The Capitol building in Juneau, Alaska. (Peter Segall | Juneau Empire File)

The Capitol building in Juneau, Alaska. (Peter Segall | Juneau Empire File)

Voices of the Peninsula: Dividends don’t grow on trees

“Without taxing for the extraction of our oil, there will be no dividends.”

When I was seven, I read a book, “The Little Red Hen.” The Little Red Hen found four stocks of wheat her farmer had dropped. The Little Red Hen thought to herself, “If I plant the grain from these stocks of wheat, the seeds will grow enough grain to make a loaf of bread.”

One at a time, the Little Red Hen asked the pig, the cat and the duck, if they would help her plant the wheat so she could make some bread. One by one, the pig, the cat and the duck all refused to help plant the grain. When ask to help harvest the grain, they all said, “No, no, no!” They refused to grind the wheat into flower and they refused to help make the bread.

The Little Red Hen did everything herself. But when the smell of fresh baked bread came wafting through the barnyard, they all came running to help eat the bread. The Little Red Hen said, “No, no, no, I’m going to eat it myself.”

I’m reminded of this story every time I hear that whining sound, “Where’s my PFD?” And one of the loudest echoes of “Where’s my PFD” is coming from the Kenai Peninsula — where voters have for decades elected senators and representatives who absolutely refuse to vote to tax for the extraction of the oil we all own.

DIVIDENDS DON’T GROW ON TREES. Without taxing for the extraction of our oil, there will be no dividends.

In 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008, I helped the FBI put six of my fellow elected legislators behind bars for taking bribes in exchange for their votes to prevent the state from taxing for the extraction of our oil. For the six years that followed, legislators taking bribes were no longer in control of our Legislature. In year one of no bribes, every Alaskan got a $3,200 dividend and Alaska immediately went from suffering billions in deficits to a $3 billion-a-year surplus. During the six years of no bribes, Alaska saved up $17 billion.

But in 2014, with the help of Kenai Peninsula voters, the oil companies regained control of Alaska’s Legislature. Senate Bill 21 was passed, deficits returned, and the $17 billion we had saved has been spent covering the deficit. Today the loudest “Where’s my PFD!” screams can be heard all the way across the Turnagain Arm.

Really want to know where your PFD went? The State doesn’t have it. Kenai Peninsula voters voted to give our PFDs to BP, Conoco, and Exxon.

Like The Little Red Hen said, “If you want a dividend, you need to pitch in and help pry it from the greedy fingers of the oil companies that stole it.” Stop voting to give our dividends to oil companies!

In 1982, Ray Metcalfe was chairman of the House State Affairs Committee that reviewed Jay Hammond’s PFD proposal, the bill that established the 50% of Permanent Fund earnings formula for PFD payouts.


• Ray Metcalfe


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