Wilder by Far

A look at life with the Wilder family. Updated most weekends and some vacation days. You can contact me at movingnorth@gmail.com..

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Location: United States

Sunday, August 27, 2006

"You have a social security number, pay your taxes, and you help your landlady carry out her garbage." - Agent Smith - The Matrix

A lovely tourist attraction, with a couple of tourists. Little did they know the horror that they would soon see . . .

Alaska is a conservative, libertarian kinda state. It says so on the label, and it says so from the opinions of the people that you meet here. Alaska would rather elect a plague-ridden flea-riddled terrier to congress than a Democrat. Our politicians talk openly about getting more guns into society, and on the local talk show I actually heard someone say, “We need a 1000 yard rifle range more than we need soccer fields for the kids. How many kids play soccer, anyway?”

I’m not sure that we need a 1000 yard rifle range. If I want to kill something that bad, I think I can manage to sneak in a wee bit closer. The other comment I came away with from the same talk show was:

“Tourists don’t pay their fair share.”

Wow. The tourists fund all the hotels in Fairbanks, plus the restaurants that I get to eat in all winter long when they’re back in Florida or Iowa working on putting Turtle Wax® on their dentures. The local airport is three times as nice as it should be for a city this size, again, all due to tourists. But, they don’t pay enough, even though I see whale-sized Winnebagos™ parked outside of every store all year long, coming out with “Alaska” themed-trinkets made back in Iowa or Florida.

Alaska, for all the frontiersy goodness, is pretty darn notme-alist. That’s because while communists want you to share in the payment, notme-alists want somebody . . . else . . . to pay for things. Alaska’s $50.00 a head tax on people arriving on a cruise ship just passed by a 5% margin, further cementing that “rugged individualist who has everybody else pay the bills” image.

The average citizen of Alaska pays a negative tax every year. It’s about $1000 a person. If you live with your wife in a $200,000 house, it’s about break even, if you count property taxes. If you have kids, you get another $1000 a head for them, too. Fairbanks has no sales tax, except upon liquor. The tax burden for each citizen is nearly nonexistent.

The thing that makes all of this possible is sweet, sweet oil being pumped down more or less continuously from the North Slope. Unlike the lower 48, nobody owns oil rights up here – those are owned by the state, so every dollar goes to the government. That keeps taxes at a zero level, but leads to the Alaska state government wanting to pay someone to come in to my house every Tuesday and shine my lederhosen.

Not that I mind shiny lederhosen, but someday the oil won’t be there. For that, I guess, there’s wisdom in getting tourists used to paying additional fees. If the government is going to shine my lederhosen forever, well, somebody will have to pay for it. Thank heaven it’s not me.


Blogger Deirdre Helfferich said...

Personally, I think we should be paying a state income tax (graduated, starting at a reasonable level, like $20,000/yr income instead of, what, $2,000/yr for the feds?).

1:11 PM  
Blogger Coldfoot said...


Just who is stopping you from sending in your money to the state?

Which tax are you paying that needs to be reduced before you send in your fair share?

Don't say property tax. That's a borough tax.

3:08 PM  
Blogger CabinDweller said...

It's interesting. Back before Big Oil Money started rolling, Alaska HAD a state income tax. That's when this state was poooooooooooor.

But I like notme-alist as a descriptive term. Pretty good term there, John.

Seems like so many folks in the state prance about spouting off about how this the last frontier, rugged individualism, we-don't-do-it-like-they-do Outside, Big Gummint is Bad, Libertarian blahdycakes... and then want good roads and services and the like but only as long as they are in no way responsible for paying for it.

Face it, we are the original hand out state. Thanks to Uncle Ted and Co., we have a steady diet of pork. Bypass mail is a great example. We get to ship things cheaper than cost because of that lovely subsidy. For all our rugged individualist rhetoric - we are completely dependent on $ from the fed.

Oink, oink, oinkity oink. Pass me my Dividend.

3:31 PM  
Blogger John said...

Oh, I'm enjoying this. Keep going, keep going!

8:33 PM  
Blogger brotherbill said...

What about we working tourista who gather like spawning salmon early every spring at the the misssh (as:"I'm crashing at the misssh tonigh'.")in Bellingham, WA impatiently awaiting the arrival of our meager IRS Income Tax refund checks? We are the homeless, addicted, and afflicted, dreaming of sugarbums and ferries, and the imagined riches gained from working the Alaskan fisheries harvest filling our demented, damaged minds.

The checks arrive, we rejoice, frantically reserving one-way $316 deck passage tickets aboard the Malaspina or Columbia to Juneau, Alaska ferries, quickly toddling to the nearest state liquor store, buying plenty of cheap BIG jugs of booze, enough at least to make the passage. Maybe a new sleeping bag and a dime-bag, too.

Sometimes making the boat, sometimes not because of well--addiction is unscheduled--we make our way north for the promise of work. The promise of hard, menial, manly labor. Muy macho trabajo.

