It Ain’t Black People That Need To “Get Over Slavery”, It’s The White People Who Keep Trying To Bring It Back!

Slavery is a terrible thing on every conceivable level. Its persistence is a permanent stain on humanity (and it’s lack of same). But, let’s be clear, it does persist. The desire of one group of people to enslave another group of people in this country did not end with the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation. Let’s be equally clear about what slavery is in its most literal sense: stolen labor. That’s the whole point of enslaving another human (or an animal for that matter): to get their labor for free (minus the cost of housing, feeding and — if they’re a human — clothing them). If the numbers pencil out, the slave’s free labor is worth far, far more than the costs of keeping them in squalor. The southern colonies (before they became states) grew three cash crops — rice, sugar and cotton. Prior to industrialized farming, all three needed massive amounts of laborers to get them from field to marketplace. Capitalism preaches minimizing costs to maximize profit — if one of those minimized costs can be labor, well, you see where this went. The southern states institutionalized slavery (and some still justify this!) because otherwise, they couldn’t have afforded to be in business.

Profit over people is what motivates slavery. If money in your pocket means more than your humanity — for instance, how exactly that money got into your pocket — then slavery becomes acceptable in whatever form it takes, even if it isn’t literal slavery. In this country, we used to have “company towns” where a big corporation would employ pretty much everyone around. They’d use that fact to create an economic bubble where most of their employees couldn’t really afford to leave, couldn’t really afford to complain (or ask for a raise) and couldn’t really afford to even question anything. Voila — the modern slave. It all comes from underpaying people for their labor. A minimum wage of $7.25 is as close to the slavery bone as one could cut it. A person working a 40 hour week at the minimum wage will clear just a bit over $15,000 over the course of a year. Working a 40 hour work week. Hey — if they’re a restaurant worker — supposedly getting tipped — they only get $2/hour because the public is meant to make up the difference in their wages.

Slavery by any other name is still slavery. The objective is still the same. It starts with the pocketbook and goes on from there.

Take note of those objecting to raising the federal minimum wage to $15. Now, to (try to) be fair, it would be a hardship in many rural areas for small businesses to pay $15/hour. If we were to jump immediately to an across-the-country minimum of $15/hour, about one and a half million people would lose their jobs today. But — and here’s the part where we have to think a little more Big Picture (and there are ways to mitigate the job losses those million and a half rural Americans will suffer including UBI!) — on the other side of that hardship to one group of people is tremendous benefit for an overwhelming majority of Americans whose economic situations will all rise exponentially. In a very short time, even the million-and-a-half who lost their jobs initially would be swept up into the rising tide. And — if we had been compensating them via universal basic income until that happened, they, too, would benefit more quickly and to greater long term effect.

Greed inspires the shortest of short term thinking. All one can see is one’s own bank account, one’s own creature comforts, one’s own economic future. It’s a survival instinct. Same as tribalism. But the trick in living as successful social animals is to learn (and it’s not easy) to moderate these instincts appropriately — to deny them entirely when they’re counter-productive. Those instincts are all quite malleable. We can learn to compromise. But compromise can only happen between equally honest actors. If one side is using a compromise to gain an advantage then, in time, all compromise will break down because it’s all game-playing. One has to look at the Bigger Picture and be willing to sacrifice a little to get a lot.

Sounds hard to teach, I know. But it’s not.

If we began to teach kids civic pride (as opposed to blind nationalism) from the get-go (as some countries do!), we can raise more conscientious humans and Americans. Of course, we’ll have to divorce ourselves from the fiction of “the rugged individualist” who “alone can fix it!” That is pure, unadulterated, self-satisfied, only-white-people-could-possibly-imagine-it, Libertarian twaddle. The fact is, it takes a village to do anything successfully beginning with child-rearing. And the more diverse that village is, the more dynamic the child-rearing and everything the village does will be. Diversity is what makes America exceptional. It ain’t white people and their money — scheming ways to pay their diverse work force slave wages.

