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Cloward-Piven Everywhere

And barely time to think.

Tom Blumer


June 24, 2014 - 12:13 am


The Obama administration-driven calamity at this nation’s southern border is no naiveté-caused accident. Instead, it’s the latest manifestation of what clear-eyed observers must recognize is just one of many concerted attempts to overwhelm this nation’s institutions and its social, psychological and physical infrastructure for the apparent purpose of leaving it permanently weakened and fundamentally changed.

Conscious or not — and I would argue in most cases that it is quite conscious — what we’re seeing is a comprehensive application of the left’s long-championed Cloward-Piven strategy.

The folklore behind the strategy claims that its enunciation by Richard A. Cloward and Frances Fox Piven “only” involved collapsing the welfare system to create a political climate receptive to the idea of a “guaranteed annual income,” and — presto! — “an end to poverty.”

The idea advanced in the couple’s May 1966 column in The Nation was to have those whom they saw as naively self-reliant recognize that they were legally entitled to receive benefits and to have them apply for public assistance en masse. This would “produce bureaucratic disruption in welfare agencies and fiscal disruption in local and state governments,” thus requiring a federal solution which would, in their fevered minds, “eliminate poverty by the outright redistribution of income.”

The folklore also contends that the strategy didn’t work. That’s not really true. It really did collapse the system in one city, and it permanently changed national attitudes towards public assistance. As James Simpson observed at American Thinker in September 2008 (still-working links are in the original):

Capitalizing on the racial unrest of the 1960s, Cloward and Piven saw the welfare system as their first target.

… According to a City Journal article by Sol Stern, welfare rolls increased from 4.3 million to 10.8 million by the mid-1970s as a result, and in New York City, where the strategy had been particularly successful, “one person was on the welfare rolls … for every two working in the city’s private economy.”

… The vast expansion of welfare in New York City that came of … Cloward-Piven tactics sent the city into bankruptcy in 1975. Rudy Giuliani cited Cloward and Piven by name as being responsible for “an effort at economic sabotage.” He also credited Cloward-Piven with changing the cultural attitude toward welfare from that of a temporary expedient to a lifetime entitlement, an attitude which in-and-of-itself has caused perhaps the greatest damage of all.

That damage includes welfare-driven family breakups and sky-high out-of-wedlock birth rates.

Cloward and Piven targeted other applications from the very beginning. The authors telegraphed their broader intent in that infamous 1966 column (italics are theirs):

We tend to overlook the force of crisis in precipitating legislative reform, partly because we lack a theoretical framework by which to understand the impact of major disruptions.

By crisis, we mean a publicly visible disruption in some institutional sphere. Crisis can occur spontaneously (e.g., riots) or as the intended result of tactics of demonstration and protest which either generate institutional disruption or bring unrecognized disruption to public attention. Public trouble is a political liability, it calls for action by political leaders to stabilize the situation. Because crisis usually creates or exposes conflict, it threatens to produce cleavages in a political consensus which politicians will ordinarily act to avert.

Former Obama adviser and now Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s oft-cited statement that “you never let a serious crisis go to waste” is in no way an original thought.

The left has long since figured out that focusing Cloward-Piven on only one aspect of society at a time is nowhere near as effective as applying it on multiple fronts over time. The strategy’s specific applications arguably include at least the following:

