Would America Breaking Into Two Americas – Red V Blue – Really Be Such A Bad Thing?

America is what happens when you let sleeping dogs lie and one of those dogs is racism. America has always had a jones for mythologizing itself. That’s because we have no common, longstanding history to stand on as people from every other country did when they came here. Aside from the Native Americans (wiped out by European pathogens, not European culture, wisdom or superiority), there is no roots “American Culture” other than the one that’s slowly been forming over the last 240 years — proof positive that America really is the place where E Pluribus Unum. E Pluribus Unum is America’s genius. Out of many, one is American Exceptionalism. But, white people prefer “All men are created equal” because they know that the white, Christian, land-owning men who wrote or stood by those words didn’t mean them literally (except for the word “men” which they meant very literally). That’s the foundational bullshit upon which originalism sits its bloated, intellectually dishonest ass: America can only ever be the country a bunch of white racists imagined it to be.

That’s the choice facing us — as it always has been. Nothing has changed since the nation’s founding. We are a great idea as yet unrealized. That doesn’t mean we can’t fully realize every last bit of E Pluribus Unum’s genius — which would, all by itself, fix “All men are created equal” into “All people stand equal before the rule of law”. Our kneejerk response to America splitting up is “That would be the end of America!” And, yes, it would be. It would be the end of America as the world has known it for 240 years. But it wouldn’t be the end of America.

The overwhelming majority of Americans want what the Democratic Party is doing, not what the Republican Party is doing. If you put it directly to every single voting age American “Citizen, do you want America’s experiment in self-government to continue or do you want America to become a one party, permanent minority rule authoritarian state, how do YOU think they’d vote? The hard core of the hard core Trumpanistas — the ones driving this shit wagon off a cliff — peaked at 25% of Americans. Trump famously shrank the Republican base down to HIS base. There are plenty of Never Trumpers among Republicans. There’s no comparable thing on the Democratic side — no Project Lincolns or groups of Republicans buying ads to implore other Republicans to vote for Democrats.

The problem is, we’ve gotten into our heads (thanks, news media!) that there ARE two sets of facts — one Democrats believe and one Republicans believe. Those “alternative facts” Kellyanne Conway so cleverly pulled from her bony white ass aren’t facts, they’re pure bullshit. That’s the point! They’re the ALTERNATIVE to facts, not an alternative version of facts.. See the difference?

On cannot compromise with evil. Evil will not compromise with you so, if you compromise with evil, evil stays as it is while YOU end up becoming more evil. Same goes for racism, bigotry, misogyny, ignorance and greed. In America, one of our two political parties has in fact fully compromised with all those things.

Take away the stolen labor (slavery) that built the southern and then Confederate economy and you there never is a southern or Confederate economy. Had the money that built the sugar cane, cotton and tobacco businesses been forced to pay its labor fairly (versus zero — it’s entirely possible that a very different country and culture would have emerged, one where workers and work were respected. One where race was irrelevant to how one stood before the rule of law. But, once you get it in your head that white people are superior in all they do, you’ve set yourself up for failure.

America must prosecute Donald Trump if it’s to remain a viable country. We can’t let hostile foreign countries at cyber war with us choose your presidents (and we can’t let the presidents they choose go unpunished for being literal traitors and their presidencies re-evaluated in the light of their treason). To let such presidents & presidencies stand is to invite such foreign involvement in the future since there’s literally no punishment for doing it. Why WOULDN’T a hostile foreign government buy as many candidates as possible? Hey, if democracy’s for sale and there’s money to be made?

Did I mention that nothing good happens when you compromise with greed?

Even as the rats begin turning on each other — realizing the depth of their legal peril — the damage done will remain. Alas, we do have two sets of “facts” in play (a contradiction of terms if ever there was one). Having seized control of the local political machinery (credit where credit is due — unlike Democrats, Republicans ran for local offices because they saw how important local control was), Republicans will have the means to push their states and localities past the breaking point where the rule of law can survive all the corruption around it. The rule of law can’t enforce itself — and every time we enforce it unfairly or unequally, we hurt its integrity. White nationalism drove the Confederacy’s rise. It drives the Confederacy’s lingering, zombie-like presence. It will drive the formation of a Second Confederacy if only to have an entity to negotiate Trump’s release from a prison sentence of Life — for having committed treason.

America at war with itself is unhealthy both for us and for our standing in the world. The world needs us to regain our stature. We really do represent something special to the world — the ideal that hard work and determination can overcome social status in a world that wishes it could quit social status as a “thing”. The world needs our genius for reinvention. It needs our democratic spirit to shine brightly — as the beacon the world always saw in us. If the red states chose to take their ball and go home, I say we should let them!

First, we’d put it on a ballot. One simple question: “Do you want (fill in state’s name here) to be a “red state” from this day forth or a “blue state”?” Count the votes and color the state accordingly.

Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that red voters have their way in most of the south. They won’t get Virginia. Georgia’s also a question mark as is North Carolina. And I bet even states like Kentucky (where there are more registered Democrats than Republicans) poll differently than we expect. Oh — all those polls? We’re going the hand-marked paper route. There’s too much at stake here to let a bunch of Republican-run companies pretend that they’re anything but corrupt. So, let’s say that all the southern states from Texas to Florida, from the Gulf Coast up through the Midwest to Oklahoma, Kansas, parts of Nebraska, the Dakotas, Wyoming, Idaho, parts of Utah and Western Washington and Oregon — these places all insist on ending their relationship with the United States of America.

This will be awful for all the blue state Americans living in what are now very real “red” states. They’ll be stuck with a Sophie’s choice re their lives. I’d expect a progressive, forward-thinking Blue America to anticipate Red America’s brain drain. Being government-minded, Blue America will naturally plan for various contingencies while Red America thinks “planning” is what “elites” do. Blue America — recognizing how important immigration has always been to the American ideal will simply re-establish, re-state and re-emphasize this fact. Without racism and greed interrupting the conversation, America might finally be ale to have a meaningful dialogue about immigration.

