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September 27, 2021


Juneau, Like An Outhouse On Fire


I like parables. They were my favorite sermons growing up. Oh, look! A story that has a problem and a lesson in it. What a cool way to make a point.

Sometimes life presents its own parables and I try to pay attention. This week my watery cul de sac presented such a story. It has to do with something we don’t like to talk about often, but hold your nose and we’ll get through this together.

Rural Alaska has a waste issue. Most people on the road system flush their toilets and – well – who knows – it vanished! There are still plenty of places in our fair state that have outhouses. I know what you’re thinking. There’s no way I can bring a story about an outhouse back to politics. You’re wrong, they have more in common than we’d care to admit.

Back to our story. My neighbor’s family has been complaining about how their outhouse smells on days the wind forgets to blow. My friend decided what had to be done: tip the outhouse over and burn the waste. Okay, no one wants to think about how to get rid of waste and not many people want to do it, but sometimes it’s a job that needs to be done.

As you can imagine, this wasn’t a fire you want to stand around and warm your hands over. Things seemed to be going along as well as you could expect, until the smoke seemed to be changing colors. The winds shifted, and in my friend’s attempt to get rid of waste, she burned down the outhouse, art and all. Oh, and the worst of it was, because the fire turned its attention to easier wooden fuel, it forgot it’s original purpose and left that behind.

In a related story of getting rid of waste and unintentional destruction, the governor slashed everyone’s PFDs from about $2,100 down to $1,000 this year. This cut won’t actually save the state any money, but instead keeps about $700 million in the Permanent Fund Earnings Reserve — so it might be spent another day.

During the legislative session, the governor’s team testified it expected the oil industry would accrue over $700 million in oil-tax credits in 2017. It was estimated, by passing HB 247, the bad oil-tax credit bill,  this $700 million figure would be reduced by a measly $5 million to $15 million. Why don’t they just do a Groupon?

The governor technically vetoed money for oil-tax credits, but then he signed the bad oil tax credit bill. By doing so, his oil-tax credit veto was not really a cut, but merely a deferral of those payments. Think of it as kicking the honey bucket down the road.

So your PFD is being cut by $1,100 and that money is being put in a bank to pay for oil-tax credits. Wahoo! Oh, and it is expected we will be paying out roughly $700 million more in oil-tax credits than we get in production taxes.

Look, folks, I’m on the record complaining about the smell from our political outhouse and asked the governor to burn the waste. Wasteful spending like the Knik Arm bridge, the Susitna hydro dam, and the U-Med road project. Fire in the hole!

Well, the fire was started with the veto pen, but cuts to education and essential needs are burning down the structure we desperately need. Oh, and sadly, what remains is the same old oil tax crap. Do they write those laws on asbestos?

My friend is rebuilding her outhouse. There’s some urgency to the project. While fishing, we discussed what new artwork she should hang on the walls. I suggested a “Vote Here” sign. The bigger issue is still what to do with all that unburnt waste.

It happens. Cleanup is not for the faint of heart.



One Response to “Juneau, Like An Outhouse On Fire”
  1. mike from iowa says:

    The smell of waste from Juneau ought to wake up the voting public and motivate them to vote the wingnuts out of office. They have given the state’s future away and for that they need not be rewarded. What will it take to get apathetic voters to vote?

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