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Steve Haycox

The attempt of Mayor Dan Sullivan and Assembly Chair Ernie Hall to weaken and, we can assume, eventually break the public sector unions serving Anchorage citizens is tragic but wholly predictable in a city that consistently votes a conservative majority to its governing council. The assault on public sector unions in Michigan and Wisconsin has emboldened state and municipal governments across the land to appeal to voters by reducing budgets on the backs of unionized workers. Given who governs the city at the moment, union-bashing should be no surprise; it's popular, and certain to garner votes in the upcoming municipal election and later in races for governor and U.S. Senate...

Steve Haycox

Today, Feb. 22, is George Washington's birthday. As important as his leadership of continental troops in the Revolutionary War and service as our first president was Washington's example of integrity. Rather than capitalize on his war victory, the commander in chief of the army stepped down at the end of the war and went back to his farm. King George III, when he heard of it, said it made Washington the greatest man in history. Then, after two terms as president, he stepped down again when he could easily have been made president for life. If a democratic republic were to succeed, he believed, its rulers would have to follow the rules, an example for Alaska today...

Steve Haycox

Of all the notable people who left us in 2012 -- the list is long, including Daniel Inouye, Neil Armstrong and Sally Ride, George McGovern, Eric Hobsbawm, Jacques Barzun, Gore Vidal, Adrienne Rich, Maurice Sendak, Ray Bradbury, Dave Brubeck, both Doc Watson and Earl Scruggs -- perhaps none had a greater impact on Alaska than Barry Commoner. Known as the "Paul Revere of Ecology," Commoner was an academic scientist, a respected cellular biologist who led important research concerning the nature of viruses. But he had his greatest impact as an activist, explaining the idea of ecosystem...

Steve Haycox

The 145th anniversary of the Alaska Purchase passed quietly this year without much excitement either on Seward's Day, March 30, or Alaska Day, Oct. 18, the first commemorating agreement to the proposed treaty, the latter the official transfer of Alaska to the U.S. at Sitka. The centennial celebration nearly half a century ago was quite different...

Steve Haycox

Exploring the churches, museums and neighborhood of Vienna on an end-of-November visit, the sense of history is palpable. One cannot be insensitive to the position of this city of "hohe kultur" on the hinter edge of old western Christendom, the border between western Europe and the long and fiercely contested lands to the east. Vienna was the bastion of the western world, successfully defending against the relentless attacks of the Ottoman Turks from the late 15th century on...

Steve Haycox

As myriad analysts have trumpeted without letup over the last 10 days, with the resounding defeat of politicized moral fundamentalism and supply-side economics in the Democratic election victory, America has entered a new electoral era, one in which social inclusion is the watchword. Voters had no difficulty distinguishing between economic and social issues, and President Obama and a variety of Senate and House members who advocated equal legitimacy for minority and young voters won a stunning victory that will change America's political landscape...

Steve Haycox

Alaska voters are being asked in the general election Tuesday whether to authorize a new state constitutional convention, a decennial vote provided for in the constitution itself. A few other states have a 20-year query. Former Alaska attorney general John Havelock has written a book on the matter, "Let's Do It Right." He argues that a convention is the right way to address a number of areas in which the present document is flawed and fails citizens' needs and rights...

Steve Haycox

The commemoration of Alaska Day, remembrance of the official transfer of Russian America to the United States on Oct. 18, 1867, passes rather quietly these days. Not everyone remembers what it's all about, perhaps not until they find a state office closed for the day...

Steve Haycox

In 1987, the novelist Tom Wolfe published his fantasy "The Bonfire of the Vanities," about a super-rich bond trader whose life and career are ruined by a careless judgment he makes after a chance encounter with a group of young men in the Bronx he perceives as street toughs. When several real incidents of a similar nature occurred in New York City over several months following the novel's release, Wolfe commented that it's no longer possible to write meaningful fiction because today's realities are more fantastic and dangerous than any novelist's story...

Steve Haycox

In what can only be described as a remarkable journalistic event, the highly respected, nominally centrist conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks published last Tuesday a scathing analysis of Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, following the circulation on the Internet of a video from last May in which Romney, meeting with a group of Republican high rollers, asserted that "47 percent of the country are people who are dependent upon government, who believe they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to take care of them. . ." and don't pay income taxes...

Steve Haycox

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