Blue America, we hope, will be a consummate respecter of the rule of law. Break it, no matter who you are, and you must take responsibility for breaking it. Red America, on the other hand, won’t have the rule of law. It will have a grab bag of “make it up as you go along” rules that only apply when they apply and only apply to who they apply to. Being belligerent by nature, Red America will endlessly sabre rattle. They’ll threaten us relentlessly. But only for a while. One thing the rule of law does is organize a society. Since the Second Confederacy will have tossed out the US Constitution, they’ll plow along without one.

Even if Red America tried to fashion a new “improved” US Constitution, we can all imagine the anti-democratic screed a bunch of racist, woman-hating, corrupt scumbags would cobble together. Only hard core Trumpists will be given any decision-making power. There won’t be any “system” beyond corrupt patronage. For reference, see “The Trump White House”. That will be how the Second Confederacy “governs”. Because greed and corruption run everything, nothing will run.

I give Red America’s power grid six months before it begins to shut down. Infrastructure will never happen. Roads and bridges will fall apart, isolating more and more pockets of Red America from Red America. Food will grow scarce, forcing some of those pockets to reconsider their “Red v Blue” votes.

While Blue Americans will be well educated (getting either free state run college or tech training whichever suits them), have health CARE free of charge (well, they pay for it through their tax dollars), paid family leave for pregnancy and illness and a universal basic income that allows Blue Americans to pay their bills while waiting for the best possible job opportunities (the ones that pay bigger salaries and taxes back into the system), Red Americans will sit in the dark, starving. While Blue America thrives, Red America will sink further into misery, making third world countries look like first world countries.

That’s when Blue America will hear a knock at its back door. It’ll be Red America still wanting back in, filled with contrition. Or what they hope is contrition having long since lost the ability to be contrite.

Having raised two children, I’ve learned that the very best teacher our children can have is failure. Success teaches us only that our shit doesn’t smell. Well, that’s nonsense — our shit continues smelling even when we succeed. The second we start buying our own press, we’ve set ourselves up for failure. Better to allow one’s children to taste failure from time to time — and then make sure they see the opportunities failure presents that success never would have.

Yeah, a Second American Civil War would suck. It would be terribly destructive and generationally expensive. But, it might be our only way back to becoming the America the world needs us to be.

The America WE need us to be…

Slavery Is A Zombie That Won’t Die

Any “original sins” Eve may have committed were literary. America’s original sin — slavery — was absolutely for real. America remains a great idea thus far poorly executed. We’re an experiment in human self government going through a very rough patch because of a design flaw at the beginning. The white, Christian, land-owning men who wrote or stood by “All men are created equal” didn’t mean “all men” though they did mean “men only”. Some of them, to their credit, did grasp where the correction to their fumble would come from when they made “E Pluribus Unum” our country’s motto. But, even those white, Christian, land-owning men who hated slavery — they still sat down and made a deal with slavery when they allowed it to exist at all inside the new country they were creating. Ever notice how, when you make a deal with “the devil”, it’s always the devil who makes out? Same with slavery.

America made a deal with slavery that slavery is still winning. It’s a zombie that will not die.

The incentive to enslave people is the same as the incentive to get people to work for nothing. Or next to nothing. Free labor is slavery’s one, true goal. All its associated costs (food, shelter and clothing for the enslaved) are just part of the larger equation: what it costs to have the slave versus the slave’s productivity. If the difference between those two numbers is great enough? Slavery is profitable. That’s its bottom line. If slavery wasn’t, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

The nations of Europe saw the Americas as a money-making venture first and foremost. That there were humans living here wasn’t a problem for long (thanks to European pathogens, not European cultural superiority). Capitalism was always the driving force behind colonization. As soon as the Europeans who first colonized America realized how well tobacco, sugar cane and cotton grew here — all being in high demand back in Europe — the race was on to produce more of those things as cheaply as possible. If we look at it from production’s point of view, the land is a hard cost. It’s non-negotiable. Same goes for whatever the “machinery” costs are to plow, sow and harvest the crops the land produces. The one big variable — the soft cost — is the human beings needed to do the actual physical labor.

If all the other costs of getting finished sugar cane to market are, at best, minimally negotiable and therefore baked into the cost of doing business, then the one place “the money” has to negotiate with is the soft cost: labor. From management’s point of view therefore every penny spent on workers is a penny less of profit. In a fair world, management wouldn’t see this as a zero sum game. They’d have foresight that projected their thinking beyond the next quarter and well into the future. And they’d see themselves and their product in the far larger perspective of the commonweal and the Greater Good.

Too bad crony capitalism is so much more attractive than plain, old, boring regular capitalism.

Take stolen labor off the table and there’s no way the Confederacy rises. Hell, if the money that first seeded the Confederate states’ agrarian economy had paid its labor fairly on principle, they might have founded an actual workers’ paradise. Alas, not only didn’t that happen, but the slave economy that dirty money built continued on even after slavery itself was theoretically made illegal. The greed at slavery’s root grows well in a potting soil of racism. Racism justifies both the greed and the slavery to the racist. Thus is the “slavery zombie” born inside the conservative brain. Inside the conservative-money brain.

No one makes a Nike sneaker — or a Tesla or a Blue Origin Rocket — all by themselves. No one alone can fix anything. Even if an Elon Musk “eureka’s” a great idea, ideas minus execution in some practical way are worth bupkis. They’re just “ideas”. To get from great idea to money-making product in the marketplace takes hundreds if not thousands of other peoples’ input and work. Yeah, sure — in the absence of the great idea, none of this work happens. But, by the same token, in the absence of the work to manifest the great idea here in reality, the great idea doesn’t happen either.

