Great Men

Ok…I find that I often resort to Hyperbole. Like my brother-in-law Jim M. stated in one of his columns, the word hero is overused. So I think,  is the term “Great Man.” But recently two men have passed who I think qualify…it is the end of an era with them gone. I would compare it to the day Adams and Jefferson died…or similar. Two great men, and I guarantee you’ve never heard of them, so an attempt to educate…

      Jay Hammond and Walter “Wally” Hickel. Two mavericks before it was cute, two self-made men who owe nothing to no-one except for ambition and ability. Both defined the era of Alaska statehood more than any other.  Hammond, a marine corps fighter pilot in world war II,  provided Alaskans w/the framework for the permanent fund. He believed in simple common sense, and you’ll never meet a humbler appearing ex-two time governor than this man. He, like Sarah Palin, married an Alaskan native and created a Lake Clark spread for his family that might rival  the days of  “Big Valley” or “Bonanza”…Alaska style.

     From the appearance of his hotel, the opulent grand dame of Alaska the  “Captain Cook“,  you’d think Hickel the opposite. The man who has a 10,000 bottle of wine cellar at the Crow’s Nest and has written several books barely had an education. Legend has it he arrived in state with thirty-seven cents but  a boat-load of confidence. To go from that to founding the “Institute of the North“, where world leaders traipsed into his presence long after he was out of the executive office to discuss the future of countries above the 57th parallell…Amazing.

     I won’t go into too much detail. You can hit the links and explore their biographies. Just remember as you look at the current crop of politicians hoping to get elected and then immediately kowtow to every interest that will further their selves…remember two humble men in a far off corner of our empire. Two guys who could have been prototypes for John Galt, but with the empathy and compassion that is necessary to  lead.

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     Condolences to the families of the Massey Mine explosion in West Virginia.  I wonder what people think about the idea of federalizing or state owning of mines and minerals? It would be interesting if miners were treated like soldiers: 30 days off, free health care, and a pension after 20 years. What if all people in Tennessee, West Virginia, and Kentucky profited from the minerals under their land? I keep wondering why in this modern age a few massive international or national companies are allowed to continue garnering huge wealth for a few while the brave souls who provide it get…dust…and explosions…and preachers who assure them their reward will be in heaven.Two Alaskan governors helped make Alaskans owners of their own state, and every year every single citizen gets a dividend check.  Jay Hammond, probably the most decent man to govern any state anywhere, put the idea in motion. Another two-time common sense governor, Wally Hickel, continues to champion the idea in his books. Some years its been as high as $3000 a person, kids included. Why don’t other states go this route? I feel for the people of Appalachia. Capitalism works, but only when the wealth is shared. Otherwise it becomes fascism.

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