There are many people in Alaska who believe that cutting taxes on oil companies is something that is necessary for the state’s economy. I’ve met many, from small shop owners to waiters to teachers. They know that more than 90 percent of Alaska’s economy is dependent on oil. They believe the oil companies when they say that the only way to stem the decline of production is to make Alaska a more fiscally attractive place to do business.
These are people who have no direct ties to the oil industry, but somehow they’ve internalized enough of the debate to be able to make up their minds.
I don’t know if I agree with them, but I have at least heard these people talk, and felt the pull of their stories. Apparently, nobody in Gov. Sean Parnell’s communications office has, because if they had, they would have put these people on camera to share their opinions instead of the people they chose to try to help gain support for Parnell’s tax bill and to try to buttress support against a repeal.
The governor’s press office sent out an email today, urging the media to take note of what people are saying about the tax bill. “Alaskans from across the state are speaking up about the opportunities they are seeing in their communities as a result of the More Alaska Production Act,” the press office said.
It then sent readers to the “More Alaska Production Act,” website, where four Alaskans talk about the impact the tax cut is having on their businesses and places of work.
All four Alaskans work for businesses that provide services to oil companies.
Don’t get me wrong. These are important businesses that put people to work. These are businesses that have huge effects on our economy, and the people who work for them are likely good people. Their voices should be heard.
It’s just that neither the engineer working for Ch2M Hill, the company that bought VECO, nor the CEO of Little Red Services, an oil services business, are going to win the hearts and mind of Alaskans who need to be won over.
What the “fiscally prudent” administration has seemingly done, once again, is to waste government money by preaching to the choir about the tax bill.
But what’s more disturbing is that the communications office, the one office that is supposed to actually communicate with the public, couldn’t seem to find anybody who isn’t directly tied to the oil industry to appear on camera. Perhaps stepping out of their cushy government offices and popping out of their tiny social bubbles would require too much work, to say nothing of answering media questions in a direct and timely manner.
Perhaps it’s easier to sit among themselves, chalking up to media bias the 50,000 signatures gathered to repeal the tax bill.
Contact Amanda Coyne at email@example.com