I like numbers, because they tell a lot of truth. They do not tell the whole truth. However, numbers are not truth. Just like facts, are not necessarily truth. Take for example the FOX News “facts” about the reason for declines in jobs in Black communities and the increase in poverty and unemployment are because cities like Detroit and Chicago have democrat mayors. Indeed, the statement contains facts, but the fact it omits facts makes it a lie. Get it?
So lately I have been looking at the numbers regarding incarceration, the reasons for incarceration, Race and incarceration, and Reparations. Had America paid reparations for slavery, Jim Crow, ban against Black World War 2 veterans from partaking in the GI Bill available to whites, and subsequent for civil rights abuses, we would have a far different, and I argue, a far better, far more civil and more prosperous nation. But I’ll come back to that.
First, for the sake of this article, it is critical to arrive at a useable number for recipients of reparations. There are currently about 35 million Blacks in the US. We have benefitted from a wave of immigration in recent decades, and it is an arguable point that even new Black immigrants suffer from systemic racism and should be owed some compensation. setting that aside I am using 1970 census figures of 22.6 million Blacks. 1970 was right at the height of the civil rights era.
This from Wikipedia: “Harper’s Magazine has created an estimate that the total of reparations due is over 100 trillion dollars, based on 222,505,049 hours of forced labor between 1619 and 1865, with a compounded interest of 6%. Should all or part of this amount be paid to the descendants of slaves in the United States, the current U.S. government would only pay a fraction of that cost, over 40 trillion dollars, since it has been in existence only since 1789″ Great number, but if you divide that by 22.6 million people it comes out to $442 per person. When it comes to math, my white people are as sneaky as, say, eliminating slavery…EXCEPT when you’re in prison.
In 1970 the real number might have been $500,000, and perhaps, affordably, to heads of households, which would uplift whole communities and generations. Now, at a minimum that number would have to be at least one million dollars, enough to spur true independent economic growth with reasonable sustainability, at least at an educational, housing and small business investment level. That number, if paid to every Black person, would come to $22,600,000,000,000 or 22.6 quadrillion, or about 200 times the annual entire US economy. If paid to heads of households, well, as a society we have but decimated Black families.
In other words, America, played around, dened its responsibilities, chose to be nakedly racist as in the case of the denied GI Bill and skirted its debts so badly that payments over the course of the next 200 years would be meaningless or a lump sum could never be achieved…or could it?
Some 700,000 Blacks are currently in US prisons, out of a total prison population of 2.4 million That’s 37%. Though most prison inmates are white. The annual prison expenditure is around $65 billion annually, with varying costs for a single prisoner at between $30 and 60 thousand annually. Those are middle income salaries. We would be better off paying people $50 grand a year just to stay out of prison! But I digress.
So incarcerating Blacks costs the US, not including extra police, the cost of private security to businesses, the cost to the medical system and more, is about $26 billion. Since 1950, conservatively, the US has squandered more than $1.6 trillion on incarceration of Blacks. How much of that was race and poverty related? A substantial portion. More so if you look at the age of prison populations.
Most prisoners are not young people. Forget the feral child cartoon of the Right. Recidivism contributes to the age of prisoners piling up 35 and 45, or about 65%. The number of prisoners below age 35 is below about 26%. That indicates people getting trapped in a cycle, which peaks during middle age. Those are people who could be working, owning homes and more.
Now, the simple part is this: Paying reparations to Blacks would have an immediate and long lasting social, political and economic benefit to the nation. Drug usage and gang violence would collapse. There would be a revolutionary reinvigoration to thousands of communities around the nation through increased tax base, school funding, entrepreneurship, a small business explosion and unprecedented homeownership and valuation in Black communities. That would have spillover effects geographically as well as in a myriad of other parts of the economy.
The nation has the money. Seriously, for the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 the federal government dropped $700 billion overnight. The Fed bailed out Wall Street and the banks to the tune of $1.2 trillion. giving 2000 Black families $1 million bucks and paying half of Black people otherwise incarcerated $50 grand would have been far more productive to the society and the economy.
Think about it…