Executive Director's Message

Amazing year of comebacks — now Alaska needs one too

When I hear the word “comeback,” I first think of that perfect response to someone hours after the opportunity has passed and say to myself, “I wish I’d said that.”

Winston Churchill is well-known for his witty and biting retorts. On one occasion, when Lady Astor said to Churchill, “Winston, if you were my husband, I’d put poison in your coffee.” Winston replied, “Nancy, if I were your husband, I’d drink it.”

Comebacks can bring other things to mind, and this past year there were some amazing ones. Starting with sports.

The 2016 NBA championship final marked the conclusion of the 2015-16 season and was played between the Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers and the Western Conference champion Golden State Warriors. The Warriors, with the help of incredibly accurate 3-point shooting, went into Game 5 with a 3-1 series lead. The Cavaliers won the next three games to become the first team in finals history to overcome a 3-1 deficit.

The 2016 World Series was between the National League champion Chicago Cubs and the American League champion Cleveland Indians. The Cubs went into Game 5 trailing the Indians in the series 3-1, and the outlook wasn’t good. Only five times in the 112-year history of the World Series has a team come back from a three-games-to-one deficit to win a best-of-seven series. An 8-7 victory in extra innings in Game 7 capped a remarkable three-game comeback, giving the Chicago Cubs their first World Series in 108 years.

Super Bowl 51 (LI in Roman numerals) was played Feb. 5 between the American Football Conference champions New England Patriots and the National Football Conference champs Atlanta Falcons. More than 30 team and individual Super Bowl records were either broken or matched that Sunday. Adding to those records, about 28 million pounds of chips, 1.25 billion chicken wings and 325 million gallons of beer were consumed on Super Bowl Sunday. But I digress. After nearly three quarters of play, the Falcons dominated the Patriots, leading 28-3 with 2 minutes left in the third quarter. The Patriots, in an incredible burst of near-perfect play, scored 31 unanswered points to win 34-28 in overtime — the first Super Bowl to go into overtime.

The 2016 presidential election and stunning victory of Donald Trump was an amazing comeback! It was against all odds, including the pollsters and media predicting even on Election Day a significant Hillary Clinton victory. The race began in 2015 with a packed crowd of 18 Republican wannabees and culminated in Trump’s 304-to-227 electoral victory. Trump is the fifth president to win the Electoral College but lose the popular vote. The Trump presidency strikes fear in the minds of some and optimism in the minds of others. The optimism includes the many investors who have witnessed a 10 percent stock market increase — the Trump Bump — in the first six weeks after the election.

The Alaska Economy needs a comeback. We can’t control the price of oil, but we can control what we do with our oil wealth. Both sides have drawn lines in the sand: “more budget cuts” on one side and “taxes” on the other. Common ground on both sides is the stabilizing power of the Permanent Fund, and that seems to be generating the most public outcry. It will take some bold action by the Legislature to come to a compromise on significant, polarizing issues. The leadership and the ability to work together are there. It’s a matter of putting partisan politics and perhaps the interests of vocal constituents aside and doing what is best for Alaska.

It’s a little more than one-third of the way through the regular session, and I’ve listened to some of the hours of tedious public testimony on a couple of the “Permanent Fund” bills. My sympathy to those legislators who listen to the negative and derogatory repetition, ad nauseam. I’m reminded of another great comeback when a member of Parliament asked, “Mr. Churchill, must you fall asleep while I’m speaking?” To which Churchill replied, “No, it’s purely voluntary.”

We have a fiscal crisis that is trashing our economy. Some think we can cut our way out of it, and others think we can tax our way out of it. After two years of a persuasive information effort by state business and civic leaders and incessant bombardment in all the media, there are still many in denial that we even have a fiscal crisis. The inability to understand the obvious has been around as long as the wheel.

Former New York Mayor Ed Koch, when a reporter kept pressing a question after failing to grasp an obvious point in a statement Koch had made, said,

“I can explain it to you; I can’t comprehend it for you.”