Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Very Close Look at ACORN

The news is finally reporting on ACORN and massive voter fraud, but they haven't really been reporting on what exactly ACORN is or does. That is an interesting as the voter fraud story and even more disturbing.

Back in 2003 Sol Stern wrote about ACORN in City Journal. Back then ACORN had chapters in 700 poor neighborhoods in 50 cities. You can bet they have expanded, especially with the generous gift of over $800,000 from the Obama campaign. According to Stern, ACORN has two radio stations, a housing corporation, a law office, and relationships with a host of trade-union locals.

ACORN likes to portray itself as simply organizing the poor to promote social change, but in reality it is a radical anti-capitalism, pro government control, welfare promoting, intimidation tactics monster who is remarkably effective in enacting it's policy goals. It's as radical as Code Pink, but just manages to fly under the radar. At least it did until now.

In ACORN's "People's Platform" they state: "We will continue our fight...until we have shared the wealth, until we have won our freedom..." This sounds familiar, doesn't it?

ACORN has been effective in "affecting change" by working from the ground up to implement their more "progressive' agenda. They start in local towns and cities. And it works. Baltimore, for example, gives ACORN $50,000 a year to provide "housing counseling" to the poor. I wonder if anyone at all has ever checked to see what this "housing counseling" exactly does. I'd be interested to know. That is just one small example of many.

Get this. Chicago’s ACORN leader won a seat on the Board of Aldermen as a candidate of the leftist New Party. Does that sound familiar?

If the leftist New Party sounds socialistic. It is. As ACORN is. It proposes things such as forcing large companies to obtain "an exit visa from the community board signifying that the company has adequately compensated all its employees and the community at large for losses due to relocation." ACORN uses phrases like "sustainable development" that in reality limits the growth of suburbs so companies and people can't leave the city limits so easily. And the most socialistic of all? They wish to force suburbs to share their tax revenues with the cities.

ACORN's lofty goal of organizing the poor and powerless has done very little to give them power or keep them from being poor. Why? Well, that is pretty simple. They fail to teach self responsibility and hard work. The poor do not need to be organized, they need to be empowered by their own dedication to hard work, determination for a better life, and (most importantly) making good life choices. But ACORN doesn't see it that way.

There is no doubt that the inner cities of our country are filled with helplessness and despair. But what about personal responsibility? What about the root causes? Drug and alcohol abuse, single mothers, welfare dads who have many children with many women, and crime. Are they the causes? Stern asked the executive director of ACORN, Steve Kest, about this and he shrugged those things off. "“We are more focused on irresponsible behavior in the corporate sector,” he responded. “I don’t think [illegitimacy] comes anywhere close to the irresponsible behavior of people running the largest businesses in this country.”

Really? Are you kidding me? Corporations are more responsible for the poor being poor than personal lifestyle choices? Good grief.

As you might imagine, where there is so much money, there is fraud. But I'm not talking voter fraud here. I'm talking embezzlement. In July The New York Times reported that the brother of ACORN founder had embezzled 1 million dollars from ACORN, but in an effort to keep this from becoming public, ACORN did not alert police. Instead Drummond Pike, the founder and chief executive of the Tides Foundation, who has long poured money into ACORN, paid off the note to make it right. In a July 12 e-mail message to the leader of ACORN, Mr. Kest, Acorn’s political director, Zach Pollett, wrote: “I talked to Drummond on this yesterday and had Beth Kingsley” — Acorn’s lawyer — “prepare a ‘keep your yaps shut’ confidentiality memo to people at Acorn and CCI.”

Now, are you ready to come full circle here with ACORN? Forget voter fraud, embezzlement, and socialism at it's core. Let's look at the failure of the housing market. ACORN was all about the 1977 federal law, the Community Reinvestment Act (I think you may have heard of them lately), which forced banks to make bad loans to the poor. In order for banks to get approval for mergers and acquisitions they need to prove they have not discriminated against minority communities in their lending. The CRA gave “community groups” the opportunity to lodge complaints against the banks. And you better believe ACORN was all about that. ACORN developed a lucrative side business as an “advisor” to banks seeking regulatory approvals. In other words, banks had no choice but to give risky loans and ACORN was there as the watchdog to make sure it happened. Banks then took hundreds of individual mortgages packaged together and sold them to investors as “mortgage-backed securities." And we all know how that turned out.

The last and the most disturbing aspect of ACORN is the indocrination of our children. I never use the word "indocrination" because it is usually an exaggeration, but not in this case. For well over a decade, ACORN has used foundation grants to start up its very own New York public schools. They use cozy and sweet names like the Bread and Roses High School. Their curriculum is based on "social justice" and "social change" themes. They have even bused kids from New York to Washington to demonstrate against "tax cuts for the rich." Does that sound familiar?

No wonder Obama is trying to run as far from this organization as possible. Voter fraud is just the beginning. But when "community organizing" is at the core of your resume and that is the very foundation of ACORN, and the fact that Obama was so good at it he trained other leaders at ACORN to do it, it's kind of hard to run away from those connections.

But then again, Obama has gotten pretty good at running away from his less desirable connections.