Chapter of Book
Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend (PFD) is the United States’ most significant, if not its only attempted, experiment with universal asset policies. This chapter helps clarify where the PFD fits within the larger portfolio of economic rights and obligations guaranteed by the liberal state. Is the program a realization of “real-freedom-for-all” basic income, or might it have foreshadowed Bruce Ackerman and Anne Alstott’s Stakeholder Society decades before their proposal emerged? I argue that neither categorization is entirely correct or entirely mistaken. Core features of the PFD demonstrate Alaska’s implicit belief in stakeholding but currently fall short of the sweeping citizenship agenda identified by stakeholding theorists. Like true stakeholder initiatives and basic income schemes, the PFD distributes shared resources on a means-independent basis, does not require recipients to work or otherwise participate in economic affairs, and commits the government to monetary distributions rather than in-kind transfers. Nevertheless, the PFD does not - and in its current format cannot - enable Alaskans to pursue their individual life plans independently of other income sources. This chapter also moves beyond definitions and addresses the PFD’s special characteristic, what I call the “endogeneity condition,” or funding through existing natural resources rather than the public fisc. I focus on how this feature allows us to abstract away from the particulars of financing basic income or stakeholding and analyze the consumption side of the system. The chapter concludes by considering how the State of Alaska might reorient the PFD toward a more comprehensive stakeholding structure and calling for more research into the use of resource-based asset systems so that governments can more aptly choose among basic income, stakeholding, and other funding schemes.
Stakeholding Through the Permanent Fund Dividend: Fitting Practice to Theory, in Exporting the Alaska Model: How the Permanent Fund Dividend Can Be Adapted as a Reform Model for the World (Karl Widerquist & Michael Howard eds., forthcoming 2011).