Green Room

The Fall of the House of ACORN

posted at 3:22 pm on September 25, 2009 by

The disintegration of ACORN continues, with new allegations that the group was using donor money to enrich itself in a “reverse Robin Hood” scheme. This follows the astonishing undercover work of Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government and its intrepid young reporters, James O’Keefe and Hannah Giles, who videotaped some legally flexible “community organizing” from the group. Before Big Government nailed them on video, the group was infamous for pushing the legislation, and irresponsible lending, that caused the subprime crisis, and widespread vote fraud operations. ACORN is one of the few enemies of the American taxpayer that wasn’t invited to speak before the United Nations on Wednesday.

ACORN has decided to silence its critics by suing them. Hannah Giles has opened a legal defense fund. The Big Government web site reports a fund for O’Keefe is coming soon. If you’re a U.S. taxpayer, you’ve already donated to ACORN’s legal defense fund. ACORN has received at least $58 million of your tax dollars since 1994, and congressional Democrats tried to stuff billions in “stimulus” dollars into their pockets.

Direct tax funding is not the only way you’ve paid for ACORN, either. They generate a great deal of their income by shaking down businesses in political protection rackets, and the businesses naturally pass those costs along to their consumers. And, of course, ACORN was a big player in the subprime mortgage collapse, which left you on the hook for billions of dollars in bad mortgages. If you add all this up, you probably spent more on ACORN last year than you spent going to the movies. Hopefully you’re enjoying the show.

ACORN may be unique in its combination of staggering size, fabulous corruption, and low comedy, but they’re not the first corrupt “community” organization, and they won’t be the last. This kind of tumor is a naturally occurring symptom of the Big Government cancer.

One of the most important cultural changes engineered by the Left, during the years between the New Deal and Great Society, was the association of honest charity with shame. The growth of the State required the dependency class to view accepting charity as shameful, and demand government-funded “entitlements” instead. In reality, there is nothing at all demeaning about a person in need receiving aid that flows voluntarily from a generous heart. I work for a plucky little local charity, and I’m happy to report that no one involved feels as if their dignity is being compromised.

Naturally, many people who become dependent on charity will feel compelled to work their way out of it, as soon as possible. This impulse is often misunderstood as a form of pride, but it’s actually an aspect of humility. A humble person understands that he is not entitled to a limitless claim on the time and money of others. This is one reason why religious charities have a superb track record of helping people get back on their feet, and rehabilitating those with life-damaging problems, such as substance abuse. Humility is a deeper, and more enduring, source of strength than pride. Humility cannot be swallowed.

The transition from charity to entitlement was a crucial step in the construction of the total State. Its architects have little use for people who pull themselves out of dependency. The day will never come that an organization like ACORN declares a community sufficiently “organized,” and pulls up stakes to find another community to help. A government agency which dispenses entitlements views an increase in clients as a success, not a decrease. Entitlements are forever, and their recipients feel they have a moral right to demand them. Denial of such benefits, or even resistance to increasing them, becomes an outrage, perpetrated by class enemies. Big Government’s dependents don’t see themselves as using government power to rob the taxpayers – instead, they are righteously demanding benefits they are “owed,” and withholding these benefits is equivalent to robbing them. You could see this mindset on display, back when ACORN was angrily threatening to “occupy” houses under foreclosure.

When charity is replaced by entitlement, the voluntary flow of donations to small, local organizations transforms into the accumulation of stupendous amounts of money in Washington. Not only is there a huge pile of taxpayer loot to be divided, but the power of government is fantastically valuable. ACORN made a huge amount of money – and helped crash the entire financial system – by using government power to force banks into making risky loans to politically favored, but financially unqualified, borrowers. This kind of relationship sets up a loop of corruption between politicians and those who profit from using their power. A hefty percentage of ACORN’s loot flowed back to its political partners, in the form of campaign donations and votes – both legal and fraudulent.

The formation of these circuits of corruption is inevitable. When the State extracts titanic amounts of money from its citizens, groups like ACORN will always form to influence the disbursement. Votes and donations will always be the currency used to influence the politicians. When billions of dollars are at stake, millions can disappear into open pockets without raising much suspicion. The federal government could not pass even the most cursory audit, of the type it routinely inflicts on private corporations. Enough money has simply vanished from every one of Barack Obama’s titanic spending programs, from the “stimulus” to Cash for Clunkers, to make hundreds of well-connected people rich beyond belief.

As with so many aspects of public life, it all boils down to basic economics. The Left likes to rail against the laws of supply and demand, price and value… but it lives under them, as surely as Microsoft and Wal-Mart do. In a command economy, political power becomes the most valuable commodity, and it will find a way to be bought and sold. A vast dependency class produces a huge demand for benefits, which groups like ACORN exploit to influence politicians. The government has vast sums of taxpayer money to purchase votes. There is no regulatory agency, watchdog group, or police force large enough to prevent this transaction from occurring. ACORN may have clients in communities across the nation, but its biggest customers are in Washington. It’s fitting that ACORN’s demise is beginning with a prostitution sting, because it has often been said that prostitution is best fought by going after the demand side of the operation. If you want to shut down the pimps, go after the johns…. or, at least, take their bankrolls away.

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This is one of the most eloquent essays I have read about the comparison of charity vs entitlement. Thank you very much.

duggersd on September 26, 2009 at 9:12 AM

…and the Republicans have been complicit in these ‘social scams’ since their inception…true conservatives must demand the purging of this cancer from “OUR” government…only then will the liberals/progressives (and the RINOs) loose their perpetual cycle of life in public office…and in turn have to compete for the favor of the people by championing agendas that secure this country and strengthen the core values that will keep the American Dream alive and well.

