Readers write: Letters to the editor, May 24, 2016

Contact council on bycatch

Attention, sport, commercial, charter and subsistence halibut and king salmon fishermen:
The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) will meet in Kodiak the week of June 6-14 for a very important meeting. On the agenda are a couple of alternatives for the council to consider regarding the privatizing of fish for the Gulf of Alaska draggers.
Alternative 2 gives the draggers their historic poundage of groundfish to bring into a co-op with the processors. That’s the alternative they prefer. Alternative 3, introduced by the state of Alaska, gives them a limit on the amount of bycatch of halibut and kings each individual can bring into a co-op. Neither alternative should happen until good science is available. Right now less than 30 percent of drag tows are observed. That’s not good science.
We need 100 percent observer coverage for at least a year to get an  accurate count of the kings and halibut, among other species, that are being caught and dumped over dead. Not doing so is irresponsible to the resource and just plain stupid.
Please go to the NPFMC website to learn more about the meeting agenda. Another good source of information is the tholepin blog (tholepin.blogspot.com); there you will get a good idea of what’s going on outside your doorstep. It is important to get letters out to the council by May 31 on this (Agenda item C5) and/or testify at the council meeting in Kodiak.
— George Kirk

Philosopher had it right

President Obama’s recent edict to open all bathrooms to members of the opposite sex brings to mind the words of philosopher David Hume, “Nothing appears more surprising to those who consider human affairs with a philosophical eye than the easiness with which the many are governed by the few; and the implicit submission with which men resigned their own sentiments and passion to those of their rulers.”
—David Mersereau

SB 91 will cut prison population, help crime-reduction programs

I applaud Sen. Dan Sullivan for his endorsement of the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act this past April.
This bipartisan legislation will reform the mandatory minimum sentences that have made prison stays longer and costlier but done little to prevent people from re-offending. Alaska’s prison system has long been equally ineffective. Reports show that two out of three prisoners return to prison or jail within three years. Our state is attempting to fix our ineffective criminal justice system with Senate Bill 91, which will reduce our prison population and reinvest those savings in treatment and reentry programs that have been proven to reduce crime.
Longer prison sentences do not deter crime. They do inflict heavy costs on taxpayers and communities. Thank you, Sen. Sullivan, for your support of smart, effective criminal justice policy. Please urge Sen. Mitch McConnell to bring the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act to a vote.
— Stacey Stone Semmler, president 
Anchorage Republican Women’s Club,
legal counsel to Alaska GOP

A reminder for Americans:

We really aren’t Norway

On May 21, ADN printed a Commentary by Alan Boraas, professor of anthropology, where he is advocating that we should learn a few things from Norway: namely, not to be afraid of the higher taxes to have a free college education, free health care and a guaranteed retirement income, among other things. All of these suggestions are based on an unspoken assumption that the U.S.’ and Norway’s social and cultural fabric are the same or should become the same, at least to some degree.
But such an assumption has no real basis at all, except maybe the fact that we and Norwegians belong to the same anthropological species as, I am sure, the professor knows well.
Norway today has a governing Labor Party advocating socialism, nationalization of some industries, redistribution of income to lower a gap between rich and poor, and no death penalty.
It is unrealistic to think that all these things could work in the U.S. (of course Sandersnistas think otherwise). There are three reasons for that.
First of all, the U.S. is a much larger country than Norway and uniformity will not work.
Second, individualism and entrepreneurship are the hallmark of American society.
Third, the U.S., unlike Norway, is a multicultural and multiracial/multiethnic society where the trust between people is harder to achieve than in the ethnic and cultural homogeneous society of Norway. And a social revolution mentioned by Boraas (to scare us?) is not an issue in the U.S. for the same reasons.
Alas, Boraas should consult on this entire subject with professionals — biosociologists.
— Rudy Budesky

Spohnholz details spending

decisions that makes no sense

I hope everyone including the majority members of the Alaska House of Representatives reads and heeds the Commentary in the May 22 paper entitled “Alaska House majority keeps wasteful spending while shorting basic services,” by Rep. Ivy Spohnholz. She is a new representative but she obviously has better judgment than most of the legislators in the House.
She outlines several examples of spending decisions that don’t make any sense at all in light of the current fiscal situation of Alaska. One she mentions is the $18.9 million allocated to the Bragaw Street Extension project (U-Med road). Nine community councils have indicated their opposition to this project and the Anchorage mayor has effectively vetoed it. Rep. Lance Pruitt has offered the lame explanation that the prior mayor was for it. Thoughtful legislators factor in changes in the state’s fiscal condition since this project was proposed.
Giving the money to UAA to build the road makes no sense at all, especially at a time of severe cuts to the university budget. UAA is an educational facility and should be concentrating all its resources on delivering a quality education program rather than handling a road project.
I hope that the Legislature will rethink their spending decisions using common sense, as displayed by Rep. Spohnholz in her commentary.
— Joanne Kell

Can we learn from Norway?

Alan Boraas, in his ADN commentary May 21, points out the information proven to work by Norwegians in their successful management of their resources. His headline, “Norway can show Alaska how to build a prosperous society,” leads me to question: Are we Alaskans smart enough to read his entire commentary and to learn from the Norwegians how to create a prosperous society of our own? Our current fiscal crisis suggests we have a lot to learn to make it happen. The political process happening in Juneau right now is certainly not reassuring to me.
What is reassuring to me is the trend occurring in the ideas and thoughts being expressed by Alaskans in Letters to the Editor May 21. I may be wrong but it seems like most of the ideas expressed by these Alaskans are in the best interests of Alaska and Alaskans. If I sound impatient to see and experience a better Alaska and world, it may be because I am almost 84 and Morley Safer reminds me we better hurry.
— Hugh R. Hays, veteran for equality, integrity, justice and peace

Prevo backs Trump? Well …

Just when I couldn’t think of yet another excellent reason not to vote for Mr. Trump, now I learn that Jerry Prevo supports him. That ought to be enough for anyone of sound mind.
— Steven B. Tucker, M.D. 

Sometimes the cause is obvious

We read the commentary by Professor Matthew Nock in the Alaska Dispatch News May 14. In the final paragraph he calls for more research on why suicide happens. There are times when a cigar is just a cigar.
Despair and helplessness are some of the key things to look at. Improving rights for individuals in crisis and the disabled would reduce suicide — helplessness and hopelessness are not a good combination.
— Dorrance Collins and Faith Myers
mental health advocates

The views expressed here are the writers' own and are not necessarily endorsed by Alaska Dispatch News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a letter under 200 words for consideration, email letters@alaskadispatch.com, or click here to submit via any web browser. Submitting a letter to the editor constitutes granting permission for it to be edited for clarity, accuracy and brevity. Send longer works of opinion to commentary@alaskadispatch.com.