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    robbin the poor to fatten the rich..., 2011-02-18 10:34:41 | Main | unrest in the land of 10,000 cheese hats..., 2011-02-20 12:39:22

    the pigford "reparations":

    If you aren't familiar with Pigford v. Glickman, it's become the talk of the town in conservative circles, where the crazies are saying Obama pushed through socialist reparations or some shit by paying out a settlement in a 13 year old discrimination case brought against the USDA by African American farmers. Neveryoumind the number of Republicans who have co-sponsored the numerous attempts to pass the bill through congress to pay the claims. This starts back with Andrew Breitbart's campaign to run Shirley Sherrod out of the USDA last year: when that project backfired and utterly discredited Breitbart (or at least should have, like the ACORN nonsense should have, and here he is again with the same bullshit) he kept doing his "research", and found out that Sherrod was the largest claimant to date in the Pigford class action. Since then he's been stirring up his resentful little mob over it with charges that the class action suit is riddled with fraud.

    So I've never read Conor Friedersdorf before, and can't personally vouch for the facts in his story about someone else's Pigford story, having never reported on the matter myself, but I can tell you that the "gap between the number of claimants and the total number of black farmers in America" - 18,500 black farmers in 1997 and 94,000 separate claims of discrimination between 1982 and 1997 - identified in Daniel Foster's National Review article is, pardon the expression, a steaming pile of hog shit.

    For instance, it might occur to someone remotely thoughtful that the discrimination claims go back to '82, when there were more black farmers, and that over those 15 years you don't have just 18,500 farmers, but everybody that entered and or tried to start farming during that time, and since they were being discriminated against by the USDA the turnover among the plaintiffs' farms would be much higher than normal. If you had just 5,000 black farmers entering or trying to enter the business, nationwide, per year you would have a fully adequate explanation for the supposed discrepancy.

    Leaving aside the back of the envelope, one could just google it, motherfucker. Here's how the Congressional Research Service explained it last year:

    Questions have been raised about the number of black farmers who were or are eligible for a settlement under Pigford or Pigford II. Determining the number of African American farm operators who farmed during the period of January 1, 1981, and December 31, 1996, is difficult because of the way in which the Census of Agriculture defined farm operator. Prior to the 2002 Census of Agriculture, only principal farm operators were counted. In the 1982 Census of Agriculture, there were 33,250 African American-operated farms; in 1987, 22,954; in 1992, 18,816; and in 1997, 18,451. Essentially, the number of African American farms was treated as synonymous with the number of African American operators.

    These statistics, however, failed to recognize that many farms are operated by more than one farm operator. In 2002, the Census of Agriculture collected data for a maximum of three principal operators per farm. The 2002 Census enumerated 29,090 African American farm operators. This statistical change more accurately captured the actual number of operators, that is, those who are actually engaged in farming. For example, a single farm may be operated by four or more operators, each of whom could have conceivably made loan applications to USDA agencies. In addition, a farm operator might operate rented or leased land owned by a principal operator. In such a case, that operator renting or leasing farmland would not have been counted as the operator of that farm. Under the term of the consent decree, however, such a farmer could be an eligible claimant because he or she farmed or tried to farm during the requisite time period. The varying Census definitions of farm, farm operator, and farm owner help explain why the number of initial claimants in the Pigford case (approximately 94,000) was higher than the number of farms/farm operators enumerated by the Census of Agriculture between 1982 and 1997 and why the estimated number of potential Pigford II claimants may be greater than the number of farms/farm operators enumerated in those or subsequent Census counts.

    In addition, it is important to note that there may be other reasons for discrepancies between the number of farmers reflected in farm Census data and the number of claimants under Pigford or Pigford II. For example, individuals who attempted to farm but who were denied loans or other farm assistance would not be counted as farmers but may have been or may be eligible to file a claim under the terms of the two settlement agreements. Likewise, the estate of a deceased individual who farmed or attempted to farm during the eligibility period may be entitled to relief under either settlement, but such persons would not be counted as farm operators. Finally, due to fraud or mistake, some individuals who are not eligible may have filed or may file claims under Pigford or Pigford II, but such claims would not be entitled to an award. For example, nearly 7,000 Track A claims in Pigford (31%) were denied relief, presumably because such claims lacked merit or had other defects. Thus, the number of claims filed cannot be viewed as an accurate representation of the number of awards that have been or will be made under the two settlements.

    That was hard, wasn't it? We even have a realistic number of potentially fraudulent claims! How about that.

    I also want to point out that if this country was actually going to pay out reparations for slavery, any realistic number that sought to recompense the progeny of American slaves just for the extorted, uncompensated labor of their ancestors, and excluding other damages, would be in the trillions or tens of trillions of dollars, likely leaving them something approximating an equal share of the net assets of the nation instead of ten cents on the dollar. 1.15 billion dollars for late claims in the Pigford settlement might cover their losses for 15 years of denied farm loans, but it doesn't scratch the surface of the crushing moral debt of our government.

    You'd think a bunch of fuckforbrains who supported the eradication of the death tax estate tax would understand the importance of small inherited estates in building a middle class. You'd also think that in their prostration before the tin god of the free market they'd understand what a disadvantage black farmers suffered, under a blatantly extortionist regime that took their taxes and lent their money back to their competitors at rates they subsidized. No such luck with Michele Bachmann, who should fucking know better given how her family's farm has been kept in business by government subsidies, paid for by the same farmers she's now absurdly, baselessly, fraudulently, accusing of fraud.

    Jesus goat raping Christ, I'm going to go pummel a bottle of whiskey with my face until this goes away or I am no longer capable of adding adverbs to perfectly functional sentences.


:: posted by buermann @ 2011-02-19 19:40:19 CST | link





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