Palin's Populism

An Alaskan reader writes:

Thanks for your thoughtful insights on our Governor -- you and a handful of responsible journalists have brought to light what many of us already knew and what the mainstream media in Alaska failed to cover.

If you want to dig more deeply into Sarah Palin's economic theory -- or lack thereof -- I think you will find that while she espouses the free market, she has adopted a quasi-socialist and populist belief in the commons. One of her champions is former Gov. Walter Hickel, who has argued that commonly owned resources should be developed for the maximum benefit of the people -- and that this system of economic organization represents a new paradigm for states and nations.

In Alaska's case, that means no individual ownership of mineral rights, which has led to the idea that government surpluses should be distributed to "the people" as direct handouts. Hence the recent $1,200 "energy dividend" given to all Alaskans.  It  has also resulted in the Permanent Fund Dividend, the direct payout to Alaskans every year from what was originally conceived as a rainy day account set aside for when Alaska's oil wealth runs out.

During this week of unprecedented government intervention in the markets, perhaps her economic theories aren't so out of the mainstream. However, her brand of populism belies any claim that she actually supports the free market. Perhaps she doesn't even understand that private ownership of resources is the foundational element of free market economics.