Will Utah be the next Alaska?

I was chatting with some other staffers this morning about how Top of Utah’s business and political leaders from the 1940s to 1960s must be amazed at the current anti-governmental attitude of politicians.

Especially their avowed hatred of the federal government.

In the 1940s and before, Top of Utah was an agricultural area with a serious problem: Utah’s birth rate. Then, as now, leading the nation in having babies created the problem of what do those babies do for a  living when they grow up. All of the state’s farm lands were being farmed, you can’t grow more crops by putting more farmers on the same land, so what to do?

The Depression was on, business was stagnant, Utah’s extraction industries were as big as they were ever going to get, so their answer was to court the federal government.

Hill Air Force Base, Defense Depot Ogden, the IRS, the Job Corps Centers and the IRS processing centers, were their answer, and they busted their buns getting those facilities here. They raised huge amounts of money overnight, in some cases, to buy land and give it to the government if that’s what it took.

So now Top of Utah, for good or ill, has an economy that depends to a huge extent on the federal government. The state fought like a badger to keep Hill Air Force Base during the BRAC hearings, and had to settle with losing Defense Depot Ogden which is still struggling to come back as a business depot.

Yes, BDO can show how civilian business can replace federal jobs, but it has taken 15 years and will take another 15 before the process is complete. In the meantime, the economy took a huge hit, and how many businesses at BDO depend on the federal government?

Well, the S-E, for one. Look at all our subscribers who work for the IRS, the Air Force and others.

What about Alaska?

 As Ann Applebaum at the Washington Post points out so neatly, running against the federal government only works as long as people who you want to vote for you don’t figure out that the federal government is responsible for their jobs. When they figure that out, ideology goes out the window and the paycheck rules supreme.

Utah’s screaming to cut the federal budget by 40 percent — Mike Lee anyone? — might want to keep that in mind.

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3 Responses to Will Utah be the next Alaska?

  1. Doug Gibson says:

    That is a superb, insightful column by Applebaum.

  2. laytonian says:

    I don’t think Utahns will be as smart as Alaskans.

    Alaskans know that their state gets $1.87 back for every $1 they pay in federal income tax. That doesn’t include the oil revenue check each Alaskan has received, for many years (pre-Palin, although she likes to take credit.)

    In fact, if you compare the money that a state gets back to their political leanings, you’ll find that the red-red states get more back than they pay in …. and the Blue States (like New York and California) are actually supporting those states.

    Alaskans must not be as knee-jerk gullible as Utahns, because when Alaskans voted, they voted for themselves and not Miller.

    Utahns, however, fell for the Tea rhetoric and are now waiting for Mr Lee to cut 40% off the Federal budget.
    Of course, Utahns being traditionally ill-informed, they don’t realize that Mr Lee has hired an experienced lobbyist who’s also endebted to the oil, toxic waste, and \prison for profit\ industries.

    So….I truly doubt Utah will end up as Alaska. We’ll be much worse off. We’re going to lose federal jobs, and have little other to offer.

  3. Botch says:

    Agree with everything said. I’m wondering how many just-laid-off folks from Thiokol/ATK voted for Mike Lee anyway; revisiting a dead rock in Earth’s orbit again would hardly make the 60% \sensible\ spending list…

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