Voices of the Peninsula

Blaming state officials gets nothing done

Posted: Thursday, February 17, 2000

This is not an article complaining about elected leaders and governments, although I'm as good as the next guy at doing that. We Alaskans are good at complaining! That is almost always easier than getting involved, learning about the subject and making a difference.

We like to blame elected officials for not taking action or for taking action. They are "paid too much," "don't do what we send them down there for" or "don't do what we elect them to do." It seems we cannot trust anyone, once they are elected.

I often hear comments such as these. As cynical as the next person, I am tired of this notion of blaming the people with the philosophy, courage, tenacity and perseverance to run for office and serve.

We (the citizen electorate) are spoiled rotten in this state. It is time we recognized that and stopped complaining and started to do a few things for ourselves.

We complain about the size of government and how no one needs it. Along comes a little snow storm, and we quickly complain about the lack of snow plowing or a berm across our driveways, or we want the National Guard called out.

Where is the Alaskan of historic portions -- the one who "panned for gold," who "lived off the land," who "tamed the wilderness"? He or she is in front of a TV, radio or computer prepared to complain about each and every thing, and anyone that does not agree with him or her. Oh, maybe a few are in court suing someone else for their own stupidity instead of taking responsibility for their actions.

Let us stop this continued bickering among ourselves. Alaska is a wonderful place to live, and we have tremendous resources, scenery, wildlife, clean air and water, recreation and developmental opportunities. We could lead the world in providing arctic technical assistance or expertise in nearly any endeavor. If we emphasized it, we could lead the world in information technology and worldwide development of information (without which there is no true freedom). We could lead the world in environmentally safe industry development.

Instead, we cannot seem to get our internal act together.

Let us as citizens, with our elected representatives and governmental leaders, solve the budget problem. Most states would welcome $30 billion in savings of one form or another. Let us solve the subsistence problem. We have more resources in this state than most of the rest of the nation, so why pit "urban against rural" or "Native against non-Native"? At what cost to our own citizens must we protect individual rights, state's rights and our constitution? Let us address these issues as scholars, states people and sincere Alaskans, with an understanding and sensitivity of each other and our needs.

When next you hear someone complain, ask him or her what he or she is prepared to do about it. Offer to join in or help (if you agree with them), or offer information or juxtaposition if you believe they are wrong. You shouldn't just squander your "talents" or hide them away. Make them count!

Each day we lose another 24 hours that could be more productively used. Each day we lose family, friends, leaders and good citizens who must take their eternal journey. Maybe we had best get on with our many opportunities, before it is too late. Let's do it!

Joe Donahue came to Alaska in late 1972 and has worked on Alaska issues since that time, even during five years in Washington, D.C. prior to his retirement from the federal government in 1991. Since 1991, he has owned his own consulting business providing assistance with community, organizational and business planning, grant writing and training. Mr. Donahue served as a public member of the Legislative Ethics Committee for six years until resigning a year ago and maintains an abiding interest in ethics in government.

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