Sowell: Socialism for the uninformed

By Thomas Sowell

Socialism sounds great. It has always sounded great. And it will probably always continue to sound great. It is only when you go beyond rhetoric, and start looking at hard facts, that socialism turns out to be a big disappointment, if not a disaster.  More…

To Elected Officials In Times Of Shortage, Increasing Taxes On The Few Is Easier Than Cutting Benefits Of The Many

Commentary by

Dave Harbour

Anti oil activists in Alaska, Canada and abroad are anxious to demonize companies for making money when prices are normal or high.

The well organized cabal of activists is not stupid, for its members realize that demonizing the wealth producers makes it easier to move money from the free market to their big government constituencies.  They also know that royalties and taxes that are based on commodity prices enrich governments (i.e. “the people”) and provide investors with the confidence and ability to withstand lean times as well…but, that understanding does not benefit their agenda of wealth redistribution and, to them, is irrelevant.

The cabal of social, economic and cultural activists also knows its voting constituencies would not exist without a growing stream of financial infusions from the real wealth producers: and, what greater wealth producing sector is there than the oil and gas sector?

That stream of special interest entitlement spending must, indeed, grow whether wealth production profitability is bountiful, or as now, scarce.  Therefore, the entitlement advocates must force free market forces to support their special interests even in times of scarcity.  In essence, they must create such public pressure that logical economic decisions can be compromised if they are to sustain their entitlement voting constituencies.

Here is a link to ConocoPhillips’ current Security and Exchange Commission Form 8-K received today.

To an investor the results of such reports must be frightening, for they reveal the reality of low price pressures a company must endure, including: massive cost cutting, debt restructuring, capital spending reductions (i.e. affecting future income), higher effective tax rates, and much more.

Even with all of that effort, ConocoPhillips is experiencing financial losses in Alaska and most other operating areas.  (It is to the company’s credit that it is maintaining a robust capital investment program in place for we imagine the pressures to invest less must be staggering.)

Our readers know well, by now, that other producers are experiencing similar job losses and cost cutting endeavors.

Meanwhile, we hear elected officials boasting of their cost cutting success while making few meaningful cuts in agency personnel or entitlement programs…with others suggesting that they need to take more from the oil and gas, mining, and other sectors of the free market.  In other words, the focus is on keeping government whole, even at the expense of further taxing the private sector.

This week, the republicans are boasting about how their willingness to compromise is producing a “bi partisan and bi cameral” solution.  The democrats are happy they have saved their special interests.  What is the result: the can is kicked down the road as state savings accounts are further depleted.

In short, we close by coining this phrase we believe to be both true and applying to national as well as local politics: “The democrats (socialists) never compromise; the republicans always compromise.”  (Note: Alaska democrats have aligned themselves with the socialist candidate for President and one of their principal constituencies consists of several dozen environmental activist groups that consistently oppose natural resource wealth production in Alaska.)

This is why Alaska is not resolving its fiscal crisis, why the United States culture, economy and crushing national debt threaten the Republic and why the enviro-governmental-business cabal is crippling the free market in both Canada and the United States of America.

Free market forces that continue to compromise the free market become complicit in the march toward socialist dictatorship like lambs being led to the slaughter.

But there is a solution: If free market forces recognize how they are compromising economic principles, common sense, cultural freedom and wealth production and begin to defend and insist on the pure values that made us the shining city on the hill, we can begin to recapture that greatness.

That is the good news!

If free market compromisers do not become effective free market defenders, they will have enabled the forces of socialism to successfully complete the acquisition of power.

Governor Pleads To Not Let Alaska “Go Broke”

Commentary from Ak-Headlamp:

“Do we have to go broke before we fix Alaska? I guess that’s my question to the Legislature,” Governor Bill Walker said. Gov. Walker has been under increased pressure to convince lawmakers, and Alaskans, on his fiscal plan. Legislative leaders called the budget responsible and a product of hard-fought compromise that further reduced state spending. But Walker’s budget director, Pat Pitney, said that in some cases it included use of one-time funding and booked expenses in the current year. That’s problematic because it will have to be accounted for in future budgeting, Pitney said. When you take those items into account, “we haven’t substantially moved the dial,” budget director Pat Pitney said.

Global leaders in moving backwards. According to IHS Energy Senior Vice President Atul Arya said Alaska is globally unique in discussing the possibility of raising taxes or cutting incentives during the prolonged downturn in oil markets. “What I find most interesting — in the most recent time, most everybody is creating incentives to help attract investments into their countries,” he said. “Even places like India and China, which are not really hotbeds of oil and gas activity, have done more to attract investors, and of course there are many other countries who are doing that in the last year or so.” The IHS official also noted the global demand for LNG will continue to grow to about 350 million tons by 2020.Headlamp couldn’t agree more with Arya! It makes no sense in an Alaskan, national, or even international context to tax an industry that’s already hurting. Alaska has the potential to be a global hub of energy production if bad policy doesn’t get in the way.

