Zuckerberg promo for Alaska sends wrong message

Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, fillets a salmon in Homer, Alaska. (Photo from his Facebook page.)


Alaska, the richest state to ever go broke, may not have any money to promote tourism these days, what with our budget crisis and all.

But with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in the state over the weekend, that may be all the promotion our state can stand. Except he’s sending us the wrong type of people to our state — people who want free money.

Zuckerberg, in his exploratory essay about the Alaska Permanent Fund, may be sending Alaska the kind of person who thinks that our “basic income”  is the social safety net.

Zuckerberg spent time in Homer, kayaking, fishing, and observing dip netters gather salmon for their freezers.

He visited Seward for the Fourth of July and watched runners muddy and bloody themselves on Mount Marathon.

And he wrote about it on Facebook, where millions of people will read his words and take them to heart.

“One thing that stood out to us is how different Alaska’s social safety net programs are in a way that provides some good lessons for the rest of our country.

“Alaska has a form of basic income called the Permanent Fund Dividend. Every year, a portion of the oil revenue the state makes is put into a fund. Rather than having the government spend that money, it is returned to Alaskan residents through a yearly dividend that is normally $1000 or more per person. That can be especially meaningful if your family has five or six people.

“This is a novel approach to basic income in a few ways. First, it’s funded by natural resources rather than raising taxes. Second, it comes from conservative principles of smaller government, rather than progressive principles of a larger safety net. This shows basic income is a bipartisan idea.

“Seeing how Alaska put this dividend in place reminded me of a lesson I learned early at Facebook: organizations think profoundly differently when they’re profitable than when they’re in debt. When you’re losing money, your mentality is largely about survival. But when you’re profitable, you’re confident about your future and you look for opportunities to invest and grow further. Alaska’s economy has historically created this winning mentality, which has led to this basic income. That may be a lesson for the rest of the country as well.”

Basic income is a cause that Zuckerberg has adopted as his own, speaking about it at length at his recent speech at Harvard University. This resonates with a certain subset of people. He’s calling it a bipartisan idea that everyone can get behind.

However, it is not an idea everyone embraces. Conservatives and free-market types have issues with the basic-income movement that Zuckerberg is championing.

America already does have a type of basic income program: Entitlements. The government, through taxation, pays for people’s housing, food, medical care, phone service. Taxpayers pay for elder care, disabled care, special needs care, day care. Taxpayers pay for abortions and fertility treatments. Taxpayers pay for sex change operations and tattoo removal. We pay for fresh needles so addicts can stay “healthy.” We shoulder the cost for opioid and heroin overdose prevention.

We even have an earned income tax credit, which means instead of paying taxes, the government gives you money.

The average taxpayer in America pays for government handsomely. In 2016, federal, state and local governments collected $4.9 trillion in taxes, which is:

  • $15,202 for each person living in the U.S.
  • $39,074 for each household in the U.S.
  • 26.5% of the U.S. economy

And yet, we are a nation with $20 trillion in national debt.

Only in a country sliding toward socialism would the government take $15,202 per year from one hand and at the same time give every person a basic income in the other hand and keep running up the credit cards.

Zuckerberg doesn’t explore how such a program as the Alaska Permanent Fund would work in the rest of America. Every state doesn’t have a Trans Alaska Pipeline to tap into in order to create a large sovereign wealth fund to support state government needs and annual cash payments to residents.

How would other states raise that kind of cash? And is Alaska’s dividend program really the model for the rest of the country?

In fact, the average $1,022 dividend that Alaskans have received since 1982 barely pays for the increased cost of fuel, food, and housing in our high-cost part of the world. But millions of people who hang on Zuckerberg’s every word don’t know that. And at least a few of them are packing their cars today, and painting “Alaska or bust!” on their back windows.

A word to the wise: Alaska has the highest unemployment rate in the nation. So $1,000 is not a safety net. It’s a plane ticket out of a land that is, in fact, very unforgiving.


    • Took 18 months to get my first dividend. One year was only 800. It just offsets the cost of living for 1 month. Move here just for the PFD? Stupid, almost as stupid as Zuckerberg. Why do people assume you are smarter then everyone else if you are rich or a movie or a recording star?

        • Your basic math would mean he is a trillionaire. The real number you are looking for is about $190.00. That is using a net worth of $62 billion and a US population just over 326 million.