Good capitalism recognizes it must spread the profits generated much more equitably amongst every person who made those profits possible. The idea may get a bonus — an extra point or two perhaps. We do want to incentivize great ideation. But great ideators need to see their work in perspective. Remember: insulin’s creator, Sir Frederick G. Banting wanted insulin to be free to anyone who needed it. He refused to put his name on the patent, feeling it was “unethical for a doctor to profit from a discovery that would save lives. Banting’s co-inventors, James Collip and Charles Best, sold the insulin patent to the University of Toronto for a mere $1. They wanted everyone who needed their medication to be able to afford it.” A great idea in context!

But the three companies that currently cover 90% of the worldwide insulin market (Novo Nordisk, Eli Lily and Sonofi) have tossed the intent of insulin’s inventors aside especially inside America’s borders. What costs $8.81 (in 2018) outside America costs an American $98.70.– almost nine times higher. The cost of health care gobbles up much more of an American’s paycheck and wealth than anywhere else on the planet. Nowhere else (that’s civilized) can a cancer diagnosis result in a family going bankrupt and losing their home and generational wealth.

This is how slavers think and do business.

The Civil War may have formally ended slavery but it didn’t end the sentiment that made slavery possible. If anything, the end of formal slavery made informal slavery much more successful and far-reaching in America than actual slavery ever was. Modern day slavers may not be allowed to pay their workers nothing, but paying them next-to-nothing isn’t actually an improvement from the slave’s point of view. If slavery has any “benefits” (and it doesn’t of course), it’s that its workers (slaves) don’t have to feed, clothe and house themselves. The slave master takes care of those expenses. Freedom from slavery — such as it is — makes those expenses the former slave’s responsibility. They better earn enough money — now that they earn money for working — to pay for all these things!

That’s where the slavery-zombie suddenly pops into frame.

America used to foster “company towns” — places where “practically all stores and housing were owned by one company who also employed pretty much everyone in town” Pullman, IL, Hershey, PA, Steinway, NY and Roebling, NJ all were famous company towns. Wages in a company town were just enough to pay the bills (at the company stores) but not enough to ever build any wealth. That way, the workers would always be renters with no assets to speak of, real estate being the basis for all great wealth. That is exactly what institutional racism has done to Black wealth in America — made it almost impossible to acquire and absolutely impossible to maintain.

I know exactly on whose behalf the progressive wing of the Democratic Party is negotiating. I count myself as one of those people. The Democrats therefore are negotiating on my behalf. The Republicans are the most dishonest actors to ever take up acting. They’re cynicism on the hoof (so is the news media that covers them like they’re honest actors). They represent bullshit, criminality and treason. I’m not sure why any Democrat would negotiate with that. I completely disapprove of the Democrats negotiating away the things I want my government to do with my tax dollars especially since I don’t see who exactly we’re negotiating with here as it’s not the Republicans.

There are no Republicans in the room with the Democrats trying to make a deal for Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan. There are Progressives and their agenda — the President’s — and there are… “moderates”? Is that what people who negotiate against their constituents’ best interests are called these days? I hear Joe Manchin stamping his feet that “his number” is $1.3 trillion and he won’t budge from it but I don’t see for whose benefit here Joe is “negotiating”. Joe seems to think that taxpayers demanding their tax dollars benefit them is “entitlement” while rich guys putting our tax dollars into their pockets isn’t.

Greed is a foul, foul thing. Like a virus, greed turns those infects “into” it. Even good people suddenly get greedy. They may justify it a thousand different ways but that’s just the virus — their greed – talking.

Being undead, Zombies crave brains. Being greedy, slavery craves free labor — and if slavery can’t get the labor it needs for nothing, it wants to pay that labor as close to nothing as possible.

When Are We Going To Stop Being So Permissive To Criminals And Are We Being So Permissive Because Those Criminals Are White?

On January 20, 2021, at noon, Donald Trump ceased being POTUS and reverted to being Citizen Donald: former president with a few perks-of-the-office still but, in most other ways, just another American beholden to the rule of law. So, when Trump told those subpoenaed by the January 6 Commission to ignore those subpoenas, he was openly violating the law. In fact, each time Trump opens his mouth — like he did again at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines this weekend — and repeats those instructions while also continuing to openly support insurrection — that’s also a crime. When members of Congress stand with and support insurrectionists, they BECOME insurrectionists themselves because that’s how conspiracy to commit a crime works — especially when members of Congress openly associated with those insurrectionists in advance of the insurrection. It’s a crime to assault people just because you disagree with them. It’s a crime to threaten them — especially with a weapon. It’s a crime to co-conspire with hostile foreign governments to undermine America’s government.

At least, in theory, all those things are crimes. Apparently, they stop being crimes when rich, white Christian men are the perps.

First question: WHO is being permissive here? Who appears willing to accept terrible behavior by one group versus far less terrible behavior by other groups? For sure, Black people aren’t being permissive toward white crime, neither are brown nor Asian American nor Native American nor anyone LGBTQ. That leaves white people — and the people who speak for white people, our news media. If outraged citizens on the street, witnessing George Floyd’s murder, hadn’t videoed the event with their phones, we wouldn’t know about it. Same as we don’t know about most of the 6,400 other people police have killed or fatally shot since 2015. This doesn’t happen in other countries. It doesn’t make us “exceptional”.

America remains a great idea poorly executed because the white, land-owning Christian men who drew up America’s founding documents couldn’t overcome their own native racism. And, yeah — they were racists. They proved it by agreeing that “All men are created equal” so long as “All men” is “white, Christian, land-owners who also are MEN”. No one else qualifies as “equal”. Well, that idea is demonstrably false. The same men also put “E Pluribus Unum” on our Great Seal. “Out of many, one”. The Great Seal doesn’t qualify who the “many” are. That’s because E Pluribus Unum captures more fully America’s Secret Sauce (what makes America truly exceptional) far better than “All men are created equal” does.

