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Idaho made national news last week. ABC World News reported on Thursday that multi-millionaire Mark Rockefeller, who resides in Manhattan, owns a sprawling property on the Snake River in eastern Idaho.

Yes, he is part of one of America’s wealthiest families, and yes, he is subsidized by taxpayers. And, no he doesn’t even live in Idaho.

He has received almost $330,000 in the past 10 years as a “conservation payment” to not farm his land. He advertises his property on southforklodge.com as “one of the world’s premier fly-fishing retreats.”

He isn’t returning the phone calls of ABC.

Diane Sawyer opened the news segment with “As we know across America, budgets for bridges and teachers and fire fighters and roads have been slashed to the bone. So why are taxpayers’ dollars going to some rich people who get them simply not to farm?” Excellent question, and investigative reporting that is seldom seen anymore on network news. We need a lot more reporting like this if we are ever going to balance the national and state budgets in order to educate voters about the real factors behind our economic crisis.

This scandal has been going on for years, while the millions of Americans who are struggling to simply take care of their families are assaulted daily in national media (especially AM radio) and weekly in local media (like Wayne Hoffman’s column) for being “on welfare” or because of other factors due to poverty or that they work for the public sector.

I don’t know any poor person, teacher, nurse, firefighter, police officer or social worker who has a team of attorneys and advisors telling them how to make the most of our laws to make the most cash. The system isn’t just.

Does Medicaid and Medicare fraud exist? Absolutely.

Should we be doing more to stop fraud at the taxpayer’s expense? Absolutely.

But why aren’t organizations like the Idaho Freedom Foundation investigating the obscene loopholes and taxpayer giveaways to the super-rich? Why are they instead spending so much of their time and resources attacking programs and public servants that promote the general welfare of our state and nation?

I consider myself non-partisan and vote according to issues. It’s the main reason I voted for Keith Allred for governor. My primary values in voting are to elect officials who care about the worth and dignity of every person and who value human relationships and the betterment of our communities and families over individual greed.

The attacks on government programs which are our nation’s and state’s safety nets are deceptive and dangerous. Too many Idaho voters believe the deceptive rhetoric of Friedman economics and the so-called free market.

If more Idaho voters knew the scandals of the super-rich, I suspect Idaho’s Legislature would make far different policy decisions than what they have been making the past few years.

We need more reporting about the fraud keeping the bank accounts of the super-rich growing day-by-day.

• Delmar Stone is the executive director for the Idaho Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. Email him at delmarstone@gmail.com.
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