As a son of a mother, I was glad to read that 11 of our Alaskan women legislators have come out in opposition to Ballot Measure 1, the measure aiming to repeal the current oil tax system, which replaced one called ACES. It's clear by their gentle, motherly and impassioned plea they have taken their stance against repeal with only one thing on their minds: "the best interest of children."
The 12 percent more state revenue, a paltry $1.3 billion, that ACES would have contributed to the state of Alaska's coffers in the current market would do little to raise the interest in our children. I, for one, applaud these "mothers, grandmothers, aunts, godmothers or guardians for many young people" for their bravery in pointing out that people are more interested in arguing about money than investing in our children. It seems we're far more engrossed in arguing about what percentage of our oil's value we should give away.
These matronly legislators deftly point out that a "no" vote for Ballot Measure 1 sends a clear message to the fine citizens of Alaska that "what is best for Alaska's future" is showing interest in our children. Alaska's future is best served by not squabbling over how much of our oil we should give away to the oil companies, or over what complicated formula will ensure that profit margins for oil companies continue to break records. Clearly, altering the tax system changes little in the "interest" of our children. It is best to just vote "no" and let bygones be bygones.
As a man, and the grandson of not one but two grandmothers, and a brother to two sisters, not to mention the husband to a wife with a mother, I admit I am in no position to attempt to paraphrase what our legislating women are trying to say about Alaska's future that a "no" vote would protect. But as a man, I will nonetheless make an attempt, because that is what men do really, perhaps because we mostly aren't interested in children or the future.
As I see it, they are saying that voting "no" on Ballot Measure 1 says, "No, we're doing away with all this ridiculous bickering, and unlike the men, are going to really start caring about our children!" Reading between their rather blurred lines, I think they are saying that we "can't just hope for the best," with billions of dollars in tax revenue in the bank, but instead we need to hope for another best, one less objectionable to the three major corporations controlling Alaska's oil patch. This is a hope that people will continue to be interested in consuming oil and that struggling oil companies will invest money in a risky endeavor so they can continue to reap record profits. This is a strong maternal hope that non-females simply can’t understand, perhaps akin to understanding the pain of childbirth or the pain of enduring another campaign on all this oil tax business.
All this hope translates into an even greater hope that our future children will also be as interested in oil industry jobs as the kids from America's heartland are. Maybe more of our Alaskan children, most likely young men, will be more willing to spend half their lives on the North Slope away from their families. That, of course, is genius for various reasons, which men like myself, and maybe even some Alaskan women, can't quite fully comprehend.
The hope Alaska's legislating women have for Alaska truly is inspirational. Their collective stance on Ballot Measure 1 sends a very clear message to both men and women voters of our state that Alaska has always been and will always be a land of hope.
Together, as men and women, we can collectively hope the mothers of the oil company executives are as interested in the future of Alaska's children as these fine “women legislators” are.
Don Rearden grew up in Southwest Alaska and now lives in Anchorage. He is author of the 2013 Washington Post Notable List novel “The Raven's Gift” and is an associate professor at UAA. His twisted views are his own. He is actually interested in children and is considering starting his own oil company, for the children of course.
The views expressed here are the writer's own and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary(at)alaskadispatch.com.