The Fickle Finger of Guilt

Oh! Those Naughty Non-Spenders
Another round of applause for the ingenuity of incorporated master minds; they have found yet another guilt trip to lay on the public. The Constitutional tax-payers have been assured that their inability to pay back loans generously manufactured for them by the banks with an easy lending factor of interest-rate only pay back for the first six months, is what resulted in the housing bubble and subsequent crash. It was the fault of a gullible people, not the policies of the banks themselves. It was also their fault that they received hundreds of credit card offers on a weekly basis, enticing them to over-extend their income today and worry about it tomorrow. And now, it’s the fault of the American public that our economy hasn’t become stimulated because the Constituents are afraid to spend money on what they don’t need, striving instead, to live within their shaky income. These formula masters are failing to take into account one thing; the consumers control the market. When people no longer wish to buy a product, the product no longer has value. What people aren’t buying anymore is guilt.

The question should be, “what will people buy?” Obviously, they’d like to buy homes at affordable rates, without inflated interest rates and property taxes driving down their ability to make payments. A major shift in the populace has looked away from an oil driven economy, contemplating oil efficient energy and oil free products. How difficult would it be for the recipients of billion dollar bail-out funds to invest in alternative energy resources and natural products? In the process of building this new industry, jobs would be generated for builders, construction workers, engineers, technicians and laborers.

People have to buy food. As inflationary rates soar for fuel production, so do the transportation and packaging costs for food. Excessive one product farming has resulted in depleted soil, in wide spread use of chemical fertilizers, growth hormones and stimulants and has resulted in a monopoly over small farm practices. Yet the American public, ailing with poor nutrition and trace particles of artificially stimulated foods, has renewed an interest in organic farm products. Would it be excruciatingly painful for the financial institutions that are still pushing to sell million dollar corrugated wood boxes, to finance small farm operations on an easy, low payment plan? Once again, more work would be created; more means of revenue.

Why Alaskans Get Tougher
To the candid eye, this sounds like a strange perspective coming from an oil dependent state; a state whose main energy source is oil, whose citizens drive long miles to work every day, and who receive a yearly dividend from the oil companies. How could Alaska possibly afford to switch to alternative energy and bio-food production?

To begin with, the years of oil wealth may have been beneficial for awhile, but has become an albatross for the over-all development of the rest of its economy. Oil spills have harmed fish habitats and the culpable still resist paying damages. Oil contracts have not been fulfilled, potential fields, tied in courts over lease-claim violations, lie idle. Although we have our own gas company; Tesoro; and three refineries, two of which are operating at minimum capacity, the price of gasoline in Alaska remains a dollar more per gallon over the National average. This creates an undue hardship for the average Alaskan commutes forty to sixty miles a day to work. The higher fuel costs has forced many to give up their jobs and look for a job closer to home; even if its’s for lower pay. Those who generally take low paying jobs cannot afford to accept them if it means they will have to drive more than a few miles back and forth to work.

The Arctic villages, which are completely oil dependent for electricity and fuel, have been unable to pay their winter energy bills and only the help of Venezuela has kept them from being thrown back into the stone age. Alaska has many energy resources; wind, water, coal, wood, natural gas, hydro-thermal pockets. Many of Alaska’s people would rather see some of these resources developed, even if it means a smaller dividend, as long as they could benefit from cheaper energy costs. The establishment of cheap energy production would not only create more jobs, but ease the expense of energy costs in the Arctic villages, leaving them with sufficient income to remain within their traditional communities.

Alaskans have been eating organic foods for a long time. The Matanuska Valley, a two hundred mile tract of land carved out by glaciers, was first settled by farmers under Franklin D. Roosevelt’s homestead act in the 1930’s. The soil, deposited by the glacier’s grinding movements, is black and fertile. The early farmers were able to grow potatoes, with a texture and flavor that rivals Idaho spuds. They discovered they could grow forty pound cabbages, giant zucchini squash, fat radishes, carrots, green beans, peas, broccoli, cauliflower, chard, lettuces and beets. They learned how to start tomatoes, cucumbers and corn in green houses. Technology has brought them hybrid apple trees and northern cherries. Valley farmers offer poultry, farm fresh eggs, range fed beef and buffalo and dairy products.

The main stay of the Alaskan diet however, is fish, game and wild berries. The average Alaskan will eat more fish in one week than most American diets consume within a month. Their freezers are stocked with moose, caribou and reindeer sausage. The irony is, that at a time when subsistence rights are most needed, sport fishing and hunting are what’s being favored by the legislature in the interest of increasing the general fund. The general fund itself, has undergone questionable treatment. Instead of funding much needed renovations for the fish hatcheries, much of it was invested in an already failing stock market. The general fund has lost much of its buying power, and the fishing industry, our greatest renewable natural resource, has been jeopardized.

Alaska can provide sustainable agriculture; clean foods free from chemical inducements or harmful bacteria. It can provide cheap energy. Its decisions will be based on the same type of discrepancies states will be deciding everywhere; what consumers will buy. Will we buy more oil; more gold and precious metals? Will we spend our money in chain stores or at small businesses? Will we buy new, energy saving technology? Are we open to new media expression? While the numbers of people who can afford to consume our external industry continues to dwindle, the need to answer these questions with expediency becomes more apparent. The days of the old spin doctrine routines are over. We aren’t the guilty. We are a nation of people whose trust has been betrayed and who now find themselves in the wallowing depths of poverty.