While writing a book about ACORN, I got to know Wade Rathke, spending dozens of hours hanging out with him, interviewing him, e-mailing back and forth, interviewing friends and enemies, and literally following Rathke as he worked. In an age of stylish cynicism, whatever else you might say about Wade, he believes in the basic goodness of people, our capacity for empathy, kindness, and caring. These traits are expressed not only through individual acts with his family and friends; but also with strangers, especially those who inhabit the squalid urban communities across the globe–the people ignored by the public officials and exploited by the rich and powerful.
|By: John Atlas Sunday April 15, 2012 1:59 pm|
|By: Tula Connell Sunday August 23, 2009 2:00 pm|
Many people first encountered ACORN when it became a piñata in the wingnuts’ last-ditch attempt to salvage something—anything—for their base during the 2008 elections. But since 1970, when the community organizing group was founded, the organization has accomplished a lengthy and impressive list of victories on behalf of low- and middle-income families. Among its achievements, ACORN has:
* Moved more than 2 million homes into ownership by low-income people in less than 20 years.
* Spearheaded the living wage movement that resulted in raising the hourly pay of some of the lowest-paid workers in more than 140 cities between 1996 and 2006 before going on to win statewide minimum wage increases in several states, such as Ohio, Missouri, Colorado and Arizona in the 2006 elections.
* Partnered with H&R Block to reduce predatory fees charged to low-income people who receive rapid anticipation loans, with one such fee reduction resulting in a savings of $200 million for tax filers.