Universal Property

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Comment from MB: seems the author wants to avoid the concept of the commons, which would be better suited than the concept of universal property, which doesn't fit a scheme that is restricted to the citizens of Alaska


James K. Boyce:

"The lesson: Neither private property nor state-owned property is sufficient to guarantee equality and liberty for all. The first can allow economic elites to monopolize wealth and power, the second can allow political elites to do the same. But there is an alternative type of property that can never be concentrated in the hands of an elite. It was pioneered in, of all places, Alaska. In 1976, as oil production commenced on Alaska’s North Slope, the state amended its constitution to create a new entity called the Alaska Permanent Fund. The idea was the brainchild of Republican governor Jay Hammond, who believed that Alaska’s oil wealth belonged to all its residents, and that all should receive equal annual dividends from its extraction. The fund is “permanent” because some of the money is invested so that future generations will receive dividends too once oil production ends. “That money and the resources it comes from belong to all Alaskans,” Hammond wrote, “not to government or to a few ‘J.R. Ewings’ who in states like Texas own almost all the oil.” Not surprisingly, the fund has proven enormously popular across the state’s political spectrum. The record payout, more than $3,000 per person including a one-time rebate, came under Governor Sarah Palin in 2008. The Permanent Fund is neither private property nor public property in the conventional senses. Unlike public property, the right to the revenue belongs to the people, not the government. Unlike private property, this right cannot be bought or sold, owned by corporations, or concentrated in a few hands. It is universal property: individual, inalienable and perfectly egalitarian."