The mining newspaper for Alaska and Canada's North

We cannot hold our breath over Prop One

In the short run, the measure is about oil taxes; but in the long run, its passage would affect every aspect of Alaska's future.

I have long mused over the difference in how people solve problems.

Every time we are confronted with an election, the debate resurfaces.

One would suppose that individuals trained in analytical thinking would be inclined to reach conclusions lineally, consistent with the Socratic syllogism in which conclusions are based upon facts.

In the course of my career, I have long dealt with individuals who are trained in the "hard" sciences, such as geologists and engineers.

They tend to base their judgments on the thesis that "if you knew the facts as I know the facts, you would come to the same conclusion that I have come to." This, of course overlooks the reality that the vast percentage of the electorate vote, and act, on the theory that facts are confusing, and are totally irrelevant to the decision-making process.

It is often said that the optimist sees the glass as half full, the pessimist sees the glass as half empty and the engineer sees the glass as too big for the job. The point being that all see the same glass, and all are correct in our conclusions, but the perspective leads to a vastly different perception.

I was recently struck by the report from a legislative candidate who, in going door-to-door, was told by a constituent that he did not apply for Permanent Fund dividends, because oil companies "pillage" Alaska.

Clearly, there are many sound arguments for declining a PFD - it is an entitlement program that is not needs-based, for instance - and there are arguments to support the PFD - it keeps the management of state money on the radar screen of the citizenry; however, it is a long stretch to get from pillage to an annual check.

The dividend, is based on the earnings of the Permanent Fund and is at least one step away from anything the oil companies do, and of course, the oil companies are simply not allowed to pillage.

Globally speaking, Europe is in crisis (again) because the would-be Tsar of modern Russia is using his hand on the oil spigot to deter sanctions over the devolution of Ukraine. Arguably, America could soon become the energy source that protects millions of central Europeans from re-emergent tyranny.

In recent years, through evolving technological developments, the United States has slowed its slide toward dependence on foreign oil sources. Alaska, however, is always out of step with the rest of the nation, as illustrated by the pending ballot on Proposition One. This measure would cause the state to revert to the ACES tax prescription which demonstrably inhibited oil exploration while it was in effect; unfortunately, odds favor this measure passing narrowly.

In order to support Proposition One or any other attack on Alaska oil production, a person has to be deaf, dumb and blind to the fact that oil production emoluments pay the bulk of Alaska's bills and the availability of Alaska oil in the future conceivably may have implications for our free-world allies.

Passage of Proposition One undoubtedly will lead to reduced oil production in Alaska, less tax revenue, fewer public services and most significantly to some of us who are interested in mining, the cost of delivering energy to remote projects increasing, making those projects less attractive.

Chaos theory teaches us that one cannot capture a butterfly without putting the whole world at risk of some unintended consequence. For our dear friend who is concerned about oil companies pillaging Alaska, perhaps his glass just isn't the right size. Every breath he takes results in carbon dioxide entering into the atmosphere, contributing to the greenhouse effect and ultimately global warming. Should the oil industry be driven out of Alaska by unbearable taxes, we may all be grateful for his incremental contribution toward a warmer climate, lest we freeze in the dark.


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