So this is a two-pronged post, as is the double-edged cartoon, as I see these elements as inextricably intertwined: the national priorities are hand-in-glove with local + regional ones. And all politics being personal, there is a definite cause & effect with regards to funding. And these are choices that reflect priorities, which say more about us as a society.
First is how one of our Senators from Alaska is pitching for more Ground-Based Interceptor missiles, and like all the other war pigs lined up at the trough, doesn't hesitate to ignore the obscene immorality of spending money on bombs over bread.
This will cost billions (after the estimated $40 billion to the initial installment): approximately 2.5 by my back-of the-envelope math, based on the first round… meanwhile the state faces a budget deficit of $2.8 billion – with million in cuts to education alone. Speaking of which:
"University of Alaska has eliminated fifty academic programs in the last couple years," said UAF Chancellor Dana Thomas. "With that, 900 positions across the state, 400 of those with the Interior Alaska and our community campuses associated with the university Alaska Fairbanks."
With that perspective as a backdrop, another dimension can be added with a second element, or another piece to this puzzle, at least as far as how such priorities impact us on a local level. The closure of a Fairbanks institution (note that at this point the triage is restricted to the cafe and not the bookstore as a whole) is a proverbial canary in a coal mine, or more appropriately, a ptarmigan in an oil field. For many, many semesters as a both a student and as an instructor, I've stopped off inbetween classes at The Second Story Cafe. This is to say nothing of the regular visits for any number of other reasons: from cartoon jams, meetings, sketch groups, signings, browsing books and doodle sessions, it's been a second studio to me for decades. To say that over the years I've become a fixture at the establishment is an understatement: countless numbers of my panels have been worked up while sitting at a table in this particular setting. with innumerable postings on social media documenting what an integral part of my process it has become.
As to politicizing its closure, as I see both of these as part of a pattern that's inextricably linked with the inexorable, cascading clusterfuck courtesy of many of the incompetents in the legislature, and I think it's crucial for folks to connect these dots. Besides myself, there are many of us who fit squarely in the demographics (university affiliated) of affected people in this continuing fiasco of Alaska’s slow-motion budgetary implosion.
To be sure, there’s more than enough blame to go around: elected officials are accountable on every level, from the office of the governor, the state legislature, the dolts ensconced at the federal grade, to the university administration as well. Guess losing the elitist ivory tower avocado toast clientele isn’t important to legislators (many – not all - as there are notable exceptions particularly in the university district). No worries though since the market for alcohol, drugs and guns will only continue to rise (see Anchorage).
It's Economic Domino Theory in effect: the Alaska State Legislature fucks around, guts the education budget, the Legislature continues to fuck around, cuts impacts local schools + universities, the Legislature fucks around some more, landlords extort obscene business + residential rents, the Legislature fucks around in overtime, the ripples widen, people lose their jobs, our community suffers, folks leave. And – surprise - the Alaska State Legislature keeps on fucking around. Rinse, repeat.
And there doesn't seem to be much hope in the Strategic Pathways initiative underway at the university either, as it continues to foster a Lord of the Flies balkanization among faculty, staff and students who suffer from impacts on the classroom, job insecurity and loss of morale. Notwithstanding widespread protests, and viable alternatives, an impending shutdown seems imminent, and given the systemic failure of government, it falls to us as individuals to organize and to resist.