Five local students win PFD essay contest

Posted: Friday, November 30, 2001

Cody Bloom wondered about the impact of electric cars on oil prices and the future of the Alaska Permanent Fund. Bobbi Varness suggested dividends might have to drop to keep the fund intact and prevent new taxes. Leah Krafft talked of hopes that when she has children, they'll get the dividend too.

Bloom, Varness and Krafft, plus Colin Conerton and Jon Rue, wrote their thoughts down to become Juneau winners in an essay contest called The Alaska Permanent Fund: Past, Present and Future.

In the contest, Juneau-Douglas High School students were asked to submit a 350- to 500-word essay on the state's oil-wealth savings account. The contest and other events marked the 25th anniversary of the statewide vote to create the fund.

Winners were honored at a ceremony at the permanent fund corporation's Juneau offices Nov. 2. Each received a certificate of award and a $100 savings bond.

Read the winning essays:

Cody Bloom's essay

Bobbi Varness's essay

Leah Krafft's essay

Colin Conerton's essay

Jon Rue's essay

Selections from the winning essays:

* Cody Bloom: "The future for Alaska may need more consideration. The introduction of hybrid or fully electric cars and environmentally friendly machines could have an effect on oil prices. This would in turn affect the revenue earned by the state of Alaska. Something will have to change soon. The state of Alaska just can't keep cutting funding. Either new plans will have to be made that appeal to Alaskans or the state will have to increase taxation. It has to have some sort of income to function."

* Bobbi Varness: "Do we deserve a dividend? Sure, Alaskans love the idea of a couple thousand dollars being doled out to them and their family each year. Is this really our money to spend as freely as we do? This is our state and the constitution of the United States of America tells the people of our country that we have the right to vote. This dividend is our decision, and until our state votes otherwise, we will be receiving one until it is gone."

* Leah Krafft: "Alaskans love the Permanent Fund. There's no doubt about it. But it can make some people greedy. They want their free money, and they don't want anyone taking it away, even if the money was to build new schools, fund new projects, or help build roads. Other states are fine without their free money. Just think about how we could spend that billion dollars on things the state really needs. My school could use some new books and equipment, in fact, we could use a whole new school considering it's a building that houses 1,700 kids but was built for 1,000. These are problems we need to think about as a state do we want our children to have a nice school, with new technology, or do we want all that money for ourselves?"

* Colin Conerton: "The future of the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend looks encouraging. All Alaskans are excited about the numerous investment opportunities in real estate and in stocks and bonds. The continued growth of the Alaska Permanent Fund dividend seems to be in excellent condition. Even with the events of Sept. 11 in mind, the diversity of the fund's investments will keep it a powerful and meaningful fund for Alaska residents for numerous years to come."

* Jon Rue: "As we continue into the next generation, we need to ensure the safety of the Permanent Fund for all future Alaskans. That being said, we also need to take a step back, look beyond the plane tickets to Mexico that we could buy with our Permanent Fund checks, and examine the direction that our state is headed. If we don't start using the money we have to improve our schools and cities, we will be facing a bleak future."

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