Textbook for the future

Posted: Tuesday, May 07, 2002

Imagine a world where humankind is considered part of the environment and our elected leaders consider the needs of the commons when making decisions. Imagine a world where neither unbridled communism or capitalism reign. This is the world described in Wally Hickel's new book, "Crisis in the Commons: The Alaska Solution."

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Hickel offers the 'Alaska Solution' to cure what ails the world

If you haven't read this book yet, you should. It is a well-written lesson for all Alaskans and every citizen of the planet. Even if you don't agree with all of his ideas, Hickel's book will make you think about how we can co-exist with nature and how our potential as residents and stewards of the planet is limited only by our imagination.

The story he tells is a lesson in Alaska's battle for statehood and the world's struggle to find balance between bottom-line exploitation and lock-it-up environmentalism.

It is a story every student in Alaska should read. Our youth need to understand the battles that were fought by some of our greatest leaders to win statehood. They need to learn about how the federal government has broken its promises to the people of Alaska. They need to read about how outside commercial interests have exploited Alaska's resources at the expense of Alaska's citizens and the environment. They need to learn about how the environmental movement is trying to lock up Alaska and take humans out of nature's equation.

Everyone should listen to his message of entitlement. He explains with refreshing clarity how the creation of the Permanent Fund has fostered an atmosphere of doubt, greed and narrow-sightedness. And his theory that the Permanent Fund has stolen our pioneering spirit is worthy of consideration. As we face our current fiscal crisis, it would do every Alaskan good to understand that the Permanent Fund was established as a "rainy day account" and not as a giant trust fund.

Our local, state and federal leaders would serve us well to read this book, debate its ideas and concepts, and consider the arguments. Perhaps then they would move beyond the rancor of political jousting and act in the best interests of Alaska, the nation and the world.

Hickel's life has been one of challenges, victories, defeats, vision, leadership and controversy. This book is the culmination of an amazing life. It brings into focus an idea that has been nurtured over 50 years - an idea from a man respected around the globe for his vision and straight forward manner.

"Crisis in the Commons: The Alaska Solution" is a textbook for the present and the future.

Don Stolworthy

Juneau



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