In light of a dubious video released by an undercover couple investigating ACORN, an organization dedicated to helping poor people obtain essential services, register to vote, and gain proper legal advice (among other initiatives), the House and Senate voted overwhelmingly yesterday to strip the organization of federal funding. In a campaign to smear ACORN, an organization with a massive staff that is susceptible to corruption like any other large organization, Fox News, Glenn Beck, and Rush Limbaugh have been working overtime to demonize and scapegoat this organization and poor people in general. Everything that is wrong with this country, if you listen to this crowd, is Obama and his "socialist" friends stealing money from "regular Americans" and giving it to poor people and organizations that represent and advocate for poor people, like ACORN. It is greedy poor people who live off the state through welfare and other government handouts and those not responsible enough to afford healthcare and pay their mortgage who are responsible for the economic crisis and the general state of affairs in this country. All of this fear-mongering is manifesting itself in a rapid, anti-Obama hysteria that is being overemphasized by Fox News and the Republican Party in an effort to make their movement appear larger than it is. Instead of scapegoating ACORN, poor people, and Obama, maybe Fox News and the Right-wingers on talk radio could report who really controls and dominates the government that was put on display so blatantly this past year: large corporate interests. Fox News, Beck and Limbaugh make it seem as if ACORN and poor people have such a large influence on our government and are reaping the benefits of Obama and his "socialist" administration. Consider this: last October, in response to the economic crisis, largely fueled by sub-prime mortgage lending and trading, the federal government handed out $700 billion to the financial industry. Taking into account all of the other corporate subsidies, loans and guarantees given out by the Federal Reserve, the corporate community, which literally owns the government, saw the biggest transfer of public money to private corporations. Weren't Beck and Limbaugh upset about that? More recently, the healthcare bill proposed by Senator Max Baucus was written by a former healthcare executive. Who has the power in this country? ACORN, poor people and those working on behalf of poor people? Or large corporations who fund the campaigns of politicians on both sides of the aisle?
In the August 28, 2009 edition of the Socialist Worker, Lee Sustar interviews Andrew Cockburn, the co-producer, along with his wife, Leslie, of the documentary American Casino, an inside look at the financial crisis and sub-prime mortgage meltdown. Here is an excerpt:
Lee Sustar: There has been a claim from the financial industry that this was an unforeseeable crisis- and that all they were tyring to do is make home ownership more possible. Do you buy that?
Andrew Cockburn: Absolutely not. I think we made clear in American Casino, it all came from the top. It was Wall Street banks who pushed this, it was Wall Street banks who had the relationships with the mortgage companies. It was Wall Street that aggressively competed for the mortgage loans sold by mortgage companies, which could then be packaged into securities- those magical instruments, the CDOs [collateralized debt obligations], the CDO-squared and all those other things that we've come to know and love. There were the guilty parties, and certainly not- absolutely not- the homeowners who've gotten blamed for this.
In American Casino, we make it clear that it's not like that. Ordinary people were lied to, were conned, were defrauded into these loans. The system did this. In my view- and I think we say in the film- the system couldn't do anything else. They'd run out of other productive things to invest in. So basically, the option was loan sharking, which is what they did.
So, who is to blame for this mess we are in? And who has the power in our society and political system? Beck, Limbaugh and the like are skewing the economic reality in this country and using it to inflame increasingly dangerous Right-wing movements. The real problem in this country isn't that Obama, poor people and ACORN are stealing tax dollars and redistributing the wealth of this nation. It's that people are actually caught up in this farce and misrepresentation of the reality of the country in which we live. We all need to realize that our economic system preys off those that have the least amount of power, influence and say in policy discussions, namely the poor and disenfranchised. It is corporations and big business that have the clout in this country, and it is so undeniable and obvious that it is amazing people can buy into the propaganda put out by Limbaugh, Beck, and Fox News.
Update: Here is a great perspective on what was discussed above. Worth a read.