Friday, September 19, 2008

Our First Socialist VP: Baked Alaska Please

Philip Gourevitch's fascinating Letter from Alaska: The State of Sarah Palin, The peculiar political landscape of the Vice-Presidential hopeful, in the latest issue of the New Yorker, raises a little noted feature of Sarah Palin's experience as governor. The largest source of wealth in Alaska is its massive energy reserves (mostly oil and gas). Unlike most commodity based economies however, Alaska owns these resources for the benefit of all the people of Alaska. Alaskan's of sufficient residency in the state receive an annual cash benefit from the state's energy development. Indeed it was her success at negotiating a larger revenue stream for some of the development, resulting in larger annual checks, that has lifted Sarah Palin to very high approval ratings.

In short, thanks to its New Deal constitution, Alaska is a socialist state that operates for the benefit of its citizens, not property owners and capitalists. As Sarah Palin explained to Gourevitch (in a conversation weeks before her sudden fame after John McCain named her his running mate):

....Alaska ---we're set up, unlike other states in the union, where it's collectively Alaskans own the resoures. So we share in the wealth when the development of these resources occurs...Our state constitution---it lays it out for me, how I'm to conduct business with resource development here as the sate C.E.O. It's to maximize benefits for Alaskans, not an individual company, not some multinational somewhere, but for Alaskans.


You want Mavericks? What if McCain and Palin announced their intention to apply the Alaska model to American? No President since Richard Nixon has toyed with the idea of directly funding American families as a citizenship right.

What kind of state does this create? Alaskans are not rich. Indeed, many Alaskans, even with their share of the energy wealth, live at a subsidence level on hunting and fishing. It is worth noting however that notwithstanding Palin's national launch, Alaska appears to be a state little wracked by culture wars against demonized minorities, nor an aggressive war on crime. Indeed, growing marijuana for personal use was legal as late as the 80s (when Palin admits to trying it), the state has no death penalty, and has a smaller portion of its population then California or Texas.

1 comment:

neal said...

Alaska is a socialist state that operates for the benefit of its citizens, not property owners and capitalists. As Sarah Palin explained to Gourevitch in a conversation weeks before her sudden fame.


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