The McCain campaign has spent the last weeks of the campaign repeatedly accusing Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) of being an advocate of “socialism.” But the New Yorker’s Philip Gourevitch revealed this week that Palin said earlier this year that her state’s oil tax was a mechanism “so we share in the wealth when the development of these resources occurs.”
Today, MSNBC’s David Schuster asked McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds whether Palin’s “share the wealth” plan had socialist undertones. Bounds denied the allegation, claiming Alaska’s sharing of natural resources is “unique” and not at all socialist:
BOUNDS: No, in Alaska its a unique state because all the residents there have a unique share of the natural resources, that the oil companies come in and use, so therefore they share the revenues of the resources. … Its absurd to equate sharing the oil resources that all of these Alaskans have an ownership stake in, and trying to negotiate a deal with the oil companies that use those resources that —
Bounds is correct in that Alaska is “unique” in having such a vigorous wealth redistribution system. The state offers collective ownership of natural resources, which in turn generates revenue for the state. Using the Permanent Fund, the government distributes the natural resource rents to the general public.
Furthermore, Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share (ACES) programs helps redistribute windfall oil profits, bringing in so much money that the state needs no income or sales tax. This year ACES will provide every Alaskan with a check for an estimated $1,200. Palin boasts about giving oil money “back to the people.”
It’s unclear, however, how a state with such a strong tradition of progressive taxation that benefits “all” Alaskans — as Bounds himself stated — isn’t in any way “socialist.”