Wilder by Far

A look at life with the Wilder family. Updated most weekends and some vacation days. You can contact me at movingnorth@gmail.com..

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Saturday, April 01, 2006

"It was destroyed by a socialist weasel." - Intelligence, Team America: World Police


Denali, the Chairman of the Board, at sunrise. It's a good one to click on for larger mountainy goodness.

The Mrs. and I have decided to chuck all of this cold Alaska life! We’re picking up and moving to Los Angeles, where I’ll be a talk show host for Air America.

Okay, that was the April Fools part. You couldn’t blow me out of here with explosives.

I really can’t imagine anything farther from reality – Los Angeles?? Paris Hilton and other germ-carrying rodents live there.

The Mrs. and I were driving home from the store (after having both Boys doted on by the clerks) and we remarked that this was the first time since, say, October that we had seen liquid water outside. It was 41ºF (which is 86ºC) and people were wearing shorts. I didn’t think it was possible for skin to reflect more light than snow.

It was also a nice day for another reason: I had submitted our Permanent Fund Distribution (PFD) applications. The Permanent Fund Distribution is where the State of Alaska sends an annual check (generally $800-$1,000 per person) out to people who have lived here all year.

What is the Permanent Fund?

The Permanent Fund is the result of pumping oil from the North Slope down to Valdez for these last thirty or so years. The money that came from the state’s royalty was stuck away for a rainy day when the oil and resources of the state ran out. If you have a nagging feeling, that’s just jealousy that your state government didn’t think beyond the next election like ours did.

Originally the PFD was to pay out on the basis of how long you’d lived here. So, if you’d lived here 20 years, you’d get 20 times as much as someone who lived here one year. There are people that are still irritated that the Supreme Court ruled that unconstitutional (equal protection clause). Since that decision, everybody gets paid the same.

The PFD is a double-edged sword, or a cat with scratchy parts in all directions (but I guess that would be a porcupine). It has upsides and downsides.

First the upsides:
  • It gives me money to buy beer.
  • It gives me money to buy anything.
  • It provides the citizens of Alaska a reason to counter to special interests that would loot the cash for their own benefit (The Society for Scruffy Puppies can get paid only if the people of the state deem that more worthy than an extra Andrew Jackson in their wallet – which is unlikely).
  • It gets people more interested in government, which is okay as long as their name isn’t Garafalo or Franken.
  • It pulled enough cash out of the system so Alaska’s economy didn’t hyperinflate like a typical resource boom-town, and hence will be more stable when the resource is gone. Consequently, there’s less governmental corruption.
  • It's money.
Then the downsides:
  • It’s kind of icky and socialist.
  • It’s an entitlement, and as such is not good. The entitlement mentality, fortunately, is counter to much of the Alaskan mentality, but the PFD has caused some people to expect government to take care of them.
  • It’s made the citizens look with envy on the oil producers, and think that by increasing the tax, they’ll not hurt themselves by killing additional investment.
So, am I gonna take the money?

Duh. It’s money. But I won’t like it.

12 Comments:

Blogger The Mayor said...

Ack!! I forgot it was April Fool's Day, you scared me with your new Title!!

10:35 AM  
Blogger Woofwoof said...

41F and $1000 per person? I'm calling the airline right now. I'm going to miss Paris and her rodents though.

4:54 AM  
Blogger Deirdre Helfferich said...

In your down side list, you mention "increasing the tax"--it's not a tax, it's a royalty. We own that oil, and the oil companies keep calling our royalties a tax, as though we don't own it and they do...don't fall for it! I was born here, and like you, you couldn't blow me out of here with explosives (love that image). And I've seen how the oil companies bamboozle the Alaska public again and again...don't forget, Exxon still hasn't forked over the damages money from the Valdez oil spill.