It’s the fact that slavery is stolen labor that makes reparations necessary. The entire Confederate economy was built on stolen labor — and that labor still needs to be paid for somehow. It just does. Thieves should NEVER get away with their thievery — especially when those thieves wear the mantle of power. To not compensate every descendant of slavery for the wealth stolen from their families would be to perpetuate the crime committed against them! But, hey — that’s only if we want to be “fair”. And slavers couldn’t give a rat’s ass about “fair”. They’re focused on “the bottom line”.

Profits over people. We know where this leads and we do not want to be here. Good thing there’s still time to get out of this vile, racist rabbit hole. Repeat — it ain’t Black people who need to get over slavery; they can’t “get over it” fast enough and get on with living the happy, successful, productive lives they’re entitled to live. It’s white people who keep the idea of slavery alive because that’s the America they want — the America where slavery kept everyone NOT white in their place. And it guaranteed to keep them there because no one could ever afford to escape from it.

“Both Sides Do It” Is Racist Claptrap, Not Journalism

Both sides “doing it”…

There are two sides to every political situation: power and resistance. One either HAS the power or one is resisting the guy who does. By definition, by purpose, both sides are not doing “it”. They’re not doing the same thing. They’re doing the opposite for very specific purposes. “Ah, yes!” says the “Both Sides Do It” practitioner, “But if the resistance were to GET power, THEN they’d ‘do the same thing’!” Which means… exercise power? Abuse power? Is that the accusation? WHEN both sides get power they DO the exact same thing? Sorry, American Journalism, but you’re going to have to back that up with receipts — which you absolutely do not have. In America, Black people have NEVER had power. They’ve ALWAYS been the resistance. We don’t know how they’d behave if or when they ever became “THE” power because it’s never happened before. There’s not precedent to use as a basis for “both sides do it”.

To say Republicans and Democrats behave the same is cynicism on steroids. It’s not intellectually lazy, it’s intellectually inert. It ascribes motives to human behaviors that don’t add up, that don’t describe reality. Republicans are far better at marching in lock step than Democrats. The press is always jumping on how “divided the Democrats are” as if that’s never been the case before. No, that’s how Democrats are (that’s modern Democrats, not the Democrats of the 1800’s which became the Dixiecrats which became the modern Republican Party – per Heather Cox Richardson’s excellent “To Make Men Free: A History Of The Republican Party“). Modern Democrats began in the 1920’s. Will Rogers nailed our spirit: “I’m not the member of any organized political party, I’m a Democrat”. That spirit endures. It’s kinda what happens when your tent really is open to anyone and everyone. Diversity is messy. It demands constant compromise as the group accommodates new immigrants. But the deal is, new immigrants into our system rejuvenates it with new energy, new aspirations and new ideas. It always, always, ALWAYS pays for itself.

Both sides do not use voter suppression of the other side’s voters as a campaign tactic. Democrats aren’t afraid of the marketplace of ideas because they have new ideas to solve old problems that the old ideas didn’t. A lot of those old problems were CAUSED by those old ideas. Both sides, for instance, do not and did not approve of slavery. Slavery isn’t a dead issue here in America. It’s still painfully alive. There are two parts to this monster. We see the racist part — of course we do! But there’s an economic part to the monster. It’s the economic part that birthed the monster in the first place — stolen labor. Slaves work for free.

Colonial America relied heavily on cotton, sugar cane and rice to cash flow its economy. All three crops are labor intensive. If one had to pay all the labor required a fair wage, one might not make any money growing and selling those crops. Or one might not make enough (whatever that is). But, if one could get all the labor required for free? Suddenly slavery’s on the table. The expenses of housing, clothing and feeding the slaves needs to be figured into the accounting, but you have to figure it penciled out positively for slavery. The free labor made all the expenses of slavery worthwhile.

Now, ask yourself — how do we feel about people who work for free? Who have no choice in the matter? If we’re the power, we like them. We’d like more of them. If we’re the resistance…

Though we made literal slavery illegal, we’ve done nothing to make theoretical slavery a part of our architecture. Even when Black people have been paid for their work — and allowed to accumulate earned wealth — white people found ways to take it from them. Jim Crow laws, for instance. Poll taxes that made voting extremely difficult. Sometimes, as with Black Wall Street, the Black section of Tulsa, teeming with luxury shops, restaurants, movie theaters, a library, pool halls and nightclubs that a white mob burned to the ground in a race riot that started on May 31, 1921, the “taking” was as literal as literal can be.

