Tuesday, September 26, 2006

ACORN - A Bad Nut

Follow me on this, because it might get a little muddy...

This morning on my way back from a job walk in Greeley, I was listening to the Mike Rosen Show, as I normally do when I'm in the car between nine and noon. His guest in the ten o'clock hour was Mike Flinn from the Employment Policies Institute, and they were having a very good discussion on ACORN.

Now, I have never heard of ACORN before, but I'm sure that some of my more, "progressive" friends have. ACORN, which stands for Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now [You can always tell the wackos by the "Now!" after everything, but I'm getting ahead of myself.], proports to be a community organization that is all about helping the poor, protecting the environment, raising voter awareness, etc, etc, etc. On the surface, that is all well and good. But when you rub off the shiny surface, a different picture is painted. That's what Mike Flinn from the EPI was there to talk about. His organization, in addition to doing employment related research and studying public policy issues surrounding employment growth, also does some research on other organizations that want to influence public policy. They researched ACORN and found some interesting details, which then cover in their paper, "The Real ACORN: Anti-Employee, Anti-Union, Big Business." It seems that "labor-" and "little guy-friendly" ACORN is not reaping what it sews. They do not get into the details of the family behind this organization (one a former member of Students for Democracy and the Weathermen) and its obviously shoddy (at best) business practices in the article there, but they did explore that topic on the show (listen to the mp3) and probably in their full study (read the 29 page pdf). There were some interesting allegations of fraud, money laundering, and vote tempering made, that I have not had time to explore further other than to find that ACORN is a registered non-profit in the state of Arkansas, where full financial disclosure is not required. I suppose this is how they manage to take federal money with one hand and commit fraud with the other. [Are they from New Orleans?]

This also got Mr Rosen on the the topic of the minimum wage, since the ACORN people want to raise it in Colorado (via an amendment to the Colorado constitution!) to 33% above the federal minimum and index it to inflation in perpetuity, i.e., forever, regardless of circumstances.

So once again, on the surface, a slightly higher minimum wage (liberals like to refer to this as the "living wage") sounds good, putting it in the constitution and indexing it to inflation is not the right way to do it. Plus, any minimum wage, especially an artificially high one, amounts to social welfare. And last time I checked, private business is not in the social welfare department. Businesses will pay what the market will bear or demand -- that 's the way a market works. In addition to that, only 0.7% of all hourly wage-earners are paid the minimum wage. This whole debacle only affects a little over 500,000 people in the whole nation. Incidentally, the EPI has some good studies on this as well.

Just remember this November, folks, that business and a market economy are what differentiates the U.S. from the rest of the Western world, and their double digit unemployment. (Our is 4.7%, a.k.a. "full" employment.)

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