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If an actor gives a lackluster performance, we describe that as “calling it in,” instead of giving a role the attention it deserves. An actor who is typecast and seems to portray the same character over and over, without depth or growth, calls in his performance. (Tom Cruise comes to mind. But never De Niro.)
Seems like maybe the Taxpayers for Common Sense had a calling-it-in day this week. Almost like it was time to leave the office at the end of work, and there was a forehead-smacking realization: “Gheesh! We forgot to give a Golden Fleece Award!”
So they went the tried-and-true Washington, D.C., route: Quick, find an Alaska project. Everyone knows if it’s in Alaska, and federal dollars are spent on it, it’s a waste because it doesn’t serve enough people.
So much the better if it’s a bridge.
Perfect! Predictably, the Knik Arm bridge got the Golden Fleece Award. That’s the proposed toll bridge over Knik Arm in Cook Inlet. In the announcement, the usual comparison to the Golden Gate bridge is made (it’s longer than that!), with the implication that the Golden Gate bridge is good, it’s about as long as a bridge ought to be, and anything bigger can’t be worthwhile. There’s no hint that anyone ever thought that San Francisco bridge was a farce, too, at the time it was proposed.
And the inevitable comparison is drawn to Knik’s “sibling” (hey, everything in Alaska is the same, right?), “the infamous ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ — the ultimate symbol of government waste and itself a Golden Fleece recipient — in Ketchikan.”
There it is. We’re familiar.
Anytime a Lower 48 group wants to grab headlines, adding “to Nowhere” to just about anything works, but particularly a bridge. (Ours was to the airport that serves hundreds of thousands of people annually, but those numbers don’t even get buried — it’s as if they don’t exist.)
Alaska projects are fair game. Kind of like dormitory food, everyone likes to complain about them. There are relatively few voters here, so the potential for political backlash is negligible. It’s an easy hit, picking on Alaska. But we can take it.
Having had the foresight to establish the Alaska Permanent Fund put Alaskans on everyone’s radar, the first time we got dividend checks. They wished they’d thought of such a thing when they were busy squandering all their natural resources, and they are madder than wet hens every time they read about us getting checks from our own savings account.
Know what? We’ll take the money, enjoy our gorgeous surroundings, keep working for projects that will improve the quality of our lives, and shake our heads when folks like Taxpayers for Common Sense call in their complaints when Alaska, like every other state, lines up for federal support for our federal land.
Though we can’t recommend it as a lifestyle, every once in a while, it feels OK not to give a darn what they think Down South.