SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


David G. Hanger


November 30, 2008

A brief aside to Robert Thompson; the price of gasoline in Southeast is still $3.70 or better, and the price is still dropping everyday down here. I am quite aware of the actions of the state government respective gas price gouging; I read their report, and my response to that is it is so much blather and whitewash. The price of gasoline is still way too high. Nor do I expect the state government to do anything about this problem at all until some time possibly in March or April during the time the legislature is in session, at which point I expect them to bandy platitudes while doing absolutely nothing about this very serious problem. If you possessed the tax returns of your local gas jockeys, you would have some idea how much they are ripping us off; they are getting rich at the expense of the well-being of the overall economy. A century or so ago they hanged people for stuff like that.

As for Sarah Palin at a point I was more than prepared to give her the benefit of the doubt, but she has authorized any local government in this state to lie, cheat, and steal from financial institutions at their whim. This is the current standard of our state government. I have no respect whatsoever for liars and crooks. No, I am not enamored of Sarah Palin, but not because she is a Republican; rather she is ignorant, and apparently not very bright either, and she both tolerates and endorses dishonesty. At that point my level of disgust went off the chart. In respect to facts, Robert Thompson, you will have to work overtime and all night to keep up with me.

A one-horse town like Ketchikan only has so many opportunities to screw up before it is done, and K-town has pretty much used up those chips already. Rodney Dial is not just telling you that you are in process of pied pipering over yonder cliff, he is telling you he ain't going with you, and he ain't gonna pay for any of it. He's just going to get the hell out of the way; so is everyone else with more than half a brain. Take this man's warning seriously, people. You need to halt activity on every project that is not almost complete. There are whole neighborhoods down here being built up, new schools, malls, etc., the works, a housing area for 10,000 people, and the work has just stopped cold. The insulation is blowing off the few frames that have been started. A year ago there were hundreds of workers, and streets, sidewalks, driveways, and slabs as far as you can see, all still there today and just as empty. There are one or two crews doing knick-knack work. It's over. This neighborhood was being built up for Toyota workers, Tundras, still a fair seller. Toyota is far from bankrupt, and there will be no additional employees to fill this neighborhood. Too bad for these bankers and real estate speculators, but no, wait, too bad for you and me!

This worthless crap is all over the place and is now in too many instances the property of the U.S. Government at way too high a price. From 1929 to 1933 it was the Wall Street brokers, the bankers, and the speculators who jumped from skyscrapers and out hotel windows. This time around you are expected to suicide for someone else's greed and criminality. The entire middle class in this country is at this time not being asked, but simply being informed that for the duration of their lives, and perhaps their children's children's lives, they must all endure a substantially reduced standard of living in order to maintain the frat rats and the plutocrats in their lavish lifestyle. I assure every one of you, minus a plutocrat or two, your father's fathers would fight before being forced into peonage. What stuff are you made of?

To hell with terms like recession or depression, they do not begin to describe what is happening. We have been robbed; moreover, the robbers are robbing us again in order to sustain their lifestyle into the future with the expectation that your lifestyle is forfeit to that purpose. There are riots in Iceland, and they are already shooting at each other in Thailand. Terminology like Democrat and Republican is essentially meaningless here; you do have a difference in economic philosophy between the two parties, but the reality is you have a bunch of Ivy League frat rats and plutocrats who are doing everything in their power to cover their frat buddy's ass. Wall Street and Washington right now is just a game of musical chairs where the same chumps are rearranging themselves around the trough.

Ketchikan's two local governments have the same attitude. They actually think they are better than the rest of us. They are the altruistic ones, they produce nothing, and this is virtue. We the dirty, gnarly, nitty gritty folks who work and make something are just sheep to fleece. Right now they want maximum comfort no matter the consequence to you. It is no different than what these peckerwoods at the national level are doing.

Nor am I overreacting, or overstating the case. Numbers have their own reality, and right now the numbers are unbelievable. $4.3 trillion of government money already blown on this mess, 14% of the GDP of this country, and what is on the table or up for consideration in Congress brings us up to 40% of GDP. (These, by the way, are that extreme liberal Pat Buchanan's numbers. Pat is my favorite redneck; on occasion he even makes sense.) And the frat rats and the plutocrats just keep spending on themselves. Not one of them, or anyone else in the public view, seems to think this is really working. It's all band-aids, paper clips, and rubber bands. Citibank must continue paying dividends, using bailout money, of course, so their stock does not decline further because mutual funds and retirement funds will not buy non-dividend stocks. Whoa, boy, it's not just auto executives and their corporate jets. These folks are filling holes with your money; the problem is these are sinkholes, and as much as you back fill, they just keep sinking.

This economic mess is not self-correcting. In 1988 the savings & loan crisis was a hell of a mess, but the country was actually producing something, computers, for example, that was creating a lot of real wealth. Too much of that has been shipped overseas, so our plutocrats can profit from 50 cent an hour labor, or so some outfit like China or Saudi Arabia can just clean us out by selling us what we used to produce ourselves, or what we must have to stay happy. Flipping houses was a game from which many profited; encouraged by the greater profiteers, the plutocrats, it became a feeding frenzy where hot dog stand operators were writing up mortgages; but it was never more than a game. When one sells the same item over and over again each time for a higher price, one of two things happens. Either the currency is devalued to nothing, i.e. extreme inflation, or at some point property values hit the wall and decline precipitously virtually overnight. In this instance both happened, but for a time the currency effect resided on the international exchange markets, and went unnoticed by ordinary Americans. My overseas clients brought the effect to my attention.

At some point in the next two or three cycles the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend will be reduced to zero, and it will remain there for an indefinite period. As Rodney Dial has done so well clearly pointing out, the state is not going to be much of a source for funding for the foreseeable future. The 'frat rat raid' has already pretty much cleaned out the Feds. (I know, they will just print more money.) So where does Ketchikan's local government think all this cash for their dream schemes is going to come from? All they will accomplish is forcing an exodus out of town.

Does anyone have any kind of a handle about what is going on with the cruise ship lines? This is a financial question on two levels. Ketchikan's concern is how many people get off those boats in K-town, and how much money they have to spend. But what about the internal finances of these operations? I do not expect that the owners of a cruise ship company are the most conservative of business people in terms of their practices. More likely they are leveraged to the hilt and living the high life, isn't that the crap that is advertised on TV? The immediate implication of that is if they don't sell enough passages in any given year, they don't generate enough revenue, and they are, whoops, suddenly bankrupt.

Present forecasts are the worst Christmas season for retail sales in 50 years. That certainly does not bode well for cruise ship passages in the spring and summer. I have no crystal ball, but I see no reason at this time to be optimistic. I think we have some serious trouble on our hands, and I think the wise policy is to start dealing with it now.

Too bad about the library, it is going to have to wait. So is most of the rest of this wish list. What is happening economically right now is going to have its impact on Ketchikan, and that impact could be very profound. Stop everything, wait and see. The needs of the people of this community may soon be greater than the needs and desires of a group of detached bureaucrats. The elected officials of this community need to show a little wisdom now in order to avoid greater cost and serious consequences later. Waiting for one's ship to come in has always been wise policy.

I have no confidence this bunch can overcome their own vanity.

David G. Hanger
Ketchikan, AK


Received November 26, 2008 - Published November 30, 2008


Related Viewpoint:

letterAt what point do we hold the line on new taxes? By Rodney Dial

letter It was never about the 'facts By Robert Thompson

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Ketchikan, Alaska