It's time for truth telling in debate about economy

Posted: Thursday, January 21, 2010

Paulette Simpson's Jan. 18 opinion piece was quite telling. Simpson makes the argument that Juneau's current economic hard times are caused by online shopping, distracted city leaders and legislative delegation, and particularly by the activities of the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council.

She goes on to argue that SEACC opposed the Kensington mine and its great jobs, obstructs the Juneau Access Road that would bring prosperity, and supports the $50 cruise ship head tax that is counterproductive." Finally, SEACC "fashioned an industry out of crippling other industries and even have spare cash for an image makeover."

This tirade seems to have the same basis as another recent diatribe. SEACC has had the temerity to take out advertisements in the paper that profile local people who work for the group.

It's time for some truth telling. The country is pulling out of a deep recession, caused in large part by the Republican party's repeal of financial regulation. Actually, Alaska and Juneau, due to the high price of oil, are not doing badly.

SEACC worked with the Kensington mine owners and thought they had a deal, but Kensington is now going to destroy a beautiful area and important fish habitat for a mine that will last no more than 20 years. What a deal for us! Will they then clean up their mess? Or will they then sell to a dummy corporation and walk away from it?There's a lot of precedent for that.

And yes, regarding the dear old road to Skagway. That has been fought over for years. I do recall seeing a gouge up a mountain the first time I visited Skagway. I was told the locals were so tired of begging the territory to build a road out of there that they blasted out four miles themselves. I thought of that a few years later when I was told the noisy ore trucks from the mines ran 24 hours a day and fallen ore was a hazard on the road. Roads run two ways, remember.

As to the head tax, I remain baffled by industry's fury. Last summer I asked various passengers their opinion and all were as puzzled as I. Since it's a pass-through tax, the cruise industry is not really affected.

Yes, it is true that Juneau's economy is not doing terribly well. The city has been losing population; let's hope the new census shows it increasing again.

And why is it decreasing in size? Well, what about former Gov. Sarah Palin telling her commissioners they didn't have to live here and showing by example that her house in Wasilla was superior to the Governor's Mansion in Juneau, especially since she charged the state $69 per diem. She also stayed quite busy moving state jobs to Wasilla and Anchorage.

Simpson is correct in writing that "Juneau's economic foundation is built on state government." She also was modest in not stating her longtime affiliation with the Republicans in Alaska, serving as president of the Alaska chapter of the National Federation of Republican Women from 2006 to 2008, as well as being quite active in local Republican politics.

Simpson's article is a nice reflection of the GOP in general since the election of President Obama. First, pretend problems are caused by someone else; never dream of taking responsibility yourself. You are the victim of those unfair practices by the demon of your choice. Social conservatism, which sadly appears to have consumed the Grand Old Party at the moment, operates that way. Veracity has nothing to do with shouting.

This is very sad as our country requires two strong national parties. True debate, real reasoned opposition and discussion are essential to our republic. When will the wise people of the Republicans take control and oust the demagogues? Or will we continue to suffer the infantile behavior of the national blabberers?

• Dee Longenbaugh lives in Juneau.

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