Friday, May 02, 2008

Pigford Claims Remedy Act

Like any political junkie, I spend a substantial amount of time each day reading political commentary, and the "hot" news items of the day. Some of the best articles I like to clip and file away for others to read, or I may hold onto them for background information for a future blog post. When the stars are perfectly aligned, I come across an article that makes me take immediate action. I found one such article today by Ms. Jennifer Rubin entitled "Farmer Reparations". After reading Ms. Rubin's article, I started digging into the topic, and contacted my Representative and both Senators.

The Pigford Claims Remedy Act of 2007 (HR 899 and 3073 and S 515) is designed, "To provide a mechanism for the determination on the merits of the claims of claimants who met the class criteria in a civil action relating to racial discrimination by the Department of Agriculture but who were denied that determination." These bills in short are designed to extend the claims process from discrimination suits brought against the Department of Agriculture in the 1990's. To date, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has paid out almost $1 Billion for, "…alleged racial discrimination by local offices administering farm loans under the Farm Service Agency." If the USDA discriminated against a number of people, and those people are owed money, then the government should have to pay up. However, Ms. Rubbin points out that many people associated with the cases believe that a large number of the claims that have been brought forward are fraudulent.

The original case was brought forth by three black farmers in 1997 (Pigford v. Glickman) alleging that the USDA had discriminated against them and other farmers by denying loan applications to African-American farmers. In 1999, a consent decree was issued settling the lawsuit and setting up a process where those individuals who felt they had been discriminated against could file a claim. According to Ms. Rubbin, in 1997 there were an estimated 18,500 African-American farmers (remember this number) and of those, it was estimated that some 2500 to 5000 farmers were discriminated against. However, a lawyers dream was laid out in the settlement, with, "…only a simple affidavit signed by someone who alleged he had applied for a loan or merely that he had 'attempted to own or lease farm land,' $50,000 (tax free no less) would be paid out." The USDA began notifying people who might be involved, including a $500,000 TV ad campaign to get the word to African-American farmers. Meetings were held in local communities explaining how African-American farmers could file claim.

There is an Office of the Monitor website where anyone can get the latest details of the settlement. As of April 28th, the total payout is over $750,000,000 in cash with almost $ 1 Billion total in "relief". I told you to remember the fact that there were an estimated 18,500 African-American Farmers in 1997. The Monitor's website shows over 22,000 claims have been approved. Ms. Rubbin points out that there have been almost 96,000 total claims!

Simply put, the Pigford decision has become a great money making tool for scam artists, lawyers, and unscrupulous advocacy groups. The original deadlines have now played out and some Representatives and Senators want to extend this deadline and allow more claims. Already the U.S. government has paid out $1 Billion dollars. Isn't it time to put this behind us?


Anonymous said...

Glad to have the white privilege police out there protecting us!

Black farmers are famously over-privileged given all their well-known political clout and connections. Just take a second to recall their privileged history in working the land in this country!

And, I mean, according to your story, we've paid those black farmers about as much as the price of one whole day of the U.S. occupation of Iraq! And, compared to these black farmers, we know that our tax dollars in Iraq are being spent scrupulously well.

Glad to see you've focused on the real pressing issues of the day, Andy! Thankfully, by the end of this day, another billion dollars will be diverted from farmers of all colors and be sent to our noble cause in Iraq. Whew. Another waste of money averted.

Andy D said...

So if I understand your comment, you have no problem with my arguments. You don't like the fact that I am white and questioning this policy? And the War in Iraq has absolutely nothing to do with this bill. Thanks for trying to muddy up the water.

I don't like this bill because its predecessor has already been used to steal a huge amount of money from the government. The Democrats took over saying they were going to be more ethical and were going to get work done. I like to see them defeat this bill.

Mr President said...

Democrats? Muddy up the water? Nooo, surely you jest Andy! We all know that's the standard response from that side of the partisan divide when they can't defeat your arguments.

If they can change what the debate is about maybe they can win that one. Like Iraq, first the war was wrong and immoral, now it's just wrong because we're spending too much.

You know me, I'm quite moderate and would almost certainly be called a Rino by most Republicans, but so long as Democrats insist on using semantics and rhetoric instead of substance I'm proud to be Republican.

Anonymous said...