Both sides do not do that. Both sides don’t even think that way. Only one side does — and they’ve left behind copious receipts that any journalist can eyeball.

Of course, the trick is, you have to WANT to eyeball those racist receipts. You have to WANT to find them if they’re there. But, first, you have acknowledge that they could be there! And once you open your mind to that fact? Suddenly, that racism appears everywhere. It’s not the racism that suddenly appeared, it’s your capacity to SEE the racism — that it indeed IS there. And once your mind opens to that fact, you can’t help asking “how’d it get there?” And the answer to that is — it didn’t have to “get there” because it always WAS THERE.

“Both sides do it” is the grossest kind of generalization. It assumes that the slave and the slave master are equally culpable for the slave’s situation. It asserts that because the slave master HAS a point of view that therefore that point of view (just because it exists) must be valid — equally valid, in fact, to the slave’s point of view. Ummmmmmm, no. The slave master may have a point of view but they most definitely do not have a “point” — justification for their vile point of view.

Oh, right — I forgot — they have “economics” to back them up. If they don’t pay their labor nothing (or a ludicrous “minimum wage”), they won’t make enough money for their stockholders. And if the stockholders don’t get the return on their investment they want, they’ll take their investment dollars elsewhere — so, whatever we do, let’s not raise the minimum wage! No one can live on the current federal minimum wage ($7.25 an hour!) and no one will be able to live on the $12 an hour Republicans and dishonest Democrats like West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin insist is “all we can afford”. Horse shit. We can’t afford NOT to pay people a fair, sustainable wage.

One side in this debate wants as many Americans as possible to have the best lives they possibly can, to be as healthy as they can be, to educate their children without bankrupting their futures, to have every opportunity every other American has, to vote because it’s their right. The other side — plenty of receipts to pick through — DOES NOT!

Oh, The Irony — It Will Be Corrupt Conservatives Who Turn America Into A “Socialist Paradise”

The only thing that scares a conservative more than “socialism” (their idea of it anyway) is diversity. Oh, they’ll tolerate diversity in the business they own. At the end of the day, they’ll happily pay minimum wage to whomever. But will they tolerate diversity in their country club — or worse, their neighborhood?

Surely, you jest!

That Black family may be able to afford to live in the rich, white conservative’s gated community, but they were never supposed to be able to afford it. And that’s the point. Conservatism’s real mission is to keep everyone in their “proper” place in the pecking order — as it was in the 50’s — the 1850’s.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with capitalism — private ownership of the means of production — for profit. In theory, capitalism is color blind. The money doesn’t care who’s profiting from it. It turns toxic however when it becomes crony capitalism that excludes most everyone else from access to that money and the means of production. Crony capitalism is greed run amok. It moves capitalism from the “apolitical” pile to the “immoral” pile. Also — crony capitalists are distinctly political because politics are always required if the crony capitalists are going to hold onto the unchecked power that keeps crony capitalism afloat.

Slavery was the epitome of crony capitalism. It was immoral and highly political. Connect all the dots of conservatism and a picture of crony capitalism emerges. One hand needs to wash the other.

Donald Trump is the epitome of the crony capitalist. He epitomizes its deep down corruption. That’s conservatism’s real problem. We’ve now seen first hand what crony capitalism aspires to. It’s very, very good for a percentage of the 1%. It frankly sucks for pretty much everyone else.

The deep hole we’re in was dug by crony capitalists practicing crony capitalism. We can keep digging — that’s what crony capitalists would want us to do (instead of decking them and climbing out of that hole). It’s just a fact (we live inside the data set): no conservative solution to the mess conservatism caused exists. All conservatism can do now is make the hole bigger, deeper, danker.

America, we now realize, does not have a health CARE system, it has a health INSURANCE system — not the same thing. When people walk in our door, the first question we ask isn’t “How can we fix you?”, it’s “How’re you gonna pay for this?” No other industrialized, first world country has profit incentive at the heart of its health care system because health care and profit are mutually exclusive propositions.

