Monthly Archives: July 2013
If you were to believe the Department of Justice, it seems the wrong thing to do during our economic crisis is try to make life better for under privileged, at risk youth, and the right thing to do is take away from them what little economic development opportunities they had, and push even more children into poverty. The latest policy shift at the Department of Justice is to go after non-profit charities for their pennies, while we have yet to see them even touch the banks for their fortunes, largely maintained upon the backs of tax payers.
The Big Brothers Big Sisters of America foundation works with at risk and underprivileged children to kindle “higher aspirations, greater confidence, and better relationships; avoid risky behaviors; [and provide] educational success.” Volunteers take these at risk youth and pull them under their wing to help provide a role model and a stable course in life. Research has shown this practice reduces the chance that these at risk youth will drop out of school, experiment with drugs or gangs, and go to prison; but the Department of Justice is sending the message that this is a bad thing.
The federal grants that largely fund the Big Brothers Big Sisters foundation have been frozen following an audit from the office of the Inspector General of the Department of Justice. The Audit found that Big Brothers Big Sisters could not account for about $19 million in grant money they have recently received. While that sounds severe it needs to be put into perspective. The audit did not accuse them of misusing the $19 million; their crime was not knowing exactly which of their expenses they used the grants for. Big Brothers Big Sisters made the mistake of pooling their grant money in with their general accounts, making it impossible to distinguish between the two.
On the other hand, during the TARP bailout program the Special Inspector General for TARP, Neil Barofsky begged to require banks to report on how they used their tax payer funds. He was repeatedly told by administration officials, including Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner that “all money is green“, meaning that once it was given to the banks, there was no way to track how it was used.
Ignoring the golden parachutes, excessive bonuses for ruining the economy, and corporate mergers (all on the back of the tax payers) that are the evidence of this lie, there is still the curious omission of any Justice Department action against the banks. The banks have hardly seen a disappointed scowl from our lawmen, let alone anything resembling real punishment. It was risky banking, pooling of troubled assets, over leveraged speculating, and dishonest bond sales that drove the economy into a ditch, leading to, not just $19 million, but trillions of dollars of tax payer bailouts to these banks without even a suggestion of accountability for this money. So why now? Why over the paltry amount of $19 million (five times less than the $100 million used to pay bonuses to the very men who tanked the economy)?
Of course I am guilty of over-simplifying the issue. The office of Inspector General ideally opperates independantly of the rest of the Department of Justice, so it is not as if Big Brothers Big Sisters was targetted (we hope).There are and should be stipulations to recieving grants, which Big Brothers Big Sisters failed to meet, and the remainder of the funds was frozen per those stipulations. These and many other issues make this situation more complicated than can be covered in 1,000 words, but the message the Department of Justice is sending is sickening. If there were exceptions made because, as Eric Holder said, the banks were too big to prosecute, why can exceptions not be made for a charity orgonization changing the lives of at risk children?
The charity is not being run into the ground, nor is it wasting money on lavish parties and meetings–which is more than we can say for some of the administration. The need to hold back further funding is non-existant. There are over 100,000 children on the waiting list to participate in this program, according to Big Brothers Big Sisters, and every dollar held back extends the wait for these at risk children who desperately need a mentor.
Don’t get me wrong; if taxes are going to be collected off the sweat and tears of hard working Americans, every single penny must be thoroughly accounted for. This is something Big Brother Big Sisters has already admitted and has promised to correct. The bigger issue here is they hypocrisy from our government. Because of the collective actions of Wall Street unemployment soared, hitting the lower class particularly hard. A new report shows almost 25% of all children in this country now live in poverty, putting even more children at an even higher risk, literally robbing opportunities from them. So for this the Justice Department decides not to punish the banks for their actions, but punish those who will work to clean up the mess the banks created. If I come across as overly passionate, I apologize. There have been very few times, including during my time overseas, that I have been ashamed to be an American. But if robbing at risk children means the government hands you money, and helping at risk children means they take it away, maybe we really are as bad as some people say.
apologies to my readers. This article was written weeks ago, but I have not had time to post it.