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Letters to the Editor

Letter: The dividend and its effects

  • Author: Michael Duke
    | Opinion
  • Updated: April 15
  • Published April 15

In the 1970s, Alaska had a yearly boom-and-bust economy. From mid-October to the end of April, many businesses closed and people left Alaska in droves as there was no work. In April, people from the Lower 48 came to Alaska to work construction, fisheries and tourism-related fields, then left in October, taking the money they earned with them.

Then the Permanent Fund dividend was established, and that cash infusion allowed many businesses to operate year-round, paying employees so they could afford to stay in Alaska. Construction workers’ partners could work retail or in restaurants or other fields and those families stayed in Alaska and spent their money in Alaska.

Alaska’s economy still depends on construction, oil, tourism and fishing, with the dividend providing a fluid cash infusion in October, allowing businesses to remain open until spring. As the dividend has been reduced, Alaskans have seen many businesses close and the jobs they provide disappear. This will continue as long as the dividend is reduced, and when it is taken by greedy politicians, Alaska will return to the yearly boom-and-bust economy of the 1970s. The money earned will go to the Lower 48; more Alaskans will live in poverty and children will leave the state to find employment as they did before.

The cure to this problem is to continue the dividends until Alaskans find a way to sustain the economy during the winter months. Alaska cannot accomplish this until we stop being a preserve for the rest of the United States. Most of Alaska’s accessible and usable land is owned by the United States government, the state and Native corporations. We must find a way to get accessible land into the hands of businesses and private individuals so that these lands can produce income and reduce regulations on mining so that we can produce materials for production.

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