John Livingston

Right Before Your Very Eyes

My father fancied himself an amateur magician. He was always practicing and performing magic tricks not just for his children, but for anyone that would watch. As I grew older, he would tell me that all the great magicians told a story that at its core was hope. Hope that the bunny would disappear but just as importantly hope that it would reappear. A good magician like a good storyteller never “spills the beans” or reveals his magic until there has been a period of suspense, so that hope will be revealed in a way that is a surprise.

Magicians throughout the ages have defined their “magic” as taking place in three stages: 1. THE PROMISE, 2. THE TURN, and 3. THE PRESTIGE. My dad and other magicians used other terms to define the processes, movements and actions involved and the cadences of their presentations. Words like ‘pass, pull down, shim, the call, spread” and many more that I can’t remember. The point is to not only tell a story or “create magic” but to also exploit the emotion of HOPE.

After watching the most recent State and Federal Elections I have come to believe that many of our politicians are themselves magicians. The best politicians are very proficient at their craft. Like the promise of old time “snake oil salesman” and modern-day drug companies that promise a “cure” for the latest pandemic “de jour”, or a modern day “fountain of testosterone youth”, astute modern-day politicians promise us a utopian future that will be subsidized not by one’s own labor, but by the sweat of your neighbor’s labor—transfer payments. Sooner or later neighbors keep paying for each other’s utopian futures with increased taxes or increased health insurance premiums, or inflation from increasing debt, or decreasing disposable income from government or their own individual debts, until real income goes away—MAGIC. Or worse yet a standard of living that has been unknown in the history of the modern world shrinks over time in such a way that our children will live more like their great grandparents than like their parents. Income from wages, savings and investments will magically shrink into an impoverished abyss of equality. This like any great magic trick is happening “right before our very eyes”.

The PROMISE of better health care, better education, better personal and national security, lower property taxes and the repeal of the grocery tax is held out during election years in front of citizen voters like a cute little “bunny rabbit”. Then it disappears. Then—THE TURN

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The TURN is shrouded in a vail of budget process. In Idaho we have JFAC. Where taxpayer money goes to die, disappear, or worse yet be wasted and unaccounted for. A $4.6billion Medicaid wasteland in a State recognized as being one of the worst for Medicaid enrollment fraudulent enrollments and provider payments.

And no accountability or outside audits for State agencies or institutions receiving more than $100million of transfer payments. No educational outside financial or operational audits. Breathtaking. I can’t wait any longer to see the resolution—The Prestige

Prestige will play out as it always does. The Governor, the Lt. Governor, The House Speaker, and The President Pro Temp, will strut in front of the cameras and the press—Betsy Russell will be “glistening” in her element as she asks with bated breath about the “great accomplishments” that our legislature and executive branch accomplished in the legislative session. They will answer like a barbershop quartet singing in harmony to the tune of “It was a Hard Day’s Night….and we were working like a dog’……. Yeah—Yeah—Yeah. And so are WE THE PEOPLE and you are just making our work harder and paying taxes more challenging—for those of us who pay taxes.

Not modern-day solons they, but agents of corporate symbiotic collusion between government and lobbyists representing corporate interests and not the people that voted for them. And therein lies the irony of their political magic. That is the trick that happened “right before our very eyes”. The interests of WE THE PEOPLE WHO VOTED FOR THEM, disappeared, being replaced by the special interests who financed their campaign—IACI, IMA, IHA, IEA…. builders associations and THE BAR.

WE THE PEOPLE WERE REPLACED! Right before our very eyes. No grocery tax repeal in a time of high inflation. No property tax relief. No audits or reviews of wasteful spending or wasteful unproductive systems and people.


That is what they want us to believe.

The exploitation of the peoples hopes, is the lifeblood of the snake oil salesman, the promise peddlers of a polypharmacy utopia, or of politicians who don’t keep their promises and forget who their boss is. Unfortunately, many times we don’t hold them accountable and that is our fault.

“Hope Springs Eternal” Without hope there is no magic. No magic—no politics.

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