Like Gov. Sean Parnell and a number of Republican legislators down in Juneau, I'm SUPER mad about the federal government and its "war with Alaska's interests."
Memo to the feds: Get out of our lives! We don't need you and your socialist government programs! We're Alaskans! We know how to handle things on our own!
I mean, except for a few things. Or, maybe, like about $10 billion worth of things.
We want you out of our business, period. But could you, like, keep funding a third of all our jobs? You know, the Coast Guard, Army, Air Force, National Weather Service, Transportation Safety Administration, Federal Aviation Administration, Veterans Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Forest Service, Indian Health Service, U.S. Postal Service and all the other federal agencies?
And also those billions in military spending and the housing and health grants to Alaska Native nonprofits? Keep all that coming. And the third of our governor's proposed state budget for 2011 (that's $2.8 billion) that comes from Washington. We'll need that. And the pool of bucks you give to our growing population of older residents in the form of Social Security checks. And the housing vouchers and public assistance and disability payments and the food stamps. It's not like we can afford to take care of our sick, poor, hungry and disabled without you. Plus, that's millions for our economy.
Ideologically speaking, we're opposed to government handouts. Haven't people heard of personal responsibility? Self-reliance? We don't believe in entitlements. Unless by entitlements you mean us feeling entitled to more federal money per capita than most anywhere else. In which case, it's cool. Or you mean PFD checks. But those are not entitlements. They are the payments we deserve and expect for being here and breathing.
Anyway, we'd also like our companies to keep getting federal contracts. And could you please continue to pay to get the mail to rural communities at a reduced price? And there's that little-over-a-billion in federal stimulus dollars. We'd like to keep that as well, but at the same time we're also going to complain about it. We hate bloated government spending! (But, since you insist, Nome wants a hospital. And we'd like the Glenn Highway to get resurfaced. Fairbanks wants its airport improvements. Juneau wants its buses. And we're counting on your help to fix the Tudor/Lake Otis intersection, OK? Waiting in that traffic is infuriating.)
You know another reason we hate the feds? Taxes. We don't pay much compared to just about every other state in the U.S. And for every dollar we do pay, we enjoy close to two dollars in government services in return (that's about $14,000 per person, also more than most everyone else in the country). It's a total redistribution of wealth and it works in our favor. It's helping us weather the recession. We'd thank you for that, federal government, except that would make us look bad.
See, we have fed-hating, tea-bag-waving constituents to pander to. There's populist anti-government rage out there, born of economic frustrations, short on specifics and fed by the right-wing media. We want to harness it. Who cares what the facts are?
So, sure, we'll take your money. But you better watch it with your Outside-y rules. How dare you insert yourself into our lives, telling us how to manage our land and our animals, like our threatened polar bears and endangered beluga whales? You say your policies rely on science? So do ours. Like the scientific findings of Rep. Don Young, who recently declared, in reference to endangered Cook Inlet beluga whale species: "I personally don't believe this is a different species of beluga whale (than those) in Kotzebue that we kill and eat many times up there ... I don't believe there's a bit of difference."
Take that, fancy guys with Ph.D.s who determined the Cook Inlet belugas were genetically different from those anywhere else. This is Alaska. We know what we know. We don't need Outside government types around here making war on our interests. Unless they want to give us money. In that case, we'll take it.