REI builds relationships across the Pacific. Resources Energy Inc. plans to move their project into the front-end engineering and design, or FEED, stage within the next few months. FEED should take roughly two years, at which point a final investment decision would be made. Construction would then take about another two years to put start-up sometime in 2020 or 2021. A Japanese delegation toured Port McKenzie and were impressed to say the least according to General Manager Mary Ann Pease. Pease said the Japanese delegation members continue to emphasize Alaska’s ability to reliably supportthe country’s energy security.

Wells Fargo, First National Bank Alaska, and Northrim BanCorphave continued to increase loan portfolios and deposits, though they acknowledge the state’s precarious oil-driven position.

Wells Fargo — a sizable underwriter of oil and gas operations — has seen several revenue streams associated with oil and gas decline. More than 1,200 oil and gas industry workers received unemployment benefits in 2015, up 545 from the prior year. The Department of Labor indicates that this trend has continued through the first quarter of this year with a total decrease of 1,900 jobs in the oil and gas sector as compared to the same period last year.

Meanwhile, in Wyoming. After oil prices have slowly crept up to around $50, some Wyoming drilling operations have begun to reexamine oil production. The renewed optimism comes as analysts continue to debate oil’s trajectory. Kirkwood Oil and Gas, for example, has targeted $65 a barrel for a return to Powder River Basin, where the company has 90 undeveloped well locations. “I think things are going to pick up here. We’re betting on it,” said Steve Kirkwood, who runs the Casper-based firm. He projected the company could begin drilling again in the fourth quarter. Headlamp applauds Wyoming’s oil and gas producers wading back into the market despite the pervasive pessimism from some market critics, and hopes that Alaska will be joining them soon – if taxes don’t drive investment away. 

The comment period on the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) outer continental shelf proposal closes in two weeks. Are you like Headlamp and think Alaskans should have the right to pursue safe, sustainable resource development?Tell the BOEM what you think here.


The National Energy Board is recommending that the federal government approve TransCanada Corp.’s proposed expansion of its NOVA gas pipeline system.

However, the federal regulator set 48 conditions that TransCanada subsidiary NOVA Gas Transmission Ltd. has to meet if the project goes ahead.

Five of those conditions relate to the protection and restoration of caribou habitat, since the project would run though the territory of the threatened boreal woodland caribou.   More….

Today’s relevant news links courtesy of Daniel McDonald:

Budget deal is done, but oil tax reform remains elusive
For months, Democrats in the Legislature were clear on one thing: they would not vote for a budget unless it was paired with major cuts to state subsidies for oil companies.

Walker says the Legislature must pass his fiscal plan
Gov. Bill Walker said the Legislature’s work is a long way from being over.

Legislature passes two bills aiding children in foster care
The Legislature took three actions this week that will help foster care children — passing two bills aiming at finding kids adoptive homes and adding money to the budget…

State moves toward trial in Sockeye wildfire
State prosecutors are pushing for a criminal trial in the wake of last year’s devastating Sockeye wildfire near Willow.

Ex-Mayor Dan Sullivan challenges Murkowski
Former Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan is running against U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the Republican Primary.

Alaska Gov. Walker to lawmakers: ‘Do we have to go broke before we fix Alaska?’
Alaska Gov. Bill Walker launched a broadside against the Legislature on Wednesday, holding a news conference in Juneau to accuse lawmakers of shirking their responsibilities…

Alaska Sens. Johnny Ellis and Charlie Huggins are retiring
Longtime Anchorage Democratic legislator Johnny Ellis announced his retirement Wednesday

Former Anchorage mayor files for primary run against Sen. Lisa Murkowski
Former Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan filed to face U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the Republican primary moments before the candidate deadline Wednesday.

Top Alaska union official Beltrami to run against GOP state Sen. Cathy Giessel
Vince Beltrami, the state’s most prominent union official, filed to run for an Alaska Senate seat Tuesday

Massive failure at many levels caused Alaska opioid detox shutdowns
On May 1,  Alaska Dispatch News published a below-the-fold story about how “Alaska’s two providers of inpatient opiate detox services” had ceased admittance of opioid detox patients.

Alaska’s leaders need to see beyond this year’s deficit
We will die in Alaska, and be buried right alongside those who came before us.

Mat-Su port looks to potential Japanese LNG plant for salvation
A proposed $1 billion liquefied natural gas plant to facilitate exports of Cook Inlet gas to Japan could rescue the foundering Matanuska-Susitna Borough port.

City denies $38M tax break for proposed 4th Avenue Theatre redevelopment
A tax break that was part of a proposal to redevelop the historical but unused 4th Avenue Theatre downtown has been denied by the city’s chief fiscal officer…

Alaska’s oil glory days aren’t coming back. The world has moved on.
The oil industry is settling in for energy prices to stay around their current level for a long time.

Readers write: Letters to the editor, June 1, 2016
On Clinton and gunsI read that Hillary Clinton may encourage Americans to buy more guns than the previous record holder, President Barack Obama.