  • The 2008 financial meltdown. The run-up to the 2008 financial meltdown and the accompanying recession was driven by the Community Reinvestment Act, which was eventually toughened to the point of effectively compelling banks to make trillions of dollars in mortgage loans to objectively unqualified buyers. “Government-sponsored enterprises” Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac made the problem exponentially worse by systematically deceiving the securities markets and their shareholders about the underlying quality of loans they purchased from mortgage lenders. As a result, we now have Dodd-Frank, the completely unaccountable Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a mortgage lending market where even the simplest transaction takes several months to complete, and a homebuilding industry seemingly destined to indefinitely remain a shadow of its former self.
  • Record deficits and national debt buildup. Despite the stock market arguing to the contrary, the roughly $6 trillion in deficits deliberately rung up during Obama’s presidency, along with a nearly $7 trillion increase in the national debt, have the financial system again on the verge of implosion. Will the Federal Reserve really ever be able to liquidate its over $4 trillion in holdings of government and mortgage securities without causing the economy to grind to a halt?
  • Social Security and Medicare. Despite changing demographics, these programs have barely been touched since their inception. Their status quo is indisputably unsustainable in the long run. Leftist opposition to any change whatsoever to either is best seen as a slow-motion Cloward-Piven effort to guarantee their failure.
  • Obamacare. The Affordable Care Act’s hopelessly incompetent rollout, ongoing management nightmares and constantly changing arbitrary rules appear to have been concocted to impose utter chaos on the health care system and ultimately to bring about a single-payer, i.e., government-run, system. If that’s really so, early returns indicate that it’s working, as the statist regime’s drag on the economy — and not this winter’s miserable weather — was a primary cause of the economy’s recently estimated 2 percent annualized first-quarter contraction.
  • The IRS scandal. Cloward-Piven is now being used by those in power to destroy the opposition. The IRS scandal is best understood as a scheme to bulldoze opponents with time-consuming, burdensome bureaucratic barriers and harassment at the hands of an agency with apparently unlimited resources — at least for this priority.
  • Regulation. Along those same lines, in recent years the federal government’s regulatory apparatus, whose employees were originally more interested in job preservation, now appear to have taken to rolling over their targets with costly, voluminous and virtually indecipherable rules restrictions, harassing litigation, and aggressive demonization. Post-recession start-up activity and new employment arising from those efforts are both at record lows. Who wants to get big enough to get noticed by the administration’s regulatory thugs?
  • Scandal exhaustion. The sheer volume of serious Obama administration scandals seems to comprise a Cloward-Piven attempt to overwhelm opponents. With so many scandals out there, no single outrage can generate concerted, sufficiently visible opposition. Those who contend that this situation is not deliberate apparently expect us to believe that the original volunteered appearances on the same day in May 2013 of the IRS scandal and the Department of Justice’s admission that it monitored phone records at the Associated Press represented some kind of odd coincidence.

Not every Cloward-Piven attempt has been successful. In retrospect, the late-1990s Internet bubble, largely caused by a deliberately asleep at the switch Securities and Exchange Commission which allowed scores of companies with no history and no chance of success to go public, may have been designed to bring about a financial crisis. The trouble with that strategy is that “the wrong guy” won the 2000 election. Even so, that debacle helped give us the economy-stifling mountain of busywork known as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

For all practical purposes, Cloward-Piven is now a staple of leftist electoral campaign strategy. As one commenter recently noted (I unfortunately lost track of where it originated), the Obama reelection campaign’s 2012 strategy “wasn’t just to publish propaganda, but to publish (and) distribute propaganda in such magnitudes that that folks didn’t even have to think about it, they would just foam at the mouth at the mere mention of (Mitt) Romney’s name.”

As to the recent wave of “Unaccompanied Alien Children” — that’s the Department of Homeland Security’s term, not mine — make no mistake. President Barack Obama and his advisers had to know that hordes of unaccompanied children would be sent to cross our southern border when he unilaterally imposed “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” in June of 2012. Despite seeing its results, Homeland Security renewed DACA for two more years earlier this month. The default assumption simply must be that “Obama is using these children as pawns to implement his goal of universal citizenship for illegal immigrants.”

In other words, it’s Cloward-Piven, yet again.

(Artwork created using multiple images.)

Along with having a decades-long career in accounting, finance, training and development, Tom Blumer has written for several national online publications primarily on business, economics, politics and media bias. He has had his own blog,, since 2005, and has been a PJM contributor since 2008.

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Top Rated Comments   
Their aim is obviously to collapse Capitalism, but the Free Market is a slippery beast; virtually its whole rationale is to make lemonade out of lemons. What they will end up doing instead is collapsing the State: State Welfare, State Money, State-supplied anything will go bankrupt, along with those who rely on it. But the market will be there to take up the slack.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
"The default assumption simply must be that “Obama is using these children as pawns to implement his goal of universal citizenship for illegal immigrants.”

In other words, Barack Obama is a Human Trafficker and Predatory Child Exploiter.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
George Soros broke the bank.

One cannot understand Obama if one does not understand The Midwest Academy.

