Alaska editorial: We all play a role in economic recovery

Posted: Friday, November 28, 2008

Alaska is heads above other states in this economic crisis.

At least it has the $30 billion Alaska Permanent Fund and the $1 billion Constitutional Budget Reserve. State leaders established the CBR to fund government when revenue declined, and while the permanent fund investments aren't immune to the Wall Street crisis, there is a fund that hasn't gone broke. No other state has a permanent fund.

Add to that the state's riches in natural resources - oil, gas, minerals, timber, fish and other seafood, wildlife, and an aura and beauty that will draw tourists and recreationalists from around the world. The whole world isn't on the brink of bankruptcy.

Beyond that, Alaska has tremendous potential to expand its hydro and turn its wind and tides to electrical power. It has an environment that promotes an agriculture and dairy industry.

Instead of focusing too long and hard on what has been lost in the crisis, look at what remains. It's a veritable fortune.

Ketchikan shares in all of this, for no community stands alone in Alaska.

Nor does Alaska find itself separate from the nation.

But when challenges come, it becomes more likely individuals and individual communities and states will focus on self-reliance, because that's what most of us can do.

Our statewide elected officials are charged with representing us in the nation's capital, but in tough times, we have to do more for ourselves.

That means the state's focus in an economic crisis should be on jobs and developing its natural resources in a sustainable fashion.

But the state and the nation aren't going to carry all of the water. Communities and the individuals who live in them play an integral part.

One of the first reactions to a national economic crisis is that individuals stop spending on all but necessities. Local government likely will be encouraged to do the same by taxpayers who find ourselves with less.

No one here would argue with the wisdom of not spending what we don't have.

The question becomes how to keep the economy moving with less money circulating among government, businesses, individuals and the people who work to support them.

Part of the answer is to look into our spending habits when it comes to the necessities and determine whether we are supporting the economy in which we live or someone else's. With increased shipping and handling charges, a review of what the costs are to buy elsewhere might be prudent.

The other part of the answer is to build or produce something that will create revenue. As local government and businesses look at budgets for the upcoming year, every dollar should be considered for its maximum potential. Will it turn over once in the community or will it be spent over and over again? Or will it leave altogether?

Ketchikan is part of a still-wealthy state and a great nation. But the crisis adds weight to the shoulders of communities and their citizens to contribute to the economic recovery.

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