By David Swanson
First let’s put the crusade to defund ACORN in context:
Among recipients of government money already convicted of serious misconduct, ACORN (had it been so convicted) wouldn’t make it onto the list of the top 100. In fact, ACORN could receive 100 times the funding it does and still not make it onto the list.
And you’ll notice something else about the top 10 criminal companies receiving government contracts: they’re all recipients of military contracts. They’ve sold weapons to national enemies, leaked radiation, poisoned the environment, defrauded the government, bribed officials, recklessly endangered soldiers, and dozens of other offenses. But they’ve also all been part of our largest illegal enterprise: wars of aggression, during which various contractors have engaged in rendition, torture, murder, assassination, prostitution, the production and use of illegal weapons, and a variety of other serious crimes.
Here’s a different chart. This one lists the top criminal contractors ranked by the dollar amount placed on their misconduct. Here we have, again, military contractors, now including oil companies. And three of the top five are health industry companies. I imagine their crimes would begin to be talked about if we ever had a national discussion of healthcare reform.
Why are they not talked about?
This might help explain it. A list of the all-time top campaign “contributors” includes some familiar names. I’ve added ACORN to the list, but it doesn’t seem to fit. Not only does ACORN not give money to candidates, but ACORN doesn’t do much else that other government contractors engage in. For example, ACORN doesn’t do any of this:
ACORN is unlike most government contractors and unlike most other organizations. It mobilizes the working poor for better streets and schools and neighborhoods, better loans, better housing, decent transportation, a living wage and equal rights. ACORN Housing Corporation recieves government funding to provide loan counseling, much of it aimed at keeping predatory loans out of neighborhoods while getting good loans in. If the government had availed itself of some of this counseling, it could have prevented the crash of Wall Street and the need to bail it out. So, perhaps closer oversight of ACORN is indeed called for. Senators and Congress members who knew something about the lives of the poor would be a welcome change. But if we’re going to start defunding companies, I don’t see why we should start at the bottom rather than the top.
PHOTO: David Swanson
David Swanson was communications coordinator for ACORN from 2000 to 2003 and is the author of the new book “Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union” by Seven Stories Press. You can order it and find out when tour will be in your town: http://davidswanson.org/book.