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John Livingston

Does anyone really listen?

There is so much to learn by listening. Everyday people have more common sense than most of our political leaders. Being nuanced regarding issues of public policy, taxes, health care, and corruption in government should never take the place for applying common sense. When I listened to Rush Limbaugh I listened because of his commonsense application of conservative principles. It’s not a matter of speaking truth to power or “sticking it to the man”. The experience of common everyday people when applied to complex problems should be respected and even honored by those who represent us in Boise and Washington DC. I learn more from people calling into the Kevin Miller show on KIDO than I do listening and watching our legislature on public broadcasting—Idaho in session, or watching Idaho reports with Melissa Davilin, or reading Betsy Russell’s posts on EYE ON BOISE. The mainstream media have a narrative to put out and an ax to grind with those who disagree with them. In our State and in our country the media has allowed themselves to become the “agents of government”. “Agency” and “Asymmetry”—presenting both sides of a story, are lacking on all media fronts. Who today is holding people in power accountable? Not the media.

Recent news reports by Brian Holmes from KTVB blew up in the face of his “hit team” when the respected lobbyist Roy Eiguren explained that what the Idaho Freedom Foundation was doing with their two non-profits, a separate PAC, and a Foundation was exactly what Planned Parenthood and the ACLU did—and other organizations who lobby legislators. The piece was an obvious “collaboration” that blew up in the faces of the people that colluded to present the IFF in a bad light. These are the same politician-media relationships that fail to address the real corruptions in State government. Just like the national “mainstream media” on “Trump Russian Collusion”, “Clinton Initiative Abuses of non-profit status” Benghazi, two Fake impeachments of President Trump, cutting off American energy independence creating a supplicant Federal Government begging Saudi Arabia and Venezuela for oil, Afghanistan retreat, Bidden dirty deals in The Ukraine, China, and Spain, and most of all allowing our military to fall into a state of unreadiness that we haven’t seen since the Jimmy Carter days, the media in Idaho has allowed itself to be enveloped in narratives that that have proven to be wrong far more often than they have been correct. The common sense of the everyday person is why they no longer buy The Idaho Statesman—readership on a per Capita bases continues to go down every year, or tune into the 10PM news on any local network. Common sense tells us that they have been wrong so often that they should no longer be believed.

I have been criticized rightfully so I believe in some cases, that I have written articles without supplying solutions to the problems that I write about. So why do we have a “lap dog “media in Idaho? For the same reason we have one in Washington DC. Many of our legislators and people in the executive branch—if you want to know who they are go to the Governor’s Cup this summer, have served many years, and have developed personal and professional relationships with the media. The media use these relationships for “scoops” and hide behind them “on deep background” privilege. What is the difference between “deep background and a leak”? Many of the news and media platforms in our State have out of State liberal parent companies that control not only the local editorial and news gathering processes, but also the editors and reporters they hire. It is nothing less than symbiotic and incestuous. Can we together all say “McClatchy” or “Public Broadcasting”? Hit pieces by Mr. (Dr.) Jim Jones Esq, and Bobby Kustra, Dr. (Mr.) Pate Esq., in columns by the Idaho Statesman or written by Betsy (Russell Up a Story—true or false) Russell, or Brian (Home Team) Holmes reek with opiniated judgements. Just ask Janice McGeachin, or Priscilla Giddings, or Wayne Hoffman, or Dr. Ryan Cole MD.

So here is a story followed by a solution. Idaho has been identified as being the 4th worst State in the country regarding Medicaid Fraud—39% False claims and billings. The budget for the Department of Health and Welfare in our State is over $4billion most of its Medicaid. The large hospital providers in our State receive almost $4.5 billion of revenue annually—two in Boise over $3billion. 55% of their revenues come from government transfer payments. One of those organizations reported a recently retired CEO made $8.2million and $10million his last two years on the job—more than the BSU football coach who actually works for his salary and is held accountable for his performance! This retired CEO sits on the Governor’s Covid advisory Board. Through organizations like the Idaho Hospital Association (IHA), Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry (IACI), Idaho Medical Association (IMA), members of our state legislature, and many running for Statewide Office including Governor and Lt. Governor, receive campaign contributions from the very people and organizations they are charged with regulating. Does that begin to sound incestuous and corrupt? One of our Republican Candidates running for Federal office this year will receive 90% of his campaign contributions from out of State. He lives more time out of State than he does in State. He has a home in DC, a home in Utah and a very small home in Idaho, and a retirement plan paid for by the Feds and the State retirement programs. He has been in politics for over 40 years and accumulated wealth the way all career politicians do—by socializing the risk and capitalizing the return.

Here is my solution to the problem:

  1. The Boards of the Idaho Freedom Foundation (IFF) and Take Back Idaho (TBI) should stop throwing bombs at each other and agree that corruption in our State is an ever-growing problem that needs to be attended to ASAP. Stop kicking the can down the road. I know many of the people on both Boards. They are capable of this and even knowledgeable of the problems. They could figure out a plan to start to fix the inherent corruptions in State government. Does being on a State Pension or Health Care Plan constitute a conflict of interest regarding this issue? But conflict of interest is a whole new issue that needs to be addressed separately. How can the Governor’s former legal counsel become the Vice President and head legal counsel of one of the Blue’s and then have that same company bid and execute contracts with The State of Idaho? Idaho Hospitals that do business with the (DHW) and the private insurance carriers could also be affected by this issue of agency. It is all so complicated that it would take the likes of “Home Team Holmes” or “Russel” Russel to figure it out. Time for some “scoops and “leaks” and some real reporting.
  2. Pass legislation requiring independent outside audits of State Agencies like the Department of Health and Welfare (DHW) that are conduits or recipients of over $1billion of transfer payments annually, be required by law to report annually to the people of Idaho via their Legislature.
  3. Pass legislation requiring private or non-profit organizations that receive over $100million of transfer payments be required to undergo independent signed partners audits to be made available to the people of Idaho via the legislature on an annual basis. The reporting would be voluntary, but failure to report could result in loss of transfer payments—kind of like what the Feds do to the State of Idaho with their conditions for distribution of Federal Funds via State Agencies. Soon these programs will become completely Federalized and the Feds will be asking for representation at the JFAC table—just a joke, but I bet JFAC isn’t laughing.

To sum all this up is simple. All we hear about from the media when reporting on the legislature is about revenues (taxes). We never hear about the costs of government. Common everyday people working on ranches or small businesses or organizing their own family finances contemplate costs before setting a budget. I can promise without equivocation—this is not a prediction, that if our legislators don’t control the size of government and the cost of government our taxes will continue to go up—in perpetuity.

How many of our politicians serve in “perpetuity”? Sure, seems like a lot of them do. Maybe the 70 people who routinely call into the Kevin Miller show could do a better job of running our State than the politicians. They have common sense.

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