During a recent visit with the Peninsula Clarion’s editorial board, Don Young, Alaska’s lone representative in the U.S. House of Representatives, left us with this thought: The public needs to be more aware of where our state is going. What’s more, we need a shared vision of our destination.
Young wasn’t talking about specific issues, like the current squabble over oil taxes. He’s talking about thinking big, and thinking beyond the next election cycle, outlining a vision for Alaska for 20 or 30 years down the road. It’s something he says is currently lacking, not just in state government, but across the state. We’re not thinking big like we used to.
Whether you agree with Young’s politics, it’s hard to argue his point. The Alaska envisioned 40 years ago when the oil started to flow has come and gone; right now, we’re struggling to maintain the status quo. And we’re are struggling as a state to answer the million-dollar question, what next?
The truth is, there is no easy answer. But our head-in-the-sand approach isn’t working either. We could blame Juneau, but in fact, our state government is giving us just what we’re ask for: provide services but tax someone else to do so, and keep those Alaska Permanent Fund dividend checks coming each fall. Indeed, we are victims of our own success. As Young points out, we’ve gotten comfortable, and complacency does not lend itself to big ideas.
So, with the election season ready to ramp up, we challenge the candidates to share their vision of Alaska, not over the next two to four years, but over the next two to four decades.
But even more than that, we challenge the public to take a good hard look at the current state of our state, and to think about where we’re going, and what our destination should be. It’s time to think big.