To solve our debt problems, let's sell Alaska
The prospect of once again hitting the federal debt ceiling has provoked the ritual round of hand-wringing about the intractable nature of this $16 trillion conundrum. But there is a simple, elegant option that involves no tax increases, no spending cuts and just a bit of imagination.
That's right. Put the entire state -- from Juneau to Deadhorse, from the Bering Strait to the Beaufort Sea -- on the auction block.
Absurd? No more absurd than the spectacle taking place right now as we skid closer to the "fiscal cliff."
Selling real estate at top dollar is all about timing, and now's a great time to unload the Klondike state. The federal government, which owns 69 percent of Alaska, could cash in on the vast, resource-rich state at a time when oil prices are high and wild salmon is flying off the shelves at Whole Foods. Selling Alaska could fetch at least $2.5 trillion and maybe twice that amount, enough to lop off a huge chunk of the national debt and perhaps as much money as President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner hope to save or raise over the next decade.
The return on investment would look great, too. Secretary of State William H. Seward -- you might know him as the handsome fellow played by David Strathairn in the new Steven Spielberg movie, "Lincoln" -- bought Alaska from Russia in 1867 for $7.2 million, drawing ridicule. One New York newspaper that year called Alaska a "sucked orange," saying Russia had already drained all the value out of it. But even after adjusting for inflation, the price paid for "Seward's folly" or "Seward's icebox," as it was known back then, looks pretty cheap -- about $114 million.
Posted by: tipper 2012-12-15