I recently spent a week exploring the Brooks Range and Arctic Plains, ANWR's "1002" area. I suspect most of you have heard of this place. I'm older than the state itself and have heard this number tossed around since the 1980s, when most of us were too busy being busy. I've spent my life as a financial professional, an energy executive and avid outdoorsman. Like most of you, I don't care what the weather gives me, I'm just outside. And I'm concerned that the outside is being threatened.
We're all familiar with the environmental arguments against resource development in the 1002. I get it. I'm also a businessman. Heck, I was in the energy industry! I get their argument, however self-serving it really is. And hats off to them. We saw the short-term benefits they helped create. We also have seen that it's not sustainable for the long run.
Which gets me to my point: Alaska's budget crisis. It's self-inflicted. And the argument to open the 1002 area for oil exploration is simply an attempt to do the same thing all over again and expect a different outcome. That's the textbook case for insanity. Don't take my word; Einstein said it.
We need different sources of revenue to sustain this great place. My retirement portfolio isn't solely invested in one thing. I doubt yours is either. It's diversified. It's focused on long-term sustainability. And it's conservative. Boom and bust it isn't.
So we need a sales tax. A really small one, if for no other reason than to capture the short-termers who just come here for the oil or ulu knives. And we need to expand our economic base to other areas: manufacturing, services, transportation. I can't for the life of me understand why the Jones Act is still a thing! It's a tax! Which gets me to another point: We need to stop the Alice-in-Wonderland-like tax-and-subsidy treatment resource companies receive, for in its essence, it's just another tax for the rest of us.
I believe in the free market. I believe in portfolio diversification. We know these things work. Let's have a budget that can beat commodity price swings, can leverage our geography, our human capital, and provide a long-term solution for our future.
— James Haupt
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