Not All Relationships Are Good
By Michael Chambers
There has been and continues to be an unholy alliance in Alaska. This unholy alliance is what is known as the "establishment Republicans" or crony capitalists and the Alaska Democrat Party. This unholy alliance is precisely why the government footprint was barely lowered over the last 5 years of state deficit spending.
Specifically, these political groups derive substantial personal financial gain based on excessive government spending. Rest assured this alliance is precisely why all the citizens of Alaska were taxed 1/2 to 2/3rds of their PFD. They are attempting to direct this plundered money directly into the pockets of a select few instead of assisting Alaskans during one of the hardest recessions we are witnessing in state history.
On one hand, Democrats believe in capturing national and state financial resources to direct funds to the "collective greater good." A perfect example of this is the recent allocation of Covid crisis money being directed to the purchase of homeless shelters instead of allocating those funds to individuals and private enterprise who took the majority hit of the health crisis and subsequent economic sequester.
On the other hand, establishment Republicans just prefer state money directed to their special interest organizations which will redistribute the money toward personal financial interests.
The real loser in this equation is Alaska and it's inability to create a vibrant private sector. In recent conversations with Donna Arduin, former OMB Director for the Dunleavy administration, in a recent seminar in Palmer, Alaska, she made it crystal clear that if Alaska does not lower state expenditures to a level we can afford, and fails to assist in developing a vibrant private sector, then we will continue to be stuck in economic boom and bust cycles of fluctuating oil prices and stock market fluctuations forever.
Now lets examine what is going on in real time...
It is apparent that the crony capitalists recently took a broadside in the primary election. They lost a substantial amount of representatives they have groomed over the years to do their financial bidding. Now, there is a concerted effort by "select" narrators to carry the water for these crony capitalists by assaulting candidates who advocate for a full PFD. These authors are using a host of insults to discredit these "liberty" candidates who won in the primary. The basic premise is to call them naïve and disconnected to the financial reality of our current financial crisis.
This is a carefully orchestrated effort on their part to protect their personal financial state assets.
Ultimately, this is precisely why we are in our current financial mess. If these proponents of the status quo continue to manipulate our legislature to do nothing, rest assurred the next major resource move will be to eliminate the PFD program entirely and incorporate some form of tax stream on the citizens in order to keep their state largess gravy train intact.
Economist Ed King of King Economics articulates the challenge best when he calls for a direct systemic change to our State Constitution by passing a Constitutional Spending limit. Ed states without this financial infrastructure in place, legislators will fail to address the financial crisis in any meaningful way. The real challenge is that if the legislature were to pass a Constitution spending limit in this next term, it would take until 2022 in order to get it on the general election ballot to put before the people. In other words, given this scenario, our legislators will be running blindly for two years attempting to lower the footprint of government with no infrastructure in place and an army of special interests lamenting their "special financial rights and needs."
It should be clear....
The Alaska State legislature is somewhat like the Board of Directors of the citizens of Alaska. One of the reasons why we are in such a financial crisis is the proponents of the "status quo" have diected the "options" available to the legislature in dealing with any financial issues. These members of the Juneau Swamp generally tend to articulate only a few options lawmakers have to address most financial results. It is no surprise that these "select" options generally lead to one bad example and one terrible example but both leading to an increased government footprint.
In other words, our elected representatives are manipulated even prior to getting sworn into office and then once the wheels of the airplane hit the tarmac in Juneau, the full court press is implemented and our representatives are bum rushed with lobbiests.
In reality, our "board of directors" should have the entire set of options before them, not simply options directed by legislative finance or other quasi government authorities.
Just for the purpose of conversation to articulate options that are never discussed, the citizens of the State of Alaska, through the Constitution, own the entire Permanent Fund. If the citizens agreed to receive a PFD directly from the corpus of the fund which had reasonable sideboards to protect the fund's corpus, they have a right to make these changes and receive a consistent PFD based on this choice. If legislators are reluctant to allow citizens to make this choice, our state founding fathers created the right of all citizens to vote on a Constitutional Convention each decade. This option is up in 2022. Rest assured, the "status quo" will squeal like little piggies considering any option to allow citizens a direct hand in redesigning the way Alaskans conduct their business. They believe our current constitution is just fine. Of course they would! It serves them well in it's current form. That is the perfect definition of status quo.
Ask these questions....
Would a full payback of the current PFD and the sequestered portions of past PFD payments impact your ability to make it through this current economic crisis? Is this important? Would a payback assist our overall private economy?
Ultimately, I am asking all citizens to stay the course and elect this new breed of legislators and then get engaged in articulating your vision of Alaska and our future. If you do not get engaged, Alaska's future will be designed by the same interests who have created our current mess.
Your first engagement if you agree with this narrative is to share this on social media everywhere. We must educate all Alaskans and you can help. Thank you.
If you have further questions or wish to share your thoughts you can contact me here: