Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Alaska Day

Filed under: Alaska,Politics — Tom Pittman @ 9:55 am


This article published in The Alaska Star on Thursday, October 13, 2005.

(Faxed to Dan Fagan Friday, 07 October 2005 @ 2:41pm)

Dear Dan Fagan,

I enjoyed listening to your show yesterday (Thursday, October 6, 2005). I agree; Paul the intern is a “solid guy.”

I listened with keen interest to the anecdote about the woman who is eligible for health services at the Native hospital but doesn’t take advantage of them because she doesn’t want to be a part of the entitlement mentality. I had my three high school aged children in the car with me as I listened, and I turned up the radio and made them listen as well as you and your guest applauded her for her principles, and thrashed the evils of the entitlement culture. I agree how un-conservative that thinking is. I was glad my children were hearing this.

But then we were all thrown for a loop as we listened to your guest turn around and refer to the Permanent Fund Dividend as “your” dividend check, and then the two of you campaigned for the PFD with indignation. My children literally started laughing as they discussed how can you believe the entitlement mindset is bad, and then hold your hand out and demand “your” PFD check?

For quite a bit of the show, you and your guests criticized Ben Stevens about money he has received putting to Ben the question, “What did you do for the money?” That is a GREAT question! Let’s put it to all Alaskans: what did YOU do for the PFD money? Fill out a 1 page application online?!

It is easy to rationalize and say the PFD is different, I know, because as an Alaska Native myself, having worked in Native organizations for most of my career, I have heard those arguments again and again. Every entitlement thinks it is different, and there are always plenty of really legit reasons for an entitlement — that is how the entitlement gets established in the first place!

But no matter the justification, if we really feel it is our right to be handed money, and that we are entitled to it even though we didn’t work to earn it, then we are without question a major part of the entitlement culture of Alaska, whether or not we like to admit it. A spade doesn’t have to be a liberal to be called a spade, does it?

You know what a true blue Reagan Republican would do with the Permanent Fund earnings? Not give away money like blanket welfare for all Alaska residents, but use it to bring tax relief to actual working people. Take property owners for instance. Where is the politician who will stand up and say the money will be used for villages, boroughs, municipalities … for local governments to provide relief from high property taxes as a benefit for actual Alaskans living and working in Alaska? The trickle down effect of course would be that renters, businesses and even visitors would benefit as well. Or where is the politician who will champion setting aside a huge savings account for disaster relief when that rainy day hits an Alaskan community as Katrina hit the lower 48? And don’t even get me started on people who want to increase property taxes or establish statewide sales or income taxes but not touch the dividend.

Sadly, most Alaskans, including we conservatives, would rather debate political principles than sacrifice for them. That is what makes the woman who declines to take advantage of her Native health benefits special, and a noteworthy example for us all.

At any rate, good show. By the way, if you think Paul the intern is solid in the studio, you should see him on the basketball court! Wow.


Tom Pittman
Eagle River, Alaska




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