Blogs by Rep Bob Lynn

Blog site of Representative Bob Lynn, Alaska House of Representatives,District 31 Anchorage, Alaska. Blogs consist of public comments during legislative sessions, speeches, political commentary, as well as personal observations, and some journal type entries. Comments are invited.

Location: Anchorage, Alaska, United States

Member of the Alaska State House of Represeentatives since 2003. US Air Force, Retired; military bandsman; F94C interceptor pilot; Vietnam service as radar controller (Monkey Mountain), radar site commander(Pleiku); Government Contract Management; Public school Teacher, Retired. Married 55 years to Marlene Wagner Lynn, 6 children, 20 grandchildren, 1 great-grandchild. Member St. Elizabeth Ann Seaton Church. Former Tucson Arizona policeman, Ambulance Driver and Mortician's Assistant, Realtor (currently on referral status).

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


Last week I made personal acquaintance with economic opportunity, in the form of a schizophrenic dragon named the People’s Republic of China. Along with three Alaska Senators, I traveled to Shanghai China, as part of a trade mission sponsored by the World Trade Center of Alaska. The mission was scheduled to coincide with the annual General Assembly meeting of the World Trade Centers’ Association, of which our Alaska Trade Center is a member. Some 400 delegates and business people from around the world, as well as the Lower 48, attended the meeting. Everybody had the same agenda: spur economic development through increased international export trade. This was a high-powered and competitive group of business people, to say the least.

In addition to other committees, I serve on the House Special Committee on Economic Development, International Trade, and Tourism, and the Labor and Commerce Committee. I wanted to bring some first hand knowledge of the China market home to our legislature. China offers tremendous trade opportunities for Alaska. Trade equals economic development, and economic development means a better quality of life for everybody.

China is already an important trading partner with Alaska. In fact, Alaska’s exports to China are already up 60% for the first nine months of this year. Alaska’s exports to China will reach 250 million, and China will soon replace Canada as our state’s third largest trading partner. About 70% of Alaska’s seafood is imported to China – including halibut heads! We also export how-to-do-it information on a variety of projects, especially project management and engineering for oil and gas field development. Our Anchorage International Airport is perfectly located has a transportation hub to China, and all of Asia. Profitable opportunities for Alaska trade with China can abound - if Alaska business people, our legislature, and the administration act proactively. However, common sense tells us we should conduct profitable business with our eyes wide open to potential risks, as well as to profit opportunities resulting from increased trade.

But a word of caution, please. America - and Alaska - are “dancing with a schizophrenic dragon” when we pursue increased China trade. Today, China is about the closest thing America has as a rival superpower – and a superpower it is. But with acceptable risk comes opportunity.

China’s leaders could well be muttering, “Roses are red, violets are blue, I’m schizophrenic, and so am I”! Let me explain.

China’s government is a Communist dictatorship, and has been for fifty-six oppressive years. They call their nation the “People’s” Republic of China. But in reality, “people’s” refers to the people in communist leadership, not China’s Joe Common Citizen. Communism, by definition, means ownership “in common,” and private capitalistic enterprise is an anathema to any good communist.

At the same time, capitalism in China is growing by leaps and bounds. There’s a whole new class of Chinese capitalists, from small business people to huge international corporations, who have turned China into a capitalistic mecca. One only has to drive down any major street in Shanghai to see capitalism at work. Ultramodern skyscrapers are everyplace. Buicks are produced in China, Wal-Mart is there, McDonalds, KFC, fancy cosmetic outlets, Pizza Hut, even Amway (which is a derivation of “American Way”). Shanghai is a veritable shopper’s paradise, with multitudinous famous name brand galleries. Wealthy Chinese capitalists do daily deals by with international capitalists. Yet, Communism, by definition, is an anathema to capitalist high rollers..

China’s present schizophrenic comity between communism and capitalism – the capitalist dictatorship - is wondrous to behold. It’s amazing. The question is, can the co-existence of Chinese opposites continue? And what will be the result to China’s trading partners if it doesn’t?

