Commentary: Was Alaska a bum deal for U.S.?

Talk about heresy — University of Iowa economist David Barker is disputing the notion that the federal government made a smart investment buying Alaska from Russia 142 years ago for $7.2 million.

How could he say such a thing?

Sure Alaska's economy was slow to develop after William H. Seward brought us into the federal fold. But in the past 40 years, since oil was found on the North Slope, Alaska has been churning out wealth like an ATM machine gone haywire.

And that doesn't count the riches -- salmon, gold and fur seals -- carted off during boom times earlier in our history.

But Mr. Barker looks at the Alaska purchase like an accountant, strictly from Uncle Sam's bottom-line perspective.

And if you do that, you do see a problem.

Uncle Sam has been a generous uncle to Alaska -- too generous, if you're Mr. Barker.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Anchorage Daily News.