An Alaskan journalist's perspective on local and national issues

Posts tagged ‘The Huffington Post’

Anti-Pebble Initiative Approved, but was that the right thing?

It was in the Anchorage Daily News today – how the anti-Pebble Mine initiative was approved.  It was pretty clear, given the amount of press coverage that the Pebble Project had that this was going to not only be a big event for Alaska, but also for the country.  It is almost ironic how this whole affair became less and less about the people of the community, and more about a values system.  As a rational person, one must ask the very important question – was the fact that this initiative passed the right thing?

Now, this initiative passing does NOT mean that the mine will never be built.  People seem to believe that this vote will end this debate once and for all.  That myth needs immediate debunking.  In fact, the Pebble Partnership intends to challenging this in court next week.  The Pebble Partnership seems to be of the mindset that this vote will be defeated in court.

To anyone who followed this debate closely, it quickly devolved from a rational discussion about what is best for Lake and Peninsula Borough, to a campaign of fear mongering and misleading the voters.  This was on both sides.  The tragedy is that neither side is innocent here.  For a left-leaning voter, that can be a bit of an annoyance, because the goal of liberal political activists should be to encourage rational debate, even if that can never happen.

However, the ultimate thing to be considered is this – what about those living in Lake and Peninsula Borough?  Quite sadly, the fishing industry in Southwest is not the glorious money-maker that those who were part of the Save the Salmon group seemed to miss.  The fact is that the estimated income of the fishing industry is over $100 million.  While that sounds like a lot, the problem is that a lot of that income is not going to the community.  In fact, most of the Limited Entry Permits in Bristol Bay are to out of state companies, so the profits are going to them.

While the subsistence fishing is a valid risk to consider, if the bulk of profits for commercial fishing are going out of state, how does that help Lake and Peninsula?  There is a real Catch-22 here – how did the anti-Pebble groups convince people that more money is a bad thing?

Those who were proponents of Pebble were showing how over 1,000 long-term jobs could be created.  In an area that is economically depressed like Lake and Peninsula Borough, this could be a great thing.  However, the battle went out of state, and then the message got totally lost.

It vaguely seems reminiscent of how the Exxon Valdez crisis was handled.  Exxon apologized to the New York Times about it, which made Alaskans very, very angry.  It was talking to people who didn’t live here about things that they didn’t care about.  It totally ignored the issue – that this was an Alaskan issue, and the focus needed to be on Alaska.

When people like Robert Redford weigh in, it is easy to get lost in the celebrity attention.  And it worked, apparently.  Celebrities saying things about a state that they don’t live in got to a lot of people.

The real question now becomes – how exactly do those who are against Pebble propose fixing the economic depression that Lake and Peninsula, or rather, all of Rural Alaska is in?  How exactly do they tell the people who are without significant opportunity for jobs that having less of them is a good thing?  Subsistence is the one major good argument that has been made against Pebble, because getting food is very difficult in rural Alaska, but what about jobs?

If most of the commercial fishing permits are for out of state companies, how is that helping the residents of Bristol Bay?  After all the talks about the salmon, the wildlife, and how Bristol Bay “doesn’t want Pebble,” that is the real problem.  Pebble may not have been perfect, it may not have been the right answer, but when they are saying that $200+ billion are underneath the ground in Lake and Peninsula Borough, how can people look the impoverished community members in the eye and tell them that not doing what is right for their community is the right thing to do?

It is good to be environmentally conscious, but the fact is that something has to be done.  Alright you anti-Pebble people, now the ball is in your court – if Pebble isn’t the answer – what is?

Peace out,

Lefty

Advertisements

The Future of America and the Entire World

There is a concept that was covered rather nicely in the film, The Social Network.  It was how everything that we understand about society and the world is changing.  This change has been brought about by the internet.  Really, the internet has changed everything that we understand about how society works.  How civilizations were ruled is radically changing.  When one looks at Egypt and wonders about how this came about, it was brought about by the new.  It was brought about by a young generation that wants the world to change, and for the better.

Nobody could have predicted what the last 20 years would do to the entire planet.  When the internet started to connect everybody, and access to it was becoming easier and easier to come by, the world saw a sweeping revolution of change.  To quote the character Sean Parker from The Social Network

First we lived in villages, then in cities, and now we will live on the internet!”