Travel outside Shanghai’s capitalistic urban glitter to rural areas, and third world conditions are pandemic. Eventually the impoverished rural “have-nots” will learn about the benefits that derive from the capitalism of the “haves” in the metropolis, and demand the same.

Capitalism is a social system based on the recognition of individual rights. Sustained capitalism cannot co-exist forever without real freedoms enjoyed in a democratic society. Bottom line: turmoil in search of freedom in China is looking for a time and place to happen.

That’s why communist China continues to suppress freedom of speech, and freedom of religion.

China’s Culture Ministry is barring new foreign television channels and increasing censorship of imported programming, as well as restricting new licenses for companies to import newspapers and magazines, electronic publications, and audiovisual products. Satellite dishes are a no-no. Recently, China’s government prohibited use of English words (like “democracy”) on television and foreign programs that promote “Western ideology and politics” (like ”democracy”). Dictators fear freedom of information, because freedom will win in a free marketplace of ideas.
Likewise, freedom of religion in China is an illusion. Check out the Red Chinese Embassy web site that claims “. . . the United States is using the freedom of religion as a camouflage to grossly interfere in China's internal affairs, which is absolutely unacceptable to the Chinese government and people.” The problem is, China’s internal affairs, including religion, do affect the rest of the world. Lack of freedom anywhere, affects freedom everywhere – including freedom to conduct proper business.

Christian Church activity, of whatever variety – Catholic or Protestant – is allowed only under the thumb of communist “Patriotic Associations.” In China, the atheistic communist government “Patriotic Association” appoints Catholic bishops, not the Pope. Obviously, this makes the official “Patriotic” Catholic Church in China a sham. Understandably, the “official” Catholic Church in China is considered a schism by the Vatican. Nonetheless, I visited the beautiful St. Ignatius Cathedral in Shanghai. It’s a magnificent edifice with a placard on the wall that proclaims the church to be a “monument” under “protection” of the government. The government “Patriotic Catholic” church claims 4 million believers - but the real Catholic Church in China has 12 million faithful who meet secretly underground (like the prosecuted church in ancient Rome). The underground legitimate Catholic churches, worshippers and clergy alike, are routinely raided and hauled off by the police to jail or worse.

Protestants fare no better. Police confiscate Bibles from what the government labels as “aberrant religious organizations" (meaning Protestants whose church isn’t under control of the “Three-Self Patriotic Movement”). Protestant clergy and worshippers are harassed or arrested. Nevertheless, up to 50 million Chinese are believed to worship in unofficial Protestant congregations, the so-called "house churches," since meetings often take place in private homes.

Buddhists, Taoists, and Muslims are likewise prosecuted. But the non-Christian group suffering the most outrageous prosecution is the Falun Gong, a group with beliefs similar to those found in Buddhism and Taoism, purporting to improve the mind, body, and spirit, as well as certain characteristics of New Age groups.

The common denominator between Catholic, Protestant, Falun Gong, and the other religions, is that worshippers meet in groups of people, have leaders, practice religious spitituality, and answer to a “higher power” than the government – all of which is a dangerous political threat to a dictatorship.

Obviously human rights, as we know it, doesn’t exisit in China. However, rocking the boat on human rights abuses displeases the government, and thereby could negativly affect international trade. Thus it’s tempting to pretend there are few or no human rights violations in China, and to concentrate only on the bottom dollar line. But we shouldn’t pretend that something that “is - isn’t.” Pretending problems don’t exist don’t make them go away. Necessity requires us to work the problem, and trade with China for our own self-interest.

I believe increased trade with China will open up China to new ideas and new freedoms. China needs us, as much as we need them.

In addition to being an economic colosisis, China is also a military colossis. A recent Pentagon report claims the Chinese military has ambitions far beyond defending its argumentive claim to Taiwan, and that China could provoke small wars to secure its growing energy requirements. Just this month, China missile carrying warships threatened Japanese oil rigs in the East China Sea. As another example, China recently held unprecedented joint military war games with Russia - and Taiwan and the US was the “fictional” enemy. That kind of stuff makes American military planners very concerned. In another case, a Chinese general recently threatened “nuclear devastation” against the United States, if the US tried to defend Taiwan from being swallowed by Communist China – and apparently no one in the government rebuked the general.

