SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska



YES on Proposition 2 Cruiseship Initiative
By Eric Muench


August 18, 2006

Every big industry that ever made use of Alaska's natural resources has tried and largely succeeded in dominating the resources and politics of the state. Remember the Russian fur traders' abuse of Aleut people, the big canneries control of the fisheries, the two pulp mills monopoly of timber resources, and big oil s armies of lawyers and lobbyists. Now the tour ship companies are using their wealth to control Alaska politics. Their political contributions have already tamed the Alaska legislature. Now, on a citizen's initiative for a cruise ship head tax, the NO group has raised and spent over one hundred times as much as the YES group. Their biggest contributor, foreign (Canada based) Northwest Cruiseship Association, has given over one million in the campaign to avoid paying any Alaska taxes. There is so much money that they have run out of useful ways to spend it. What else would explain the almost daily and repetitive slick mail and full page newspaper ads? What they lack is logical arguments. They hope complete dominance of the initiative discussion will convince a tame electorate that there is really no other side.

But there is. Every big industry, no matter how economically useful or how well run, needs oversight. Stockholder demands for corporate profit are a powerful motivator even to otherwise honest and well-meaning managers. A 2000 report by the Government Accounting Office listed 87 confirmed illegal cruise ship dumping violations in American waters during a five year period, many deliberate, and recommended improved oversight. Proposition 2 will provide that.

As to the charge of interference with relations between private enterprises being outside the scope of proper government function, there is a whole other side. Voluntary agreements are one thing. Forced kickbacks and false advertisement made possible by a huge multinational s monopoly over the affairs of small local businesses are another. Proposition 2 will help small tourism operators stay out from under the thumb of the giants.

And the notion that a fifty dollar head tax will reduce tourism is almost too ridiculous to contemplate. The recent doubling of fuel prices is sure to add hundreds of dollars to the thousands charged for Alaska cruises. Should we think the cruise lines are absorbing these costs? This is just scare mongering.

The tax is reasonable and needed, and taxing on a State basis prevents the cruise lines dictating their terms to individual communities. Let's take control of our state. Vote Yes on Proposition 2.

Eric Muench
Ketchikan, AK - USA


About: "I am a 44 year Alaska resident and have unhappily watched the cruise lines dominate Ketchikan's politics."


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