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Thursday, September 4, 2008

Community Organizer and the Problems of Vagueness

Whenever I speak about the mortgage concept of "predatory lending", I quote this piece.

There is no specific definition about what exactly predatory lending entails, though most observers believe that the description applies when lenders take advantage of borrowers by charging high interest rates and consider only the value of a borrower’s assets, as opposed to what the borrower can afford to pay.

When setting policy, if you are attacking a concept that is vague and difficult to define, this becomes a very dangerous endeavor. A vague concept, like "predatory lending", is open to interpretation and thus it can be defined by anyone with an agenda to their own benefit.

The concept of community organizer will present Barack Obama with a similar problem. Barack Obama has been running for President for over eighteen months and still no one knows exactly what he did. Now that Sarah Palin has attacked his time as a community organizer so directly, Barack Obama will have to define exactly what he did or face the possibility that this role was nothing more than an empty suit who used that time to prop up his resume.

(H/T to Little Green Footballs) Community organizers are fighting back against Governor Palin's attacks with what I find to be a peculiar defense.

Though many people are unfamiliar with community organizing, the job is both straightforward and vital: community organizers work with families who are struggling–because of low wages, poor health coverage, unaffordable housing, and other community problems–so that collectively, they can fix those problems and make government respond to their day-to-day concerns. Organizers knock on doors, attend community meetings, visit churches and synagogues and mosques, and work with unions and civic groups and block associations to help ordinary people build power and counter the influence of self-interested insiders and highly paid lobbyists at all levels of government.

Now, if that clears things up for the reader then you are better than me, but I still have no idea what exactly a "community organizer" does. There is so much vague language that all this description does is feed into the perception that community organizers don't actually do anything. I understand that communities need to get organized to affect change, but once that happens, what exactly did he do to affect change. That isn't clear and so far no one has really explained that. To me there is really only one way to do this and that is through government handouts. In fact, that is often cited as a means that "community organizers" use to raise funds. If that is the case, then his time as "community organizer" was just the first in a series of times in which Barack Obama wanted the government to pay to make the lives of the downtrodden better. Other literature says that community organizers use dues to affect change. If that is the case, the community organizers are the same scam that unions are. In that they claim to help make your life better but in reality they just take your money for a bill of goods.

The problem for Barack Obama is that his entire time as a community organizer is full of vague language like helping people get jobs, health care, and housing. How did he help them? Was it through government grants? In that case, he merely used tax payer money to help those that couldn't help themselves? Did he organize folks in a church and have employers speak about job opportunities? In that case, he was nothing more than a glorified Human Resources rep. Barack Obama has done nothing to define exactly what he did. When someone can't define what they did, that leads me to believe they did nothing.


Anonymous said...

The best correlation I can come up with is - "Community Organizer = Mob Leader"
These "community organizers" really do nothing more than identify and amass a group of people with a grievance and use their numbers to try to intimidate local government into buying their silence in the form of handouts.
If they were really so concerned about "community organization", perhaps they would direct the peoples' energy into taking direct responsibility for the conditions in which they live. Of course, that would require actual management and accountability (hmm...does sound like a mayor, huh?) for improvement on their part, instead of simply agitating the masses to make someone else responsible for it.

Anonymous said...

I'll tell you exactly what a community organizer is, Binghamton, NY is full of them. They organize groups of voters, into blocks large enough to get local liberal officials elected, with the tacit understanding those politicians will work to provide block grants to fund more community organizers, to help elect more liberal local officials, to provide more block grants, to hire more community organizers. And so on and so forth, until they control the local government. ACORN is a great example.

Currently the hold the mayor's office and at least one city council seat in Binghamton, and I believe they're fielding 2 or 3 more candidates for the next city council election.

Basically its a bottom up process for getting tax payers to pay for their election campaigns.

So far, all they've managed to accomplish in Binghamton is to increase the number of tax payer supported community outreach coordinators and raise property taxes through the roof. This year the mayor is proposing an 18.6% (not sure of the exact number, but its only slightly less than 20%) property tax increase. Last year it was 9% or so. And water rates are going up 80% or so over the next few years.

If the only good thing that comes out of the election of 2008 is that these con people get exposed, then it will be a success for the American voters.