Cynical and moribund

Posted: Wednesday, January 30, 2002

Across the nation and around the world people of honor are being asked to commit to the causes of freedom. In his State of the Union Address, President George W. Bush called for every American to have the dignity of a job and recognize the public employee heroes among us. He said liberty and justice and human dignity are values that the forces of terror cannot diminish.

But in Alaska it appears we have become cynical and moribund, politically trapped in the cycle of boom-and-bust, resulting from lack of vision or courage. Citizens don't pay taxes, "our Permanent Fund" is worth many billions, but the state budget can't balance. We have bountiful natural fish and game resources, but politicians cannot arrive at a subsistence solution that will honor our constitution - and they will not allow the people to vote on a constitutional amendment - so a federal bureaucracy has stepped in.

We have a workforce of state employees being migrated to Anchorage against the best interests of Southeast Alaska. State workers are themselves caught in artificial class warfare between some 11 bargaining units, managed against each other, in a system in which the employer uses worker union warlords against the members' own best interests. How different is this dynamic from the political vacuum exploited by the Taliban in the once rich and beautiful country of Afghanistan?

I was a boy in Anchorage on the occasion of the 1964 earthquake, and worked as an Anchorage newspaper reporter during initial construction of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. Alaskans have demonstrated greatness in my lifetime. Recognizing that education is the hope of the future, over the last year and a half I have taken University of Alaska classes and worked in the Juneau School District, teaching children of our community to take responsibility for their future and realize their great potential by making good choices.

In this scenario I am struck every day by the reality that many of these beautiful children may in their lifetimes be called upon to demonstrate vision and courage their parents could never have imagined.

Donn Liston


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