Inconvenient Private Sector Jobs
Time to don your rain ponchos, because Republican heads are going to be exploding across the state. This is one of those times when philosophy and reality are on opposite sides, and the confused elephant brains of the majority of the GOP in Alaska are going to have to out themselves, or change sides. Ah, another inconvenient truth.
Guess what industry is the largest private sector employer in the State of Alaska?
<<<HOCKEY BUZZER NOISE>>>
Nope, it’s fish.
A recent report issued from the McDowell Group for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute reveals:
The seafood industry directly employs approximately 63,100 people in the state of Alaska. Roughly 1- in-8 workers in Alaska earned at least part of their annual income directly from the seafood industry in 2011. These direct jobs produced $4.6 billion worth of wild, sustainable seafood (in wholesale terms) and resulted in an estimated $1.7 billion in labor income.
So, given that Republicans value, above all, a thriving private sector economy and the jobs it creates – the seafood industry as the state’s largest private sector employer, should be their number one priority.
And if fish is their number one priority, then preserving and protecting the industry all the way from ocean to plate should also be their number one priority.
And if preserving and protecting wild fisheries is their number one priority, then making sure that oceans and rivers remain clean and productive habitats for those fish should be their number one priority.
You see where this is going.
Given all the above, the fact that the Parnell administration (Republicans) are actively pursuing a political agenda which compromises our oceans, our rivers, and our fish leads us to an inescapable conclusion that will shock you. Steel yourself.
They are hypocrites.
I’m sorry to be the one to have to tell you. Do you need a hanky?
If, in fact, the number one priority of the Parnell administration and its Republican fan club in the state legislature was actually supporting Alaska’s private sector job creators, then we wouldn’t have to be fighting said administration to keep Pebble Mine from poisoning Bristol Bay, the largest wild salmon fishery in the world; to keep PacRim Coal from literally mining through eleven miles of productive salmon streams and dumping 7 million gallons a day of toxic mine sludge into Cook Inlet; suing the federal government to keep the Inlet’s endangered whales unprotected from the massive pollution allowed to be dumped in the waters it shares with commercial and sport fishermen; leveling areas of the Tongass that are a key component in preserving ecosystems that support wild fish; and pushing for indiscriminate offshore drilling in productive Arctic waters without proper protections and strict regulation.
So, the next time a Republican sings the praises of private sector jobs and the economy of Alaska, and explains to you that this is why we must encourage resource extraction above all, remind them that supporting oil and mineral development does not always mesh with that philosophy. And lest they want to be accused of gross intellectual inconsistency, they best be slapping a No Pebble sticker on the back of their car. Pronto.
Alaska will always rely on our natural bounty – both renewable, and non-renewable. We must be militant stewards of the renewable resources like fish that will carry our economy, and private sector jobs, past the depletion of the non-renewable ones. It’s naive to think of Alaska as one big untouched national park. It’s also naive to pretend that oil, gas, and mineral resources will just go on forever. All that is finite comes to an end.
We will develop. But when that development threatens our waters, the huge manufacturing plant that produces our number one most valuable product, we need to prioritize for the sake of our futures.