          • That’s the trouble with basic math, isn’t it, the answer only depends on the input, it won’t change to accommodate our preferences 🙂 Here is another somewhat similar mathematical certainty that our leftist friends won’t like: If a company has 100,000 employees, and the CEO makes 1,000 times as much money as the average employee,then: if we pass a law to cut the CEO’s salary to -0- and give that money to the other employees, we can give each of them a 1% raise. That is what all the crying is about, a 1% raise. If they all do a good job and the company grows 10%, maybe they could each get a 10% raise – due at least partly to having good people all through the company, including the one at the top, who is probably working really hard to keep that very good job.

    • Not sure how you missed it but he and his wife, Bill Gates and his wife and Warren Buffett are doing just that. They have been giving their money and all plan to give more that half of their wealth.

  1. The PFD is the royalty payment that we get because our property rights were stolen from us by the liberals who crafted the State Constitution. It’s not entitlement, it’s recompense.

    • Exactly how much of the Permanent Fund was earned off your land? None! That is how much. The lost mineral rights argument is the most specious of them all. It sounds good but has no validity, whatsoever.

  2. Interesting article but why post false information? Federal taxes do not pay for abortions nor fertility treatments. Combined medical expenses in a calendar year exceeding a certain amount are tax deductible, which is not the same as actual tax money going towards these elective procedures. Please post accurate information.

    Thank you

  3. I’ve lived here for about two years now.. the cost of living is no higher than Colorado. I make more here, and there’s no sales taxes, and housinf is cheaper . Saying the PDF offsets the costs of living here compared to the rest of the lower 48 is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.

  4. Your article is so far behind the norm for Western European Countries; it reflects why the USA barely clings to the top 10 in quality of life. Ignorant and backwards. Zuckerberg looks at you like most Alaskans look at a mosquito.

  5. Yes, I once was outside the DMV collecting signatures for a ballot initiative and this guy walked up to and said in broken English, “How much dividend this year?! how much?!” In an excited tone. He seemed to think I was some State authority since I had clipboards and forms I was handing to people. “Oh brother!” I thought.

    The great free market economist Milton Friedman once said it’s obvious you can’t have free immigration in a welfare state. The immigrant who wandered up to me was a good example of why this is. Pretty soon you’ll have a bunch of freeloaders from abroad who will quickly bankrupt the whole operation.

  6. “far behind the norm for Western European Countries” Really? In order to be equal to those countries we would have to – inter alia – increase our already high unemployment (note that the basic number we usually see does not count people who have given up asking the government for help, they are not unemployed, must be just gone I suppose). We should be careful about what we wish for.
    “Zuckerberg looks at you like most Alaskans look at a mosquito” I can’t speak for Zuckerberg, who obviously is highly intelligent and ought to have some immunity from the evils of liberalism – not saying necessarily that he does – but that attitude among a lot of the rich and famous is a big part of our problem in the USA. Their slogan is Zero Population Growth; they think we are a problem to be solved, not neighbors to be appreciated. They are happy to see high prices for oil and gas to punish us for driving cars and heating our homes (actually I prefer wood for myself but things don’t always work out). Their attitude is well expressed by what the president whom they elected always enjoyed saying, “IwillnotnegotiateIwillnotnegotiate” – then they complain that the Republicans won’t go along with all their leftist extremist ideas. We have enough trouble with external enemies and the normal hardships of life, we should not make things worse by persecuting each other.

  7. “why the USA barely clings to the top 10 in quality of life” History may well show that President Trump’s greatest contribution to quality of life in America is his pro-business attitude toward the poor. For more or less the whole history of our country since 1865 the Democrats and their friends in the KKK have conspired to keep millions of our fellow Americans trapped in poverty, out of sight and out of mind in segregated ghettos. Trump set a new tone for the country during the campaign when he spoke directly to those oppressed minority citizens to offer them a new deal. Perhaps the outstanding example today is the City of Chicago, where humans are dying at a remarkable rate. Murder is an unnatural act; it increases when people have little hope of achieving a high level of quality of life through normal means. Some say that in a military campaign you should never trap your enemy with no way out unless you want to find out how hard they can fight when they have nothing to lose; we should not be at war with our fellow Americans, and they should not be trapped with nothing to lose. Our government should not force parents to send their children to failing schools. We should not leave millions of people en prise, easy victims of criminals who roam the streets undisturbed by law enforcement; we should not accept the supposed moral and intellectual leaders of our country who campaign against the police, the very people who defend us against criminal violence; and no government can justly deny its protection to its citizens and at the same time prohibit the citizens from arming themselves for their own defense, as Chicago does. Normal quality of life includes stores selling goods that the people need, at reasonable prices; and doctors and hospitals as needed; and business, commerce, industry employing people who need to work; how can we expect anyone to invest money to provide any of those where mere survival is questionable for anyone who enters there? There is an interesting web site for information on the subject: http://heyjackass.com

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