Redistribution of wealth has been an underlying purpose of this administration and Congress, and one of the most glaring examples has been its welcoming of a series of lawsuits alleging past discrimination by black, Native American, Hispanic and female farmers.
Pigford v. Glickman was a class action lawsuit against the Department of Agriculture alleging discrimination against black farmers in its allocation of farm loans between 1983 and 1987. With all our other economic difficulties, it has flown under the media radar. A separate suit filed by 300,000 American Indians claimed they had been cheated out of land royalties dating back to 1887.
One of the fruits of this lame-duck session has been the approval of $1.15 billion to the black farmers and $3.4 billion to the American Indians to settle the two lawsuits. At last count, more than 94,000 black farmers have signed up for payments under the settlement.
Based on census data, however, there were only 19,620 or so black farmers in existence during the period in question. Based on that number and the number of denied applications, the department had originally estimated that only 2,000 such claims would be filed.
This is what happens when government rings the dinner bell, and it's an indication of just how loose the rules are for vetting past injustices, real or not. Throw in the cult of victimology permeating modern liberalism and you have a cash cow ready to be milked. Victims will come out of the woodwork.
The only "proof" required was a form stating that the claimant had "attempted" to farm, perhaps planting tomatoes in the back yard, and to have a family member vouch for that assertion. The government would then send the aggrieved "farmer" a check for $50,000. The bill is headed to President Obama's desk for his signature Today or Thursday. It was then-Sen. Obama who introduced the original Pigford legislation in 2007.
Saying "the numbers just don't add up," Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., has called for a federal investigation. "Pigford is rife with fraudulent claims," she believes, "and to settle before an investigation can take place does the American taxpayer a disservice." Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, has been less subtle, calling them "slavery reparations."
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., incoming head of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, should put this matter on his docket.
Interestingly, among the claimants receiving Pigford cash were none other than Charles and Shirley Sherrod, whose farm collective, New Communities Inc., received $13 million. Time magazine reported that $330,000 was "awarded to Shirley and Charles Sherrod for mental suffering alone." Shirley Sherrod was the former Agriculture Department official whose speech before a NAACP group revealing her angst about helping a white farmer got her fired.
Van Jones, Obama's former green jobs czar, was a great advocate for environmental and social justice and the redistribution of wealth from successful capitalists and entrepreneurs to minorities and Native Americans who he says have been shut out of the system and exploited by it.