The Washington Post: Bringing Alaska to Russia — where it is the place! (From the archives of 2005)

Today, when the 'General Motors' already holds painful 'optimization in order to save' and 'Ford' intends to announce similar plans in the next year, until I suddenly realized it was time, and the U.S. government to engage seriously in its own restructuring.

As a result, conjured over the numbers and break in their ideas to the world-renowned consultants in business strategy, I developed a terrific plan-panacea: it would at a stroke reduce the federal budget deficit and public debt, eliminate the deep divisions in the political circles, and to return to the planning process of public at least a fraction of the cost of common sense. The idea is simple: once we bought Alaska from Russian — let's sell it back to them!

Time to do the most appropriate. The market value of oil reserves Alaska (capacity explored deposits — 4.5 billion barrels) and its gas, wood and copper has absolute record or close to it, and Russia has just appeared 50 billion petrodollars, which she did not know what to do. And given that the Kremlin is still suffering because of the loss of all these republics with unpronounceable names, the Alaska — just what is the 'strategic acquisition', which can warm the soul of President Putin and his imperial ambitions.

Transaction can be designed as a purchase on credit, with a certain degree of involvement of the seller, which will bring us some revenue if commodity prices will continue to creep up. And if get together on the price of a trillion dollars, some commissions of investment banks increased the amount of our GDP by several percentage points. The profit of the starting capital of William Seward [William Seward — Secretary of State, in which the United States purchased Alaska — approx. Trans.] in the $ 7.2 million would have made even a 'Carlyle Group' [an American company that has created the world's largest investment fund — approx. Trans.] green with envy.

When Alaska will escape from the clutches of political 'environmental lobby' in Washington and California, Marin County [Marin County — District in California. Perhaps the author is referring to the activity of environmental organizations in the region to protect marine life — approx. Trans.], its residents will be able to produce oil, fish and cut wood many as you want, to gain income, which they can not see as their ears until the region is composed of the United States. And our political life is finally free from the endless quarrels about Tongess National Park, the Arctic Reserve, sea lions and reindeer.

On the revenue side of the state, the deal certainly will, as they say on Wall Street, 'instant impact'. According to the independent think tank 'Tax Foundation', in 2003, for every dollar that residents of Alaska and corporations paid in taxes and fees, the state received 1.89 dollars in federal contracts, grants and subsidies to maintain the level of income. Of all the states of our union in the best result achieved only New Mexico — he gets $ 1.99.

Such generosity of the federal government shows that the Alaska delegation in Congress [ie representatives of the State in the Senate and House of Representatives — approx. Trans.] works tirelessly to any bill containing a 'plum' for their home state. We all know that the federal budget includes 435 million dollars for the construction of bridges connecting the coast of Alaska two desert island — no wonder they are called "bridges to nowhere." But the most remarkable feature of this financial mayhem — that for Alaska it just is not anything remarkable: any infusion from the federal budget in the state is seen as justification for the new subsidies.

The procedure is as follows: for federal grants there are built road, which requires the construction of bridges on federal subsidies to those roads to take people and cargo to built on federal subsidies airports served by airlines that exist on federal subsidies. Or this: the federal subsidies designed structure built on federal grants ferries, which will carry out the federal budget subsidized transportation to isolated settlements, where everything — houses, schools, hospitals, and economic projects — largely subsidized by the federal budget. And finally, the federal subsidies advertised baby food with the addition of meat salmon, which are caught from the federal budget subsidized fishing fleets. Note: everything to the last word — the truth!

Do not forget also about the companies belonging to the 'Native Americans': recently, the art of lawmaking by Sen. Ted Stevens (Ted Stevens), for many years head of the upper house of the Committee on Budget, these firms received federal contracts for 2.2 billion dollars. Alaskan natives play only a negligible part of the work on these contracts (if they are involved). When it comes to fighting for federal contracts, often turns out that the company, owned by Native Americans — a shell company, behind which lurk in the giant military-industrial corporations.

Such as 'partnership' does not only allow to implement the principle of quotas for ethnic minorities but are not subject to restrictions on the amount of contracts offered by the non-competitive basis, Freedom of Information Act [Freedom of Information Act — a federal law that allows individuals and organizations the right to request the declassification government documents — approx. Trans.], and not be subject to verification of the Accounts Chamber of the United States (Government Accountability Office). This is just another version of welfare Alaska Natives, disguised as free enterprise.

Most of all this 'addiction' of federal subsidies surprising because it is a state where there are private oil companies spending billions of dollars every year to pay employees, contracts, taxes, and fees.

We would expect that in such circumstances the authorities Alaska eventually learn to take care of themselves. However, as it turns out, Alaska ranks last in the Union in terms of state and local taxes that it collects from its citizens: the sales tax and income tax there is generally absent and the property tax per capita — the lowest in the United States. Last year, when the state treasury was unexpectedly received an additional one billion dollars due to the increase in oil prices, the legislature immediately spend this money — every penny.

That's what I really like about the idea of the Russian sale of Alaska — the similarity of 'corporate culture', so important in any merger or takeover. Let's face it: while Alaska and is part of the U.S. for 140 years, it has much more in common with post-Soviet Russia, where the state still has a dominant position in the economy, and the political power belongs to the 'shadow cabinet' oligarchs who use it for family enrichment and 'thieves'. In this environment, the main Alaskan king tycoon Ted Stevens would have felt like a fish in water.

Here in Washington, Stevens works his wonders 'behind closed doors'. But sometimes the public can understand, 'where the shoe pinches' — as happened, for example, when Stevens 'dragged' decision that the Air Force had to pay a fabulous sum for the land owned by one of his old supporters, and when he managed to get to the $ 50,000 million-profits by investing in the construction of the project, which, coincidentally, has received another contract from the U.S. Air Force: the decision of this, of course, taken with the participation zhiveyshem Stevens.

Recently, the center of attention, and his son, Ben, who through connections of his father in 2001 capped a truly 'brilliant' career as the owner of a fishing company and Washington lobbyist mediocre appointment to 'make room' (open seat) in the Senate, Alaska. A year later, Ben was unanimously re-elected to this post, and this year has been the Chairman of the Senate of Alaska.

Ben — energetic man. In his spare time, he lawmaking in the last four years has managed to make a million dollars, providing consulting services to corporations, and also serves as the Chairman of the existing federal funds to the Board for Marketing Alaskan fishing industry (Alaska Fisheries Marketing Board) — another specimen of legislative thought Stevens Senior. Today, his work, though, was the subject of legal proceedings, which found that Ben must earn at least a million dollars on the distribution of fishing quotas: this procedure also dragged his father to the federal legislation. Stephen's dad says he knew nothing about the business of his own son.

In recent work history with Ben and 'bridges to nowhere' has led to a very unflattering for Stevens Sr. publications in the media, to which he responds with angry cries and threats to resign from the post of senator. However, I am confident that Alaska is to take its rightful place in the Russian Empire, and Commissioner Stevens — get used to a new study in the Kremlin, and all these problems magically fade like smoke.


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