I’d love for you to join me this evening for a romantic dinner rendezvous. I want to run an idea past you—far-fetched as is its nature, I welcome your perspective, criticism and/or rebuttal.
I’m in the process of writing Congressman John Lewis et al with a detailed proposal for reparations for living, breathing descendants of American slaves. I mean, have you seen what he and his colleagues did recently, their compelling hours-long sit-in to force a vote on gun violence? Quite a spectacle, their collective passion and resolve. I was moved.
What if they came together so fervently for a vote on reparations?
Bernie Sanders said he’s not for the idea because “. . . it wouldn’t pass congress.” Fair enough. He’s been in it about half his lifetime—the guy has insight.
But was there ever a collective sit-in like we’ve just witnessed—where congresspersons were so intent on saving humanity from itself—but in the cause of the humanity of American slave descendants?
When things get detrimentally bad, people act, no? When America ever feels existentially threatened, hasn’t she always acted? The impossible becomes the possible, no?
One of my anglo writing cohorts slipped up recently and said, “I don’t see why black Americans vote for Hillary . . . it just means more prisons to be built for them.” I appreciated her candor.
I couldn’t argue the track record. And just imagine law enforcement autonomy under a Pres. Trump. A pick-your-poison proposition if there ever was one, no?
Now, reparations is no panacea for all that ills a least-thought-of people, I understand. Then again, could it be?
Randall Robinson, author of “The Debt,” pegs the net present value of centuries of free black labor in the single-digit trillions (with a ‘t’). The value has only increased since the publishing of his text.
A pipe dream, say you? No way can repayment be made? The country’s broke as it is? Oh really?
Remember the savings and loan debacle under Pres. Bush (41)? The dot-com implosion at the turn of the century? The Great Recession (started by Lehman Bros.’ demise)? Trillions disappeared, wiped off the books, right?
And the banks were replenished by the treasury. The Federal Reserve flooded the system with new money (quantitative easing, it’s called). When times become desperate, America acts, no?
But only on her priorities does she act, say you? And reparations is the least of her priorities? Good counter, Love. But let’s dig a little deeper.
When Pres. Clinton signed NAFTA, he knew jobs would be lost in droves here in America. Jobs follow cheaper labor. And job losses (especially low-to-mid tech jobs) would affect the working, less educated masses most (at least initially).
Public schools in non-affluent areas aren’t profitable and neither was the public prison system. Hence, make them private and investable (stocks) to shareholders. And contract prison labor to companies salivating at the cheapest of labor.
If prisons are now profitable, they must be built; if they are built, they must be fed. And the explosion continues. And the attendant jobs: wardens, guards, construction, maintenance, etc. Once a business model is built around an industry, there’s no going back.
But what if a business model were built around reparations, in the interest of a stronger, better America?
If social security is on the brink, it needs tax-paying workers to keep it solvent. If most of the high-paying, high-tech jobs of today are going unfilled because employers can’t find qualified labor, imagine instead of public-school-students-straight-to-prison, corporation-aligned feeder schools are built (or converted) that offer the exact skills the country needs to flourish in this new century.
People ask, “How would the money be put to greatest use without being squandered?” Oh, you have that same question, Love? Here, let’s have a sip of this zinfandel first and I’ll delineate.
1) Mortgage-free, modern, smart homes to be built on allotted homesteaded land (clean land not near landfills, degraded environment, nor oil fracking); property taxes assessed accordingly.
2) Either free college tuition/room/board to any institution (including post-graduate studies) in the country or corporations-aligned feeder schools built from which corporations directly recruit graduates, via binding contract. Certified curriculums to include the arts, education, health sciences, environmental sciences, tech/computer coding sciences, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, engineering, or whatever fields are in demand by the economy).
3) Reparations-funded banks to finance business and personal loans for the historically red-lined and unbanked. No extortionist interest rates. Each institution to offer free money management/investment programs. No-interest loans provided contingent on borrowers first engaging the programs.
4) Free, generational healthcare from any government-funded health facility and/or reparations-funded incentives for health professionals to build private practices in the historically underserved community with a binding commitment to moral, ethical healthcare and their license renewals contingent on staying abreast of and continual implementation of new/evolving medical best practices and equipment.
5) Once the first tranche of compensation is disseminated to recipients to adequately cover the first 4 mandates, a substantial portion to be allotted to a stock-market fund (similar to a pension fund like CalPers) indexed to the most stable companies in the world, precious metals, utilities, farms, etc. And U.S. government treasuries/bonds. And an equally sized, liquid savings fund not invested in the markets. An annual dividend as a percentage of the funds’ capital gains to be allotted to reparation recipients and their dependents, cradle to grave.
6) Unfettered access to legal professionals (or reparations-funded incentives for prospective law students) who are expert in policing/police misconduct law. Including expert business/real estate/finance/internet lawyers with a vested interest in representing and empowering reparations recipients.
7) The funding of libraries/computer labs which double as recreational/sports and community centers (poetry, theatre, thought-exchange hubs) in historically underserved, reparations-designated communities.
8) Free, comprehensive child care for working mothers and fathers to include top-notch pre-school/kindergarten services.
9) For families caring for children with cognitive and/or physical disabilities, unfettered access to community-based and professional disability/medical facilities and programs which specialize in empowerment, compassion, research and development for maximum quality of life.
10) A designated Pamper-Her-Friday on which both women and the ancestors who worked, bled and died for our cause are honored via an annual or semi-annual themed ceremony/gala/vigil/celebration which will reaffirm our humanity and its eternal sacredness.
There, Love, did I miss anything? I probably have but I think it’s a nice rough draft. Feel free to edit to your liking.
Oh, and for those current descendants of slaves who refuse to even fathom recompense, who believe the idea is silly and far afield, who feel the government would never agree to it, who frankly resent the thought of reparations because they are somehow ashamed of their history or simply wish to forget it away, they’ll be encouraged to sign a binding document renouncing their rights to any and all recompense.
No point in offending their forget-the-past sensibilities.
Now, how about we take a walk down by the shoreline, angel? Just think, our great-great grandparents never got a chance to do something so simply elegant.
I wanna hold your hand.
It’s Pamper-Her-Friday, Love.
“Never shall I forget.” -Elie Weisel
© 2016 Pamper-Her-Friday by Rg2®