The playing field has never truly been level here in America. That’s not a reflection on the strength of our founding idea, it’s a reflection of our not having gotten the hang of democracy yet. It really is a challenging form of government, being all DIY. As Churchill put it, “…democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms…”. Democracy is the best of a bad lot, in part, because (as Ben Franklin pointed out) it demands so much hard work to maintain a republic. It demands that its citizens participate — not an easy ask. In the whole history of humankind, self-government is a very, very recent innovation. Kowtowing like betas to an all powerful, divinely-connected alpha dog who claims a superior blood line is much more our habit. Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. And people claiming divine authority for their power are the MOST corrupt. They’re also the most full of shit.

That’s not a coincidence.

Here in America, white people gained an unfair advantage at the start that — understandably — they are loathe to let go of. But, what originalism really is saying is “Hey, we wrote the rules at the start — with a heavy bias toward ourselves — but that’s just how it is and how the country must always be”. White people also rationalized a legitimacy for enslaving people. America’s economic base, in the beginning, was agricultural. We could easily grow vast amounts of sugar cane, cotton and tobacco. The only problem with those particular crops though is the labor intensity demanded to grow and harvest them. If one had to pay a fair market wage to the labor needed — and one needed lots of labor prior to industrial farming techniques — then the profit margins would shrink radically; they might even vanish altogether. The decision to use slaves to perform that labor solved that problem by making the labor costs virtually zero.

At its bottommost line, slavery is stolen labor. America made stolen labor legal — so long as the laborer was Black. We also imposed a variation of slavery on Mexican farm laborers and Chinese railroad workers. Slave wages are designed to make economic independence impossible, keeping the worker enslaved to his or her job. An unhappy worker tied to a job because it has health INSURANCE (not health care — ours isn’t a health CARE system, it’s a health INSURANCE system — not the same thing!) that they literally can’t live without is not much better than a slave tied to a master because otherwise they’d have nowhere to sleep, no clothes, no food. Policing in America began as an adjunct to slavery. Originally, cops were slave hunters.

In other words, even the basis for law and order in America harkens back to our racist flaws and the maintenance of a corrupt, brutal economic system based on only one group in America actually having any rights to speak of. We walk in the door making life easier for white people and harder for everyone else. Crystal Mason is doing five years in a Texas prison for voting in 2016 though she was still on parole. Republican (and white guy) Edward Snodgrass forged his dead father’s signature on an absentee ballot — then voted himself — in the 2020 election. Snodgrass is a local politician in Porter Township where he lives. Busted, Snodgrass pled guilty to a reduced charge of falsification and received a sentence of three days in jail and a $500 fine!

Hmmmmmm… doesn’t seem quite fair, does it?

When Trump said, during his 2016 campaign, that he could shoot one of his followers on 5th Avenue and not suffer any consequences, he was horrifyingly right. Trump didn’t use a bullet to take out his followers, he used the coronavirus and lies. Trump understood — having lived the life of a criminal — that being rich, white and Christian was already a kind of “Get Out of Jail Free” card. He also understood that by corrupting others, the potency of that “Get Out Of Jail” card increases exponentially.

All abuses of power are corrupt. Our permissiveness toward white people when they act criminally is corruption on the hoof. That, too, is illegal. If we really want to stop this merry-go-round from hell, we need to stop it for good. We need to call corruption what it is and criminals what they are. If we just reframe our story, we’ll suddenly understand exactly what the story really is. And we’ll stop treating Republicans like honest actors, our partners-in-governance and start treating them like the criminals they are.

Republicans & Dead Ends

What does the Republican Party and a dead end have in common? Pretty much everything. The “modern” Republican Party (there’s an oxymoron if ever one existed) just isn’t that “into” democracy probably because democracy’s just not that into them. In the marketplace of ideas, Republicans are selling the past as what should be our future. By that they mean the future should look exactly like our past — predominantly white. That IS the whole point of conservatism after all — CONSERVING things. Politically, conservatives want to conserve the status quo or, preferably, the status quo as it was. The problem is, we really can’t live in the past. We all know people who try — those sad dudes who could never let go of high school. Sucks to peak early, I guess. That’s Republicans’ big problem: they peaked already. There’s no more “there” there where they’re concerned. The whole reason Republicans are resorting to voter suppression in the extreme is because they know they can’t appeal to those voters with their terrible, regressive ideas.

The GOP is gambling that their angry, violent minority can overpower the rest of us and cow us into compliance. Historians and talking heads point to all the places where this behavior has lead directly to authoritarian rule. That’s not encouraging but few of those places had America’s history of and with democracy. I don’t think it’s a given that people in this country roll over the way people in other countries have. It might take us a while to spark to revolt but the white minority doing this is such a minority — and, it’s America, EVERYONE has guns. Whatever that country turns into, it’s not going to be “America”. It’s not going to be the counter balance to Russia and China. It’s not going to be any kind of economic powerhouse because it will break down quickly.

What we’re witnessing is the Republican Party (the “Party of Lincoln”) attempting to re-start the Civil War so as to bring back slavery. The Republicans may not call what they have in mind “slavery” but, in time, it won’t differ (where the stolen labor is concerned) from what Black people had to endure in this country. If the Republicans could have their way, there’d BE no “minimum wage”. There’d be child labor and no such thing as “striking”. If Republicans could get everyone else to work for free (at its core, slavery is stolen labor), they’d think “Mission Accomplished”! — especially if all the extra profits ended up in their pockets.

The problem is, we all know this now. The news media still has it in its head that — because next year’s Biden’s first off-year election, norms say the Democrats will lose the House and Senate. That assumes we live in normal times. We don’t, of course. Not only is the electorate woke, we’re hyper woke. We’re keenly aware of what the Republican Party is doing; it’s the press that’s running miles behind.

The sum total of Republican ideas: how can they get richer than they are and hold onto power. Literally nothing else matters. Except maybe not going to prison for being traitors. The fact that Donald Trump was and is a traitor will be a fact of life — sooner than everyone thinks. The DoJ’s prosecution of the January 6 insurrectionists will, at some point, stumble over one very basic fact: Russia had a hand in it. Don’t think so? Don’t think Russia knew EVERYTHING that Team Trump and everyone around them was thinking? Once we break through to even the small acts of treason, the larger acts will become plain as day.

