Iraqis need oil dividends The Associated Press(Published:
IN ALASKA: The wealth should be saved for citizens.
President Bush should create an Iraqi permanent fund dividend program
after Alaska's, according to former Gov. Jay
Hammond. In fact, Hammond said, Bush should make the fund and
to citizens a central element of his re-election campaign.
made the remark after delivering a history and defense of the Alaska
Fund dividend to the annual conference of the U.S.
Basic Income Guarantee Network. The organization wants governments
to offer all citizens, regardless of their own means, enough money to
group says the Alaska dividend, which Hammond helped create while
is "the only example of an existing basic income guarantee in the world
81, has been on a sort of moral crusade recently as he has perceived a
growing threat to the dividend program. Earlier this month he crashed
Conference of Alaskans, a 55-member group that Gov. Frank Murkowski
to talk about the Permanent Fund's future, and diverted participants
a discussion of income taxes as well.
Hammond recited a detailed history of his dividend advocacy, starting
his attempts in the 1960s as mayor of the Bristol Bay Borough to
some of the salmon dollars that "hemorrhaged" out of that region. He
the current Alaska dividend debate as a segue into the international
a Permanent Fund dividend program," Hammond said, "Alaska will
same fate as Nigeria."
The World Bank estimates that $296 billion flowed in and out of that
treasury during its oil boom, "leaving them worse off than they
Economist magazine appropriately called such mismanaged oil
devil's excrement," Hammond said. The pattern has been repeated
the globe where countries have come into an oil windfall, he said.
something like our dividend program and ensuing public interest, those
windfalls simply inflated a grab bag for special interests," he said.
deflated, the average citizen was left holding that empty bag, Hammond
said. "Iraq is but the latest example."
He said he intends to seek an audience with the president to push the
that he met the president's father, former President George Bush, years
ago in Alaska before the elder Bush was well known nationally. The
Bush helped with his fund-raising and even wrote a blurb for his
Junior at least this -- to convey to him how he could make this the
of his national campaign, thereby hopefully propelling the other
into the same arena to compete to see who can do more to propel or
the concept in Third World countries, Iraq or wherever," Hammond said.
way to induce a capitalistic, democratic mind-set among Iraqis?" Hammond
said. "Far better than a few privileged kleptocrats living in opulent
while others grovel in squalor."