Columns 2000

Long time Alaskans redefine the word greed

There’s apparently a lot of discussion going on around the state concerning the possible one time payout from the Permanent Fund of $25,000 to every qualifying individual in Alaska.  Some Alaskans apparently feel that the amount of the payout should not be uniform but should be based on longevity in the state. Since I’ve lived in Alaska 30 years, that idea has some appeal to me.  While I’m not the longest living Alaskan here, 30 years certainly would put me up there with the big bucks.  But I think we need to go a few steps further with this idea of differentiating payout amounts based on specific criteria.

For instance, anyone who can remember when the University Shopping Center was considered the fringe of Anchorage deserves some special reward.  In fact, anyone who can actually claim to have gone to the Dairy Queen in the middle of winter in what is now a Thai Restaurant at 36th and Seward deserves more recognition than they will probably ever get.

There should also be extra points for every mile distant you are from the urban centers, not unlike the state’s cost of living allowance for its employees.  This should be multiplied by the number of years you have resided in that distant location.  People at the tip of the Aleutian Chain could make enough in one payout to actually buy the chain back from the state. People on the North Slope would finally be compensated for the fact that they really don’t get any sunlight for two months in winter, unlike urbanites who claim that deprivation but in truth see at least a few hours of some kind of light every day.  This kind of multiplying factor might actually settle, once and for all, the debate over how close Anchorage really is to Alaska.

The coastal areas, from the Dutch Harbor to Barter Island, should have a wind factor multiplied in with special compensation for days with wind chills of 80 below or more.  Actually, we should get free trips to tropical climates paid for by the state on a yearly basis for enduring the winds that blow almost daily in our villages and towns. But short of that, we’ll take a few extra thousand in a PFD payout.

And break-up.  There should be a way to quantify the pain of break-up and force the state to compensate us for the muddy essences we become each spring.  Maybe we could measure it by the depth of mud that’s solidifies on our cars. Or we could use the amount of gunk sloshing out of our kids’ boots as the multiplier. Once again, using this factor, the bush would beat heck out of all the urban areas of the state combined.

Finally, I personally think our pets should also receive something from the Permanent Fund. Especially those that are born to be tropical but have been forced to live in the Arctic because they had the misfortune to be owned by someone who liked snow and ice.  My parrots and cockatoo all think they deserve something for the sheer fact that they have never been able to actually go outside and enjoy fresh air and sunshine.  My dog, of course, thinks he should be compensated for every tree he hasn’t been able to violate.

Yep, I figure if we work this thing out correctly, I should be coming into a pretty penny in the near future.  Almost enough to buy my way to sunshine, warmth and a four season year.  And after all, isn’t that what every Alaskan really dreams about?