J and D's Corner

From the Letters Archive

To:    AV Press

Date: 07/2004

Re:    Brax-afying Alaska


Explanatory foreword:  You will find references to Ralph Brax in several of my letters.  Mr. Brax teaches (or taught)  history at a local community college and is (in)famous for rewriting history and altering facts in general to accommodate his political outlook.  Which is, of course, decidedly liberal.

Having resided in Alaska, Ralph Brax’s column on his recent visit there caught my eye. My interest, of course, was in how he would “Brax-afy” a simple vacation.

Right away, we are informed that the downtrodden residents of Alaska are not allowed to pay state income tax, nor even sales tax. This, according to Brax, is a terrible thing that should be corrected forthwith. He missed another horrible injustice when he failed to mention that not only are they not taxed, each resident is eligible for a yearly cash payment (around $1,100 currently) just for residing there. Of course, they are not forced to take it, so I guess it isn’t quite as bad as the no tax thing.

We also find that in Ralph’s implied opinion Alaska’s teachers are not paid a living wage. Well, their $49,000 average ($30,000+ to start) is indeed below California’s $56,000 average (our teachers’ average pay is, after all, #1 in the nation), but hey, they don't have to pay California's taxes.

Then, we are told that attending the U of Alaska is expensive (again because there is no income tax, according to Brax). Well, if you take advantage of the education check off when accepting your yearly government stipend, it can sure knock down college costs when the time comes. Oh, sorry. That would take a little individual responsibility, wouldn't it?

Then there are the forest fires, which Brax thinks were uncontrolled due to the lack of income tax. The truth is that Alaska has known for many years what we have just started accepting here in the “lower 48”: The best forest management is to let it burn unless something critical is threatened. Every summer lightning creates fires around Alaska, and although an extensive (and expensive) air-mobile force is maintained to protect settlements, the fires are intentionally allowed to “do their thing” unopposed.

Finally, it is stated the Braxes “dredged” for gold, which I seriously doubt. I suspect “panning” is what was done, dredging being something else entirely.

Is all this nit picking? You bet, but from the skein of such details history, be it true or false, is woven.

But do go to Alaska, by all means. It isn’t called “The Great Land” for nothing! And if you decide to live there, rest assured that while they won't let you pay income tax, you will be allowed to make all the voluntary contributions to the state treasury you want.