Assessing Ron Crane, Idaho treasurer

Ron Crane is much in the news these days for losing Idaho funds, anywhere from $10 million to $27 million.  The Idaho Legislature in its infinite wisdom has decided to give him some help with a five person advisory panel rather than punish him in any way.  Mr. Crane was a long time Idaho legislator and we all know they watch out for their own there. The grilling of Ron Crane featured such tough talk from JFAC Co-Chair Senator Dean Cameron as “I truly believe you were trying to do the best you could.”

But perhaps we are being too hard on Mr. Ron Crane.  After all, a little digging shows that he is not qualified for his job.  One might expect that the State Treasurer in charge of almost 3 billion dollars of state funds might at the least have some kind of finance degree from college.  Ron Crane‘s resume on the state website lists a high school education and an Associates Degree “from college.”  Sounds a little vague, don’t you think?  Ballotpedia says his Associates degree is from the Bible Missionary Institute.  I had never heard of it either.  It turns out the Bible Missionary Institute is not an accredited college and is basically a training center for Christian missionaries.  He got an honorary doctorate from Ohio Christian University in 2008 but all you have to do is show up to get that.  So whatever experience he has in finance certainly didn’t come from college.

Quit being a snob, I can hear some of you saying!  Relevant work experience can be equal to college if not better, some may say.  For the sake of argument, we will accept that premise and look at any relevant work experience of Ron Crane’s.  He was in the Idaho National Guard for six years in an unnamed capacity so we can’t know if that was relevant.  He started his own alarm company in 1979 and served in the Idaho House of Representatives for 16 years and was on the Idaho State Affairs and Business Committees.  It is important to note that there is an Idaho House Appropriations Committee where lots of financial work is done.  Ron Crane was never on it.  No doubt he must have learned something in all those committees, but apparently not enough to avoid losing money.

It is important to note that this is not an isolated incident.  Reading the above articles will show Ron Crane’s past misdeeds as well such as using state money to get limousines for himself in New York.  Similar to the kinds of antics that got former Boise Mayor Brent Coles pushed out of his job.

While it might be tempting to blame crony-ism in the Idaho State Government for this unqualified man being the Idaho State Treasurer, facts intervene.  Ron Crane wasn’t appointed to his current job by the governor or his friends in the legislature but by you, the voter.  Crane won his job unchallenged in the last election, and by almost a 2 to 1 vote the election before that.  Ron Crane announced he is going to run again this fall for a fourth term.  Is he really the best Idaho has to offer?

United Families Idaho hates children!

Read the news, stay for the opinions

One of the more unbelievable stories of this year’s Legislature is that people are still fighting against Idaho’s tribal gaming, which is already a joke due to the severe limitations placed upon it.  Imagine if you will, a casino with no blackjack, craps, roulette or sports book.  Welcome to Idaho!

And yet even such a casino as mentioned above is too much for some people.  Too bad United Families Idaho, a group that claims it is family friendly, is actually severely harming the education of Idaho’s children.  Were proper gambling allowed in this state, the state could tax it heavily and maybe properly fund education for a change.  For those who forgot, Idaho has ranked dead last in spending per pupil in all 50 states for the last two years.

I know, people will say that gambling is bad, destroys lives, tears families apart, etc.  Alcohol is frequently mentioned in the same breath as doing this.  I know someone who had to declare bankruptcy from being addicted to gambling so I have seen both sides.  The fact is that the world is full of temptation of one sort or another and people have to do their best to fight it.  The Republicans always claim that they hate government interference with people’s and businesses’ lives and constantly rail against the Federal government’s intrusion into state affairs.  Yet they are the same party that controls Idaho’s Legislature and not only weakened the Indian casinos immeasurably but also operate a money losing liquor dispensary in the name of public morals.  Can someone explain the contradiction?

I would like to applaud the Idaho Legislature for killing this bill in committee but it’s still scary that no matter how badly you censor things, it’s never enough for some people.  I presume a bill to close U.S. highway 93 south of Twin Falls will be introduced in next year’s session.

The Health Care Conundrum

Idaho is finally getting around to making a state run health insurance exchange even though most legislators hate the very idea of it.  Health insurance in the U.S. is an absolute mess yet many people get apoplectic about the government stepping in to run health care like what happens in every single other civilized country in the world.   The real question here is what is the proper role of government.  I think that John Talbot said it best when he said (and I’m paraphrasing here) that government’s role should be projects that benefit all or most of society but that are financially unprofitable.  Having socialized health care would certainly benefit all those who have no insurance right now and are one car wreck away from bankruptcy.

For fun, I thought I would address some of the objections to socialized health care that I have heard.

1. Do you really want the government in charge of health care? They mess up everything they touch and/or government projects are subject to huge waste and fraud. 

It’s hard to deny there is some truth in this but I would answer this with the following questions:  Do you really want the government building bridges that you drive on?  Do you want the government regulating airplanes that you fly on and the water that you drink?  Government regulation is everywhere, people and it’s not all bad.  Our air safety rate is much better than countries with no regulation like Russia and just try drinking the water anywhere in the third world.

2. I never get sick, why are they forcing me to buy health insurance?

This is only a good argument if you are prepared to sign a waiver refusing treatment for any injuries you get.  If you get in a car accident and are rushed to the hospital, they can turn you away at the door because you didn’t think you needed insurance.  This is a ridiculously short-sighted argument but it does get to the secret truth of the matter – everyone already has health insurance.

