Recall when Alaska was a subsistence-worker-homesteader territory with strong unions and social values, represented and defended by the Democratic Party, where a person or family could prosper on their own merits. I think of my grandfather’s circle as they saw oil production in Cook Inlet appear as the new gold rush. Their efforts to organize and lobby for a state-owned and operated “Alaska Oil Company,” while prescient, were swept aside by a corporate/military influx that, upon statehood, would insure the Republican Party would be the Trojan Horse to facilitate our being colonized by BP and outside resource extraction interests, as opposed to sustainable development benefiting all Alaskans, Native and immigrant. What that social Democrat world would look like today we can only imagine, as it died with Govs. Bill Egan and Jay Hammond. A world where we invested in Alaska, not Wall Street.
Perhaps it would be a “state bank” like North Dakota, where the interest on every loan was rolled back into our communities instead of shareholder profits for the super-rich. We could have invested in a medical school that provided every village and town with doctors, dentists and nurses, scholarships for our best science, technology, engineering and math students, payback for their college costs.
Had we funded investments in clean technology, so plentiful as to be a surfeit, generating enough energy to build data centers with environmentally clean jobs and excess power for hydrogen production — a truly needed resource worldwide — instead of natural gas.
We did not invest in Alaska; we believed the corporate propaganda that what was good for their CEOs and shareholders would be equally good for us, someday. As this fossil-fuel world collapses, we continue rewarding them rather than seize assets in an effort to avoid complete catastrophe.
Look about yourself; almost every item in our world is based on oil. Oil is the defining characteristic of modern mankind. The parallels to our opiate addiction crisis are analogically accurate. In our world, the only things not based on fossil fuels are “alive.”
Plants, animals, living creatures. Life or oil, choose.
— William Bartee
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