The economics of Alaska political turkeys

This is a letter to the editor of the Daily News-Miner by my twin brother Terrence Cole, a retired history professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, about turkeys, among other things.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s claim that he intends to cut the University of Alaska budget only 17 percent instead of 41 percent is utter, total, complete nonsense. The governor and his press secretary should know better than to selectively massage numbers.

The essence of this disagreement is that the University of Alaska is telling the truth and the governor and his press secretary are not. Anyone who reads the governor’s words carefully will understand the situation. The governor and his press secretary are either lying or they don’t have a solid grasp on mathematical principles. Maybe in the future a requirement to be governor or his press secretary is to know how to count.

The only figure that actually counts as far as the reduction in state spending is concerned is the reduction in the level of state spending.

State spending is the bedrock of university support. The university is a unique institution enshrined in our constitution and is a direct state responsibility. It is not the responsibility of any other government entity. Throwing in federal monies and others grants, which are huge multipliers, and are so often dependent on the underlying state funding, is the reddest of red herrings, showing why averages are so misleading.

Here is a way to think about this latest Dunleavy budget delusion. Let’s suppose Mike Dunleavy eats 41 percent of the turkey at Thanksgiving, to the dismay of the rest of the family. To stem the anger of his hungry brood, the governor and his press flack concoct a fast excuse. Since there were other things on the table that the governor also consumed, including pumpkin pie, lemon meringue pie, stuffing, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, etc., the turkey was only 17 percent of the total calories he scarfed down! So therefore he only ate 17 percent of the turkey!

This is Dunleavy turkey economics at work. The lesson is this: Don’t have Thanksgiving dinner at the governor’s house, and don’t believe anything he says about the true scope of his preposterous proposal. It will decimate the UA system.

Dermot Cole2 Comments