Opinion: Permanent Fund Dividend isn’t state money

Let us hope that the Legislature chooses the course of protecting our dividend.

The oil in the ground is the property of all Alaskans as individuals by a strict interpretation of our Constitution. Years ago we elected to save 50% of the revenues derived from the sale of our oil in the Permanent Fund so we would always have money. We also decided to use up to 50% of the oil revenue to fund state government.

From the profits made by wisely investing the monies in the Permanent Fund, we decided to pay ourselves a dividend. We decided that the principal of the Permanent Fund had to be protected against inflation that came before the dividend to the people of Alaska. Half the operating profits, after inflation proofing the Permanent Fund, were to fund state government; the other half were to be distributed to the people of Alaska. This is the classical stock corporation applied on a statewide scale.

The administration and Legislature are fiducial agents with respect to the Permanent Fund Dividend. Neither owns the Permanent Fund nor do they own the portion set aside for dividends. No Alaska citizen needs to earn their Permanent Fund Dividend, as it is a dividend on their invested share of our oil revenue. The dividend is not “free money from the state” as some authors have claimed to justify their socialist give away programs. It is our individual return on investment.

The previous administration usurped authority over the dividend to fund their initiatives that were designed to keep them in office and make Alaskans more dependent on state government. At one time, we hoped that the growth of state government could be controlled by limiting the amount of money available. Instead state government saved money early and spent it later, growing ever larger in the process until it ran out of money and had to take from Alaskans via the usurpation of the dividend. We need to require the state government to be our fiducial agent with respect to the Permanent Fund. Government spending is not for all Alaskans; it is for the special interests, teachers, government workers, Medicare recipients, and others too numerous to list. State government has a solemn duty to the people of Alaska to pay the full dividend as determined by the Permanent Fund Corporation. Let us hope that the Legislature chooses the course of protecting our dividend.

John D. Cooper,

Juneau


• My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire.