The cofounder of Facebook, Chris Hughes, will be in Alaska on Thursday. Jim Lottsfeldt, of Lottsfeldt Strategies and Midnight Sun AK political bog, is taking him around and introducing him to various Democrats in Anchorage, Lottsfeldt announced in his blog this morning.
Hughes is the second Facebook heavyweight to come to Alaska, after Mark Zuckerberg visited in midsummer to vacation and explore how the Alaska Permanent Fund provides what he is calling a “basic income” for Alaskans.
Zuckerberg and Hughes are both proponents of the basic income concept.
On Friday, Hughes will be the featured speaker at the University of Alaska Anchorage at 9:30 a.m., in Rasmuson Hall. He’ll also be meeting with Lottsfeldt-picked rising leaders in Anchorage, whom Hughes will be speaking to about the Economic Security Project, also known as the basic income guarantee.
On Facebook yesterday, Hughes foreshadowed his visit by writing about how Hillary Clinton was looking at Alaska as a model for basic income:
“Hillary Clinton thinks she should have spent more time considering a basic income in America. An excerpt from the book out today:
“Before I ran for President, I read a book called With Liberty and Dividends for All: How to Save Our Middle Class When Jobs Don’t Pay Enough, by Peter Barnes, which explored the idea of creating a new fund that would use revenue from shared national resources to pay a dividend to every citizen, much like how the Alaska Permanent Fund distributes the state’s oil royalties every year. Shared national re“resources to pay a dividend to every citizen, much like how the Alaska Permanent Fund distributes the state’s oil royalties every year. Shared national resources include oil and gas extracted from public lands and the public airwaves used by broadcasters and mobile phone companies, but that gets you only so far. If you view the nation’s financial system as a shared resource, then you can start raising real money from things like a financial transactions tax. Same with the air we breathe and carbon pricing. Once you capitalize the fund, you can provide every American with a modest basic income every year. Besides cash in people’s pockets, it would also be a way of making every American feel more connected to our country and to one another—part of something bigger than ourselves.
I was fascinated by this idea, as was my husband, and we spent weeks working with our policy team to see if it could be viable enough to include in my campaign. We would call it “Alaska for America.” Unfortunately, we couldn’t make the numbers work. To provide a meaningful dividend each year to every citizen, you’d have to raise enormous sums of money, and that would either mean a lot of new taxes or cannibalizing other important programs. We decided it was exciting but not realistic, and left it on the shelf. That was the responsible decision. I wonder now whether we should have thrown caution to the wind and embraced “Alaska for America” as a long-term goal and figured out the details later.”
When Mark Zuckerberg visited Alaska, he wrote extensively about the Permanent Fund dividend as an example of basic income. Must Read Alaska covered his visit here.
Hughes purchased the left-of-center The New Republic magazine in 2012. The former editor wrote of the magazine wrote this about him in the Atlantic Monthly:
“Then, in 2012, Chris walked through the door. Chris wasn’t just a savior; he was a face of the zeitgeist. At Harvard, he had roomed with Mark Zuckerberg, and he had gone on to become one of the co-founders of Facebook. Chris gave our fusty old magazine a Millennial imprimatur, a bigger budget, and an insider’s knowledge of social media. We felt as if we carried the hopes of journalism, which was yearning for a dignified solution to all that ailed it. The effort was so grand as to be intoxicating. We blithely dismissed anyone who warned of how our little experiment might collapse onto itself—how instead of providing a model of a technologist rescuing journalism, we could become an object lesson in the dangers of journalism’s ever greater reliance on Silicon Valley.”
Others are not so laudatory. Hughes was featured in the Daily Beast in 2014, along with his partner, as America’s “worst gay power couple.” The article called them “entitled brats.”