In regard to the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend, it seems the more the fund is worth the less the Legislature wants to share it. It is a fact that they went off the rails a few years ago and cut the legal dividend amount by about two-thirds. When the fund was new, it was only a few billion dollars, and it was shared generously. The call from governor Hammond’s office was, the state’s resources belong to the people of the state and the income from the sale of these resources should be shared with the people. Now, that we are at $81 billion, there isn’t enough to share?
Ever notice that a poor man will share his last meal with you, but a rich man won’t give you the time of day? The Legislature says the money is needed to fund state government. Let’s think about that. I can’t even count the bad investments the Legislature has made from grain silos in Valdese to fast ferries. A short trip to Motor Vehicles will show how these expensive “services” providers treat the people. A state worker gets a good salary, medical benefits, dental benefits, eye care, paid leave, retirement benefits. They don’t have to pay into Social Security; they have a better retirement plan. The state takes care of their needs from the time they sign up till they die. Sounds a lot like socialism to me. As a 44-year resident of Juneau working in the private sector, I can testify we get none of that. We have to pay for all of it ourselves. And to help along the way we get a little bit of cash from the sale of state resources, our PFD. So it looks to me like the Legislature has illegally taken my PFD and wasted it on bad ideas and is giving it to those who have so much more than I, so they can continue to live a detached socialist life removed from the hard facts of capitalism.
My wife and I live what we have saved and our Social Security. We count on the PFD to help us make ends meet. I don’t mind that others choose to drone away 30 years of their lives in state employment. I just don’t like the Legislature taking my share of the resource money and giving it to others, better off than me, and justifying it by saying the state is broke. Lawmakers are playing to their base, trying to save their political necks by stealing from the poor and giving it to the rich. It’s time to get back to the original intent of sharing the earnings of a people-owned resource with all the people, not just a few.
• Rick Bierman is a 44-year resident of Juneau.