With President Obama’s every breath going through the latest round of overexposure reserved for the most powerful man on Earth, let’s take a side trip: Did you know that President Obama’s favorite grass-roots community action group ACORN is teaching underprivileged people how to be prostitutes?
First, let me be clear that I have no idea what Barack Obama’s connection to ACORN “really” is. Nor do I care. No one (with the possible exception of Ashton Kutcher) is better connected than President Obama, and owing to his days as a community organizer for ACORN we do know that he had a connection and almost certainly maintains some sort of link to the group. We also know that whatever your politics the idea of community organization is a good one. It helps people better themselves; and more so when they take part in the process.
Now, the business question: is ACORN doing anything wrong?
From a “teaching people how to do illegal things is always wrong” perspective, you bet they are. But for everybody who takes that side of the argument there’s someone else talking about the importance of Freedom of Speech. There are, for example, plenty of books and web sites that teach people how to make bombs, and while making them might be a crime and using them almost certainly is, talking about doing things like this is legal, at least in the USA.
And let’s not get started on the implications of statements about how prostitution might be either a good way out of poverty or more broadly a ticket to economic growth for a neighborhood. Amsterdam? The entire state of Nevada? Whatever.
How about this, though: Assuming the prostitutes being taught the trade by ACORN go to Nevada to ply their new trade, and they pay taxes, IS THERE ANYTHING WRONG WITH HAVING TAUGHT THEM BASIC BUSINESS SKILLS?
Take it a step farther: are they being taught to EVADE taxes, or MINIMIZE them? Because the latter is not only legal, but specifically referenced in the US Tax Code. Go ahead; search Google to see.
For me it’s clear that the ACORN people were stepping in pretty odd territory when they dispensed this advice, and again, there should be no attempt to connect President Obama to it. But there’s a really useful lesson here:
Change Takes Many Forms.