Want to talk about a dead end? Try treason. It’s a dead end for a country — as we nearly learned. But, now that the traitors have failed, their failure needs to be a dead end for every other perpetrator, too. They should have read the signs (posted and otherwise) and stopped. They knew what they were doing when they pressed on. They expected to win. How unfortunate for them.

Letting Donald Trump take over their party will be not just a dead end for the Republican Party but a cliff behind it.

Reparations For Slavery Are Actually “Back Pay” That’s Long, LONG Overdue

Slavery, understandably, is one of those words that juices our emotions. Anyone with a history of being enslaved understands on a deep, subcutaneous level how that hangs on one’s sense of self. And that’s without ever having been a slave oneself. Slavery isn’t just one thing of course. It’s a lot of things, none of them good. It’s a whole system in fact. But, it’s a system built upon one key, essential foundation: stolen labor. The whole point of enslaving someone — of making them your slave — is to force them to work for YOU for nothing. You get their labor gratis. Now, consider slavery from the point of view of work. If a person works for free, they can never acquire any wealth — or power, a thing that comes with wealth. Money talks, right? If you haven’t got any — and no way to acquire any — you don’t exist. As an individual, that is. Your work however DOES exist — and you, the slave, working for free, improve the slave master’s bottom line like literally nothing else. The bulk of the profits derived from slavery derive directly from the fact that the LABOR itself cost zero.

Now, to be fair, slavery didn’t provide completely free labor. The slave owner still had to house, feed and clothe his slaves. That’s cash OUT. The cost of a slave was seen as the difference between what it cost to keep a slave and whatever that slave’s maximum productivity could be. Since they were viewed as property, slaves could be sold as needed for cash or because they were “too much trouble” (meaning expensive) to hold onto. Killing slaves wasn’t a good option; that was understood as “destroying one’s own property”. Who in their right mind would do that?

Slavery’s apologists insist that the southern states could never have become viable without slavery’s almost free labor costs — as if white peoples’ need to make a buck transcended everything else in the discussion — including other human beings’ freedom. During slavery’s reign, plenty of apologists pointed to the Bible as justification for maintaining the institution as if the backwardness of iron age scribes excused contemporary immorality.

Want to measure what “fair” is? Ask yourself, if the shoes had all been on the opposite feet and white people had experienced CENTURIES of wage theft — and all the other devious ways white people stole Black peoples’ wealth in America — would white people go along to get along? Surely, you jest. White people in America have a terrible habit of changing rules on the fly for their benefit. This is one of them — but one we’re going to change because fairness demands it.

Though the founders couldn’t bring themselves to include ALL PEOPL;E in “All men are created equal”, still, some of them recognized the true super power lurking inside the American Experiment: diversity. In 1793, those Americans insisted that the words “E Pluribus Unum” become America’s motto and placed it on our “Great Seal”. How to sum up America in three words? From many, ONE.

The many, it’s understood, aren’t going to come here because they were kidnapped from their lives somewhere else, brutalized, transported and dehumanized so that others could get rich off your hard work. The many will come here for the opportunities that exist nowhere else on the planet. E Pluribus Unum is a great sales tool. Come Work For Free? Not so much.

The Confederacy, like the cotton, tobacco and sugar cane it relied on for cash flow, was literally BUILT on the free labor of slaves. Every single slave — or their descendant — has a legitimate claim against both the individuals who forced them to work for free and the government itself that falsely justified laws that permitted such egregious, wrong behavior. This was a conspiracy to deny a particular class of Americans (whether or not they were correctly called “Americans” the wages due them. Government conspired with private industry for their mutual benefit. They even went to war to protect this evil conspiracy to deny Black people the compensation to which they were entitled then and still are entitled.

Statues of limitations are a convenient way for those guilty to run out the clock on their culpability. A thing stolen remains stolen until its return to its true owner. Time can’t actually “forgive” anyone or anything. That’s the guilty party whistling past the graveyard of discovery . The wage theft inherent to slavery was just the most obvious of the thefts. Every time white people destroyed a thriving Black neighborhood like Greenwood — Black Wall Street — as they did in Tulsa in 1921 — they’re not just “burning out” and tearing down a thriving Black neighborhood. They’re stealing that neighborhood’s wealth. They’re taking its property — and that, too, DEMANDS reparation.

Hey — would the Carnegies or Rockefellers or Kochs or Mercers put up with this kind of thing? Ask a “hard” question, why don’tcha…

The Same White People Who Hate Critical Race Theory For Making Them “Feel Bad” About Their Racist History, Think Jews Deserve Punishment Cos “They Killed Jesus”

Just think: if not for the pathogens they carried with them from Europe to the New World — pathogens that decimated the native populations — Europeans would have had a far harder time establishing a beach head in the Americas north or south. Knowing zero about germ theory, Europeans assume their rapid takedown of the Aztecs, the Incas, the Cherokee, the Choctaw, the Sioux and the Navaho (among many others) was because European culture was superior. Yes, between guns and steel, the Europeans held another advantage but even armed to the teeth, the Europeans — arriving sea sick and ill-prepared for the hardships ahead in their little boats would have been no match for native tribes that outnumbered them and, after getting to know the white Europeans, didn’t trust them. Not only do white Europeans not feel badly about what they did to America’s native tribes, they celebrate it, raising their drive across the North American continent to the divine. “Manifest destiny was simply white people getting their divine due and a whole continent that belonged to other people to boot.

White people have always known what they were up to — and always felt entitled to it. The thought of taking ownership however — that’s where it ends. White people happily held up their most sacred religious texts to defend slavery (some still do). Slavery wasn’t their fault, they insist. Never mind the money slavery put in their pocket — and keeps in their pocket still. They ain’t giving it back, they insist.

