Focus Pocus: Don’t let people say you don’t care if you don’t support this cause or that one


t’s all about the salmon, it’s all about saving the environment, or it’s all about equality. Pick an issue and you’ll find a concerted effort at work to convince you that if you’re not in support of an issue, new law or ordinance, then you don’t care about something. Salmon today, perhaps children tomorrow.  

Throw off the labels of yesterday, be you conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat. Look at each issue with critical thought. Weigh the issue based on the facts. Demand that your rights, liberties and freedoms not be diminished in the name of something that sounds too good to oppose. 

So often we find ourselves in a lose-lose position on property rights versus protecting the environment. I mean, really, who is against salmon or clean water? No one I know. So why not support an ordinance that ensures the security of our salmon habitat?

Apply critical thinking and you see it another way.  Shall private property owners be stripped of their rights without notice or cause?  Is there an event that took place on the shore of Caribou Lake that caused this action to be decided by a small body of legislators on Binkley Street without any notice? Or is this perhaps a solution in search of a problem?

How about thin plastic bags? Are you against marine life and sea otters? No? Then you better support the ban on thin plastic bags. It’s all about the environment. Never mind that paper bags are more harmful to the planet, less reusable. Oh there I go, taking the bait. This is not a matter of protecting the environment; it’s a matter of your rights. Your rights as a consumer and a business owner.

On Alaska Matters Radio, I asked Homer City Councilman Beau Burgess how he would feel if the council next decided what type of diesel fuel he could use in his heavy equipment. It got pretty quiet.  

You see, the question is not about protecting the
environment. The question is: What is the role of the Homer City Council? What is the role of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly?  With all of the environmental agencies already in existence, do you really believe that a gap has been discovered by local politicians? Or is it a matter of exerting control over your property — your private property or monetary property?  

The ban on bags is a tax increase. Make no mistake about that; the increased cost of doing business in Homer will be passed along to you the consumer.  That is a tax courtesy of your Homer City Council.  Where is the administration on this issue? Not sure? Perhaps the city manager is still decorating his new office overlooking Kachemak Bay.  

Let’s not forget that the increase water/sewer customer fees on predominately low-income tenants of multi-plex units was framed as a “fairness” issue. “It’s not fair that tenants of homes have to pay the user fee and apartment renters don’t,” said councilman Dave Lewis.  

Apply critical thinking and you quickly realize another tax was just legislated against both the tenants and landlords. When operating expenses rise, value declines.  Wait a minute; we are only making it fair. Never mind that the city wouldn’t allow individual meters to be installed when the building was built. Or that the city manager has direct control over what goes under the banner of “water/sewer” in the budget.  

Without individual rights, the collective serves no purpose.  Don’t buy an idea based on the headline; frame each issue for yourself.

Chris Story is the owner-broker of Story Real Estate and the host of Alaska Matters, a radio show that airs every Tuesday on KGTL AM620.