The first part of my column’s headline is a paraphrasing of the golden rule in Mosaic Law, or the Sermon of the Mount. You also probably heard this moral principle from your mom or your grandpa: You should treat others the way you hope they would treat you. The second part is new, at least to me, and it comes from Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s recent rewrite of this piece of ancient wisdom. In the new, Dunleavian commandment, wrongs can be done as long as your intentions were to open a conversation. So, hearken wrongdoers out there: You can pillage and plunder as long as you do it in order to open a discussion about pillaging and plundering!
Gov. Dunleavy proudly shared with us his appalling moral principle a few days ago, when he backpedaled from his June vetoes. Astonishingly, Dunleavy seemed to be proud about his morals and spoke as if he expected Alaskans to thank him for the medicine of his budget slashing. According to Dunleavy, we should be grateful for his vetoes: They opened the public dialogue that allowed him to discover that Alaskans care about children, education and the elderly. Who can blame him?
So, children and parents concerned about the gutting of early education, be thankful: You have helped Gov. Dunleavy figure out that we care for you. The elderly, who agonized about having a roof over their heads or the means to make a living, join in the thanking also. The families of students, staff and university faculty can now feel that the collapse of their plans and dreams was worth it. Did you lose loans or other financial opportunities? You can also now bask in the warmth of knowing that it was all for the good cause of helping Gov. Dunleavy reach such well-earned and surprising insight. And let’s not forget that the University of Alaska system should also be grateful for all the damage that Moody’s downgrading of its credit rating has already caused.
Now, seriously, who can buy Dunleavy’s claim of sudden enlightenment or his inane self-aggrandizing? A $70 million cut to the UA budget can only bring relativistic relief to the near-sighted. Such a slashing to Alaska’s higher education can only seem reasonable to those still reeling from his $130 million veto. Tell me, what is more deadly: one decapitating blow to the head or two? A $70 million hack reeks of the same criminal agenda: Devour our higher education to grotesquely fatten the PFD handout.
So, my fellow Alaskans, our prospects are grim. Maybe Gov. Dunleavy has the general understanding, empathy and moral sophistication of a psychopathic toddler. Or maybe he has the general understanding, empathy and moral sophistication of the kind of grown-up you would never wish to be near you. In any case, his monumental level of ignorance about, and indifference toward, the well-being, health care and education of the rest of us, including our most vulnerable, should remain fresh in our memory come voting time — recall or otherwise.
Eduardo Wilner is philosophy program coordinator in the Department of Psychology and Philosophy at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and is a faculty member of the Department of Biology and Wildlife.