The Facebook CEO used Alaska to make the case for universal welfare even though it’s not a success story.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg used his platform to push universal welfare—free money for everyone. Zuckerberg invoked the fantasy that free income from the government would make us all “look for opportunities to invest.” He used Alaska’s unique free money program as a launching point for his argument that universal welfare would be good for people.
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.
With all due respect to Alaska, has the populace been known for looking “for opportunities to invest and grow further” more than the residents of other states?
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