10:08 AM  
Blogger John said...

mayor,
I'll just grin. But I'll admit seeing "Life in Los Angeles" up there creeped me out, too.

woof,
There's a place down the road for sale. They even allow dogs!

deirdre,
Thanks for stopping by! Actually, our royalty is 12.5% of the oil (one barrel out of every eight). The current debate is what additional tax we should put on the producers for producing the oil. The governor has suggested a tax (they certainly do own their profits) of 20% on the profits of the companies. The legislature is at 25%. We also make money through leases, land rental, and the salaries they pay.

The oil companies have also been the single greatest generator of revenue for our government (state and local) for the past thirty years. The economic benefit from jobs and purchases make their contribution to us enormous. I know I didn't drill for any oil, but I get the benefit from their labor. (which is the part that makes me a bit queasy)

Plus the money to buy the beer from the PFD . . .

11:15 AM  
Blogger HP said...

mmmm, beer.
Mmmmmm, more money for beer.
Even better. Have fun with the $$$ and don't forget to get the Mrs. a new snowmachine...
I'm always plugging for her!

4:16 PM  
Blogger Al said...

Sounds like this permanent fund money make you a bit uneasy. I am here to help. I will send you a self addressed stamped envelope and you simply send those Benjamins to me. Its easy and no one needs to know. I in turn will raise my glass to toast your new freedom.

No need to tell the Mrs.

Is Alaska a great place or what!

6:52 PM  
Blogger John said...

hp,
The Mrs. was very touched!

Mmmm, beer.

al,
Yeah, uneasy. Just doesn't seem right making a buck off of someone else's labor and investment.

But . . .

uneasy≠silly

I'm keeping the cash.

7:29 PM  
Anonymous CWH said...

Mr Wilder,
Sounds like you know more about this topic than just the cursory people, such as myself (cursory that is). I guess you make me feel a little less than average, but did you really know all the stuff or did you make it up? And all this time I thought you were just a card counting pinochle player, what else will we learn about you? And it looks like I just missed your last posting to boot. And how in God's name did you remember the Storm? I'm still trying to forget!!!

7:39 PM  
Blogger John said...

cwh,
I would say that these came from the Bureau of Made Up Statistics, but in reality I did some research. A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you're talking real money, especially when you only have to divide by 600,000.

The Storm? Heh . . . I remember we did a beer run once and you let me drive it. I think you were still working down south . . .

8:18 PM  
Blogger salty said...

those that take the stance 'the gov will take care of me' would take that stance anyway~

it's money i don't feel bad taking at all, and if you have adult expenses it's not even that much, but it's very cool for those parents (like my brother) who have managed to save the kids checks for years and now have a decent college fund

socialist & icky? explain, missed me on that one, really, I'm not trying to be a smart ass (sometimes, but not now...no, really, dammit, forget I asked)

on the porcupine note my beloved devil dog has now gotten into number ten (check latest post for a pic)

and as for that surf-kayak ak blog i mentioned, do a search for 'qayaq' it had some cool pics/video you may want to add as a link!

8:47 PM  
Blogger John said...

salty,
Yup, they would.

Socialist in that I get some money from work and investment somebody else did. Hence, socialist. It was okay when it was my Dad, not so much when it's the government. (I WILL take the money, though). I like to stay on the side where I produce economic benefit for society, not consume the labors of others without contributing myself.

Yeouch! (porcupine) I'll check it out, as well as the kayak pics.

10:18 PM  
Blogger Deirdre Helfferich said...

re tax vs. royalty--I was under the impression that they were talking about upping the royalty (but keep calling it a dingnabbed tax--I don't trust Murkowski as far as I can throw him, which isn't far, 'cause I'm out of practice on my Akido)...and yep, that oil has generated a lot of money for us. But it's also screwed up the state in some serious ways, because we are so single-industry, so dependent upon it, and haven't done much to diversify. I have lots of ambivalence toward the whole industry. The PFD is a great thing, and the Fund itself is even better. It's the Fund that really supports this state--our investments.

By the way, I LOVE the quotes at the beginnings of your posts.

9:28 PM  

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