"Hi, Dorothy, it's me. I just got off the ship in Juneau, and a whole bunch of folks met us on the dock selling things and herding us around like cattle. But, Dorothy, I don't think this is our Kansas farm.
"I saw a lot of shops with the same names as in other places in Alaska. It's sometimes real hard to tell the difference and I'm glad they put up signs to let you know this is Juneau or a body could get real confused here. You know something else? I saw some of these same store names in the Virgin Islands a couple of years ago. Can you believe I met a clerk here I met down there too? She told me they just followed the seasons around and sold much the same things. I declare, Dorothy, I never saw so many shops selling the same kinds of pricey souvenirs in all my life.
"I wanted to get you something of the local arts and crafts, and my, they had some real pretty things. But when I turned the things over it turned out most of it was made in Korea, or China or Taiwan or such. It was real hard to find something that was actually made in Alaska by local folks.
"I looked around downtown for some personal things, but I couldn't find a store with what I needed. Someone said, 'Oh, you can go out to the mall in the Valley.' Turns out there are so many souvenir shops in downtown Juneau now and so little parking, that few of the local folks bother to come downtown. They live and shop in that valley, wherever that is. There wasn't an easy way for me to get there, so I just didn't go.
"There were some folks on the docks too who had signs about cruise ship pollution of the air and water. My goodness, I never imagined such a thing. You'd think those ships would be state-of-the-art and would deal with anything like that properly and not dirty up the places they use to make all their money. Only thing is, there aren't many rules for them and most of the ships are registered in foreign countries. They don't even pay taxes here, for Heaven's sakes.
"And, you know what I read in the paper? Seems like there's a bunch of Alaska politicians who think that's perfectly fine. They give the excuse that since Juneau had some pollution problems of their own, it was fine to let those ships dump all they wanted. That's like saying if your dog poops in the corner of your yard it's OK to invite everyone else's dogs poop all they want in your yard too. Can you believe elected politicians actually get up and say such things? Makes you wonder who's buttering their bread, doesn't it?
"Some guy had a letter in paper talking about 'eco-goofballs.' I've noticed folks short on smarts and long on greed like to call names a lot. But, if 70 percent of all Americans are concerned about their environment, who is the real goofball?
"Bye, now. See you soon."
Erik Lie-Nielsen is a Juneau businessman and environmentally aware citizen concerned with the quality of life in Alaska and the nation.
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