My ACORN story

I know it has become as unfashionable for progressives to bash ACORN as it has been fashionable for anti-progressives to use the group for target practice.  But has anyone heard from the middle?  From a semi-conservative progressive who is impressed by neither side of the ACORN argument — nor with ACORN itself?

I am one such person.  If you’ve been reading this blog you know that I used to work in the healthcare industry, and that I had an ACORN story that I would tell eventually.  Now is the time.

It all started when the SEIU decided that a group of  hospitals in our region, all run by the same “non-profit” corporation and none unionized, were the bad guy because, well, they weren’t unionized.  Never mind that the majority of the healthcare professionals in those hospitals wanted nothing to do with a union, and a large number of them had joined that hospital system to get away from unions.  (Yes, I know.  I asked a lot of them.)

I’ll throw in an aside: I now work for a non-healthcare-related, nonunionized company where they treat us extraordinarily well.  The SEIU is trying to push their way into our company even though we don’t want them.  I cringe at the thought of this, because I know what will happen eventually.

When the SEIU finds that it is not wanted by the very people it is supposed to “help,” it gets pissy.  It does this by inventing stories, usually making charges about racism, gender inequality, and more recently, “anti-immigrant” (meaning anti-illegal immigrant) against their target’s management.  Since most newspapers and other media outlets are unionized, they are sympathetic to the SEIU’s lies and actually make an issue of them to the public, no matter how ridiculous the lies may be. 

Sometimes this works.  Often it does not.

Here’s a story about one time when it did not work.  This was the time the SEIU teamed up with ACORN to bring this hospital system to its knees. 

For months prior to this event, the SEIU had been planting horror stories about this hospital system in the media, claiming that its employees were mistreated, the hospitals were understaffed, and that its care was about as good as the care one would get in a tent in a third-world country.  (Never mind that at least one of the hospitals in the system was in the top 10 in the country.)  Moreover, the SEIU claimed that this hospital system underserved or did not serve poor areas of the region, never mind that supposedly rich people seemed to be thrilled with the care they were receiving in the third-world tents, and also the fact that very few people remain “rich” after dealing with the U.S.’s healthcare system.

This is where they teamed up with ACORN.  What ACORN did, probably with a fat contribution from the SEIU, was hire busses.  They gathered illegal immigrants, all of a certain “race” (how’s that for reverse racism?) and put them on the busses.  At least one of these poor suckers was promised a free kidney transplant; the rest were promised free healthcare for their sniffles.  Then they headed for one of of the system’s emergency rooms.  (They did this more than once; what I’m talking about here was the time they caused the biggest mess by doing so.)

Mind you there were over 100 people on those busses, and they all flooded the emergency room at once.  Most emergency rooms are not equipped to handle such an influx.  Neither was this one. 

So what happened was that as this started, either the SEIU or ACORN, I forget which, called the media to witness the “mistreatment” of these poor immigrants at the hands of this wealthy and selfish hospital system.  Mind you I am not totally on the side of the hospital system, either — but in this case, they had the facts on their side.  ACORN and the SEIU did not.

Of course chaos ensued.  Local people with real health problems were turned away as the emergency room was forced to close its doors.  And when the doors were reopened hours later, some very sad stories emerged.  I’ll share two of them.

The illegal who was told he’d be given a free kidney transplant was confused and hurt when he was presented with this fact: that particular hospital did not perform kidney transplants.  At all.  Ever.  As I remember, someone in ACORN tried to make it seem as if they were merely denying a kidney transplant to an illegal alien because he was of a certain race, or he was poor, or he was illegal, or whatever.  But they were tripped up by the facts, or rather, one fact: that hospital did not perform organ transplants.  Period.

This story did, in fact, make it into the media with a brief, side-of-the-mouth mention of the fact that the facility in question did not perform kidney transplants.  I have another story that did not.

There was a regular patient of the hospital who had been sent to the ER by his doctor because the patient had expressed serious suicidal thoughts.  The patient was to stay there, closely watched, until he could be examined by a psychiatrist and treated.

During the ACORN/SEIU melee, this patient slipped out the door.

Now you know why I have a problem with ACORN, and why I was not surprised when they were exposed in a sting operation, however dubious it may have been. 

However, I do not believe that they single-handedly caused the worldwide financial meltdown, and my lack of support for them does not indicate support for the current Republican witchhunt.  Anyone reading this blog regularly knows me better than that.

Still, I believe the world wouldn’t miss ACORN if it suddenly disappeared.  Definitely I wouldn’t.

P.S., yes, ACORN qualifies for the Stupid of the Day award.  No, they will not be getting it because they’d be hogging it every day for years.

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