PFD idea honors Hammond's principles

Letter to the editor

Posted: Sunday, September 11, 2005

One way to honor Jay Hammond is following his example. Part of his Alaska Permanent Fund philosophy was that it's better for each Alaskan to have direct say on using state investment profits than just leaving it all to government.

This is why an idea from Dave Evans of Healy should be given more respect. He suggests that Alaskans be given the option of rolling their PFDs into sort of a citizen's mutual fund invested along with the permanent fund's principal. Though profits would start off pretty small, it would grow in size just like the permanent fund did. Twenty-five percent of the profits of this "mutual fund" would go to its realistically nominal administrative costs, and then to public use via the state's general fund. Thus it can pass Hammond's test of paying for itself.

Hammond would ask if this idea would benefit most Alaskans. It would provide a painless investment vehicle to offset the dangerously low savings rate by the general public. The Gulf Coast hurricane that's made so many financially destitute is a clear object lesson about this. This also answers protests from University of Alaska and merchants about interfering with their monopoly on tempting people to total PFD spending.

The essence of freedom is power of choice. Politicians and civil servants who dismiss public ideas that serve citizen power of choice - because elected "public agents" advised by experts know best - are philosophical traitors to our form of government. So, too, are citizens who coast along saying and doing nothing, when it's the cumulative civic participation by citizens that permits our form of government to even work.

Finally, Hammond would ask if a majority of Alaskans wanted this service. Alaskans, do you? Let your legislators know.

Stuart Thompson


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