But for every challenge there’s an opportunity. Every right thinking person is concerned about human rights abuses, and every American except Pollyanna is concerned about threats to our national security from China, or any other entity that could do us harm.

But, as my Grandpa John used to say, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water!” In other words, America and Alaska would be foolish not to engage China in mutually beneficial trade (while keeping our eyes wide open). I have faith that the “good guys” always win – eventually. My job in the legislature is to help Alaska win.

In addition to the high-roller Chinese businessmen with an agenda, I was able to mingle with everyday Chinese working folks, from hotel clerks, to taxi drivers, sales clerks, waitresses, vendors, students, and so on. As a retired military person, I’ve been around overseas enough to feel the vibes of anti-Americanism when it exists – and I’m happy to report that nothing of the sort in Shanghai was evident. Everybody was friendly and gracious, and I couldn’t ask for better. The Chinese are good people.

My trip to China with my legislative colleagues was informative and worthwhile. My opinions herein expressed regarding China are strictly my own, and others can speak for themselves.
When we trade with China, we are surely “dancing with a schizophrenic dragon” – but Alaska will benefit from leading the dance, and we won’t let China step on our toes. Should we work to increase our trade with China? Yes, yes, and underline yes!

Monday, September 19, 2005


I’m here in Shanghai on a trade mission, learning we might export to China that would be beneficial to America and Alaska. While browsing the English language Shanghai Daily newspaper this morning over morning coffee, I learned about an export to China of a former president’s name, plus the name of – shall we say - a “close” friend of his.

Read please, an excerpt from the article:

“A rubber manufacturer in China has begun marketing condoms under the names “Clinton” and “Lewinski,” apparently seeking to exploit the White House affair that led to the impeachment of America’s 42nd president.

Spokesman Liu Wenhua of the Guangzhou Rubber Group said . . . ‘the Clinton condom will be top of the line. The Lewinski product is not quite as good . . . The names we chose are symbols of people who are responsible and dedicated to their jobs . . . I believe Clinton cannot be unhappy about this because he is a very generous man.”

Draw your own conclusions. Suffice to say, this is an export we can do without.

Sunday, September 11, 2005


Some sorrowful days are etched in memory, to be remembered forever. For me, it was December 7th, 1941 when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, April 12, 1945 when President Roosevelt died, Nov 22, 1963 when President Kennedy was assassinated, and more recently, September 11, 2001, the day terrorists turned airliners into kamikazes and brought war to our American homeland.

On the early morning of 9/11, Marlene and I were awakened at home and alerted to the attack by a phone call from our daughter Robyn who was working in downtown Washington DC. My son Bob Jr., with the United States Foreign Service, happened also to be in Washington DC on State Department business (at the time, there was a report that an explosion had also occurred at the State Department - later confirmed to be in error). With the rest of the nation, we watched 9/11 events unfold with horror, sadness, and concern.To me, the terror act of 9/11 was a declaration of war on the United States - no less so than the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The attack on Pearl Harbor came from Japan, a nation with boundaries, easy to identify, easy to quantify. In contrast, the 9/11 attack came from an amorphous "nation" of ideology without boundaries - much more difficult to identify and quantify. But in neither attack, did reasonable Americans ask, "What did America do to deserve the attack?" That's not only "nutso," it's an unproductive response. The proper question is, how do we defend ourselves - both our physical homeland, and the ideology that makes America, America?

We don't defend ourselves by pretending the threat doesn't continue, or pretending we are not engaged in a war of ideology as well as weapons. In that sense of ideology, we are indeed engaged in a religious war. The religious war aspect of the conflict is the "elephant in the room" that few people - especially politicians - want to publicly acknowledge seeing. Anyone who believes America won't suffer another devastating physical attack on our homeland, is inhabiting fantasyland. The only question is, when and where?

