by Luke Graupmann
As a young Alaskan I have become increasingly concerned with our state’s interest in socialism. Governor Dunleavy promised to provide strong conservative leadership, instead he is promoting socialism. His main campaign pledge, entitling Alaskans to $3,000 a year, is universal basic income in action. I intend to call out Dunleavy, for Governor Dunleavy is a socialist.
What is universal basic income and how did Governor Dunleavy win his campaign on the issue in one of the reddest states in the country? Universal basic income is a proposal popular among socialists that entitles every citizen to a financial handout from their government. The idea of universal basic income is highly unpopular in America, so how did Dunleavy win on it?
To understand Dunleavy’s paradoxical win, we must look at the history of the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) and how it ties to universal basic income. The program dates to 1976 when voters passed a constitutional amendment to establish a fund that would distribute money to every Alaskan each year. It was an overnight hit and Alaskans were quick to claim that they deserved the money.
And what have Alaskans accomplished to get the money they claim to rightfully deserve? According to the Alaska Department of Revenue, Alaskans are eligible to receive a portion of the fund if they were a resident of Alaska for the previous calendar year; intend to live in the state; have not claimed residency in another state; have not committed a felony in the previous year; and have lived in Alaska for more than 180 days out of the year. Essentially, one must be a resident of Alaska to receive a check from the PFD. Alaskans don’t work to earn the PFD but get it anyway. So how can Alaskans claim they deserve this government money any more than residents of another state? They cannot. The Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend is universal basic income, clear and simple.
Upon understanding how the PFD is socialist, Alaskans must reconsider the 2018 election for governor. In the race, now-governor Mike Dunleavy portrayed himself as a candidate who would free Alaskans from government overreach. This picture of Dunleavy could not be farther from the truth. His key policy proposal was to raise dividend checks to $3,000 a year (an act that aligns Dunleavy so closely to the socialist agenda that even “radical Democrats” like Elizabeth Warren have not joined him). Sadly, Dunleavy’s treachery does not end with lying to voters about his ideology. In office, he has ruthlessly undercut Alaskan values to enact his policy of universal basic income. He has even gone so far as to illegally conduct legislative sessions in the socialist bastion of Wasilla as to not face the freedom-loving opposition from across the state. Dunleavy’s flouting of Alaskan values does not stop with him hiding from constituents. In fact, our governor is so desperate to enact his socialist policy that he is willing to cut $325 million from education to fund it.
This cut personally affects me and every kid like me. Granted, a check from the state every year is nice, but it is not worth gutting education. As a high school senior, I am currently deciding where to go to college. I have a 4.1 and would be a strong asset at a University of Alaskan school. However, because of the uncertainty surrounding these schools’ future I have decided to look out of state. My entire class has made the same decision.
Leaving Alaska is not a choice I make lightly. I love this state, but I am fearful for its future. If Alaska wants to keep its youth the education must be fully funded. Dunleavy will not be governor forever, yet his policy of increasing the PFD at will cost the state my generation. I urge Alaskans to consider us and recall our socialist governor.
I really loved this op-ed. I remember when you read it in class during block I was super impressed, and I’m really glad you decided to submit it to Turnagain Currents. Alaska is in a serious financial crisis right now, and the issue of the PFD is one that definitely needs to be talked about. I think addressing the problem in a funny and satirical way is actually very effective, especially in the way you’ve presented it. I particularly enjoyed the part about “radical” Elizabeth Warren.
I really enjoyed reading your essay, it is thought provoking. I agree with your perspective on education cuts proposed by Dunleavy. Although, I have not educated myself very well on the political scene when hearing about the deep cuts to education it was alarming. I am newly back to college after a long break, I ended up at APU mostly due to the APU promise, but also UAA is in such uncertain times of having to cut so many programs. It’s unfortunate that essential programs are being cut from our K-12 system and the University system. I am grateful that being back in school has renewed my interest in local and national politics, considering how we (the voters) can make changes.
I really enjoyed this essay. I like how controversial it is. It makes a bold statement. It is very relevant to everybody in this state and is very well written. I also like how you rephrased the PFD in a way many people don’t think or don’t want to think about it. This essay was very influential and makes many valid points.
Jaime A Martinez
I am a partially new resident of Alaska and I do not know much about the politics in AK. or how does the PFD work, for the most part I only know whatever it is presented in the news. Clearly not a great option since most news channel now a days do not present you with facts but instead opinions. To hear from a high school student like yourself is definitely a great source since you are going through this yourself, I have made the choice to study at Alaska Pacific University instead since I figured that the influence the local government would have in a private university should not affect me much. Nevertheless listening to your words worries me as my future, or the future I want to build in this state does not sound too certain with a man like himself in office. But as you said he will not be there forever but the effect from the changes he has made will long outlast his time in office.