I have received hundreds of e-mails over the past few months from many people who take umbrage with my use of the word “corruption” when discussing our political leaders and the activities within agencies of Idaho State government. I have responded that corruption is a process that does not have to be illegal, but many times it is. It is corrupt people who participate in the process. The activity can be so ubiquitous and indolent that those participating in it don’t even see corruption for what it is. They think they are doing good. Even when not illegal the consequences—intended and unintended hurt the people they are supposed to help. Giving away free money encourages people not to work. Printing money decreases the value of work and the way we value labor. As Milton Freidman opined when the money supply is artificially increased chasing fewer goods and services inflation is always the result.
When wages go up by 2% and the buying power of money decreases by 6% real income to workers goes down by 4%. When property values go up—partially because of inflation, the taxes paid by people to government goes up, revenue to government goes up without government adding any value to what they do. Government expands demanding a higher percentage of production (GDP) and the percentage of production created in the private sector goes down. This is the production that pays wages, builds new factories and equipment, and pays back investors who reinvest in new projects. The decreased percentage of production created in the private sector whether wages or investments is how people pay for family’s food and shelter how they save for college and retirement. Remembering that responsibility is the price paid for our liberty, when the responsibilities for our lives—providing for our families is shifted to government—this happens whenever government gets bigger, individual liberty suffers. An ever increasingly dependent society supplicant to a profligate government is a threat to individual liberty.
The greatest damage done by the Covid mitigation strategies was the fact that people became comfortable with being afraid and being dependent on government. Instead of relying on their own common sense in determining their own familial and individual risk, they gave that responsibility to “experts” who they didn’t even know and who had no idea about their individual circumstances. They exchanged a piece of individual sovereignty and liberty for government responsibility, most of us without even understanding or recognizing the great damage being done. But it is not just government that is corrupt, but people doing business with government. Many of those people and organizations took “Covid Money” fraudulently. Even Bill Maher who I almost never agree with mentioned the damage done to our country by Covid spending and the lack of accountability of people and organizations taking Covid money.
My Quaker grandfather once asked me who was the bigger thief—the guy that stole a woman’s purse with $20 or the Wall Street Trader that stole $20million from his client? His answer: “They both paid the moral price for their crimes with a piece of their souls. The price of a big piece of your soul and a little piece is the same”. The thug stealing at Walmart’s in open daylight is corrupt in the same fashion as an individual or company fraudulently making a claim on “Covid monies”. And the politicians creating programs that could not reconcile those funds are also culpable.
Bill Maher last week gave examples of the indolent and ubiquitous fraud that occurred in government and the private and non-profit sectors over the past 3 years. Some of it was allocated appropriately and was needed. Much of it was wasted and we will be paying the price with an “inflation tax” in the years to come:
- $872 billion unemployment—$163billion fraudulently dispersed according to the Inspector General. ID.me (an independent insurance watchdog) put the number at $400million, almost half of what was dispersed. $2million of those dollars were sent to one address!
- Family First Corona Virus Response Act $192 billion
- Payment Protection Plan(PPP) $484billion
- Consolidated Appropriation Act $900billion
- American Rescue Plan $1.9Trillion
- Cares Act $2.2 trillion
For a grand total of $5.7 trillion. GDP in the USA pre Covid was around $20trillion—1/4 of the Worlds GDP. During Covid it increased by 45% with a decrease in the production of goods and services that we haven’t caught back up with even today. More money—less production=inflation. More borrowing with increased spending of borrowed money being paid back with higher interest rates is another head wind toward recovery.
It is estimated that a third of these monies were allocated and dispersed fraudulently=$1.88trillion. Idaho has been recognized as being the 4th worseState regarding Medicaid fraud—false claims, billings, and enrollments at a 39% rate! The Idaho Medicaid budget was $4.5billion=$1.755billion in Medicaid fraud. During all the testimony before the Idaho Legislative Joint Finance Appropriations Committee(JFAC) the process of reconciliation of revenues and expenses never occurs “Allocation” should take the place of the word “appropriations” because much of the money dispersed by the Committee isn’t appropriated at all—it is Federal monies and in fact the Governor has taken over the role of appropriations from the legislature by allocating a significant amount of Covid monies himself—something about an emergency order and executive rule. If JFAC were the Board of a Public Company, they would be under review by the FEC. They for a long time have been all about dispersing revenues without ever examining costs. The bankers and businesspeople on that committee wouldn’t run their banks or businesses that way. Maybe they do and they reconcile their own accounts or the organizations whose Boards they sit on with fraudulent Covid monies? Could you imagine a legislator sitting on (JFAC) and sitting on for example a hospital Board that receives Covid monies? I think anyone would recognize the conflict of interest and fraud in such activity! Does the hypothetical Board Member go to both The Governor’s Cup and The Hospital Board Retreat in the same year? Did that “pol” receive campaign contributions from an organization that received Covid monies that he voted on? Does this not meet the definition of corruption? Is it an example of “pay to play”? Would depravity be a better word?
The point of all this is that maybe laws were broken or not. But we the people end up paying for the fraud created by corrupted politicians who are asking for our votes and who receive campaign financing from organizations that are the recipient of Covid monies and are represented by crony lobbyists who are the real people running our state government. How much Covid money did Al’s/Luke’s receive and what about their former CEO of Luke’s who in his last year made $10million of income? WE the people ultimately pay for all that—with interest paid on borrowed money. I personally would prefer putting the names of all the eligible voters in a hat and randomly drawing out the names for our new Governor and all Statewide and legislative offices. They may not have the experience of a “seasoned politician” but they also wouldn’t be tied down by the puppet strings controlled by special interests and lobbyists. I believe many of our “seasoned politicians are “corrupt” whether they know it or not.