We've suffered immense problems dealing with the results of Hurricane Katrina, when we had many days warning of nature's assault on the Gulf Coast. When the terrorists next assault the United States, there will be no warning at all. A scary thought. Too many forget the danger and become complacent, absent a terrorist attack every other day.The overseas actions of our US military are extremely costly in human, economic, and political terms. The cost is the price of survival. It's better to fight the enemy overseas than on our neighborhood streets. The cost also includes reasonable security actions here at home.

In the words today of Pope Benedict II on the 9/11 attack , "May God inspire men and women of goodwill everywhere to renounce hatred and to build a world of justice, solidarity and peace." I agree. And I join in that prayer.

In the meantime, however, God helps those who help themselves.

Thursday, September 08, 2005


In August, I had the cataract in my right eye replaced with new lens I could actually see through. Today my left eye also received a new lens, to replace its cataract and, again, the results are amazing.

Sight of any kind is a wonderful Gift from God. Modern medicine and eye surgery, and the skill of ophthalmologist eye surgeons like Dr. Ford, is also a Gift. Cataract surgery and aftercare has been the subject of considerable debate in legislative committees. I can now bring personal experience to that debate.

This afternoon Marlene and I, and my son Bob, celebrated my two new good eyes with a scenic trip to Upper Summit Lake, Seward, Exit Glacier, and Cooper Landing to show my daughter-in-law Jiangping Li. It was a great photo opportunity (see my photos on my legislative website). She likes doing scenic photography as much as I do. Nothing beats the Kenai Penisula for a good camera and eyes without cataracts!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005


The force of nature is an awesome thing, from an intergalactic explosion spewing new planets, to the earthly power of earthquakes, tornados and hurricanes, to the spiritual and creative power that animates life in all its marvelous variations and subtleties.

The power of mere humans to counter the power and results of nature is limited indeed. We are not God. The intentions, political persuasions, competence, and foresight of good people to counter natural disasters, too often count for naught. That's reality - and sane people inhabit the world of reality. Most folks - whatever their race or political party - simply do their best, when faced with natural catastrophes like Hurricane Katrina. And that's what happened.

It's easy, it's simplistic, to deface an entire community based on amoral and mindless animal acts of looters and other criminals who took advantage of disaster to add to the disaster. Shame on them. Pick them up and dispose of them with the rest of the garbage. But shame on the rest of us, if we judge the many good by the few bad.

Could the president, congress, state and local governments - and, just as importantly, the inhabitants of the storm stricken area - have done better to prepare, and done better in response? Obviously yes. We could say the same about our own lives - could we have lived our lives better? Surely so.

God gave us many Gifts, including twenty-twenty hindsight. And we should use that hindsight to prepare for the future. And that preparation should begin at our home address.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


I have asked Governor Murkowski to include in the special session for consideration of gas pipeline contract, to include in the agenda, suspension of state taxes on highway, marine and aviation gasoline for so long as the price of a barrel of Alaska oil remains above $50 a barrel for an appropriate period of time. The letter was hand delivered today to the governor’s office in Juneau, with copies to my colleagues in the Alaska House and Senate, and a Press Release to the media.

September 6, 2005

Governor Frank Murkowski
State of Alaska
P.O. Box 110001
Juneau, Alaska 99811-0001

Dear Governor Murkowski:

Your assistance is respectfully requested. The price of highway, marine and aviation gasoline has skyrocketed due to a number of factors, including loss of production from the recent hurricane caused disaster on the Gulf Coast. Consumers are being hurt every time they fill their fuel tanks. Both Alaskan families and businesses are being severely impacted.

As you know, the price of Alaska oil has climbed to all time highs, currently about $70 a barrel. As a "rule of thumb" for every $1.00 the price of a barrel of oil goes up, Alaska reaps "roughly" $65 million in added state revenue.

Because of this added revenue, during the last legislative session, we were able to fund many worthwhile projects and programs with your approval. Now, with the price of oil so high and the resultant impact to families and businesses so severe, it’s time for our state to offer some tax relief to Mr. and Mrs. Alaska. Fuel taxes imposed on Alaskans aren’t needed when our state is awash in unexpected and unparalleled income from the current high price of oil.

