In Trust For Us: The Story of the Alaska Permanent Fund
"In Trust For Us: The Story of the Alaska Permanent Fund" is a documentary that tells the story of why and how the State of Alaska came to set up a "sovereign wealth fund." Spoiler Alert: Alaska did so to protect its vast fossil fuel resources from plunder by politicians in the future all the while providing a yearly dividend to its citizens. The tale produced by Juneau Alaska's public media broadcaster KTOO is told in six short chapters running 90 minutes total, so it makes for an easy introduction to not only the APF but also sovereign wealth funds in general.
Truth be told, I originally sought out this documentary because I wanted to learn more about the Fund before forking over mega-bucks on the book Alaska's Permanent Fund Dividend: Examining its Suitability as a Model edited by Michael Howard and Karl Widerquist. Both researchers are involved in an international movement to persuade countries to provide all their citizens with annual guaranteed incomes regardless of race, color, creed, and work requirements -- essentially without any strings attached. The US wing is called the US Basic Income Guarantee Network. Full disclosure: I'm sympathetic to the idea, too.
I highly recommend watching "In Trust For Us" because it lays out the history of the Alaska Permanent Fund without romanticism. Many hands involved in crafting and updating the Fund since its birth in 1976 share their perspectives on its conception and evolution. I found it particularly interesting to hear the arguments for and against certain changes to the Fund's investment policy as globalization of markets became more the norm. The fact that a Republican governor of Alaska helped start the Fund also peaked my interest.
Alas, the documentary ends in 2003, so we don't get to hear how the Fund has evolved in the last 13 years, including that fun period when Sarah Palin was governor of Alaska and then as Sen. John McCain's running mate for vice president in his bid for the White House. But I guess research is what Internet search engines are for, huh? Maybe a sequal will come out soon? (On a side note, I also enjoyed seeing the vintage fashion Alaska's statesmen wore in the 1970s. )
I doubt that you will be able to watch "In Trust For Us" over a nice, long, leisurely weekend of "Netflix and chill" (or in my case "YouTube and homebrew") any time soon, so you'll have to obtain a DVD copy by contacting KTOO directly. The DVD (pictured above) costs $24.95, plus $2.50 shipping. But if you're thriftier than me, and want a shorter introduction to the APF even still, check out the YouTube video below from radio host Thom Hartmann. Prost!