Monday, September 14, 2009
The Day Pigs Flew - UPDATE
If you're like me and you followed Sarah Palin back home after the election (figuratively speaking), then you've probably heard of Dan Fagan.
Dan is a talk radio host in Alaska who's been a critic of Sarah Palin pretty much since Day One. He's definitely not been a fan of her oil and gas policies. There are a couple of interviews on You Tube where Sarah called into Dan's program while he was live on the air, once when he wasn't expecting it. They're here and here. [I think they've since been taken down. Never mind.]
Dan fancies himself more conservative than Sarah and didn't like her raising taxes on the oil and gas companies. His argument is that the state shouldn't be taking money from the oil companies and giving it for free to the people of Alaska via the Permanent Fund, at least not as much money as Palin was able to dish out. He says it's not a conservative policy to give people free money that's not theirs.
Here's what Dan misses:
According to the Alaska State Constitution, the people of Alaska own the oil and the gas in the state. It's theirs. The people own the oil. With the state acting as a deal broker, the oil companies are leased the rights to drill and develop, and the state then taxes their profits on a graduated scale so that when the oil companies make more, the state makes more (this was Palin's plan called ACES). When the oil companies make less, the state makes less. This is where nearly 90% of the state budget comes from. It's the reason there are no big state taxes. Dan Fagan outlined his objections in an interview with Dennis Miller soon after Palin was nominated. See it here.
For the record, I would not support (at least not now) a national severence tax system like Alaska has. In Alaska it's Constitutional; on a federal level it is not. And although I have no proof of this, I would assume that Palin would feel the same way based on her continual emphasis on upholding the Constitution.
Think of it this way, say you own land that an oil company finds oil on. They can't just go in and take it (I don't think, correct me if I'm wrong); they have to pay you an amount you agree upon and sign contracts and all the rest. Well, Alaskans individually own the oil and gas in their state.
As for raising the tax rate to 25%, remember that 25% is what had been recommended in previous years, but oil and gas players bought votes in the legislature. Corruption trials sent Alaskan legislators to jail, and Palin merely put it back up to the 25% that was recommended before the corruption hit.
(UPDATE: I should put a disclaimer on this. I am by no means an expert on the oil and gas situation in Alaska or on ACES. The above is my primitive understanding of what happened. More info here. Read "Sarah Takes on Big Oil" if you wanna get technical.)
While Dan had some good things to say about Palin in his Dennis Miller interview, he's also said some pretty nasty things about her, and he got Levi Johnston fired after he wrote an obnoxious article in the Alaska papers. But when Levi started spewing to Vanity Fair about Palin calling her son "retarded," Dan came through.
Levi's personal bodyguard/manager guy, Tank Jones, called into Dan's program and Dan held his ground against him. Here's the interview. It's sweet!
And pigs in pig farms all around the world sprouted wings and flew!
Fly, Piggy, fly!
Is it me, or does Tank get just a little bit heated? In his world, all babies are crack babies, mothers run amok killing their children for no good reason, and teenagers who rat on their families are the salt of the earth. I'll give Tank the point that we weren't there, but Levi is not exactly the pinnacle of honesty. And painting the "young man" as a victim is ridiculous in the extreme.
Anyway, kudos to Dan for showing a streak of decency on this one.