Alaskans deserve better

Posted: Thursday, May 22, 2003

Imagine a parent who took a significant part of the family's income to buy lottery tickets in hope of someday winning a jackpot. Imagine if the parent did this while the family was struggling to pay its bills, the kids had little support for their educational needs, grandmother was barely surviving on her fixed income and the house's infrastructure was crumbling. The parent would of course be roundly condemned. No doubt some of our pious legislators would be jockeying for front row seats from which to publicly cast their stones.

Now imagine a Legislature that votes to give the oil companies an annual bribe of $50 million to $100 million in tax credits in the hope of hitting some future speculative jackpot. Imagine that that Legislature did this while the state is struggling to pay its bills, while this same Legislature is proposing a regressive sales tax (hitting hardest on the poorest and most disenfranchised), while education goes underfunded, while proposing to cut social programs for the poor, young, sick or elders and while the infrastructure of our state crumbles. Just like the thoughtless parent who frolics with the desperate family's needed income, this Legislature and its inability to come up with fair and compassionate proposals to address the dire financial situation faced by this state - indeed, its refusal to govern unless there is absolutely no political consequences that could possibly threaten the entrenched incumbents - should be condemned by every citizen of this state.

Every legislator who voted for that early and continuing Christmas gift to the oil companies while voting to tax the poor and cut social programs for the neediest Alaskans should be held accountable at the next election. Unless and until we citizens send the message to our legislators that we expect better of our "leaders," we're destined to get more of the same deplorable policies driven by special interests and urged on by sycophants. As an Alaskan, I believe we all deserve better.

Garland Walker


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