Sarah Palin: The GOP Taps Their Inner Chavez


PHOTO CREDIT Pedro Meyer Five Dollar Bill


“When oil and gas prices went up dramatically, and filled up the state treasury, I sent a large share of that revenue back where it belonged—directly to the people of Alaska.

And despite fierce opposition from oil-company lobbyists, who kind of liked things the way they were, we broke their monopoly on power and resources.” —Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, accepting the Republican Party vice-presidential nomination.

When Sarah Palin told the party faithful at last week’s RNC that she had stuck it to the big bad oil companies as governor of Alaska, she did so in a way that would make even old-school leftist revolutionaries blush.

As Democrats and others on the left try to dig things up on Palin, her dirty little secret hides in plain sight: Gov. Palin is the head of the Socialist state of Alaska.

Thanks to increased oil taxes, state revenue has swelled to $10 billion, and Alaskans pay no state income or sales tax, with the state government mostly funded by taxes on the oil pumped from public lands. There’s so much money, in fact, that the state mails individual checks to residents every year. And because of the boom in oil prices, a typical Alaska household will receive a payment of up to $13,000 this year.

Governor Palin deserves at least part of the credit for her state’s great fortune. In 2007, she signed into law a tax increase on crude oil exported from Alaska. The base tax is 25 percent. The tax increases an additional 0.4 percent on each dollar of the price above $52.00 per barrel. The Seattle Times quotes an official from ConocoPhilips, “Once royalty payments and other taxes are added in, the state captures about 75 percent of the value of a barrel.

If Democrats on the national or state level took a cue from Alaska and even mentioned increased taxes on big business for direct distribution to the people, the Republican shock troops would tar them as un-American Socialists, and comparisons to Bolivia’s Morales, Venezuela’s Chavez, and their mentor Fidel Castro would pile up like May Day parade banners in Red Square. At least Palin is aware she’s pulled a “Chavez,” but says she’s - done so differently.

Overkeen Republican conventioneers might have missed the significance of Governor Palin’s speech and how it signals a 180-degree turn for their party. Palin plainly advocated for the redistribution of wealth. Her populist rhetoric had a revolutionary zeal to it—like traditional leftist class struggle. She said that a large share of state oil revenue belongs with the people. What makes this different from old-school socialism is that instead of wholly funding state programs, a lot of oil revenue goes directly to the people in the form of a check.

“Drill, Baby, Drill!” was the chant at the GOP convention! This petro-nationalism is not only about American oil for American gas tanks. The fawning and cheering over Palin in St. Paul revealed a newfound will for liberating the common wealth from the yoke of big-oil lobbyists.

Viva Palin—matriarch of the new GOP State Socialism!

Krist Novoselic's column appears every Tuesday on the Daily Weekly.

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