This is an apt quote.  The invention of Facebook has revolutionized the entire planet, and every single interaction that happens within it.  The social world that we live in is null and void if you don’t have an internet connection.  If you are unable to get online, you are dead to the world.  Those who make a joke about a person who has a broken computer and therefore feels rather lost are people who are unable to see the writing on the wall – that the internet is our civilization.  As such, because so much of the world is now online, there is a revolution that is beginning to occur – the young are gradually beginning to pose a new direction to society.

As America is gradually losing power, we are beginning to understand that the only way that our nation is going to survive is to rethink our paradigm and to make our nation more active in promoting the things that are able to do the most good.  As such, the typical left and right battles that come up are being decried on both sides because both sides are sick of hearing it.  A new view of society is replacing it – that all groups and grow, and that government power should not be more centralized and authoritative, but rather, as Jeremy Rifkin brings up in an article that was published on The Huffington Post,  distributed and collaborative.

Now, one could look at things like Occupy Wall Street and think that this is a sign of things, but that is just a symptom.  That is just something that rose up because of the fact that the interneat has changed everything forever and for always.  So, what is it a symptom of – how the young are looking at the results of what the authoritative powers like the American government have done and are now attacking this system.  There is a growing number who take the Randian Libertarian model, which is a farce and is ultimately more dangerous, and then there are those who believe that the world’s efforts should first be united by continent, and the by planet.

Rifkin called this “The Third Industrial Revolution.”  As more and more nations that were not in the sphere of power are becoming more active, as more nations are able to have access to energy and more access to other materials, there is a growth that is occuring.  And while things are growing everywhere else, America and other nations of power are on the decline.  America rode the wave after World War II.  We believed that we would be able to make the world whatever we wanted it to be.  It got us out of a Depression.  We believed that everything was going to be great forever.  But history has shown that economic success is never eternal.

So the question comes to – what will America’s involvement, and better yet, what will Alaska’s involvement be?  Well, the goal should be obvious – change the entire system to what works.  A global economic model that actually works.  One of the strangest things about the new GOP paradigm is their belief that we can continually spend and spend and spend, but not have to raise taxes.  They want to funnel money into the military efforts overseas, in a vain attempt to have global power, which is outdated, to be honest, while trying to make their power base at an unsustainable level for the entire country.

America has to change.  Alaska must change with it.  We have to move from an economy based on oil, for starters.  Renewable energy, on a large scale, could be a global effort and provide the entire world with cheap renewable energy.  It would help economies grow.  It would be good for the planetary biosphere.  It is just a good idea.  The next thing is to drastically change global relations by getting rid of the military deterrant that we have, but doesn’t work, and could eventually come back to bite us.  Nukes have to go.  The bases overseas have to go.  All of our military might in the third world has to go.  We have to change the balance of things by not coming into discussions as the superpower who will have a gun to your head, but as a voice that is adding an opinion to the discussion.  That is how it has to work.  The next thing is to get rid of Medicare and Medicaid, and institute universal health care.  America’s health care system is a broken, patch-work system, and while universal health care is by no means perfect, it really is the best option that we have.

Alaska must leave behind the oil-based mentality.  The idea that mining, oil, and our “frontier spirit” is going to save everything is a farce that is almost dangerous, when one examines these issues critically.  Alaska has a vast wealth of renewable sources that we could harness, leaving behind the finite resources such as oil and coal.  With Alaska’s small population, universal health care is almost too practical.  We are unique in that regard.  We have a large population that is spread out.  We can also afford to raise the taxes on all brackets, back to where they were under Clinton.  But most of all, we need to drastically rethink what we want to do.  The Libertarian views of me-me-me is starting to become a bad joke that is told by people who don’t want to face reality.  The Milton Friedman economic model doesn’t work.  It never has.  Clinton said in a recent interview that the Randian model has never worked, never been proven to work.  When Ron Paul runs America into the ground, that will be a sad day.

Really, we have to rethink how we view wealth, our fellow man, and the pursuit of money.  When the need for money is worth more than human life, as was shown by a Ron Paul supporter at the Tea Party debates, that is a model that is doomed to fail.  We have to start thinking about how we want to treat the least among us, and people have to be willing to make sacrifices, and the first who need to are the wealthy.  The real challenge is that we all have to start looking out for each other.  Until we can do that, America, Alaska, and the entire world is doomed to fail.

Peace out,

Lefty

Tag Cloud