Opinion series: How to turn Alaska around

With Alaska stuck in a long economic downturn and beset by social problems, an author and former ADN columnist weighs in with a solution. What have we done right, and wrong, and what decisions might change Alaska in another generation? Three columns:

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Part 1: This childless champion of preschools planted the seeds for a new Alaska

Tom Begich doesn’t have children, but when he retired from the State Senate this year, he had devoted much of his service to getting four-year-olds into school. I think he accomplished more to reverse Alaska’s decline than anyone else in government.

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Part 2: Imagine a different history for Alaska. These long-ago visionaries did.

I went back to read about decisions at the dawn of the oil era, looking for the roots of the mistakes that have left Alaska, more than 50 years later, facing the nation’s worst social and economic problems, and apparently unable even to seriously discuss how to fix them.

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Part 3: We have the solution to turn Alaska around. We always did.

Today’s thriving economies grew in jurisdictions that spent decades creating the conditions for innovation—most importantly, an educated workforce and dynamic universities, but also the qualities that make for a good life.

Charles Wohlforth

Charles Wohlforth was an Anchorage Daily News reporter from 1988 to 1992 and wrote a regular opinion column from 2015 until 2019. He served two terms on the Anchorage Assembly. He is the author of a dozen books about Alaska, science, history and the environment. More at wohlforth.com.