My conservative friends continue to serve up the most delightful self-contradictory softballs for those of us in the middle-left to knock over the fence in the playing field of rational political discourse. And the fattest of these inequitable piñatas seem to come from the 49th State.

Among the favorites for me is the Alaska Permanent Fund, a socialized gasoline program. The gist of the APF is that every citizen of Alaska becomes a shareholder upon reaching adulthood and receives an annual dividend based on oil company profits that year in their state.

Each Alaskan voter got a check for $1,300 last year. But in 2008, when Governor Palin went to the Republican Convention, the amount was an all-time high of $3,269 and the average has been around $1,500 over the past 20 years. Drill baby drill, indeed.

Unlike social welfare programs, these annual stipends wealthy Alaskans receive are not just the most needy or the middle class. The oil companies do not make these payments out of their own good will, but because the State of Alaska forces them to do so.

Santa Barbara County struck a similar deal with the oil companies 50 years ago in the acquisition of Jalama Beach Park, a one-time deal. But the precedent of annual energy company stipends on the Alaskan scale exists nowhere this side of Cuba and certainly seems like the opposite of limited government.

Last week, when Alaskan Republican Senatorial primary winner Joe Miller derided freshman incumbent Lisa Murkowski’s deplorable Washington record of bringing home pork to Alaska, he acknowledged that he was going to D.C. to pursue more federal funds to develop Alaska’s energy sources. Joe, that’s what pork is, federal funds.

The pork and socialized gas programs sound pretty good, but I’m kind of stuck on the California lifestyle.

Does this mean I don’t get my check?


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