Letters to the Editor

Posted: Friday, January 24, 2003

Current fish, game management policies illustrate anarchy in action

A word, if I might, regarding the process of management of my fish. And yes, I did say my fish. Some very sage Alaskans, who, if you were to ask me, deserve much more of our reverence for their foresight, have preserved in law, by way of the framing of our state Constitution, the notion that all of the resources of this state rightly belong wholly to the residents of this state. That's why I feel comfortable talking about my fish. Not only does it have a nice ring to it, it's based in law.

But I cannot help but ponder a larger thought. As regards the management of fish and game resources, it was reasoned by those Alaska predecessors, our very own sage and revered lawmakers, that the absence of direct or coercive government involvement in managing our fish and game would be the political ideal. Why that ideal wasn't deemed to extend to our other resources -- oil, gas, timber, gold, etc. -- will soon be evident.

But I digress. As it pertains to fish and game, it was felt that a cooperative and voluntary association of individuals and groups should become the vehicle for managing our fish and game resources. Hence the creation of our fish and game boards, with their ancillary advisory committees to act as this cooperative and voluntary association of individuals and groups, supposedly free from direct or coercive government involvement. What a concept.

That inspiration, to join together and manage

our fish and game for our common wants, is defended as brilliant, but I'm of the opinion it is flawed within the context of our laws.

Here is the problem. This is word for word a textbook definition of anarchy, and we've all been taught that anarchy is bad. The underlying

reason that we are taught anarchy is bad is that if we could just carry the concept through in a very much larger sense, there would be no need of government, no need of contractual laws, no need of legal protections of differing classes of people. We could just assume our common needs would be voluntarily and cooperatively met.

I submit that those common needs are not being met, those common needs are routinely set aside so that differing classes of people can benefit, each in their own sense, from the contractual laws and the legislation of our government which preserve those class distinctions.

These are the determining factors that continue to define the management of our resources, it is nothing less than the co-opting of our common needs to enrich certain classes. That is allocation, and until we define and protect our common needs, our resources will continue to be allocated to the benefit of one class of people at the expense of other classes of people.

Lest I stray from the point, the other definition of anarchy is confusion, chaos and disturbance. That's also descriptive of the results of the early king run management plan arguments put forth to provide allocations for certain classes of users at the expense of our residents' common needs.

As for myself, to commemorate my predecessors' ideals, like any good anarchist seeking political and social liberty, I do intend to catch some of my fish. I'm also pondering the status of my gold, timber and oil and gas resources.

Paul Zimmerman, Kasilof



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