Monday, March 22, 2010

Words fail me ...

OK, donations are down, in this time of the "Great Recession" (as someone, maybe Bob Herbert, put it). Times are tough, and yet, I don't think this was inevitable, or at least, I would have hoped it was not inevitable.

I am speaking of the apparent demise of ACORN.

Now, for a long time I was not a fan of ACORN. To me, they were people who wanted to hit me up for money, and, besides, despite the liberal school I went to, I thought ACORN's politics were pretty far to the left of my own, and therefore, unrealistic (yeah. pretty arrogant of me).

A brief tangent, I have to say I am not the person ACORN was interested in helping. A white male, I went to what I consider a pretty good college. I know how to dress to impress (at least superficially) and I can be reasonably articulate. I don't make as much money as I should, but not because I didn't have the leg up my skin tone and education should have given me. If I happen to get a letter from a government agency, I should be able to navigate the issue reasonably well. ACORN did not feel like I deserved their help.

I started to pay more attention to ACORN during the Obama campaign, when they were accused of committing voter fraud, trying to steal the election. Somewhere along the way, I heard that ACORN helped people with foreclosures.

Now I should repeat that for the last four years I have worked at Just Harvest, preparing taxes for low income people at the IRS free site that Just Harvest hosts. So my view of groups that work with the poor has changed. I accept that some, maybe many of the people who come in with only $4000 in W-2 income have other income they aren't reporting, possibly but not necessarily illegal in nature. I suspect they know that I have suspicions, but I am supposed to take what they say on face value. I mean, I don't want to go too deeply into this, but I will just to say I have a lot of sympathy for the ACORN employees that dealt with James O'Keefe.

So now ACORN is out of business. Let's not forget that the same Congress that so courageously voted to enact health care reform previously voted to "de-fund" ACORN, essentially validating all the shitty charges conservatives had made about ACORN. And of course the media, including the New York Times, had their role in dutifully repeating the charges James O'Keefe leveled at ACORN. The media as a whole essentially praised the criminal and vilified the innocent (OK, not totally innocent but at worst, those with poor judgment). The NYTimes gave a tepid non-apology a few days ago. They managed to get it in right before ACORN folded, so I guess they can sleep pretty well at night. As can people like O'Keefe, and all those Congress-persons.

Probably the only people who will have trouble sleeping are those who are worried about losing their house, or their jobs. Those people who have no access to the rapidly receding safety net. Which now includes ACORN's former employees.

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