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.

About karlsie

Some great perversity of nature decided to give me a tune completely out of keeping with the general symphony; possibly from the moment of conception. I learned to read and speak almost simultaneously. The blurred and muffled world I heard through my first five years of random nerve loss deafness suddenly came alive with the clarity of how those words sounded on paper. I had been liberated for communications. I decided there was nothing more wonderful than writing. It was easier to write than carefully modulate my speech for correct pronunciation, and it was easier to read than patiently follow the movements of people’s lips to learn what they were saying. It was during that dawning time period, while I slowly made the connection that there weren’t that many other people who heard the way I did, halfway between sound and music, half in deafness, that I began to understand that the tune I was following wasn’t quite the same as that of my classmates. I was just a little different. General education taught me not only was I just a little isolated from my classmates, my home was just a little isolated from the outside world. I was born in Alaska, making me part of one of the smallest, quietest minorities on earth. I decided I could live with this. What I couldn’t live with was discovering a few years later, in the opening up of the pipeline, which coincided with my first year of junior college, that there were entire communities of people; more than I could possibly imagine; living impossibly one on top of another in vast cities. It wasn’t even the magnitude of this vision that inspired me so much as the visitors who came from these populous regions and seemed to possess a knowledge so great and secretive I could never learn it in any book. I became at once, very conscious of how rural I was and how little I knew beyond the scope of my environment. I decided it was time to travel. The rest is history; or at least, the content of my stories. I traveled... often to college campuses, dropping in and out of school until one fine day by chance I’d fashioned a bachelor of arts degree in psychology. I’ve worked a couple of newspapers, had a few poems and stories tossed around in various small presses, never receiving a great deal of money, which I’m assured is the norm for a writer. I spent ten years in Mexico, watching the peso crash. There is some obscure reason why I did this, tightening up my belt and facing hunger, but I believe at the time I said it was for love. Here I am, back home, in my beloved Alaska. I’ve learned somewhat of a worldly viewpoint; at least I like to flatter myself that way. I’ve also learned my rural roots aren’t so bad after all. I work in a small, country store. Every day I greet the same group of local customers, but make no mistake. My store isn’t a scene out of Andy Griffith. The people who enter the establishment, which also includes showers, laundry and movie rentals, are miners, oil workers, truck drivers, construction engineers, dog sled racers and carpenters. Sometimes, on the liquor side, the conversations became adult only in vocabulary. It’s a good thing, on the opposite side of the store is a candy aisle filled with the most astonishing collection, it will keep a kid occupied with just wishing for hours. If you tell your kids they can have just one, you have an instant baby sitter; better than television; as they agonize over their choice while you catch up on the gossip with your neighbor. We also receive a lot of tourists, a lot of foreign visitors. They are usually amazed at this first sign of Alaskan rural life style beyond the insulating hub of the Anchorage bowl. Many of them like to hang around and chat. They gawk at our thieves wanted posters. They laugh at our jokes and camaraderie with our customers. I’ve learned another lesson while working there. You don’t have to go out and find the world. If you wait long enough, it comes to you.

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4 Comments on “The Fickle Finger of Guilt”

  1. There should be some kind of legislation towards the high oil prices in a state which produces it for resale. It seems like the oil refineries are the foster parents taking the benefits away from their foster children.

    America needs to develop some type of regulation towards the nutritional value of the food that we’re buying. We’re getting there, slowly but surely.

  2. Alaskans get together because they lose their freakin’ minds if they are out there on the tundra with nobody to talk to except the stalking caribou. Stalking caribou are very dangerous creatures. Since there are no trees to hide behind in the tundra, they pretend they are trees, creeping forward by inches, giving you delusions that you’re on an oasis with palm trees bending down to greet you. Then they have you. First thing you know, you’re in a tangle of caribou racks, with a red nosed one saying ho-ho-ho and trying to carry you off to a fat little bearded man. It’s a nightmare.

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