If the above idiot who doesn’t think they need health insurance gets into an accident and taken to the hospital, they don’t turn him away, they will still try to help him.  Who pays for that, you might wonder?  The answer: everyone.  Idaho had to put an extra $36 million into the Catastrophic Health Care Fund this year because medical expenses keep going up.  Where did they get that money from?  Everyone.  Socialized health care is already here in a sense but it is being run very poorly because for profit companies have a stranglehold on medical care in this country and are siphoning off huge profits for themselves.  Look no further for evidence of this than today’s news that Idaho hospital inflation is 6th highest in the nation.  Under the current health system, costs keep skyrocketing up but nobody seems to mind.

3. I don’t want the government death panels deciding if I live or die.

Death panels are already here but they are run by private industry. I can give anecdotal evidence of this by what happened to my father in law when he retired and no longer had good insurance, just medicaid.  The hospital didn’t want to take the time to deal with him when his good insurance expired.  Currently in this country, health care is run as a for profit endeavor.  So if you have a lot of money, you can buy better care than someone who doesn’t have a lot of money.  In other countries, people are treated the same and you can’t do this.  This situation is why many wealthy Canadians come to the U.S. for medical treatment.  So the next time people tell you how bad socialized health care is, ask yourself how much money they have or what kind of insurance they have.

4. Socialized health care countries have lots of problems too.

True.  I would still prefer a system where people are at least pretended to be considered equally however, rather than rich people getting special treatment.

We’re #1! But it’s not a good thing.

From the Idaho Department of Labor:

Idaho led the nation in the percentage of hourly employees who made the minimum wage in 2012 at 8%.

If you’re wondering, the national average is 4.7%.  To make matters worse, the study doesn’t mention that Idaho’s minimum wage of $7.25/hour is lower than almost all of our neighboring states as well. Oregon’s is $8.95/hour, Washington’s is $9.19, Montana’s is $7.80. The scary part is Idaho’s minimum wage might be even lower except that Federal law prohibits a minimum wage of lower than $7.25.  Idaho minimum wage workers might remember that next time the Legislature complains about those meddling feds.

Idahoans have it even worse when one takes into account things like Oregon and Montana’s lack of sales tax and Washington’s lack of income tax.  We are right in line with Utah though, if that’s of any comfort (it’s not).  I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Idaho wages of both hourly and salaried workers have plunged since the passage of the right to work law.  Unions have their problems, but this blog believes it’s better that the little guy have someone to speak up for them and bargain on their behalf than nobody at all.

Legislature, put your money where your mouth is and secede already!

Rather than address issues actually affecting Idahoans, the Legislature is once again spending a ridiculous amount of time railing against the Federal Government and creating bills that have no chance of standing up in court. The latest nonsense is H0219, which seeks “to establish that certain laws are unenforceable in Idaho by state and local government officials, agents or employees.” The actual bill is a hysterical reaction to an infringement of gun rights which hasn’t happened yet and may never happen but the language in H0219 should concern everyone regardless of your feelings on gun rights.

With laws like this, Idaho puts itself in the illustrious company of states like Arkansas which fought tooth and nail against federally enforced integration of schools. The Idaho Legislature still seems to be under the illusion that they can pick and choose which Federal laws they like and ignore the laws they don’t like. This can be seen in not only this bill but the state Health Insurance Exchange controversy where many lawmakers said that the national Affordable Health Care act might go away if Idaho and other states ignore it. Apparently these people never heard of a little thing called the Civil War that forever decided state/fed conflicts in favor of the feds.

I would love to see Idaho legislators put their money where their mouth is and try to secede from the United States if they hate it so much. You will never see it though because of a dirty little secret that Idaho’s legislators are loathe to mention. Idaho takes in much more money from the Federal government than it pays in taxes. Idaho can’t afford to leave and the legislators know it so all of this is empty posturing. It would be nice if they could try to solve some of Idaho’s problems and do their jobs for once.

The Idaho Legislature would rather you citizens not interfere with them

They’re at it again!  You may recall that the Legislature got away with blatantly defying the will of the voters in 2002 when they abolished the term limits that Idaho voters approved in 4 separate elections.  Apparently they now feel the time is right to make sure those pesky voters won’t be heard from again by introducing two bills meant to make it more difficult to get a voter initiative on the ballot, S1026 and S1108.

The current rules say you have to get signatures of 6% of Idahoans to put an initiative on the ballot.  The new proposed bills would keep that requirement and also make you get at least 6% of the voters in either 18 or 22 legislative districts, depending on which bill they think they can get away with.  This blog takes the opinion that any bill that makes it harder for citizens to have a voice in their government is a bad thing and should be opposed.

Don’t let them get away with it, Idaho!  Voters let the Legislature get away with ignoring them before and the current Speaker of the House is one of those who voted against the will of the people and obviously didn’t pay any kind of price for it.

Email the Senate State Affairs Committee and let them know you want to be heard!

An Introduction

The Idaho Legislature has increasingly been creating laws that citizens not only didn’t ask for, but in many cases strongly oppose.  Last year alone, we had the ultrasound mandate get shelved on the verge of passing when the Legislature belatedly realize that most people didn’t want it and it was an election year.  They stubbornly passed the Luna laws only to have them turned down by the voters.

This year, we have a new set of laws being contemplated that nobody asked for and those bills and other foolish acts of the legislature will be highlighted here.  Good deeds in stopping this kind of legislation or standing up for the citizens of Idaho will also be listed here if and when they occur.  Feel free to suggest any positive or negative things you think the legislature is doing in the comments.