Wednesday, May 03, 2006

How gullible do they think we are?

As a cabin-dwelling Alaskan who actually watches tv* - I can't help but notice that we are being bombarded with even more adverts from Big Oil than usual.

Could it be, perhaps, that there is some connection to the fact that our Lege appears to be actually reworking the way we tax the producers? Quel suprise.

For the non-Alaskans, an explanation is in order. Big Oil is our King Coal. We are way dependent on revenues from oil development, with something like 85 percent of our state budget coming from the industry.** Despite our all-too-willing role in the Great Big Petroleum Addiction, the industry spends... hmm... I'd guess hundreds of thousands of dollars each year telling us how great it is. They're quite well produced ads, with views of our ridiculously common scenic landscapes, smiling Alaskan Native elders, smiling pipeline workers, salmon and the like. They are constantly feeding us this propaganda, even when the Legislature doesn't have the guts to re-think the tax structure.

Despite the fact that they are rolling in record profits thanks to the price of oil going over $70 a barrel, somehow, Big Oil is skeered we're going to actually, ya know, maybe change the way we tax them.

Seriously, turn on the local channel and you'll be treated one of many versions of the same message: "If you make changes to the tax structure, we just might go away! We might just give up on the RECORD PROFITS and go away, leaving all your oil in the ground. The Alaska economy will be ruined, ruined I tell you!"

Being something of a skeptic, it's hard to tolerate such obvious crap. It's insulting really. It's as if they think we are simple-minded sheeple or something. (Or maybe the effectiveness of governing through the use of fear is all too apparent. Thank you, George W!)

What's even more insulting is that the industry, through our esteemed (ha!) Governor, is trying to tie all this to the natural gas pipeline issue.

But perhaps the most insulting fact remains:

Exxon still has not paid the damages awarded to those who lives were ruined by the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill. We're talking regular folks: commercial fishermen, subsistence users ... thousands were affected by that catastrophe. Big Oil has big pockets, and they'll keep that sucker in the courts as long as they can, while plaintiffs die off and the environmental effects remain.

* I watch the damn idiot box on occasion, and yes, I know how bad that is for my brain, and it probably reveals deep flaws in my leftie, feminist, tree-hugging ways, and contributes to the Downfall of Everything Good in the World. If it earns me a few points back, one should understand that I watch it often as a sort of anthropological exercise. Really. And 'Arrested Development.'

** Not to ignore, of course, our dependence on the continual hefty serving of federal pork courtesy of our Congressional delegation.

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