Letters to the Editor

Posted: Friday, February 01, 2002

Clarion mistake embarrassing, hurtful to those who are involved

You folks at the Clarion must have had an unusually bad day Monday to have created the two sloppy errors in Tuesday's paper. I realize getting a newspaper out daily is a huge job, but it's a real failing on your part that you do not put more effort into the writing of our local news. Following up with the Corrections column is a decent gesture, but pretty hollow. I wonder how many people even read it.

The type of error in your article on the selection of a Soldotna City Council member is particularly upsetting. When I read the item, I was shocked at the quote attributed to Scott McLane. I could not imagine Mr. McLane saying such a thing! Wednesday, I see in the Corrections column that, indeed, he did NOT. The Clarion made this same type of error with me a few years ago, attributing something to me that was spoken by another person at a meeting. Coming from the woman who actually said it, the statement was understandable, but if I had said it it would have been insensitive and hurtful to her. Fortunately, when she read the paper, she knew the error, but no one else reading it did. It was very embarrassing to me as I know this current misquote is to Scott McLane. Shame on you!

Marie Rozak, Kenai

Letter writer was wrong; panel's

chair didn't threaten guides

The Clarion recently carried a letter to the editor which claimed that the Kenai-Soldotna Fish and Game Advisory Committee chairman suggested shooting Kenai River guides. I emphatically deny making that statement. I've been on the area advisory committee for about 20 years and have never even remotely suggested shooting anyone.

In fact, I think guns are dangerous and recommend people take the local hunter education course before even attempting to harvest game with guns.

I'd like to thank the Kenai-Soldotna area for allowing me to serve on the advisory committee.

Shalom, Brent Johnson, chair Kenai-Soldotna Fish and Game Advisory Committee

Investment in quality education

truly strengthens the economy

Wasn't it interesting that when President Bush talked about education in his State of the Union address Tuesday night, he did so in the "Economic Stimulus" portion of the speech?

Modern economic theory now realizes that an ample supply of educated workers is significantly important to 21st century corporations. Many economic theories valid in the industrial age are no longer legitimate in today's information age.

As President Bush stated Tuesday, "Good jobs begin with good schools." He went on to say that we need, "a quality teacher in every classroom."

Several weeks ago, economist David Reaume urged the Alaska Legislature to look at increased investment in education as an investment in the Alaska economy. Reaume stated, "Economists have also come to understand that abundant intellectual resources are a major determinant of where an industry is based."

The basic economic tenet of supply and demand has not changed in the information age. When teachers are in short supply, demand increases. When demand increases, price increases. We need to make the necessary investment. Public schools grow good citizens and a stable work force.

There are over 70 employees in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District who are eligible for retirement this year. What are we willing to pay to be sure we replace the teachers we lose with teachers of exceptional quality?

Recruiting the best and brightest teachers for our children must be a top priority. An investment in schools is an investment in the future. Children are the future.

Bill Vedders, Kenai

Alaskans could reap rewards

from four years of deprivation

This is a permanent fund proposal, a method to significantly enhance the fund's value by transforming it from a vulnerable, aged monolith into a dynamic, vital force energizing Alaskans' lives.

Because Alaska is anticipating serious deficits for the foreseeable future all easily accessible monies will soon disappear. Implementation of heavy sales and personal income taxes won't stem the tide, therefore the legislature will eventually be forced to dip into the permanent fund's reserve as well as confiscating the earnings -- source of your yearly dividend.

Let's discuss an alternative scenario which, although potentially far more beneficial and significantly less dangerous than trying to beat off a legislative raid on the fund, will require from Alaskans four years of moral courage and "tough-love." Nonetheless, the end results will more than justify the pain, ultimately providing you with an ample supplement for your long-term financial stability, physical comfort and general well-being, as well as helping state

finances.

Specifically, I propose a four-year suspension of dividends, during which time a constitutional amendment would shift ownership of about $25,000 of your public portion of the permanent fund from the state to an individual account bearing your name. In other words, simply roll-over $16 billion of the $25 billion permanent fund into 650,000 individual accounts of pre-qualified Alaska residents. The new accounts would continue to be invested and managed in the same conservative manner as before, by the very same permanent fund corporation professionals who currently manage the dividend fund. However, they would then be working on behalf of 650,000 individual Alaskans as opposed to a state of Alaska dividend account. They would apply a comfortable risk level of an estimated 8 1/2 percent yearly interest rate (historical rates have been several points higher) so as to provide you, the individual Alaskan, with a long-term IRA, business, education or construction fund, whatever.

Although freezing your yearly dividend for four years in order to save it seems contradictory, your equivalent dividend value will actually be multiplied!

Initially you're new "account" would always grow faster than the yearly dividend value; later, far surpassing it. Indeed, within five years of program initiation you would conservatively be able to draw out, if desired, solely from the interest, twice what today's dividend program could pay, should it miraculously survive.

Traditionalists desiring to continue a yearly dividend may do so, but it would be deducted from their initial $25,000 fund.

After the four-year transition period, those residents who desire may then "legally" claim their account and withdraw, or "cash in," at about 20 percent yearly for a full 100 percent withdrawal over the next five years. Additionally, the 33,000 seniors, age 65 or older by program inception, with at least 20 cumulative years in Alaska since 1975, would

immediately receive a one-time longevity-bonus ($350 million) of $500 per year of Alaska residency. Example: 20-year residency equals a $10,000 bonus.

A well-funded $1 billion interest-bearing growth fund would be established for Alaskans born after the program's inception, providing each about $1,500 yearly from birth and available at age 17 or the year 2020, whichever comes first. Thus, a 2003 newborn would, at 17, have at least $44,000 available.

An onerous, state personal income tax wouldn't be required because the $600 million of yearly interest from the remaining $7 billion fund reserve would help stabilize state operations. Perhaps, as Jay Hammond has suggested, a state income-tax structure could be prepared for dire fiscal emergencies, i.e. an oil price crash.

This proposal is designed to build long-term

automatic investment growth by encouraging Alaskans to feed their account with small but very helpful $50-100 monthly deposits (Christmas/birthday gifts?) plus possible matching dollars from Native corporation or union members, state or business employees, etc. Thus, within 10 years of program inception the basic "conservative growth" account should equal $70,000. The slightly riskier "aggressive growth" account, at 10 percent yearly, $100 added monthly, should become $85,000; in 15 years, $160,000; in 20 years a quarter million ($150,000 in today's dollar with 3 percent inflation). Great education account for kids!

Other features:

1. Encourage retention of Alaska residency.

2. Prevent a "people-rush" of temporary residents.

3. Avoid flooding Alaska with instant money.

4. Develop in Alaskans a sense of personal financial responsibility

5. No state confiscation, if left in individual retirement fund, except for violent felonies.

6. Includes $350 million management account.

This proposal will require a legislative/constitutional package.

W. L. Slone, Homer

Seiners should not be exempt from state's wanton waste laws

At last, there is hope that the waste of our herring stocks may end.

My hope has always been that the Japanese would lose their taste for the roe so that our money greedy seiners would stop killing and wasting tons of fish, just to sell a tiny proportion. If the Japanese would only learn to eat herring eggs the way we do (right after the spawn), then the adult fish will return to spawn for as many as 15 years.

They have reduced the average age of Sitka's returning herring school to 3 to 4 years old. Why have the seiners been exempt from the state's wanton waste laws?

Roby Littlefield, Sitka



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