford that? The return on investment might be obvious. But in our current budget crisis, what other program, that might contribute to the health and wellbeing of Alaska gets cut to afford this increase now, and how do we afford it in the future? What will future legislatures be unable to pay for because we have increased the BSA to this level.

Likewise, SB 88 has a very cloudy outlook, with possible huge financial implications for future Alaskans. With the current generation workforce attitudes against working for a single agency or company for their entire lifetime, the benefits SB 88 are intended to provide seem unlikely. In short, it has no decent return on investment for Alaska. The potential damage to Alaska, however, could be huge. It is a risk we should not take. 

As with any legislative action, whether bills or budgets, honest open dialogue is important from all sides. The sales pitches and social media memes, particularly from the groups pushing for a huge BSA increase and defined benefits, have been anything but truthful.

Their emotional rhetoric is designed to trigger and activate certain segments of Alaskans without really providing any factual data. It is also specifically designed to pit Alaskans against their elected representatives, without any dialogue or discussion, by ascribing untrue motives and actions to a legislature that, by and large, is trying to do no harm.

Rep. Kevin McCabe represents District 30 Big Lake (formerly known as District 8), and is a 747 captain.


      • No, McCabe is not on the right track. He votes poorly and pushes bills that are not good for Alaska and then turns around and pushes some “shiny” bills that gets people’s attention, but won’t save Alaskans from the important issues at hand; i.e. issues that are going to force us into 15-minute cities, social credit scoring, etc. I am not a troll like timeinwasilla; but, he is right that McCabe is the wrong guy.

  1. As usual, a legislator pontificating and philosophizing about the budget decisions they must make fails to even mention the third rail of Alaska politics: The Dividend.
    Personally, I would like to cut the spending in the budget enough so that everyone could enjoy a GINORMOUS Dividend. However, the legislature’s ability to cut whole programs or even the spending in individual programs seems lacking. For example, we all know that our education system is failing, student enrollment is falling, and costs continue to skyrocket. If it was me, I would seek to make wholesale changes in how we approach the mission. THAT would upset the apple-cart of so many special interests that it would be political suicide for many legislators (whose primary mission is to win the next election). Look at what happened to Governor Dunleavy upon election. Of course the ham-handed approach in which he submitted his proposals caused him to almost be recalled from office.
    In the end, it is our own fault (The People) for electing them to office and demanding perks and services from the Guv’ment that we cannot afford. In my opinion, the world is going to get even tougher for everyone due to inflation caused by our debt and multi-trillion dollar annual deficits. Add in our penchant for subsidizing wars, Alaska’s economic decline due to a smaller oil industry and the general blind socialism so many people demand. I fear for our future unless something changes.
    Strap in – its going to be a rough ride.

  2. What keeps representatives from being pitted against other Alaskan’s elected representatives?

    What keeps representatives from representing globalist, pirate equities and foreign and out of state corporate fed money grift grabbers by passing their multi-generational debt inducing, inflation exploding, industry controlling, economy crushing carbon control legislation against the wishes of the constituents? Primum non nocere indeed!

    Attende consilio tuo!

  3. Geez, I wonder if there’s anybody educated in the school system who can fix potholes, make capital projects come in on time, etc.etc..
    Strawman in Wasilla, the issue is not freedom of speech, it’s ETHICS. As in don’t waste my money. Ya it’s my money.

  4. I see a mixture of ethics and a certain amount of restraint that needs to be applied. The trouble is that first of all. we have certain members of the legislature who are already starting their run for governor. To do that, if they are Republican, they need the support pf the unions, hence the state employees retirement system bill. And those who want to increase the BSA know full well that with a decrease in students the BSA has already increased exponentially. So we are subjected to the usual numbers game. As for the Democrats, they do everything they can to make Alaska like California, while not providing and means of income. Standard operating procedure.

  5. Bad optics?
    In what universe do productive Alaskans benefit by holding the legislature to the same standards of state-sanctioned lying, stealing, fear-mongering, malpractice, overcharging, propagandizing, patient abuse, economy killing, and murder committed by the “medical establishment” in the name of China flu hysteria?
    Stuff like “A legislature that, by and large, is trying to do no harm” sends the message somebody’s not wise to fellow conservative legislators being routinely dumped on by Democrats and RINO’s alike.
    That’s not to say we don’t appreciate your work, we do, Captain. Problem is you’re accustomed to an intensely professional environment in which lives depend on the communication of truth.
    But now, Captain… you could be losing political altitude, airspeed, and ideas without even realizing it. Instead of the 747 instruction book which you know forward and backward, maybe all you got is Art Chance’s “Red on Blue, Establishing a Republican Governance” still in its box.
    Hell, the GOP never even gave you simulator time for what you’re doing now, just threw you in the deep end and chummed the water, didn’t they?
    Good news is you seem to be on a populist course, Captain. Take a lesson from the way President Trump talks to people, not at them, not down to them, you’ll be a powerhouse.
    Thanks again for your work.

  6. Do we deserve honest dialogue?

    Of course.

    Will we get it from any of them (Mike Shower excluded)?

    Of course not.

  7. Ask your doctor if you still go to one: do viruses exist? He will say I don’t know! Because there is no proof of a virus! Never been done in science!
    What happened to ethics of science and medicine! All corporate now run by corporate banks!
    So, you ask about the Schwab noes test?
    It not for a virus(no period of a virus) is actually an injection by tiny fangs in the cotton! Bio weapon!
    Depopulation agenda by corporations
    All done by the corporate banks!
    But no virus!

    • Im hoping this comment is satire. Otherwise somebody needs a long stay at API.

      My doctor disagrees. Most disagree. Proof of viruses have existed for decades. Electron microscopes have taken images of them.

  8. Dunlevy created a path for teachers to self fund their retirement via a bonus that is out on the BSA and will not be able to be used by the administration.

  9. As a Guest Writer /SENIOR CONTRIBUTOR I am shocked ! Paragraph after paragraph not saying anything of value to protect liberty & the free enterprise of We The People not a word on the Private sector working without a government hand out …. This man is not a Republican for less Government, period ! Does he do a good job for the Corporation YES! Not for the average Alaskan ….

    • Absolutely Ed! Nearly all Alaska Republican Legislators have forgotten that they should stand foremost for smaller, less intrusive government. This includes endeavoring to persevere to reduce government at every level – including education. This means giving parents more individual freedom to use mandated education funds in ways that best fit their needs rather than a one-sized approach of deceitful and perverse indoctrinations. The public education and university systems in Alaska are tremendously bloated bureaucracies with unnecessary programs that need discipline and control, not more funding.

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