Out There


Posted in Uncategorized by Pete on August 9, 2008

Alaska is 50 years old this year, as a state.  I read this fantastic speech by Ernest Gruening, the last territorial governor and first senator from Alaska.  In case this link eventually breaks, just google his name and the title of the speech “Let us end American Colonialism.”  I’ve known of Gruening before, but hadn’t heard of the speech.  It’s a great primer for the uninitiated to get some insight into why old-timer Alaskans have some of the ideas and perspectives they do regarding the federal government and the lower 48 in general.

I remember learning in Alaska history that Gruening left office and Alaska for that matter a pretty bitter guy who had little good to say about the state and people he served so well for so long.  He managed to implement a modest tax on the salmon industry, which was a monumental task.  At that time they were THE industry, and their Seattle lawyers reputedly sat in the legislative gallery and passed notes to lap-dog lawmakers who looked their way for how to vote.  Gruening overcame that powerful lobby to get a small tax put in place, which gave the territory some desperately needed revenue.  Later an income tax was put in place too, which was repealed in the heady oil $$ early 80s under Gov Hammond, who would later state that his failure to veto that legislation was his greatest mistake in office.  Anyway, if you like history and/or Alaska, read the speech.

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