Alaska governor urges action on plan to address deficit
Gov. Bill Walker reiterated his call for passage of a state fiscal plan during a fiery news conference Wednesday in which he also pushed back against criticism that his administration isn’t doing…

Portion of expected tax credits included in budget
The budget passed by the Alaska Legislature covers a portion of the tax credits the state expects for the coming fiscal year.

Longtime Alaska lawmaker Ellis not seeking re-election
Longtime Alaska state Sen. Johnny Ellis says he will not seek re-election.

Murkowski picks up GOP challenge from former Anchorage mayor
Former Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan has filed to run against Republican U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski in this summer’s GOP primary.

Anti-marijuana efforts surge in borough
Efforts are underway to stop marijuana businesses from opening in the Fairbanks North Star Borough.

School board appoints new member to open seat
The Fairbanks North Star Borough School Board voted to appoint Tom Bartels to an open seat on the board Wednesday

Sexual education curriculum harmful
Regarding my experience this session in support of Senate Bill 89 and after hearing hours of testimony and doing a lot of research…

Walker to lawmakers: ‘Fix the problem’
A fiery Gov. Bill Walker on Wednesday decried the Alaska Legislature’s failure to fix a $4 billion gap in state finances and left open the possibility of using his veto powers to reduce state spending…

Sen. Ellis to retire after 30 years in Legislature
Anchorage Democratic Sen. Johnny Ellis announced Wednesday he will not seek reelection in the fall, ending his 30 years of service in the Alaska Legislature.

Foster children, orphans benefit from two passed bills
While the Alaska Legislature has been consumed by the need to address the state’s $4 billion budget gap, it has still managed to find time to address other issues.

Southeast Alaska: Keeping spirits up as economy heads south
In the past five years, Southeast Alaska has seen some all-time highs in population, workers and workforce earnings, but the future is less promising.

Empire Editorial: Are we undone?
The Alaska Legislature has approved a budget compromise that avoids a shutdown of state government on July 1. Congratulations.

Walker to Legislature: Your job isn’t done yet
Gov. Bill Walker made it clear June 1 that he does not think legislators finished their work when the passed the state operating and capital budgets a day prior.

Reinsurance bill passes House, still needs funding in budget
The Senate Finance Committee has heard and held a bill that would a secure $55 million to lower individual insurance premiums in Alaska.

REI announces move to FEED for Cook Inlet gas project
Plans for a small-scale natural gas liquefaction and export facility at Port MacKenzie continue to move ahead despite current market challenges.

Analyst: Alaska in a bind on taxes, LNG
A leading international energy analyst did not paint a rosy picture for Alaska in a May 26 presentation to the state Oil and Gas Competitiveness Review Board.

Banks see some impacts of oil crash, fiscal uncertainty
As the state Legislature chases solutions to a $4 billion budget gap and the oil and gas industry bleeds cash on the North Slope, Alaska’s financial institutions are still increasing loans…

Murkowski hosts Kenai field hearing on federal conflicts
Sen. Lisa Murkowski visited Kenai on May 31 to hold a field hearing for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that she chairs on how federal management conflicts with local management…

Railbelt power utilities entering new era of cooperation
For 75 years, Matanuska Electric Association has provided our members with electricity as a platform for economic growth and community vitality.

Walker not ready to sign Legislature’s spending plan
The Alaska Legislature has approved a compromise state operating budget, the timing of which was aimed at preventing layoff warnings from being…

Rep. Lynn Gattis files to run for Alaska Senate seat held by retiring Sen. Charlie Huggins
Rep. Lynn Gattis (R-Wasilla) filed to run for Alaska State Senate on Thursday.

Anchorage Democrat Johnny Ellis announces retirement from Alaska Senate
Alaska Senator Johnny Ellis has announced his retirement after 30 years in the Legislature.

Rep. Craig Johnson joins crowded race for vacant Anchorage Senate seat
Rep. Craig Johnson, an Anchorage Republican first elected to the state House a decade ago, tells KTUU he plans to join the crowded…

University of Alaska receives good news as reductions loom
The University of Alaska System statewide could look different next near, while cuts to programs and staff remain likely, a tuition increase is not.

Former Anchorage mayor Dan Sullivan announces Senate bid against Murkowski
Minutes before a Wednesday deadline, former Anchorage mayor Dan Sullivan filed to run against Lisa Murkowski for…

Gov. Walker criticizes Legislature for budget, voices concern for future
Gov. Bill Walker is waiting to sign off on a budget passed by lawmakers Tuesday evening — a budget that is funded mostly by savings.

Alaska lawmakers Ellis, Huggins retiring
Two more Alaska state legislators are not seeking re-election. Longtime state Sen. Johnny Ellis announced Wednesday that he will not seek re-election.

Former Anchorage mayor Dan Sullivan files to run against Murkowski
Minutes before Wednesday’s filing deadline, former Anchorage mayor Dan Sullivan officially filed to run against U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the upcoming Senate race.

Legislators keep BSA increase
Legislators restored a $50 increase to the base student allocation in the state’s operating budget approved Tuesday.

Good News for Alaskans with Memory Problems
Dan Sullivan is running for an Alaska Senate seat.