Andy, I can't evaluate your argument b/c I haven't researched the issue. I find that the "facts" you dredge up from right wing gossip sites is either wrong or distorted much of the time. But maybe they're correct this time. Once we stop hemmoraging money in Iraq, maybe I'll look into fraudulent black farmers.

What I think is laughable is your sense of priorities. Almost a billion dollars a day are disappearing into the hell hole that your main man W. continues to dig in Iraq. I don't find you critiquing the massive fraud by contractors that is ripping off tax payers. And all of that fraud is on top of the fraud of the war and its "cause" in the first place. And the deaths that continue on all sides.

Instead of dealing with that serious fraud and waste and death, you go after black farmers. We all have to make choices about how we spend our energy and time. I think its laughable that you sat down, looked over the political landscape, and determined that black farmers were the big problem to tackle.

Wanna see some real fraud by farmers? Check out the friggin ethanol lobby, and the way that factory farms are poisoning the air and water of the communities around them. They've got both dems and repubs in their pocket. You might even find some black farmers in there too, to make it worthwhile.

Anonymous said...

Late breaking news today.

If your posse gets done rounding up all those black farmers, I can show you lots more "patriots" like this for you to investigate.

Andy D said...

Mr. President,

I know how you feel. I think I tend to be more towards the conservative side, and would love another party to look at, but until then, I am a Republican.


I think one day you are going to wake up and find that Iraq has become a stable, democratic nation. By many of the benchmarks the Democrats set forth in Congress, we are winning in Iraq. I think it is worth the cost to win there.

pack04 said...

Anon I have a question for you. My dog died the other day. Can I blame that on the US occupation of Iraq?

Another question. Say two gas stations (I do hesitate to mention gas stations because I feel you might run off on a tangent and talk about President Bush and Iraq and high gas prices but please try not to focus on that) are side by side but one is $0.01 cheaper. Do you go to the cheaper one to save $0.10 on a 10 gallon fill up even though you pay $1500 a month on your mortgage?

One more question: Do you think it is possible that the places that you receive or dig up your news from could be from gossip sites that are either wrong or distorted much of the time? yes or no is all I am looking for.

Mr President said...

Pack, surely you're not suggesting the media might be biased in favour of the left wing occasionally? No, I don't believe it!

Don't you know that media bias only cuts one way? It's like global warming studies, the left wing always say that the only credible ones are the ones that support their argument.

See how easy it is to win political debates when you simply discredit anyone who doesn't agree with you? Democrat politics 101.

Anonymous said...

Media "bias" isn't a single thing.

Many reporters fell for (and still fall for) the dumb line that "everybody thought that Iraq had WMD." I read the papers carefully leading up to the war and could figure out that they probably didn't have them.

But, sure, bias runs the other way, too. People with higher levels of education tend to favor more liberal policies, and many journalists have lots of education, though that is changing. I think many journalists are indeed biased in these ways: pro-choice, pro gay rights, pro freedom of the press, anti-government secrecy, anti-torture, anti-lying, pro health, pro democracy, anti-fundamentalist. I share many of those biases to some degree.

Pack04: choose the cheapest gas station, dude. But if you're paying $1500 a month to a landlord who is giving you a cardboard box to sleep in, you're foolish to worry your stupid $10.

Boys, I'll post again when Andy stops selectively censoring my posts.

pack04 said...

Oh I have noticed that. I am not completely sure everybody else does though which is really disappointing.

Andy D said...

Anon, I haven't censored any of your post. The last comment I rejected was a few weeks back and it was because the author posted a link to a spam site. I don't allow those on here. If you have some something you think I have censored, say it again. I think everyone can read over the comments that I get from "Anonymous" and see I am pretty tolerant of what I will allow you to say. My only rule is don't insult the other readers, and don't insult me.

Andy D said...

Mr. President and Pack, good points. I think media bias is a problem for people who think reporting is still factual. And Pack, I thought your analogy to gas prices was a good one.

pack04 said...

Anonymous, I have had some problems posting as well. I have noticed if you preview your post and then click publish your comment from the preview screen it does not post. It just sends the post back up to the leave your comment box. You have to select the orange Publish your comment button below the choose an identity. Make sure that at the top of the screen somethings pops up in green writing that the comment was sent to be reviewed.

pack04 said...

anonymous I do agree with the statement that journalist have a bias. I do believe they lean to the liberal side but not sure I agree it because they have a higher education. There are dumb people on both sides of the isle. I am glad to read that you understand that. I am worried about the millions of people that do not understand that.
Information is power. The provider has to be cautious of that power and the user has to be aware of the providers power.

