By DAVE KIFFER
April 27, 2010
A friend from Outside emails me the other day.
"So Alaska is now giving money to dead people?"
Well, sort of.
As usual America continues to be fascinated with our little comings and goings up here. And yes, the state legislature just made it easier for "dead people" to collect their Permanent Fund Dividend checks.
Now, I do understand that the idea is for the "survivors" of the dead folks to collect the checks, assuming the dead person was still alive during the "qualifying" time period.
This makes perfect sense.
After I go, I naturally want my wife to be able to take my check and buy that gnarly four-wheeler she's always been pining to have. It's only fair.
And I'm assuming - perhaps mistakenly - that this is a one time only thing and that the state will not continue to issue future checks to the aforementioned still dead people.
Then again, if the dead can continue to vote in Chicago, there's probably no reason why a dead person could not continue to receive a dividend check from the state, assuming of course that the corpse continues to "reside" in Alaska for six months out of the year.
Speaking of which, I've often wondered about those "snowbirds" who abandon the state for more than half the year but continue to zip back and forth for really short visits their Alaskan "property" in order to continue qualify for the dividend largess.
It is legal, but is it fair? How can I do something similar if someday I ever have enough money to have two homes? When "snowbirds" die, do their souls continue to flit back and forth between different places? Does Heaven have time shares elsewhere?
But I digress.
It all leads to another series of wacky headlines (as if the former Governor's every utterance wasn't bad enough) to remind our fellow Americans that in Alaska we put the wack in wacky.
Yes, Virginia (and Colorado and Texas and North Dakota), there is a Santa Claus and it is the Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend Program. Get over it.
This, of course, follows on the heels of the state of Alaska getting some other lovely national press for shooting a bunch of radio-collared wolves a couple of weeks ago.
Another Outside friend questioned me on that one along the lines of "isn't it a waste of taxpayer money to spend a gazzillion dollars to track and collar wolves for "research" purposes and the spend a bunch more money to track them down and shoot them."
Once again, the answer is "yes, but."
I had to explain to him that the situation was much more complicated than that.
I noted that since it was the Feds who collared the wolves, it made perfect sense for us to "shoot" them because since we are Alaskans, we hate everything the Federal government does (except when it props up our economy, but we're gonna ignore that for the time being)!
So, it was the wolves' own danged fault for allowing themselves to get caught and collared by the Feds in the first place. We simply had to shoot then. Because? Well, because we could, that's why.
Now how this jibes with our (Alaska's) expressed concerns about wasteful federal government spending, I don't pretend to know. You'd think we would actually want to get something useful out of the research before gunning down the participants.
I guess if I was truly smarter than everyone else in the world I'd be on the boards of fish and game.
Of course, I didn't mention - to my Outside friend - that the greater concern was that we hired someone to shoot the wolves who obviously didn't see well enough to see the radio collars (which are actually visible from space) before he/she pulled the trigger.
Thank goodness, he/she didn't take out a bunch of women wearing fur collars outside Nordstroms in Anchorage this winter.
But then what are the odds of that?
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