A publicly traded company has a fiduciary responsibilities to its shareholders to maximize the returns they’ve made on their investment in said company. They care about profits not patients. Patients, remember, are cash out. The more an insurance company or for profit hospital spends on patient care, the less they’ll make in profits — and the less happy the board of directors and shareholders will be with them.

Any of us needing an expensive procedure to save our lives is going to have to be more worthwhile than the Maserati the insurance company’s chairman of the board has his jaundiced eye on. The coronavirus pandemic has made it crystal clear that we can only be as healthy as the least healthy among us. It only takes one person afraid to reveal their illness to set another pandemic off and running.

People unable to afford health care — unable to take the time off from work to seek the care — are perfectly primed to infect everyone and everyone they meet. And it’s not their fault. They’re being exploited. Universal single payer health CARE is coming to America.

There’s no stopping it now. There’ll be no stopping guaranteed public university education (or comparable technical training). Think of it as something we’d be doing for ourselves. I also believe public service is vital. Every high school graduate should owe a minimum of 18 months of public service. They can join the military, man polling stations, teach kids to read or get food to the hungry and homeless. They can use whatever their skill sets are to make their country a better place for all Americans.

We could even pay for medical school educations with one caveat. We The People will pay to make you a doctor — but you will have to invest some time in public health as the means to pay We The People back. You get, you give. Yeah — it’s socialized. But it’s still democratic.

Andrew Yang’s presidential run didn’t just put universal basic income on the table. The pandemic shutting down the world’s economies made UBI downright respectable. UBI became the only comprehensive way to keep the economy from completely tanking. All the data on UBI says the same thing — it improves peoples’ lives considerably. Rather than leaping at the first job offered because they’re desperate, people receiving UBI tend to wait for the right job to come along — the one that utilizes their skill sets best and makes them happiest. Being happy makes them more productive.

And the money people get via UBI? They don’t hoard it like a bank would. They spend it — on their rent, their utilities, their food and gym membership. They put that money right back into the economy. The taxes paid all down the line help cash flow the UBI all over again. The reason Republicans like Mitch McConnell despise UBI is because it proves them to be liars, pirates and thieves. It works while their policies don’t.

There will be no way out of this crashed economy except by progressive means. When we find ourselves eventually on the upside of this tragedy, progressive policies like universal single payer health care and UBI will have been mainstreamed. Not only will they NOT have brought down Western Civilization, they will have actually benefited more Americans.

I look forward to toasting all my conservative “friends” one day. As awful as many (not all) have been in this period, it will be conservatism as a whole that finally brought America to its senses — by making America a democratic socialist paradise. Let’s be real. Even if we never made it to “paradise”? Whatever progressives do will be a thousand times better and more popular than anything Donald Trump might ever do.

There’s An 800 Pound Gorilla In The Room — A Crazy Form Of Christianity Is Now Running The Country

Would you trust your soul to this money changer?

Want to know what’s scarier than a zombie coming to eat your brain? An evangelical opening his mouth to speak.

Let’s get this straight: what happened to us in 2016 was nothing less than a coup d’etat — a messy love triangle of first rate Russian spy craft with American Right Wing Money and America’s fatal flaw, the fact that we made slavery legal. There’s one theme that touches every part of that triangle — Christianity.

What motivates Vladimir Putin? A deep, deep Russian nationalism. And deep faith in the Russian Orthodox church. That “faith” is colored by realpolitik of course. Religion and politics always are. Putin wanted sanction relief because he wasn’t rich enough for his liking. They were willing to back Trump all the way — to accomplish their ends.

Right Wing Christian Money — the Kochs, the Mercers, Sheldon Adlestein too (greed is Sheldon’s religion) — may have hated Trump but when you’re that cynical, you can tolerate an awful lot of rot to get what you want. The Right Wing money recognized that Reagan was their last hurrah. The demographics going forward were completely against them. The only saving grace — the perverse way the senate overweighs open real estate vs actual humans. The RW money knew that, except for stealing the executive branch via phony legal logic (Bush v Gore), there’d never be another Republican POTUS. The House of Representatives is beyond anyone’s control. It’s the Peoples’ house. Our most direct connection to actual Democracy. Expecting to hold the senate — and therefore its overweight toward conservative states — the RW money set its sites on the judiciary. They tasked Mitch McConnell with denying Barack Obama any and every judge they could — including Merrick Garland.