But back to the post. I agree that it does seem wrong that you would repair a drippy faucet in your house when many water mains are busted. However, our leaders have continued to support the many "projects" that spend millions a day with bad results. That is not something that is going to change until we all vote across the board to elect some plumbers in to office to stop the extreme waste of "water." Do I see a congressional run in your future? I've thought about and I would love to. By the way at some point you will still need to fix the leaky faucet.

Anonymous said...

Pack: thanks for the heads up on the funky feature re: posting. I'm sorry, Andy, if I jumped to conclusions about you not posting my love letters to the right wing. It looks like I probably assumed wrongly. Sorry, bro.

Andy D said...

Thanks for the apology. If this keeps up, I will send Blogger an email asking them to look into it.

Mr President said...

Could I just say I resent the implication that people with higher levels of education favour more liberal policies? It's untrue.

I have a masters in Law and unlike both Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama I passed my bar exam (New York) first time round.

Just because I lean (and I emphasise lean) towards republican views doesn't mean I lack an education. I'd consider myself a moderate anyway as I'm pro-choice and pro gay rights.

I'm not saying that Anon meant any offence by the remark, and you did say "tend to" but I just felt I needed to set the record straight.

Anonymous said...

Mr Prez, sorry for the misunderstanding. I thought about responding to you the first time you mentioned this, but better late than never:

It is very much true that, in general, the more education people have, the more liberal they are. Many studies show this. Ph.D.'s for example, overwhelmingly vote Democratic. Being pro-gay and pro-choice certainly places you to the left of many Republicans; I think you'd agree that many highly educated Republicans are with you on this one.

But obviously, there are many highly educated and brilliant people who are very conservative.

Two other complexifying statistical patterns:

People who get a four year college degree are often at their most liberal when they graduate, but then they "drift" right after graduation. This is the general pattern, of course, and not true for all individuals.

More education beyond college not only tends to make people more liberal, but it also makes both liberals and conservatives more polarized (e.g. Ph.D.s tend toward extreme liberalism or extreme conservatism).

These are statistical facts (I can get you sources if you want, but it shouldn't be hard to find online). But I am certainly not saying that these statistics reveal that liberal people are simply smarter.

I do think that education in general is philosophically aligned more with contemporary liberal values than with current conservative ones: questioning your own beliefs, rejecting dogmatic assertions, looking at the world through the perspective of others, questioning the narrative handed on by the dominant culture, seeking truth that is true not just for one set of people. These are hard things for many die-hard conservatives to do, but it is what scholars do for a living.

That said, I think that some current liberal ideas--dogmatic assertion of abortion rights, occasional hostility to religious ways of knowing, dogmatic faith in technology, bouts of self-righteous moral relativism--are also not in line with the basic tenets of higher education and learning.

The original point I was making was simply that until recently, most journalists were very highly educated. And, statistically, that suggested that they would be, in general, more liberal. And, in that sense, I was agreeing that there (had been) liberal "bias" in the media, among other reasons, simply because of how educated the members of the media were.

And congrats on nailing the bar exam.

Andy D said...

Anon, I think you have some very good points. I would only disagree one two issues. First, I don’t think education in general is more philosophically aligned with any political ideology. Education and learning don’t have philosophies. I do believe our higher education system is more aligned with liberal values. Every major survey on professors in higher education shows that those identifying themselves as liberal significantly outweigh those identifying themselves as conservative. Like your first point, this is a statistical fact.

Secondly, I strongly disagree with your assessment of what falls into conservative core values. The traits you list (Questioning your own beliefs, rejecting dogmatic assertions, looking at the world through the perspective of others, etc.) are practiced by many people on who are liberal and many who are conservative. Neither ideology can claim a hold on these. Most of the traits you list make up my daily life as a Christian and as a conservative. I am not the kind of person who blindly accepts what is taught to me in the classroom or in church. When I study political ideals and cultures, I don’t blindly accept what I read; I try to reason out what I am studying. Anyone who is truly studying an idea does this, regardless of their political or religious beliefs.