Critical race theory insists they MUST give it back or risk becoming perpetual pariahs.

Slavery, at its bottom-most line, is about stolen labor. The whole point of making someone your slave is that they now work for YOU for free. Well, not entirely for free. You will have to house your slave and feed him or her. You’ll have to clothe your slave and, when necessary, travel them. You’ll have to pencil out a complete cost-benefit analysis to establish how the costs of slavery will relate to any possible profit from the slave’s work product. We can only assume that such analysis constantly favored keeping slaves — because the South kept them and then was willing to go to war over keeping slaves. The South’s agrarian economy relied on finding the cheapest possible farm labor. Every penny a cotton or sugar cane grower could keep in their pocket was another penny denied farm laborers.

The slave trade didn’t care about the fact that slaves were being transported across the Atlantic in appalling circumstances. White supremacists certainly don’t. Hell, they celebrate every last bit of white nationalist brutality. There are white families today whose wealth ties directly back to slavery. If not for their family member’s direct profiting from slavery, their family might never have achieved the staggering wealth they now take for granted. That’s really the bottom line and bottom lines are always, ultimately, about money.

Republicans despise the notion of taking responsibility because, they know, there’s a shit-ton of responsibility waiting to be taken. Republicans also know the nature of that responsibility. The irony (there’s always irony) is that those same Republicans who refuse to take responsibility for things they actually do and did (acts of overt racism, backing an insurrection, reveling in corruption and just being a stone cold traitor) are almost invariably deeply Christian, too. Being Christians, they believe Jesus died for their sins (an essential part of Jesus’ purpose if we’re to believe the stories). Being Christians, they also believe that Judas Iscariot caused Jesus’ death and that, subsequently, every Jew on the planet can be held responsible.

Christians have used this utterly nonsensical mythology to demonize Jews almost from the very beginning. No doubt, the actual number of Jews who died at Christian hands over fifteen hundred years would blow us all away. So would the true number of slaves brought to America. So, too, would the total amount of stolen labor — represented as dollars. It’s not just labor that white people stole, it’s the wealth that comes with being paid for one’s labors that also was stolen.

There’s really no other way to put it. White people (especially the white supremacists) are so full of shit that if they were any more full of shit? They’d start spontaneously exploding.

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.

The GOP Is Soooooo Pro-Slavery, They’re Actively Trying To Bring It BACK!

Wanna talk the bitterest of irony? “The Party of Lincoln” isn’t just some “fellow traveler” with slavery. The Republicans are the Bond Villain convinced he can make it rain. The GOP makes no bones about how racist it is. The overwhelming whiteness of its membership isn’t a bug, it’s the whole point. The Right White money — think the Kochs & Mercers — have steered their party toward a visible horizon — permanent minority rule. Between gerrymandering and massive voter suppression tactics, Republicans have created a host of bizarre “looking glass worlds” like Michigan and Pennsylvania where the structure of government has been so perverted that Democrats have to vote in far larger numbers than Republicans (more than twice Republican turnout) just to level the playing field. Can anyone say “poll tax”? Seen as a whole (hell, seen even in parts!), the Republican Party is actively engaged in a project that — had they succeeded (they won’t now) — would have returned America to a country where slavery exists. This time though, it wouldn’t just be Black people in chains. What America did to Black people was a perverse dry run for what the GOP STILL has in mind — the enslavement of everyone not them IN America.

Being Jewish, I know what it’s like to be looked at as if I was a cockroach. What do I mean by that? The first step in legitimizing the idea of genocide in someone’s head is you stop seeing the people you want to genocide as “people”. I use the word “cockroach” because — except from people who study cockroaches — we all understand that visceral feeling produced at the mere idea of “cockroach”. That’s how racists feel about Black people — and brown people and “yellow” people (a color descriptor I honestly do not get) and Jewish people. They are one thing, all the rest of us are quite another. We can be useful. We can even be profitable. But we are always, always, ALWAYS expendable.

At its bottom line, slavery is stolen labor. Forcing people — against their will — to work for free — doing work they do not want to do: slavery. Here in America, cotton and sugar cane became cash crops. Problem: both were labor intensive to farm and harvest. If one had to pay all the laborers a fair wage, one might not make a whole lot of money growing those crops. BUT — if one could get all that expensive labor for FREE, well then — one COULD farm those crops and make a shitload of money. Of course, nothing’s entirely free — one still has to house, clothe and feed slaves. That’s cash out. So — business being just math — one needs to cost-benefit analyze what it costs to have a slave versus the money one can make from that slave. Judging by how slavery proliferated in America — and how vociferously slavers fought to KEEP slavery in America — slavery must have been one rock solid business model.

America justified slavery — to itself — because it was good for business. That’s a stone cold fact. Some Americans even held up their Bibles to back up how righteous it was, too. Slavery was good for business AND sanctified by God. Anyone NOT wanting slavery, was… well — cockroaches come to mind.

As historian Heather Cox Richardson has pointed out in her book “To Make Men Free: A History Of The Republican Party”, with America, you have to be careful about political labeling. Something strange happened in America — but then, racism makes strange things happen. The Republican Party Abraham Lincoln felt kinship with and joined because it was anti-slavery — has switched places with the party it opposed: the Democrats. Forget labels! Back then, people calling themselves “Southern Democrats” were pro-slavery. When the country split apart to engage in civil war with itself, the Republicans were understood to be anti-slavery and the Democrats pro-slavery.

Woodrow Wilson — one of the most racist presidents we’ve ever had (though we consider him “New Jersey” because he was at Princeton, Wilson was born in Alabama) — was a Democrat. By contrast, one of Wilson’s predecessors — Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican — was progressive in myriad ways (he was an early environmentalist). By the time Warren Harding became POTUS, the Republican Party was no longer the set of ideals the party was founded on. Perversely, they were now officially the party they used to run against.