Therefore I request that, when you call the special legislative session for consideration of a gas pipeline contract, you include in your agenda suspension of state taxes on highway, marine and aviation gasoline for so long as the price of a barrel of Alaska oil remains above $50 a barrel for an appropriate period of time.


Bob Lynn

cc: Governor Murkowski via USPS Mail, Facsimile, and Email
Alaska Legislative Colleagues


Speaker of the House John Harris has appointed me to be co-chair of a Workers’ Compensation Task Force to review SB130, the bill that passed the legislature last session, to determine how it might be improved. The Task Force is required by SB130.

Legislative Task Force Members:

Sen. Ralph Seekins, Co-Chair, Fairbanks
Rep. Bob Lynn, Co-Chair, Anchorage
Sen. Gretchen Guess, Anchorage

Public Task Force Members:

John Duddy, M.D. - Alaska State Medical Association
Rod Betit - Alaska Hospital and Nursing Home Association
Michael Jensen - Employee Workers' Compensation Attorney
Trena Heikes - Employer Workers' Compensation Attorney
Kevin Dougherty - Organized Labor Representative
Ted Quinn - Unorganized Employee Representative
Constance Livsey - Insurance Industry Representative
Jamie Slack - Self Insured Employer Representative
Linda Lewis - Small Business Representative
Everett Billingslea - Large Business Representative

I’m very pleased with the appointment. I’ve always supported the concept of some sort of Task Force to work on critical workers’ compensation issues. It seems to me, however, the “cart has been put before the horse.” I think the Task Force may have been more appropriate before SB130 was passed

The task force will hold its first organizational meeting in late September. It must issue a report to the Speaker of the House and the Senate President by December 1, 2005

Monday, September 05, 2005


One of my earliest memories is when my grandparents took me to a Labor Day Parade in downtown Los Angeles – I must have been five or six years old. I remember bands, and marching units of men carrying banners. At the time, I had no idea what labor represented, but I sure did like the parade!

I know now that Labor Day honors hard working men and women who form an essential part of the economic body that helps generates America’s prosperity. Today I join with other Americans in the Holiday tribute to labor.

Nowadays, it seems that a politician must label him (or her) self as “Pro-Management” or “Pro-Labor,” and never the twain shall meet. That’s ridiculous, of course. Management can’t exist without a workforce, and labor doesn’t have jobs without someone creating and managing the jobs. To use a fancy word, labor and management need a “symbiotic” relationship – one entity helping the other, so that one plus one equals more than two. In the best of times, the legitimate goals of labor and management are in counterbalance or, to put it another way, it’s a “win-win” situation for both and, from a Pollyanna perspective, should have little to do with one’s political party.

My goal in the legislature and on the committees on which I serve, like the Labor and Commerce Committee, is to help keep a “win-win” balance between labor and management for the benefit of all Alaskans. On labor and management issues, such as the worker’s compensation debate and votes, the political pressures on legislators from “everybody and their uncle” is (as an understatement) “interesting.” I keep my aspirin handy.

Thursday, September 01, 2005


Alaska needs to broaden its economic base, and increased international trade is one means of doing so. As a member of the House Economic Development, International Trade, and Tourism Committee, I'm always looking for opportunities to expand Alaskan markets. China, and particularly Shanghai, offers tremendous opportunities for do just that.

I was pleased to attend the 1st Alaska-China Business Conference, hosted by the World Trade center of Alaska, and Executive Director Gregv Wolf. Lt. Governor Loren Leman greeted the fifty attendees. Then the schooling began. Topics included “Cracking the China Market,” “Doing Business in China,” “The Future for the Alaska Seafood Industry” (would you believe halibut heads are in great demand in China?), “The Pacific Rim Coal Market,” University-Business Partnership with China,” and Alaska resources for Doing Business in China.” I learned a lot – and there is much to learn.

The conference is preparatory for an Alaska Trade Mission to Shanghai later this month, which I will be attending with Alaska businesspersons and some Alaska State Senators.

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