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megimoo
09-14-2009, 10:03 PM
ACORN’s Nutty Regime for Cities

If you thought the New Left was dead in America, think again. Walk through just about any of the nation’s inner cities, and you’re likely to find an office of ACORN, bustling with young people working 12-hour days to “organize the poor” and bring about “social change.”

The largest radical group in the country, ACORN has 120,000 dues-paying members, chapters in 700 poor neighborhoods in 50 cities, and 30 years’ experience.

It boasts two radio stations, a housing corporation, a law office, and affiliate relationships with a host of trade-union locals. Not only big, it is effective, with some remarkable successes in getting municipalities and state legislatures to enact its radical policy goals into law.

Community organizing among the urban poor has been an honorable American tradition since Jane Addams’s famous Hull House dramatically uplifted the late-nineteenth-century Chicago slums, but ACORN and Addams are on different planets philosophically.

Hull House and its many successors emphasized self-empowerment: the poor, they thought, could take control of their lives and communities through education, hard work, and personal responsibility.

Not ACORN.

It promotes a 1960s-bred agenda of anti-capitalism, central planning, victimology, and government handouts to the poor. As a result, not only does it harm the poor it claims to serve; it is also a serious threat to the urban future.

It is no surprise that ACORN preaches a New Left–inspired gospel, since it grew out of one of the New Left’s silliest and most destructive groups, the National Welfare Rights Organization.

In the mid-sixties, founder George Wiley forged an army of tens of thousands of single minority mothers, whom he sent out to disrupt welfare offices through sit-ins and demonstrations demanding an end to the “oppressive” eligibility restrictions that kept down the welfare rolls.

His aim: to flood the welfare system with so many clients that it would burst, creating a crisis that, he believed, would force a radical restructuring of America’s unjust capitalist economy.

The flooding succeeded beyond Wiley’s wildest dreams. From 1965 to 1974, the number of single-parent households on welfare soared from 4.3 million to 10.8 million, despite mostly flush economic times. By the early 1970s, one person was on the welfare rolls in New York City for every two working in the city’s private economy.

Yet far from sparking a restructuring of American capitalism, this explosion of the welfare rolls only helped to create a culture of family disintegration and dependency in inner-city neighborhoods, with rampant illegitimacy, crime, school failure, drug abuse, non-work, and poverty among a fast-growing underclass.

Even Wiley came to see that cramming millions more single mothers and their kids onto the welfare rolls would not produce the desired socialist utopia. Seeking new worlds to conquer, he sent one of his young lieutenants, Wade Rathke, to Little Rock, Arkansas, to launch a new community-organizing group:

ACORN. The new group was to build a broad constituency of low-income and working-class people to agitate for social change.
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http://www.city-journal.org/html/13_2_acorns_nutty_regime.html

megimoo
09-14-2009, 10:05 PM
Acorn Squash

When Chicago's city council this summer required big-box stores to pay new employees at least $10 an hour, supporters of the legislation held an impromptu celebration in the council galleries. The hoopla was reminiscent of another scene five years earlier in New York, when opponents of Rudy Giuliani's effort to privatize failing public schools embraced in the streets after parents rejected the idea.

What linked these celebrations was the left-wing Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (Acorn), which led the campaign for the legislation and against privatization. And in each case its efforts represented Pyrrhic victories for the poor. Anti-big-box legislation does little more than limit shopping choices and raise prices for inner-city residents, while parents who celebrated Acorn's defeat of Mr. Giuliani were left with their same old failing public schools.

No one should be surprised, for this organization grew out of some of the most counterproductive ideas of 1960s radicalism. Acorn's roots are in the National Welfare Rights Organization, whose leader, George Wiley, believed he could use poor, unwed mothers to foment a revolution. The NWRO agitated for unlimited welfare benefits for those mothers and persuaded many urban politicians to loosen welfare eligibility requirements. This led to a more-than doubling of the welfare roles and strained local budgets. Wiley hoped to persuade the federal government to come to the rescue with massive aid. Instead NWRO's strategy prompted a backlash against "welfare mothers" and politicians in free-spending cities like New York.

When Wiley's welfare strategy reached a dead end he moved on to other ventures, including sending some of his troops to form a new community organization in Arkansas, infused with the same radicalism. It was a brilliant stroke: By the early '70s billions of dollars in federal and state aid was streaming to these local groups, spurred by Republicans in Washington who reasoned that it was better to fund nonprofits than create giant federal bureaucracies to run burgeoning antipoverty programs. Little did the GOP understand that the money would finance a nationwide network of organizations that for decades have mobilized urban residents against the party's candidates and agenda.

Then came the Community Reinvestment Act. Passed in 1977 to prompt banks to lend money in underserved communities, the CRA allowed community groups to file complaints that could hold up or even scuttle bank mergers. As one nonprofit umbrella group observed: "To avoid the possibility of a denied or delayed application, lending institutions have an incentive to make formal agreements with community organizations."

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http://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/_wsj-acorn_squash.htm