Many Americans likely know the Reverend Minister Louis Farrakhan founded the Nation of Islam. But do they know he’s also a farmer? Farrakhan received more than $317,000 in federal farm subsidies and commodities loans at his home address in Hyde Park, Chicago during a sixteen-year period.
The subsidies were granted to a charity called the Three Year Economic Saving Program, which then, allegedly, distributed the funds to a 1,500-acre farm based in Georgia called “Muhammad Farms.” The trouble is, the Three Year Economic Saving Program might not be a real charity—in 2014, the Cincinnati office of the Internal Revenue Service didn’t have a record of it. The Illinois Secretary of State listed the Saving Program as “not in good standing.” What’s more, the Illinois Attorney General’s office, which oversees the state’s 501(c)(3) charities, in 2014, had no record of a charity with that name being registered. And yet government checks flowed to Farrakhan, not in Georgia, of course, but at his home address in Chicago.
This is but one sadly typical illustration of the reach and perfidy of what has become popularly known as “The Swamp.”
“The swamp” is not just how we refer to Washington when the party we despise controls the levers of government. Nor is it merely a snarky designation for that generally disliked Mid-Atlantic wasteland known as the D.C. Beltway zone (despite the myth, Washington was not founded atop a drained swamp).
In America today, “the swamp” is a real thing: a permanent government within our government that will outlast this administration and the next one and the one after that. It has a massive architecture that can be measured. It is composed of tens of thousands of individuals—many of whom operate well outside the confines of Washington, D.C. And it is not just government employees. It is also the thousands of lobbyists working to keep pet projects funded, the thousands of rent-seeking private citizens who practice their own form of income redistribution by gobbling up tax dollars through federal subsidies, and the thousands of private-sector employees hired as independent contractors to do work the American people never asked for.