ACORN Is Not Even Close To Being Our Biggest Problem
It’s been busy lately. The job has been kicking my ass lately and I’m trying to lobby for a new database application development position in the office. I’m trying to get a house rebuilt that has been sitting abandoned for at least a couple of decades. There was a grave sickness in the family and we’ve been trying hard to recover. And I’m still working hard nearly everyday to keep this blog at least somewhat interesting and that requires me to keep an ear open and an interest in what’s happening in the news and in the community.
The news is a beast. It’s like a feast or famine. They’ll be times several stories are popping out at you trying to vie for attention and then there are other times when it’s just lame and the most news you’ll get is that somebody confessed to knowing somebody who knew somebody who participated in watching somebody commit an unsolved murder from fifteen years ago.
When the story broke about some video showing a couple of conservatives dressed up as unsavory characters in order to elicit responses from ACORN personnel, my attention was else where. This was just after the news about Caster Semenya and the kooky town hall meetings. It was pert near the same time Mr. Obama was giving his address to the United States Congress and Joe Wilson’s infamous outburst that the President was a liar. And the whole affair coincided with 9/11 remembrances and a fight on a school bus that had racial implications. I kicked the ACORN story aside thinking I’ll get back to it in a day or two. But other things crept up and it fell off the scope, until now.
I’m sure you’ve heard everything about the conservative couple dressing up as a pimp and a prostitute and dropping in on a couple of ACORN employees looking for some advice on home loans, tax evasion, and disguising the identities of underage illegal immigrants as sex workers. I have yet to see the video and probably won’t bother considering the partiality of the source. There have been accusations that the video producer dubbed the audio to make the film as damning as possible. One of the ACORN workers said she thought the people were joking and made a variety of absurd statements to them. Another employee contacted a police officer. But from what I understand, ACORN fired the Baltimore employees and suspended advising new clients until an internal review process is concluded.
After the one sided videos were made public, the 2010 United States Census terminated its arrangement with the community organization. The United States Congress voted to exclude ACORN from federal funding. The New York City Council suspended all ACORN grants while a local district attorney conducted an investigation. The Attorney General of New York announced an investigation to ensure that state grants given to the organization were spent properly. The Internal Revenue Service removed ACORN from its volunteer tax assistance program. And one of the largest banks in the nation suspended financing ACORN housing programs.
I did a Google search of ACORN and one of the first sites that came up was a sponsored link titled ACORN Voter Fraud? I followed the link and wound up at Rotten ACORN. The site attempts to paint the organization as a multi million dollar, multi national conglomerate with a political agenda driven by a relative handful of political thugs who spends millions of dollars promoting economic policies like raising the minimum wage, but refuses to pay its workers a minimum wage. I would imagine that’s because a lot of people who work for ACORN are volunteers. After all, it is a community organization.
But the website was sponsored by the Employment Policies Institute of Washington, DC. So I did a Google search on Employment Policies Institute and discovered that it’s just one of several front groups created by Berman & Co., a Washington, DC public affairs firm owned by Rick Berman, who lobbies for the restaurant, hotel, alcoholic beverage and tobacco industries who are arguably the single largest group of industries to be impacted by having to pay a higher minimum wage. The fact that ACORN perpetually works to help raise pay for our lowest income workers make that organization a thorn in these industries’ side.
What was truly interesting is how quickly and easily the hammer came down on ACORN. All we needed was a video of a couple of ACORN workers acting inappropriately and that’s all it takes to label ACORN a vile seed. How much did ACORN screw tax payers for? Who cares? It really doesn’t matter. If it was a dime it was ten cents too much. America cannot tolerate such behavior.
But what cheating, embezzling behaviors will we tolerate? Drug maker Pfizer recently agreed to pay billions of dollars in fines to settle civil and criminal allegations that it had illegally marketed drugs. No one is calling for it to be restricted from any government contracts. And defense contractors are regularly brought up on charges and investigated and found guilty of illegal acts against the country. No one says they can’t come back to the public teat for another good suck. Take your pick of any large conglomerate that has a history of doing business with the government and chances are you’ll find a conglomerate with a history of cheating the government. But some people want to say that the most corrupt organization on the planet is ACORN.
This is nothing more than another case of an organization that represents a high racial minority population being held to a totally different standard. We might see a handful of people acting stupid and we want to judge the entire organization by the misdeeds of a few. People might hear that ACORN helps many in our communities. But that doesn’t matter. If one does something bad, they are all dishonest and must be punished to the fullest extent of the law. Else we would have anarchy. But when a multi billion dollar conglomerate like one of those banks the American tax payers just bailed out but then turns around and doles out billions in bonuses does it, it’s just the cost of doing business.
And all it takes to prosecute these people is a video. No court. No procedures based on law. All it takes is a partisan video dubiously made and publicized for people to damn ACORN to hell. Imagine what would happen if a defense contractor was fined and/or cut off from competing for public contracts based on a video of an employee down in the mailroom of one of their offices. It takes years to prosecute corporate malfeasance. And even when the fines rack up into the billions of dollars, the profits are exponentially more. Yet, ACORN is supposed to be the nation’s big problem at the moment.