Davidge: No new alcohol tax until funds truly dedicated

By Ric Davidge |

Since 1791, we have been ‘sold’ the same story and in every case, it has been a false promise. No, I’m not calling for a new rebellion, only that we think seriously about root causes and target any new alcohol tax revenue, as a function of law, to them.

Politicos in Anchorage have stood up and claimed that the reason they need to further tax alcoholic consumption is they need the funds to deal with “the homeless”; that alcohol is the cause of homelessness.

Simply not true. Where do the overwhelming majority of alcoholics live? At home. If alcohol is the cause of homelessness – how can this be? Because alcohol is not “the cause” of homelessness. Yes, it can be a contributor, but it is more a symptom, and certainly not a “root cause.”

But my focus here is to argue that what we need is not a new tax on alcohol consumption, we need a new approach to honestly target the root causes of homelessness.

I would support a new tax if the funds were dedicated/designated as a function of the law for this purpose. This ordinance does not accomplish this. “May” is not “Shall” and there is really no clarity on the allocation of these new revenues to honestly address root causes.

Since 1965, American communities have built an industrial complex around the plight of homelessness. And yet the problem continues to grow. How many billions of public and private dollars have been applied to this public problem? And what have we gotten in return? More homeless.

I suggest that before we apply a new tax on the people of Anchorage, or even ask for one, we rethink about what we are doing. What we (more than 40 legal entities and about 11 government agencies) have been doing for decades is NOT solving the problem, we have been feeding the problem. We can build detox centers, free or low-income housing until we run out of space – and we will not have addressed the root causes of homelessness.

This is not a problem limited to Anchorage, it is not a problem limited to Alaska although some of the root causes are. This is a national problem that requires serious work outside of the cage we have been functioning in since 1965.

I call on each of the candidates for the Anchorage Assembly to focus on this challenge and to please read and learn. This really isn’t galactic science, it’s well known and understood human and community behavior. It will take time, but we know what to do – its just not politically comfortable.

Ric Davidge is founding chairman of VetVillageAK.

5 Responses to Davidge: No new alcohol tax until funds truly dedicated

  1. Elizabeth March 9, 2019 at 8:09 am

    Well stated. A great read for thought and action outside the standard ‘ box’ is ‘Toxic Charity’ by Robert D Lupton.

  2. Morrigan March 9, 2019 at 12:11 pm

    Supporting a new tax if the funds were dedicated/designated as a function of the law is the definition of insanity.
    The theory opens a Pandora’s Box of social-engineering law, rules, regulations, and taxes the likes of which Anchorage Deplorables seem unable, unwilling, or too damned dumb to comprehend.
    No? Care to imagine what’s coming with the new Municipal obsession over global warming?
    No? Exactly how much bum tax should productive Anchorage voters pay to solve the bum problem?
    Why tax only alcohol? Why not impose a bum tax on everything until the problem is solved?
    Do you think the bum problem will ever be solved while productive Anchorage citizens can be forced into paying a bum tax?
    Is that all productive Anchorage voters are here to do — just give more money to hardworking government folks so they can engineer a Socialist Utopia especially for us?
    We’ll take the “rebellion” any day.

  3. R-Dubya March 9, 2019 at 8:24 pm

    After “Decades & Billions of $$$’s” later, with no meaningful progress, why does anyone think that an additional tax on alcohol will ‘move the needle’ in a meaningful way on this issue?

    Why do the ‘responsible taxpayers’ of Anchorage have to continue to pony-up and foot the bill, spending more with no progress? And, when do we start holding homeless people ‘personally’ responsible for this plight?

    Ric is correct, we need a new approach at this problem and we need to discontinue (stop) chasing / funding failing solutions of the past and aggressively start focusing on ‘results’ to help these homeless. Otherwise, tax payers will continue to be fleeced by these untrustworthy politicians, wasting a lot of tax payer money, loosing confidence and trust within the constituency, driving away population, and ultimately, not solving the homelessness problem but rather growing their ranks.

  4. Linda Kellogg March 14, 2019 at 10:48 am

    This was in the ADN, published May 2, 2018 …”Anchorage’s hardest-to-house homeless cost $50,000 a year on the street. Could that money be better spent?”

    We, the tax payers are paying $50,000 per year per homeless person, and the result is that the person is still homeless.
    I WORK 40 hours per work, pay my rent, pay my utilities, pay my clothing and food, pay my taxes, pay my transportation, pay my medical … I do not even make $50,000 before taxes.
    Here’s a solution (a rough draft but I think you will get the point): Set up a Trust Fund per Household, not Per Person (see below amounts). Find them housing and pay rent out of the trust. Pay utilities out of the trust. Give them a weekly voucher for food. Give them a monthly voucher for clothing. Use the trust to buy them MEDICAL INSURANCE, and pay for the deductibles as we do. Pay for transportation. Take the standard taxes out of the taxes, as we pay. That $35,000 per year could pay for all of those expenses, without handing them any money, and would pay for each and every person so that there is no more homeless, everyone could have medical insurance, and live as we do. At the end of the year, if that household conserved and lived wisely, give them the remainder of the money as a cash bonus.
    THE CATCH: The able bodied would have to work community service. Find out what each is good at and put them to work cleaning up Anchorage, upkeep of their “home”, working on vehicles, mending fences, etc. Do not hire vendors when you have individuals with skills that can do the work for community service. If they do not want to do the work, pay for rent / utilities, reduce the food voucher, and have them figure out the rest.
    Look at the money you would save – REDUCE ADMINISTRATION
    Set up Offices for:
    1) Housing / Utilities / Medical Insurance Vouchers
    2) Food / Clothing Vouchers
    3) Community Service / Transportation
    Yearly Amount per Household:
    1 Person – $35,000
    2-4 – $40,000
    5+ – $45,000
    Their PFD’s would be put into this trust as their contribution. This is their contribution to their living expenses.
    Anyway, how simple this could be …

  5. Linda Kellogg March 14, 2019 at 11:07 am

    One more thought to comment I posted earlier … this would take each homeless person off of food stamps, off of medicare…saves money on top of money on top of money. Also, if they damage the housing unit they are given, other than regular wear and tear, they would receive a bill for the damage which would be paid when their PFD is received. They should held responsible.


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