PhreeMan on September 26, 2009 at 9:31 AM

Doc, love your posts. You really cracked the nut on this one. You really need to write a book.

silenced majority on September 26, 2009 at 9:35 AM

If you want to shut down the pimps, go after the johns….

The Fifties mentality was to criminalize drug use. Addicts were arrested and thrown in the tank cold turkey. Today we protect and facilitate drug users but chase the dealers which is why we fail

The transition from charity to entitlement was a crucial step in the construction of the total State

Good point. It required a wall of separation between the citizen and his religious training.

Half of the ten commandments are about not wanting, taking, or stealing a neighbor’s goods. No wonder libs have circled their wagons around Jefferson’s ‘Wall of Separation’, intended to protect one group from being taxed to support a second group’s needs, and transformed this Wall into a protection from Biblical mandates

Marx connected the religion of the Bourgeousie to a system to maintain private property, the wall of separation between your wallet and your neighbor’s hand

Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people. The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness. To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions- Marx

I like the next part which predicts well the narcissism and self interest we see in our own society where folk have discarded the humilities of God-centered Faith

Criticism has plucked the imaginary flowers on the chain not in order that man shall continue to bear that chain without fantasy or consolation, but so that he shall throw off the chain and pluck the living flower. The criticism of religion disillusions man, so that he will think, act, and fashion his reality like a man who has discarded his illusions and regained his senses, so that he will move around himself as his own true Sun – Marx

entagor on September 26, 2009 at 9:36 AM

To those who admit it’s hard to wrap your mind around the charity/shame tactic, let me give an example.

I remember being baffled when I learned, as an adult, that the Left had a beef with the Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon for Muscular Dystrophy. They want the telethon off the air, plain and simple. Why? Because they say it’s degrading and shaming to the kids who come on stage and pathetically beg for money.

Ask any one of those kids, and they’ll tell you it was a total trip to be on television. They don’t feel ashamed, they feel grateful, and frankly they feel special (in the non-condescending sense of the term).

The Left needs you to see those kids as pathetic misfits because it makes their solution — make all such children maximally dependent on the state — seem humane, or at least palatable. But Dr. Z is right: the government class merely wants power, and perhaps as an added bonus, they may assuage some deep unconscious guilt over the intuition that they’re moral hypocrites.

They talk compassion for the disabled, but at night, they dream of Camelot and clink their cocktail glasses to the latest theory about doling out health care services and other basic human needs according to nebulous “quality of life” criteria.

jeff_from_mpls on September 26, 2009 at 9:48 AM

It was good political/economic judo. Use enemy’s own momentum and operations to guide them into a brick wall. Expect more of this from gen-y 20 somethings. They are creative, fearless, and unemployed.

ray on September 26, 2009 at 10:22 AM

The reason why liberals love big government and socialism so much is not because they care but because it absolves them from caring.

The same study that found conservatives more likely to give to charity, give blood and do voluntary work than liberals, also found that conservatives were far more likely than liberals to believe it was their responsibility to look after a sick relative. Liberals are so desperate to relieve themselves of the responsibility to care that they even want the government to look after their own families. This, to me, was the most significant thing about Arthur Brooks’ study.

When I was younger, my father told me of an observation he had made throughout his life, one which I didn’t understand very well at the time. He told me that the difference between liberals and conservatives was that conservatives are tough on the outside but soft and caring on the inside, whereas liberals are the opposite.

He was so right. Liberals project a caring image, but it’s just that – an image. It serves them well in a shallow, political sense. Deep down though, they’re cold and callous. The most luminous illustration of this fact can be seen in the ultimate manifestation of the left wing mentality – the Marxist state, which is marketed fraudulently as “altruism” and “equality” but the reality of which is always the most barbaric, callous evil imaginable.

Capitalism, however, has a tough skin. Individual responsibility, self improvement, self gratification. But underneath, the net result of capitalism has been to improve living conditions for humans more than any other force in human history. Capitalism was the reason why the population exploded exponentially after the Industrial Revolution. Children are healthier and happier under capitalism, but because it doesn’t have the fraudulent advertising campaign of socialism – which throws around buzz-words like “caring” and “sharing” – liberals despise it.

Sharke on September 26, 2009 at 11:56 AM

A brilliant analysis! It explains why a national survey revealed that conservatives contribute more than twice as much to charity as do liberals. Liberals literally do not feel any obligation to help those in need because they believe this is the government’s responsibility. The outcome of liberal dominance is nothing less than the destruction of the concepts of self-responsibility and private charity.

ptolemy on September 26, 2009 at 12:37 PM

Since we’re not going to get the audit, let them release one office’s records.


seesalrun on September 25, 2009 at 9:45 PM

Acutally, Glenn and O’Reilly had alreay put pressure on the LA AG, Buddy Caldwell. Providing him the evidence from the ACORN 8 folks. He has already served the supeonas and is even into the Rafke boys.

However, Caldwell is a politician. ONLY national coverage asking him weekly about his progress will keep the focus on it. The promise of bigger donations by suceeding versus covering it up will be the only win. Otherwise, Caldwell will get some campaign contributions or a DOJ job and it goes to the trash can.

barnone on September 26, 2009 at 1:32 PM

I really enjoyed the point Doc made that what motivates people to get off of charity is humilty, not pride. That is a great observation, and I think very true. I had never thought of it that way.

I am hoping that ACORN’s collapse is a sign of the times, and that we are seeing a re-birth of true community activism in our nation. Since we don’t have anywhere else to run, we have to take our stand here and now. Fight at the ballot box, in the public square of debate, in Congress and the courts, but mainly fight on our knees in prayer by asking for spiritual revival in America, since morality cannot be legislated into the human heart.

gajaw999 on September 26, 2009 at 2:01 PM

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