B1 Intermediate US 16 Folder Collection
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Alaska.
Land of polar bears, Inuit peoples, the tallest
mountain in North America, and free money.
Wait, what?
Yep, it's true.
Last year, Alaskans received over 1000 bucks each
just for living there.
The money comes from a social wealth fund,
an investment portfolio that was seeded with oil revenues,
which then pays an annual dividend to everyone in the state.
The story of how this came to be is fascinating.
The Alaska Permanent Fund is the brainchild of former
governor Jay Hammond, in office from 1974 to 1982.
Hammond was practically a caricature
of the rugged Alaskan stereotype.
He was a Marine Corps pilot with the famous
Black Sheep Squadron in the second World War
and later, a bush pilot in Alaska.
In 1965, Hammond became Borough manager of a small
coastal town called Bristol Bay.
Upset by the fact that the poor residents of Bristol Bay
were getting only three percent of the revenues
from the local salmon catch, Hammond proposed a small tax
on the fish catch to seed a social wealth fund.
97 percent of the money would come from outsiders,
and the Bristol Bay Borough would get a permanent
dividend paying investment fund.
The idea fell flat on its face, Hammond later wrote.
All people could hear was the word tax.
So he tried again, this time with a local
Native American tribe.
They had received a 900 million dollar settlement
from the federal government and Hammond argued
they should use it to seed a social wealth fund.
That didn't work either.
Then, after being elected governor, Hammond tried
increasing the natural gas tax and using some
of the proceeds to give Alaska residents a tax credit.
That passed, but Hammond was disappointed that
only tax payers received the benefit
and that almost no one remembered the tax credit.
If people weren't aware of the program,
it would be easy to take away.
Next time, he decided, he wanted to put a check
in everyone's hand.
So when drillers hit another oil strike, Hammond argued
that the ensuing tax money should be used
for a real social wealth fund.
After vetoing one initial attempt for being too moderate,
he got it through in the form
of a constitutional amendment in 1976.
It started paying out annual dividend in 1982.
It has since accumulated about 65 billion dollars in assets
and paid out a $1000 dividend
to every Alaskan citizen in 2017.
In polls, the Alaska Fund is immensely popular.
78 percent rate it favorably and 59 percent, very favorably.
79 percent say the money is an important source of income
for people in my community.
The people who describe benefiting from it the most
are mothers with young children, unmarried women,
women without a college degree, and Native American women.
It's a hugely successful program that is both fair
and yet also helps people in need the most.
America should remember Jay Hammond
and set up a similar program for the whole country.
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Alaska Permanent Fund

16 Folder Collection
王惟惟 published on January 13, 2020
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