Daily Archives: September 17, 2009

Ted Rall: The health-care reform ‘debate,’ in a nutshell


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My brush with ACORN, circa 2001

ACORN — the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now — is the community-organizing organization that the wingnuts love to hate. After all, President Barack Obama used to be a community organizer, and therefore community organizers must be demonized.

(Indeed, the McCainosaurus-Palin-Quayle ticket surreally demonized community organizers, because we all know that it’s the corporations that wuv us and it’s the community organizers who are the evil devils.)

I sought to work for the Sacramento branch of ACORN in 2001, I believe it was, maybe in 2000. Attracted by ACORN’s pro-labor, pro-poor mission, I thought that it would be great to be one of their community organizers.

However, when I looked into becoming one of ACORN’s community organizers, I was shocked to discover that ACORN, or at least the Sacramento branch of ACORN, required its community organizers to work six days a week, Monday through Saturday. And ACORN paid its community organizers a low annual salary that, when you did the math, didn’t amount to even minimum wage.

When I expressed to the Sacramento ACORN supervisor that I was shocked that the supposedly pro-labor ACORN would require its employees to work six days a week — it was the labor movement, after all, that got us the two-day weekend — and would pay them what amounted to less than minimum wage (minimum wage also was an achievement of the labor movement, I do believe), he told me that well, it was a “movement job.”

Um, yeah — a bowel movement job, as in a shit job.

So no wonder ACORN has been shrouded in scandal, with its community organizers accused of such things as falsifying voter registration cards. My guess is that they felt pressured to do so, since ACORN was giving them sub-subsistence pay.

The Associated Press reports that today the U.S. House of Representatives voted 345-75 to strip the scandal-ridden ACORN of all federal funds, and that the U.S. Senate on Monday voted 83-7 to deny ACORN funding.

However, the AP reports, “Speaker [of the House] Nancy Pelosi, in a conference call with reporters … pointed out that ACORN has many honest employees and was conducting an internal investigation, and that it was up to House-Senate negotiators to determine whether the provision to cut [ACORN’s] funding would be in the final version of the bill.”

Still, I glad that I refused to take that shit job with ACORN. All these years later, I seem to have been vindicated.

And it’s incredibly tragic — and criminal — that ACORN has tarnished the reputation of community organizing.

P.S. Reuters notes that since 1994, ACORN has received only about $53 million in federal funding, which, Salon.com’s War Room points out, is a teeny-tiny fraction of federal spending, even though the wingnuts won’t shut up about ACORN.

(Similarly, the “pork-barrel spending” that Repugnican John McCainosaurus wouldn’t shut up about also represents just a tiny fraction of overall federal spending, and certainly pales in comparison to the hundreds of billions of taxpayers’ dollars that have been squandered in Vietraq.)

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