In Alaska: Boom Times Yield to a Bitter Bust

In the Red Dog saloon in Juneau, the sawdust on the floor gets changed biweekly come fog, downpour or the occasional shard of sunlight. Behind the bar, there's a bumper sticker that was temporarily stapled up last spring for laughs. It reads, GOD, PLEASE GIVE US ANOTHER BOOM. WE PROMISE NOT TO P THIS ONE AWAY.

A stiff hike up the hill from the Red Dog, nobody in the state capitol building sees anything to chuckle about. When Steve Cowper, the new Governor of the largest state in the union, looks out his third-floor window, his horizon does not stretch far...