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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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B1 US hammond fund alaska tax bristol dividend

Alaska Permanent Fund

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    王惟惟 posted on 2020/01/12
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