Detoxing at the Glory Hole, seeing the sights, doing all the no-cost, no-effort bum's rush, waiting for the golden opportunities Alaska offers. We too contribute! And sometimes even find enough work to make it back to the lower 48 before winter sets in.

The bum's life, tax-free, high on life, and slightly drunk. The perfect balance. Of course, if I miss the boat, which I do, am I a resident? Can I stay. Can I file? Just for the grand of course.

9:15 PM  
Blogger Garry Nixon said...

"Someday the oil won't be there..." Or anywhere else.

Invest in the long term future of windmills and horses.

7:36 AM  
Blogger Deirdre Helfferich said...

Uh, Coldfoot, I didn't say anything about reducing or eliminating any other tax. I'm fine with our borough taxes; I think they pay for some good things. That's the point of taxes: that we should be paying for the things we need or want our government to do. Otherwise we're just freeloading. The nice thing about an income tax is that it can be deducted from federal income tax, and it means that we have ownership in the services the state provides for us. Right now we don't have that.

And what's stopping me from sending money in to the state (yes, you guessed right, I don't send my cash to them) is a) my other bills, like my federal taxes (still sending in payments) and my upcoming borough taxes, and b) the state isn't (or shouldn't be) a charity. If the state approves an income tax, I'll pay up. In the meantime, I'll use what extra cash I've got (and it's not much) to help out our local library, produce our local paper, and occasionally help out the Breast Cancer Detection Center. What do you do with your extra cash?

11:05 AM  
Blogger Dame Koldfoot said...

I can attest that Koldfoot spends his extra cash on giving our children a top-notch eduation through private schooling. That is not to say that we are wealthy by any means--far from it. (We both have two jobs). We want to ensure that our children are able to read and understand a ballot when they become old enough to vote (something public schools and their liberal indoctrination schemes have failed to do).

John, it's time to stop this madness before it gets ugly and someone get a bloody nose.

9:01 AM  
Blogger CabinDweller said...

Aw, heck, I didn't think this was getting mean - at least I didn't intend my comment to be taken as a personal attack on anyone who posted a comment.

But I did blather on a bit, though, and now I realize I could have summarized our Alaskan attitude simply as our message to the fed:

"Send us the money; leave us alone."

11:41 AM  
Blogger Woofwoof said...

It's strange watching Alaskans argue about taxes. You don't know taxes until you've lived in California.

By the way, what are you doing in Mexico?

8:18 PM  
Blogger John said...

First, well, wow. Looks like I touched a nerve. Let me get on to the responses . . . !

Nah, income taxes? Personally I like a nice, solid, per capita tax. Everybody pays the same. That's democracy!

Besides, in Alaska everybody has for the lederhosen waxers. Am I right?

Absolutely right. I favor, even better than my per capita tax, the voluntary tax. Send it in if you feel they need more.

Well, Mr. Stevens and Mr. Young have a lot of longevity in power, and with longevity comes pork. If you go back a few years, Alaska wasn't all that high for federal spending. If you count the acres of land up here owned by the feds, I think that Alaska is probably getting it about right.

quit fanning the fire!

Gotta stay a year for the grand.

Ahh, windmills and horses. Don Quixote, anyone? Where's my Sancho Panza when I need him?

That, I think is the point. If charity (like many, many state programs are) is forced (like taxes are) then it isn't charity - it's theft and plunder.

As to coldfoot's charity, he's a great guy who gives back more in a day than most people do in a year. I admire his charity, generosity, and graciousness.

Further, I would suggest that even if everybody invested their money, for the most part that makes jobs. Jobs make people far richer than government programs ever have - give a man a fish, and he'll keep coming back to you for fish. Teach a man to fish, and you've got free enterprise. Me, I like steak better, but I can't figure out how to make steak a verb.

As to extra cash? Never seen any.

dame koldfoot,
Absolutely! No bloody noses. Everyone play nice . . . this is supposed to (mainly) be a fun place. No ad hominim attacks (except on Paris Hilton, whose hominimism is in doubt), and respect others. Most people posting here are people you'd be proud to have a beer with. 'cept Bill. No beer for you!

Yeah. It's a Huey P. Long thing. "Don't tax you, don't tax me, tax that feller there behind the tree."

A personal aside:

I think that one of the most corrosive elements to society is when things are given. Given things bring forth servitude, and servile attitudes. "I must do X to get Y given me." Independence is when one does for oneself, and it is what has made America great.

(Cue Yankee Doodle on Fife and Drum)

I just found it ironic that the words "fair share" were used in this context. I must quote my Mom:

"Who told you life was fair?"

8:34 PM  
Blogger John said...

You caught me in mid-comment!

Mexico? Nah, taxes too high.

9:22 PM  
Blogger Deirdre Helfferich said...

Public schools actually don't do too badly. Especially in Alaska. I went to one, my sister went to one, we did just fine. Actually, almost everybody I know went to one. And almost everybody I know did very well, certainly capable of reading a ballot. Can't speak about public schools in other states, though. But that's another discussion. John?

1:36 PM  
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