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View Diary: Palin's Socialism in the Snow (48 comments)

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  •  The Permanent Fund is NOT wealth redistribution (2+ / 0-)
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    swampus, mississippi boatrat

    This may be a small point, but in the interest of accuracy I must point out that the Alaska Permanent Fund is NOT a matter of wealth redistribution. It differs from taxation in important ways.

    Unlike in most states, in Alaska the mineral estate is owned by the state. There are no private owners of the subsurface. Instead, the State leases rights to develop and produce oil and gas. In exchange it receives ROYALTY.

    The royalty that the state receives is NOT like a tax. Rather, the royalty income is simply consideration paid by the oil companies for the right to develop and produce oil and gas. The Permanent Fund is created wholy through royalty receipts. What we have is a resource that is owned IN COMMON, the benefits of whose exploitation are enjoyed IN COMMON. That's not socialism, or wealth redistribution.

    The very substantial tax increase that was past last year is a much better argument. Income that the companies would otherwise enjoy is now taxed by the state and redistributed to its citizens. The argument that this ISN'T wealth redistribution isn't a great one, but goes along the same lines as the royalty argument: the resource is owned in common by Alaskans, and the tax is simply another way for Alaskans to get their "fair share".

    •  Understood... (0+ / 0-)

      What we have is a resource that is owned IN COMMON, the benefits of whose exploitation are enjoyed IN COMMON.

      I think that's a pretty good way to do things, actually.  I just don't want Palin to get credit for it since it wasn't her idea.

      •  Well she certainly CAN'T claim credit for the PF! (1+ / 0-)
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        That was set up by Jay Hammond. One of the cooler things about the PF is that it is one of the few instances of actual intergenerational equity concerns being addressed in a resource management context. Let me unpack that: if oil and gas belong to the state, then they shouldn't just belong to residents of the state "right now". Rather, they belong to all residents, both current and yet-unborn. The way to share the wealth from a non-renewable asset is to invest it so that the proceeds can be shared over time.

        It's really not so different from thinking about sustainable management of the wealth generated by ecosystem services (e.g. timber, fish).

        While some lament that the PF proceeds are distributed as checks, rather than investments in health care (say), there's a nice thing about it: it yields a much flatter income distribution in the state than you'd otherwise expect. The PFD's are CRUCIAL for many in Bush Alaska; they pay for the winter's heat, or transportation -- no small matter.

        •  It's still a state run program to expoit state (1+ / 0-)
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          resources for investment by state authorities and paid to individual citizens equally to all.

          All derived from the state collecting huge amounts of cash from private business.

          None of this is a proper example of free markets.  "Why can't Alaskans invest it for themselves?" the "free marketeers" might well ask.  You know, like privatized social security.

          My purpose, AA, is not to indict the APF.  It's a good thing for the people of Alaska, I'm sure.

          My purpose is to point out the towering hypocrisy of Palin and her ilk.  Please don't take it personally.

          We are not exempt from history.

          by MrJayTee on Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 12:24:41 AM PDT

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          •  I hear you (1+ / 0-)
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            and I certainly don't take this personally. But I don't think the APF makes Palin a hypocrit.

            First, she didn't set it up.

            Second, it isn't wealth redistribution. Again, the PF isn't like a big fund created through taxation. A better analogy: it's a "trust" created through proceeds from "lease payments" on property that the state starts off owning. What we have is the state acting in a commercial capacity, managing a resource that is owned in common. The comment of "edg", below -- that the PF is more communism than socialism -- isn't quite right because the state doesn't control the means of production; we're just the landlord.  

            I'd argue that it is an EXCELLENT example of free markets.

            The damn problem is that most conservatives have a much too narrow view of what's acceptable in terms of "free markets".

            Still, the big oil tax increase of recent vintage is a different story altogether.

            •  No, she didn't set it up. (0+ / 0-)

              But has she ever given it public scrutiny in the context of her putative small government, free-market ideas?

              The recent tax increase is more compelling, I agree, but APF is at least a cherry on top.

              Again, the purpose is to use both instances of state control/intervention/taxation to demolish her arguments.

              We are not exempt from history.

              by MrJayTee on Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 12:49:07 AM PDT

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    •  You're right. (2+ / 0-)
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      MrJayTee, Calouste

      When the state controls the means of production and distributes the profits to the comrades, that's not socialism.

      It's communism.

      John "Sidney" McCain takes leading role in Wall Street crisis. World financial system implodes. Coincidence?

      by edg on Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 12:10:38 AM PDT

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    •  But that's part of the argument! (0+ / 0-)

      If real conservatism, real free markets, were involved here, the land the oil comes from would be privately owned and the resources coming out of that land would go to those with the capital to extract and exploit them.

      The state has no business taking money from business and handing it out to people who make no entrepreneurial contribution--if they are real conservatives, that is.

      I'm fine with common ownership of resources AA.  It's the hypocrisy of Palin and the Republican ticket that are the thrust of my argument.

      Plus, the whole issue helps make them look bad, regardless of the nuances.

      We are not exempt from history.

      by MrJayTee on Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 12:12:27 AM PDT

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    •  So what do you think socialism is? (0+ / 0-)

      "resource that is owned IN COMMON"

      Becuase COLLECTIVE OWNERSHIP is what I think it is.

      NOT the redistribution of wealth.  That's just progressive tax policy.

      Stop listenting to the right wing meme.  They're wrong.

      Hope doesn't come from calculating whether the good news is winning out over the bad. It's simply a choice to take action. ~ Anna Lappe

      by Korry on Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 12:14:27 AM PDT

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      •  well shoot... (0+ / 0-)

        I'm not sure I agree that "socialism" is "collective ownership". I really did think that socialism involved a significant degree of democratic involvement in the direction of the state providing goods and services to its citizens.

        That said, I think you're spot on that "progressive tax policy" itself has little to do with socialism.

        But hey, I'm trained to think about property rights and ownership arrangements, not political science.

        •  Socialism, broadly speaking (0+ / 0-)

          Is public ownership of the means of production, run by the government, in the context of a planned economy.

          There are varieties of socialism, to be sure--my favorite is anarcho-syndicalism--but I think my first sentence is a good thumbnail.

          We are not exempt from history.

          by MrJayTee on Tue Oct 21, 2008 at 12:52:02 AM PDT

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