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Steve Haycox

The Alaska statehood campaign that culminated 50 years ago this month manifested a long-standing interest in and support for Alaska by the federal government, a fact somewhat at odds with the notion of Alaska as independent and exceptional.

Statehood certainly did provide Alaskans much greater control over their own affairs. No longer did federal bureaucrats handle most of Alaskans' official internal matters. Additionally, Alaskans now had a governor they selected themselves, not one chosen mainly by the senators from Washington state. Also, Alaska's Congressional delegate was legitimized by being able to vote in the House, and perhaps most remarkable, for the first time Alaskans had their own two U.S. senators...

Steve Haycox

It seems it would be difficult to top this year in Alaska politics. The surprise of Sarah Palin’s emergence as a political media star competes with the trial and election defeat of Sen. Stevens as principal elements in what has been described as a great Alaskan political earthquake. Without those twin tremors, passage of the gas line bill by the Legislature and the awarding of the incentive contract to Trans Canada, together with the extraordinary upheaval in oil prices, would rightly have been the primary focus public attention, along with the lesser importance of the 50th anniversary of Alaska statehood. Any attempt to evaluate the significance of these events, each itself dramatic enough, has been complicated by the deepening global recession, an evolving, distorting backdrop....

Steve Haycox

Today, Dec. 12, marks the anniversary of the first permanent granting of suffrage to women in the United States, in the Territory of Wyoming in 1869. While 2008 did not turn out to be the "year of the woman" in presidential politics, women have made extraordinary political strides in recent years. Neither House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton as the likely third woman secretary of state, nor Gov. Sarah Palin as the second woman vice-presidential candidate have raised many eyebrows for being female.

Advances in politics do not mean complete equity, however, and gender inequities in pay, status and opportunity are still very pronounced. This was predicted by those women leaders long ago who did not think winning suffrage meant much...

Steve Haycox

From a historical point of view, it was entirely appropriate that in the year 2000, the Alaska Legislature voted Sen. Ted Stevens "Alaskan of the Century." However embarrassing it seems now, it was prescient for understanding his significance to the state's development.

Stevens' elevation to the U.S. Senate in 1968, by a Republican governor sandwiched between two Democratic gubernatorial terms, came at a critical moment in the state's history -- just as the Prudhoe Bay discovery began Alaska's transition to a Republican "Big Oil" state. From the battle to authorize the Alaska pipeline to investigations into oil profits, Stevens has nurtured oil development in Alaska...

Steve Haycox

Sarah Palin's selection as vice-presidential running mate has raised significant questions about her readiness for the job. Critics have raised concerns about her experience, her competence and governing style, and her veracity and consistency...

Steve Haycox

On the southwest coast of Turkey, near Greek islands in the southern Aegean Sea, shielded from the Anatolian Plateau by rugged, craggy mountains, lie the ruins of the ancient city of Patara, one of seven cities of the first century B.C. Lycian League. Turkey is littered with Neolithic, Hittite, Hellenic and Hellenistic, and Roman ruins; they are everywhere. As ancient kingdoms go, Lycia was small business: At its greatest extent it wasn't much larger than an average-size Texas county. But the Lycian League has a huge claim on our sensibilities as Americans, for it was apparently the first representative democracy in the ancient world...

Steve Haycox

It would be remarkable if Warren Buffett were to solve America's energy problem, and Alaska's. It would be remarkable because Buffett pulled out of Alaska's gas line sweepstakes even before the real contest began. Yet Buffett is a person who thinks "big" and clearly; he wants to free America from dependence on foreign oil, not by more drilling but by getting serious about alternative energy...

Steve Haycox

Tuesday's report from the Justice Department Inspector General constitutes yet another nail in the coffin of the national Republican Party as we know it As in many other of its responsibilities, the party overreached, and now is paying the price. Party leaders forgot that the purpose of political power is to try to govern usefully; instead, they directed their energy and capability toward establishing partisan supremacy, and now voters are ready to throw them out...

Steve Haycox

The report on college performance released by UAA recently is highly discouraging. Researchers Ted Kassier and Alexandra Hill found that 28 percent of full time freshmen at UAA don't return for their sophomore year. More disturbing, only 28 percent of degree-seeking students actually graduate; 56 percent make it nationally. Why does Alaska do so poorly?

The main reason for both sets of numbers seems to be that the students aren't prepared for college work. An earlier UAA study found that two-thirds of entering students are not ready in math and English. A full third of Alaska's high school students don't even graduate...

Steve Haycox

Seattle celebrates an Alaska-related centenary next year, the 100th anniversary of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition. The commemoration fits nicely with Alaska's 50th, for the two anniversaries are inextricably bound together.

The AYP was a mini-worlds fair organized by the Alaska Bureau of the Seattle Chamber of Commerce. Its purpose was to showcase Alaska's potential for investment capital for economic development. The Klondike gold rush of 1898 had catapulted Alaska to national attention. But while in 1909 the Klondike rush was still a fresh memory, investors were not yet thinking of Alaska as a permanent field of opportunity. Many gold rushes had been "flashes in the pan," and by 1909 the easy pickings were long gone...

Steve Haycox

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