If you don't know The New Party, you don't know what Obama and his cabal are up to.

If you don't understand the Socialist Scholars, you can't begin to comprehend Woodstock Jihad.

If you are unfamiliar with Don Warden, Carl Davidson and One World Socialism, you haven't a clue about what is behind global warming, deference to the UN, common core and educational indoctrination, throwing open the borders, printing money recklessly, borrowing from the Chinese, strangling national resource production, weakening the military and defense structures, breaking down the family, assaulting Judeo-Christian tenets, abandoning allies, destroying first, second, fourth and fourteenth amendments.

Unless and until ALL those things are studied seriously and intently...any examination of Obama and the overthrow in process is incomplete and a fraction of the nightmare.

Tom is on it here. But Cloward-Piven is just the tip of the iceberg. It is much, much worse than this. Any patriot should arm himself or herself with knowledge about all of the above. Only then can you understand the true magnitude of the attack on our nation, now fully engaged...and imploding our freedom.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
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All Comments   (100)
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we need to defund the government machine. bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are one way to accomplish that.

everything they do hinges on dollars
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
It was 50 years in the making, to create a National Electorate THIS low and ignorant...

One that is simultaneously:

a) Incapable of self-sufficiency, and
b) Believing they are so special, they DO NOT HAVE TO BE

Why else has The Left championed every vice and corrosive activity, while distaining anything that resembles personal discipline? Why else would they provide an Urban Day Care Program called “Head Start” with one hand, along with free needles and EBT cards in the other? Why else would they forcibly emasculate two full generations of white men, elevating the absolute weakest of physical and moral specimens to desirable/norm status, while at the same time fully subsidizing (and allowing no criticism of) the Thug Culture?

Have you SEEN what passes for a “man” since the 70’s? Hawkeye Pierce? That nervous dweeb from “Friends” ? MSN’s Chris Hayes?

Culturally speaking, its Michael Stype from R.E.M. vs. 50 Cent, and Michael Stype is going to LOOSE that fight, as PLANNED.

He WILL be expected to cower in his “guilt of privilege” and wait for The All Powerful State to mediate any conflicts that arise, anywhere, over any topic. And he WILL accept State Judgement without question. A certain percentage of these nervous, insecure, pajama-boy panti-wastes may have high tech jobs and shiny gadgets (and thus pay taxes), as they giggle and coo over the latest gossip, but they are no longer permitted to be “men”. For the slightly less femized Stoners and Slackers, we have Free Government Pot.

Dude, rule as you please , just don’t harsh my mellow.

The only “masculine” group in America now, are The Thugs. The Muscle behind the Urban Tax Extortion, the Race-Baiting, and the Guilt & Victim Industry. Pajama Boys may assist in the agenda as Professors and Opinion Shapers, but they will not resist. Because they no longer have the balls. AS planned.

The Long Term Goal was not to merely steal elections through Fraud and False Promise, that will only get you so far…. The Long Term Goal was always to CHANGE the American Culture, the American Personality, and the American Character into something it was not. To over-run the garden with weeds, to plant enough of the foul, selfish, fearful, weak, incompetent, dependent, needy, stunted and poisoned, so that THAT is what comes up every spring, forever….

And they have succeeded rather well. I hate to admit it, but the “Average American” of their construction REALLY CANT BE TRUSTED, to Responsibly Exercise Their Rights anymore

Put it this way…would YOU trust Chris Hays, with a gun? How about 50-cent?

Neither, right?

Gee, what a coincidence, huh?

All by design.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
I like Ed Driscol's graphic for this piece, but I must say it's missing one thing: a naked Obama riding the wrecking ball.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Holy Snikes, talk about spot on article. I was switching channels and came across a talking head speaking the parroting the memo, "We're the only civilized nation that doesn't provide annual income for expectant mothers!" -- the exact predicted words of the strategy.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Interesting, since several leftie women I know have been railing about our "abysmal" treatment of pregnant working women, our "archaic" maternity leave laws and our complete lack of the requirement that employers pay for at least 6 months of PAID maternity leave. 'Cause it's "for the children" don'tcha know. When I point out that requiring employers to foot the bill for this sort of thing will result in, 1) more jobs moved offshore and 2) fewer young women of child-bearing age being hired, they tell me I'm crazy. Requiring TAXPAYERS to do it will result in more and more people sheltering income and moving to a tax haven. Of course, their argument is that "the rich" will pay for it because they already have "too much" money.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
I was wondering who would be the first to use the Cloward-Piven analysis with respect to what is going on with the scum bucket in the WH.