What motivates RW money? Keeping that money of course. To do that, you have to have the reins of power in your hands. Otherwise, those in power might try to take your money — never mind the fact that you built your pile of money on the back of the Commonweal. The rich getting richer does not make Democracy better, it undermines Democracy because some votes become more powerful than other votes.

RW money is also motivated — here in America — by Christian faith. That’s perverse right from the get-go considering how Jesus felt about money changers and greed. But, then, the bulk of American Christianity — to judge purely by the way it talks about itself — couldn’t care less about Jesus. The bulk of American Christianity sees Jesus as a pretty mascot — Santa, but “holy”. “Do unto others” is great stuff for sermons — platitudes always are. But the real purpose of any church is to keep being a church.

Jesus spoke pretty clearly — you don’t need a church or a high priest to talk to god. Anyone can do it directly.

Again — you don’t need a church. But, once you start building a church — literally or metaphorically — it takes work to keep it from falling down. Gravity, the elements and time destroy a building’s integrity. Logic, knowledge and learning destroy metaphorical churches.

Even Christianity’s own history tells a story of what happens when make-believe rules. How many people have died because they stood on one side vs the other in one of Christianity’s great schisms? How many Catholics have killed Protestants because they were Protestants and vice versa? I can’t say I see where Jesus fits into it.

I can see clearly how churches do though. Churches sell religion. They don’t sell spirituality. They’re not qualified.

Churches sell exclusivity, too. That’s why groups like Opus Dei and the Dominionists exist. They’re exclusive clubs within the exclusive that is their denomination. They’re the “extra-religious” ones who see themselves doing Paul’s work — spreading the “good news” that if you say you accept the ooga-booga, you, too, can beat death.

Religious people also confuse success and failure in life with religion. They believe their success is the result of a sky deity smiling on them because they’re special. Literally – that is what they believe.

Poor people, conversely, are poor (to this way of thinking) because they deserve to be poor. It goes no deeper that.

But then, how deep do you really have to do when you’re making it all up?

American RW money and its twisted version of Christianity have always seen the bible as their justification for slavery. If slavery was in the bible, it must be because it’s good. As five minutes spent with any televangelist will tell you, the bible is the most dangerous piece of literature (that’s all it is) ever compiled — if only because it makes stupid people stupider.

You have to be stupid to think slavery is acceptable. Greed made slavery acceptable. Greed makes everyone stupid.

America’s Christian-iest Christians insist that “God” chose Donald Trump to be POTUS.

Somewhere — if he ever existed — Jesus is weeping.

Don’t Blame Conservatives For Being Troglodytes – Fear Of The New Is Hard-Wired Into Them

It’s not a mystery what any self-proclaimed “conservative” wants.  As their name says, they want to “conserve”.  The question – what do they want to conserve?

You can take “the future” right off the table.  You can’t conserve what doesn’t exist. 

Not only do Conservatives not want to “conserve” the future, they’d like to avoid it altogether if they can.  They don’t want to know about it and they don’t want to think about it.  They definitely don’t want to prepare themselves for it – because then they’d have to think about it.  And if they had to think about the future, they’d have to change.

And THAT ain’t happening.

Progressives – for comparison’s sake – want to “progress” – just as their name says.  Considering as you can’t “progress” into the past (that would be “regress), Progressives not only think about the future, they actively pursue strategies to deal with it.  But, I digress…

Conservatives have no interest in the future.  Their interest in the present is as a bulwark against the future.  Whatever change has already occurred – their first choice is to roll it back if they can.  If circumstances make that too complicated, conservatives are willing to cut their losses and move on.  But wherever progress has made inroads, conservatives see a long-term project.  Whether it’s abortion, immigration or LGBTQ rights, though conservatives may act as if they’ve accepted reality, they will continue to plot against it. 

