It seems counter intuitive but the one thing elected officials seem most hungry for is constituent opinions. That seems weird considering elected officials spend their lives in what looks from the outside like a personal bunker constantly under siege by incoming opinions on any and everything.
But in my experience, lawmakers from city councilmen to state legislators, to U.S. Senators desperately desire real, unvarnished opinions from their constituents. It’s their way of feeling like they’re keeping their finger on the pulse of a district that because of their legislative duties they can’t spend all their time in.
Instead, what lawmakers get is a torrent of manufactured opinions. Just listen to any public testimony at the state legislature. You are likely to hear some combination of the small constellation of people testify or sit in the audience. They are almost always those that are either paid to have an interest in the bill (The Alliance, AOGA, Chamber of Commerce, Americans for Prosperity, Alaska Policy Forum, AFL-CIO, NEA, etc) or legislative gadflies who everyone tunes out.
What elected officials rarely get is the opinion from the random person on the street, who like most people, have only heard about a given issue on the radio or the nightly news or maybe even the daily paper, but none-the-less-have a strong opinion on it. This represents the vast, vast, vast majority of the voting public. As such I think that opinion is far more valuable to both lawmakers and those of us who follow politics than the scrolling of manufactured opinion of public testimony.
With that in mind The Midnight Sun has begun actively searching out Alaska bloggers. These are folks who write their thoughts for recreation and their topics tend to vary widely. Their sites aren’t monetized or widely read. They are more of personal outlet than a business model. Many tend to only follow politics from afar and post an opinion only when the mood strikes. Because of that, I believe they often represent the more genuine, unspun voice that politicos need to hear or see.
When one of them does post on a political issue I will be actively seeking to share it with you, not because I agree with them, but because their diversity of opinion is valuable to share in the public sphere.
With that in mind, here is the first such posting from Pete’s Alaska – God, family, country my view out the cabin window.
The Alaskan PFD… A pot of gold legislatures can’t keep their hands off of.
Posted: April 7, 2016
Like pigs in a pen when their food supply is drying up and they spot another source of food they scramble over each other to get at it. Here in Alaska when oil was $100 a barrel our representatives in Juneau were as happy as pigs in that trough, but with oil now below $40 a barrel they have set their sights on the peoples savings account, the PFD!
Just a short posting addressed to my fellow Alaskan readers about something I heard on the radio. On Tuesday April 5th at 10:15 in the morning on NPR’s ‘Talk of Alaska’ Governor Bill Walker said “in under four years, if we do nothing the PFD will go away”. This echoes the radio commercials, (aka propaganda), blanketing the AM dial which are attempting to plant the seed of allowing our legislature in Juneau to draw money from the permanent fund to balance the state’s budget.
The talk of Alaska is a call in show but none of those calling in put the most important question of all to the governor. If I had the chance to call I would have asked that since our yearly PFD is based (only) on the (interest) that the fund earns and not on how much new oil revenue is put into the fund, other than mismanagement of the investments, why would the fund “go away”?
I might even ask him why if in 2004, when we had a balanced budget, and the price per barrel of oil was less than $40 like it is today can’t we go back and reinstate the budget levels for all departments to those 2004 levels?
We are living in an age where government and the law says you and I must pay our bills and live with what we make, but the government, both state and federal, can continue to spend money it does not have.
There are some days
at the end of the month
when I can not afford
to shop anymore.
Why is it our government
has no limits on what it spends?