Is Halloween over?
Whether it's the pint-sized ghosts and gremlins who cruised door-to-door in search of sugary handouts Wednesday night or politicians looking for handouts of a different sort, there's plenty of folks trying to scare us into giving up the loot, or gain our vote, or both.
Granted, there is a lot to be scared about these days besides your neighbor's kid in that muscle-bound ninja costume.
And candidates are flaunting these problems now, more than a year before the election, as primaries near and America begins to tune into the campaigns.
The cost of a barrel of oil is nearing triple-digits, while the cost of gas at the pump in town is around $3.25 a gallon. These high prices may be good for Alaska's pocket book (and our dividend checks) but in a region reliant, in part, on tourism for a healthy economy, a fat check in October doesn't make up for lost revenue from stay-at-home tourists.
Health care costs continue to rise, which hurts not only the working class, but those who employ them. By many accounts, our community is getting older. And many of the jobs that are available for the town's young people come from small businesses that are struggling to provide coverage.
And the national housing bubble has burst, which may, or may not affect the local market.
If we are simply entering into a buyer's market here, based on natural fluctuations in supply and demand, then it's nothing to worry about. But if the market crashes like it did in the 1980s, there's a lot of equity along our riverbanks set to flow quickly down the drain.
As candidates try to scare us into voting against rivals, or dazzle us with their "seven-part plans," remember that kid on your doorstep Wednesday night, all dressed up with an open bag, appealing for sweets.
That kid is the one who will have to live in a world created by the leaders we vote into office.
Fortunately, we all have the opportunity to make changes for ourselves, that kid, our state and our country if we see fit.
If the high gas prices are too much, try conserving, or look into a hybrid vehicle. Hybrids are now becoming more affordable and practical for the average Joe. And if the "green" label of such a car doesn't float your boat, cover it up with a big ol' American flag sticker.
The less gas we use means the less America is dependent on foreign oil.
Health care costs, too, can go down, if we strive to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
When it comes to housing, we should strive to stay within our means, not just buy the biggest house we can get a loan for.
If the sub-prime loan fiasco is any indication, some financial institutions don't always have our best interest in mind.
But above all, when it comes to saddling up to a presidential candidate or one for Congress or the state Legislature, remember to look behind the mask before offering support or casting that ballot.
It's easy to get tricked when a candidate offers up a bunch of treats.
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