So – if Conservatives can’t conserve the future and grudgingly conserve the present, that must mean what they REALLY want to “conserve” is THE PAST.

And THAT is the crux of the matter.  What Conservatives want to conserve is what was.  Not necessarily what REALLY was, but how they imagine “it was”.  Keep in mind – these are all White, Christian Men (mostly) that we’re talking about.  The “then” they so desperately want to conserve is a “then” where THEY had all the power & money.  The “then” Conservatives want to conserve is a time when THEY had total cultural and political hegemony.

The 1950’s were nicer and all but the time frame American Conservatives really have in mind is the 1850’s – antebellum America when everyone not European White knew their place.

If you sat most American Conservatives down on Tara’s front porch, had Prissy fanning the sweat from their brow while Mammy put a cool mint julep in their hand, those Conservatives would feel right at home.  They’d wonder why anyone would want to change this.  And then they’d put their feet up.

Dear Conservatives — Your Problem Is: No One (Except YOU) Wants To Conserve What YOU Want To Conserve

Want to know what a conservative wants? Look no further than their name: “CONSERVATIVE”. Conservatives want to “conserve“.

Now — ask the next logical question — “WHAT do conservatives want to CONSERVE?”

Do conservatives want to conserve the future? Of course not — you can’t conserve what doesn’t exist. Do conservatives want to conserve the present? That’s a little closer to the mark.

Yes — conservatives want to conserve what “is” — because what “is” still reflects a large measure of what “was” — and “what was” is exactly what conservatives want to conserve: WHAT WAS.

Now — ask the NEXT logical question: “What was it in the past that conservatives want to conserve?”

In America, it’s the quaint notion that America was ever a white person’s country. Yes, white people may have been the country’s political founders — but even as they crafted the country’s foundational documents, the truth about the country they were founding sat in a cultural blind spot. White men saw only their contributions, ignoring the considerable contributions coming from every other part of America’s already diverse and diversifying population.

Remember — aside from America’s native peoples — who were wiped out more by the Europeans pathogens than anything else — the real estate on which America sits belonged to no other “tribe”. By contrast, the real estate that became France or Spain or England had gone through a millennium at least of tribes slowly evolving from, say, Gauls or Visagoths or Celts into French people, Germans & British.

Just because you control the history doesn’t mean you control the Truth.

Conservative (Christian) thinking insisted that since slavery was “in the bible” it must be morally okay. What they really meant was paying fair wages to the people picking their cotton or cutting down their sugar cane would make profitability really hard. What those conservatives wanted to conserve in this case was as much money as possible.

In this instance, what conservatives wanted to “conserve” was their greedy hold on their part of America’s economy. And we made that deal. We gave slavery and slavers outsized political control over people who hated the idea of slavery.

That’s conservatism’s real problem. They’re a minority proposition in America. When more Americans vote, they vote Democratic. They vote for more progressive candidates & policies. They vote for progress & NOT conservatism.

That’s why Republicans work so hard to minimize Democracy. That’s why they suppress votes and demand voter ID laws. If Republicans thought the great mass of Americans would vote FOR them, they’d make walk-up voting as normal as breathing. But that’s not the case — so they don’t.

Moscow Mitch McConnell — whose whole mandate was to install permanent minority rule — has raised conservative corruption to a high art. Refusing to even give Merrick Garland a hearing wasn’t just another example of Mitch being a clever, cynical politician (which he absolutely is), it was Mitch asserting that only conservative goals matter — the harm done to who and what we are being utterly irrelevant.

The more “sane” conservatives will insist that conservatives don’t want to stop progress, they just want to “slow it down”.

The technical term for that is “bullshit”. Conservatives don’t want to slow America’s future down — they want to stop it dead in its tracks and reverse it. Conservatives want to live in a “golden past” that only ever existed in their own racist, misogynist, bigoted, ignorant minds.

So — the next time a conservative sits a little straighter while insisting they want what’s best for America? Be sure to laugh long and loudly at them. The America THEY think is best looks a hell of a lot like your average Antebellum cotton plantation.

Slavery epitomizes conservative values. That is what conservatives REALLY want to conserve.