AJOC EDITORIAL: Happy Thanksgiving … now pass the turkey(s)


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It’s that time of year when we give thanks, and pass the turkey.

We’ll get to the turkey, but first let’s give thanks.

As we near the end of another year, we are thankful to our readers that we work for every week.

We are thankful for our families and friends, and for our unofficial family here in the green Morris building off Dimond in Anchorage.

We are thankful for our military serving here in Alaska and around the world sacrificing time with their loved ones to keep us safe. We’re thankful the F-16s are staying at Eielson and that Fort Greely is being beefed up to address growing threats around the world.

We are thankful for those keeping us safe at home: our State Troopers, U.S. Coast Guard and Alaska Air National Guard. They watch over our hardworking fishermen plying dangerous waters and risk their lives to pull some of the more adventurous among us out of deadly situations whether on the mudflats or Hatcher Pass.

Finally, we are thankful for Alaska abundance.

Alaska has abundant jobs, with its unemployment rate of 6.5 percent less than the national average for five years running. In our urban areas such as Fairbanks, Juneau and Anchorage, it is less than 5 percent. A rate that low can cause its own problems, but those are the good kind to have.

Thanks to the efforts of Hilcorp, Southcentral has an abundant supply of natural gas for the next several years, and Inlet oil production has nearly doubled from 2010 levels after the Hilcorturnaround on the formerly neglected assets of Chevron and Marathon.

Alaska is seeing an abundance of investment on the North Slope, with billions being spent at Point Thomson, Prudhoe Bay, Kuparuk, and NPR-A.

That’s not to mention the steady progress of the effort to truck LNG to Fairbanks, which has suffered far too long from high energy prices and poor air quality caused by burning wood or fuel oil. The pieces underway at Point Thomson and the Slope processing plant for LNG trucking can also fit into the effort to build a large gas pipeline that could serve both our state and the burgeoning Asian markets.

We are thankful for the abundance of visitors this year, with more than 1 million cruise passengers topping a threshold last crossed in 2008 before the national economy went into a sharp recession.

We are thankful for the abundance of salmon: a state record of some 270 million fish crossed the docks in 2013 and could establish an all-time record for value as well.

And of course we are thankful for the abundance of natural beauty in Alaska, and the opportunity to live every day in a way that most people can only put on their “bucket list.”

Now let’s pass the turkeys.

The national media: Now they figure out Obamacare. Good job, guys.

Democrat senators voting to nuke the filibuster: Just what we need, more liberal judges and extremist cabinet secretaries. And speaking of extremist cabinet secretaries …

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell: Still no decision on the King Cove road, still ignoring the law on ANWR exploration.

Anchorage politics: Tennis courts? We talkin’ ‘bout tennis courts?

Medicaid expansion: There has been plenty said — and almost none of it good — about Gov. Sean Parnell’s decision to not expand Medicaid eligibility in Alaska. Of everything that has been said, though, I find it hard to call it a “political” decision as many have. Virtually every organization with an email list across the ideological spectrum endorsed the expansion and the prospect of billions in new federal dollars from Uncle Sugar.

Parnell had nothing to gain, other than dozens of negative headlines, and more to lose by making the decision he did. The political decision would have been to take the “free” money and the kudos from his allies while simultaneously taking away an attack from his opponents. But in any case, the onus is now on Parnell to offer up an alternative proposal for those in need, and that alone will be the ultimate arbiter of whether his decision was right or wrong.

Andrew Jensen can be reached at andrew.jensen@alaskajournal.com.

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