Yes. That is exactly what he is doing.

The arsonist has lit a thousand fires. Each one is beginning to burn out of control. Just when it seems there might be containment, he throws another torch in another direction. His goal is to bring us to our knees, so dispirited, so demoralized that we will succumb to the heat and roll over. We are engulfed right now and we have three more years of this flamer thrower to deal with. I don't know about the rest of you reading this but I feel as if I am living in a country under foreign occupation, living defensively to avoid detection, interrogation, and sentencing. I cannot believe that Americans were so stupid/venal/greedy/hate filled to have elected this monster. Twice. And yes I use the word "monster" precisely. Because that is what he is. And we have been the victims of his mental illness for over five years now. We are being tormented by a man who in saner times, would be treated for a mental disorder. Instead he was given a tanker of gasoline and a blow torch. By the incredibly stupid immoral bunch who handed him the keys to the White House. Cloward-Piven. Indeed.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
"I was wondering who would be the first to use the Cloward-Piven analysis with respect to what is going on with the scum bucket in the WH.



THIS article is the first youve read, here on PJM, about C/P and B.O.?

Are you Rip Van Winkle or something?
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
"By the incredibly stupid immoral bunch who handed him the keys to the White House."

But -- He gave them 'hope' and promised them 'change'!

Seriously, though, the amazing thing to me is that probably 90% of the population sees this whole thing as just 'politics.' They don't see anything significantly different from past administrations. Many actually see good things ... Obama's ending wars, he's doing good things for the sexual dev!ant community, looks like he's going to close Gitmo, the economy's gradually improving ...

i don't think there's more venality/greed/hate than usual in his election: The big factor was just plain ignorance: We are now truly an unschooled nation, with most younger citizens never really learning our history or even studying our foundational principles and documents. Gee -- it turns out you can't operate a republic if you don't know how one is supposed to work.

There's no quick fix for the resulting predicament. We'll just have to play it as it lays until the catastrophe is evident even to the unschooled and hope things can then be repaired.

There isn't a treatment for narcissistic sociopathy. He really BELIEVES he's better at everything than anyone else, so what's to be treated? Now if the consequences of that incorrect belief cause him anxiety -- there are certainly signs of that -- THAT can be helped with drugs.

I imagine a lot of us feel that 'foreign occupation' weight.

35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
The question is what are we gonna do about it. How far are we prepared to go?

35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
The global system end game is in sight. 50%, or more within America have turned their backs on Capitalism and embraced Marxism. All that is needed is a chaotic event that requires all firearms to be surrendered in the name of security. A North American Union looms.

Region 4 of the WTO is coming on line. Soon, region 1. For a short time the New Age with one global government without G-d will exist. A global Tower of Babel.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
The global system game is just beginning. Marxism may have defeated capitalism, but the Islamic Caliphate is still waiting to attack any soft Atheist superstate.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
(Deleted double post)
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Obama is definitely using these kids as a weapon. He is spreading them around the country in Republican districts so that when he declares an amnesty, the kids can call up their entire families to join them. This will then instantly dilute the Republican areas or even turn them blue. It will certainly saddle those areas with higher taxes and welfare expenses.

The bad thing is that this will probably work. Most people will fall for the "think of the childwen" line and let this happen because they won't think about the long-term game the Democrats are playing.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
There is no calling up of entire families under current immigration law. At age 18 a naturalized citizen or green card holder could petition only his parents immediately.
Adult siblings would have to wait a decade or two because of visa quotas. Other relatives have no standing. Any one of the parents who had already been in the country illegally more than six months would have to wait ten years to even apply for a visa.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
Really, the Democrats are calling the Republican's bluff to do anything about this. If you are a gambler put your money on the D.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
If it's a conscious strategy, it's a bone0headed one. The general reaction is one of horror.
35 weeks ago
35 weeks ago Link To Comment
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