When Richard Nixon adopted his “southern strategy”, he was simply formalizing what everyone already knew: Republican success in the future needed to tie itself to racism. The longer Republicans could keep racism alive, the longer they could hold onto power. That’s the “southern strategy”. It all hinges on the lingering embers of Confederate sympathy — and we all know what the Confederacy’s founding principle was: SLAVERY. If you get weepy in any way, shape or form when you see a Confederate flag? It means you like slavery.

Now, “liking slavery” is one thing. Doing something about it — like fomenting an insurrection? That’s a whole lot of lines crossed where there’s no going back.

It’s not a coincidence that, historically, southern Democrats (modern Republicans) worked diligently to keep Black people from voting. Hey, remember that “3/5 of a man” idea — it’s because Southerners knew sorta-kinda how many Black slaves they held. If those people were counted as “citizens”, white southerners would soon be shit outta luck and in the minority! Doesn’t take a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows, as they say — or a racist to see himself in the minority. The Civil Was was all about keeping slaves slaves.

The South may have lost the war but, damn if they didn’t win the peace that followed. The South literally rewrote the narrative. Look at every seceding state’s “Here’s why we’re seceding!” document. Not a single one mentions “states’ rights”. Not a one. But slavery? C’mon now — if you can read, you can see The Truth. The southern states rebelled and left the union over slavery. When the war ended, their desire for slavery did not. Southern sympathy killed Reconstruction dead. America might be a very different country today if Reconstruction had rolled out as intended. Instead, the sons of the Confederacy legitimized their lingering racism by changing the narrative completely. Suddenly, their treason wasn’t about slavery, it was about something fundamental to the American ideal: rights — states’ rights!

Suddenly, traitors like Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson were being celebrated by America — as heroes FFS! We got it into our heads that a murderous, rebellious battle cry — the “Rebel yell” — was fun, funny, profitable. Oy, America — OY!

The New South just announced itself in Georgia. The Democrats won there because Black people have returned. They will not be bamboozled or cheated out of their rights and their wealth this time. The South will be better for it. It already is.

Make no mistake — Republican racism won’t stop of its own accord. We will have to physically stop it. We will have to remain vigilant. These embers of hate can rekindle just like that. We need to see the Republicans clearly for what they are and what their mission is. When the Biden Administration and the Democrats put forward their $1.9 trillion pandemic relief package, they arrived at the number by putting pencil to paper and calculating what We The People would NEED. As Joe Biden himself has put it it — we shouldn’t be afraid of spending too much, we should be afraid of spending too little.

And yet — the 10 Republicans who approached Biden with their own proposal didn’t have that problem in mind. They pitched a package one-third as big. We KNOW why Team Biden pitched their number — math. Why did the Republicans pitch the number they pitched? Careful — if you get too close, you’ll find that number smells oddly like shit — because the Republicans pulled it from their asses. There WAS and IS no basis for the Republicans’ number. It’s just a number that’s less than what the Democrats want — and what the Democrats want is to alleviate the suffering of ordinary Americans.

What do the Republicans want? If we had anything like a “news media”, they’d be circling that question like sharks drawn to fresh blood. Surely the GOP has a particular reason for denying so many Americans help. Surely they have some “organizing principle” around which they’re drawing their wagons… They don’t actually. That’s the point. They don’t have a point!

The reason not to give people the relief they need is the same reason you want to keep the minimum wage at — say it together — “slave wages”. People too poor to adequately feed themselves should have just enough energy to work for their next paycheck. Whether they live or die — not relevant — because every one of those cogs is replaceable. Cogs or cockroaches — it’s all the same thing. The closer you can get those working for you to work for nothing — and that is how Republicans would love to have it — the closer you get back to literal slavery.

But, let’s be real — the dynamics of a “company town” are the dynamics of slavery. It’s feudalism. It’s a practice conservative business owners have pined for. Not-so-funny funny thing? The Black Death killed half of Europe. It also killed feudalism. Pandemics can change things on a fundamental level. Bubonic plague created a labor vacuum. Too few workers made work more valuable. Vassals, formerly obligated to till their masters’ fields now had a choice. They “could” do what their masters needed — but they could also tend the fields of the lord next door — because he was willing to pay a cash premium to make sure his crops didn’t rot in his fields before they could be harvested.

The plague empowered workers and economic change by disempowering the slavers. This pandemic’s empowering the perennial political underclass — but also by disempowering slavers.

This time, America could get it right. Because Black people are taking so much more of the political power (power long overdue them!) alongside women in general and other people of color, we have the will to finally level this playing field the way it should have been leveled at the start. Slavery cannot produce greatness of any kind because it automatically disrespects the labor required to produce work. Only by treating labor fairly — paying it what it deserves to be paid — can we achieve the freedom we talk about. Freedom after all isn’t just everyone getting to do whatever the hell they want.

That’s a silly, ten year old’s idea of freedom — “You’re not the boss of me” — you know, “Libertarianism”. Freedom comes with awesome responsibilities. It’s a package deal, sorry. Don’t want the responsibilities? Don’t take the benefits. Part of being free is making sure EVERYONE has the same level of freedom. That requires everyone having the same opportunity. That requires everyone gets the same access to a good education, the same good, comprehensive health CARE (not insurance, care), the same treatment under the law. That takes work and vigilance.

The Republican Party now freely admits: they have no interest in democracy. Not enough people want to vote for their “ideas” (such as they are) to make democracy practical for them. Now, cheating, on the other hand — that’s just necessity now. America simply does not want the Republicans’ vision for America — or for them. Who wants to be a slave?

Above All, The Whole Point Of Slavery Is Stolen Labor

At its bottom line, slavery steals labor. That is, it refuses to PAY FOR labor, choosing to TAKE IT from the laborer instead. Yeah, sure — the slaver may have to feed, clothe and house his slaves, but these are all just the “costs of doing business”. At the end of the (working) day, the slaver’s savings on labor will far, far outweigh any hard costs of keeping his slaves. The proof? Slavery proliferated in America.

