Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Alaska PFD

I have to get in the habit of reading comments! There usually aren't many, but I missed one by Sean on the PFD (sorry, Sean). Well, it is almost PFD time, so it's time for a post on the subject.

The PFD stands for the Alaska Personal Dividend Fund. It is a fund -- a very large fund -- set aside by the State of Alaska. Every year, the earnings of the fund are distributed equally between all qualified Alaskans. This includes children, so a family of four would get four dividends. Last year, the dividend was about $1600, a fair chunk of change. I doubt that it will be so large this year! You can get all the details by Googling "Alaska PFD."

This is a unique arrangement. We owe it in large part to the efforts of the late Governor Jay Hammond. Hammond was a fighter pilot, bush pilot, commercial fisherman, biologist and a "bush rat," i.e. he lived in the bush when he wasn't in the Legislature or being Governor. He claimed that he hoped to be defeated in every election he stood for, because then he could get back to Lake Clark and his cabin.
He wrote several books, Tales of Alaska's Bush Rat Governor comes to mind. It is an amusing and thoughtful collection of Jay Hammond's ramblings.

In this book, Hammond relates that he was in Bristol Bay when the fishing was a bonanza. What to do with all that money? Hammond advocated setting a chunk of it aside, as a fund for hard times. He was voted down, and Bristol Bay built a gymnasium with swimming pool. Soon after that, fishing went kaput, and Bristol Bay had a pool, but no income. So when Hammond got to be Governor. he leaned on everyone until Alaska took a big chunk of its petrodollars and set up the PFD.

The politicians hate the PFD. They would rather spend it. Bristol Bay redux. I will not go into this because this blog is not, repeat not, a political blog.

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