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Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Ballot Measure No 1 - David vs Goliath

By Joe Mehrkens


October 16, 2020
Friday AM

The oil industry has just spent $17 million to dodge new taxes that would restore their fair share to run state government. This is after they received unprecedented tax breaks in 2013 under SB 21 – passing by only one vote. Seventeen million buys a lot of spin from the industry and their cadre of resident apologists who are trying to sell us on the industry’s need for extraordinary privileges and protections.

Fortunately, there are only five straight forward facts we must weigh before voting.

Oil corporations are some of the most profitable ventures in the World, U.S and Alaska.

Their profitability is largely dependent on existing corporate welfare – federal/state subsidies.

The North Slope is a high cost region but is still the greatest profit center in Alaska.

Our Owner-State has settled for significantly less than other crude oil owners.

The industry enjoys lopsided oil credits – where we owe them more than they owe us.

So, let us contrast the five facts above with our real and unresolved fiscal crisis. Simply stated, further budget cuts to even the most basic services will not come close to eliminating our state and local deficits. The choice is simple: share the inevitable pain to run the State, or, let an already privileged industry continue to dodge their fair share -- while we pick up their slack.

Lastly, the industry’s tactic of stoking fears about outside interests, i.e., those who will ruin our economy, impose alien interests, and maybe even take away our first born are simply conflated and bogus. The last time I checked, Alaskans were not running the corporate head-sheds of ExxonMobil, or Conoco Philips. Moreover, the epitome of negative outside interference is an industry who profits from the riches of the Owner State (as Governor Hickel would say) while consistently dodging their fair share of future tax burdens. While the industry is abetted by a few Alaska collaborators – I am hoping they are just some wrongheaded neighbors who have every right to their First Amendment privileges.

I am betting the oil industry can afford to pay a greater share and I will be voting for Ballot Measure 1 in November.

Joe Mehrkens
Petersburg, Alaska


About: Joe Mehrkens, retired forest economist, Petersburg-and Juneau.


Editor's Note:

The text of this letter was NOT edited by the SitNews Editor.

Received October 13, 2020 - Published October 16, 2020

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