Two crops grew in the American south that made slavery especially “attractive” to cost-conscious Southern farmers: sugar cane and cotton. Prior to mechanization, both were unusually labor-intensive. If cotton plantations had had to pay a living wage to its workers — instead of stealing their slaves’ labor — they would, in theory, never have become successful. Or, economic success would have been harder to achieve and maintain. That’s from a white, monied perspective.

From the perspective of the person taken from their home and homeland and shipped halfway across the globe to forcibly pick a stranger’s cotton for twelve hours a day for literally no money? This is monstrous. It’s criminal. It’s deeply, irredeemably immoral.

Though formal slavery ended, we’ve always allowed an informal kind of slavery to exist here in America. Every time we give money more credence than human beings, we keep slavery alive. Same token? Every time we, as consumers, go hunting for a cheap pair of socks? We’re doing the exact same thing.

The whole point of moving production from, say, America to, say, Bangladesh is because the laws in Bangladesh allow companies to treat and pay their employees even more poorly than here in America. In some places, literal slave or prison labor makes the goods we buy. Why doesn’t that disturb America to its core? Because America still empowers slavery. We still give slavery a political voice via the Electoral College. The EC is literally slavery voting.

To be fair, America was a commercial enterprise first, an experiment in human self-government second. While the Pilgrims may be emigrated to these shores in search of “religious freedom, once here, they behaved as exploitatively as everyone else. They just justified their exploitation a little differently.

The fact that Mitch McConnell and the GOP don’t want to put money directly into Americans’ pockets — even as we all struggle under the crushing weight the pandemic has placed on our economy — is just the latest iteration of Republicans being slavery-minded. In Marxist thinking, “surplus value” is the value of work minus what it costs the worker to produce it. The question: who gets to profit from a worker’s “surplus value”? The worker or the the worker’s boss?

Of course, the fairest answer would be something both feel respects their input. It’s just a fact — conservatives value money way more than the human beings who actually did the work to create that money. Conservative thinking believes in the right (and might) of kings. If you’re rich, it’s because God wants you to BE rich. It’s just a fact: an awful lot of those theists actually believe THEY personally are God so, of course “God” wants them to “be rich”.

Conservative money despises the whole idea of Universal Basic Income because it would completely destroy slavery. If no one has to work for crap money — if UBI allows them to wait for work more suited to their temperament, skill set and future — as hard data already demonstrates, those people end up getting better jobs that pay better wages, give them greater financial security and — bonus points — causes them to PAY MORE IN TAXES BACK TO THE SYSTEM. Whereas trickle down hands money to rich people — in the hopes that they’ll buy things or pay people (how the trickle would eventually “get down”), UBI cash flows the economy from the bottom up.

What do people receiving UBI do with their money? Do they hoard it like banks do (or did after the 2008 bailout)? No — THEY SPEND IT: on their rent, on food, on clothing, on their education. On their children and families. The cash FLOWS INTO the economy at a local level which then floods the whole system with cash.

But, if — like a republican — down deep, you secretly long for the return of literal slavery — the idea of workers doing what they want (even if it makes everyone and everything more productive)? Apparently, that’s a bridge too far. It’s not head-scratchingly hard to figure out.

Look at the past. Listen to everything Republicans insist they want. Look at how hard Republicans have fought to enslave as many Americans as they can via economic hardship.

It’s not a coincidence. To every Republican, slavery isn’t just a blast from the past, it’s what Republicans want to have for breakfast every day. More to the point, slavery is what Republicans want every American to have for breakfast — every damned day.

First & Foremost, Slavery Was Stolen Labor

If I steal your car, I’ve stolen something you bought using money you made from the sweat of your brow. If I enslave you, I cut out the middle man as it were. I don’t have to steal your car to get what was yours, I steal your labor directly. It’s more efficient. More ruthless.

In America, slavery belonged to the south where it worked the fields mostly. Picking cotton and cutting sugar cane were labor intensive work back before machinery showed up. If a plantation owner had to pay for labor (never mind a fair wage for that labor), their profits would have been wafer thin if they’d had any at all. The whole point of slavery is you get the work done — and you make your money — without having to worry about the cost of labor. Sure, sure — you still have to feed and house that labor but, since they’re slaves anyway, it’s not like you have to make their food or housing decent.

Since slaves aren’t technically human to the slaver (even calling slaves three-fifths of a regular white person was an over-statement to them made solely to cut the Electoral College deal), he can not only steal their labor but every other facet of their lives too. The slaver can see the slave’s children like calves or lambs to be separated from their parents and sold off individually.

If I steal your labor, I steal a big part of you — of who you are and why you’re here. You may think your purpose in life is to live happily. I think your purpose is to pick my cotton and keep the mint juleps flowing — for free. If I win that fight and force you to work for me, for nothing, you will have no way even to earn your way to freedom. I will know that you will be my slave forever.

The fact is, slavery was very good for the Confederacy’s agrarian economy. “If the Confederacy had been a separate nation, it would have ranked as the fourth richest in the world at the start of the Civil War.” Without slavery, the south couldn’t produce cotton cheaply. That is no justification for slavery. But it was to the south.

Ironically, when Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin in 1794, they thought the gin’s ability to comb cotton seeds from cotton bolls would reduce the need for slavery. The opposite happened. While a slave “could pick the seeds out of 10 pounds of cotton in a day. The cotton gin could process 100 pounds in the same time.” The white guys running things planted more cotton. Rather, they had their slaves plant more cotton.

America has always lived with an impossibility at its core — the idea that “all men are created equal” except the ones who are slaves. Not only did we not actually believe that all men were created equal, we did not believe their work was equal either. We’ve always believed that white peoples’ work was worth more than black peoples’ work — even if it was the same damned work.

Once I steal your productivity, your happiness is easy to pick off and destroy. It’s stolen labor that makes slavery “slavery”.