Reparations: What About the Cost?

Cost is always a major opposing point to reparations. I echo Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who asked about cost when millionaires and billionaires were given a tax break? Furthermore, who asked about the cost of flying Melania Trump back and forth between New York and D. C. or the president on his many golf outings? Who asks about the cost of military installations around the world? (Finding the number is difficult because installation covers much space: “a military base, camp, post, station, yard, center, homeport facility).” Around 600 are overseas.

How much do we spend in foreign aid? We were told our country was rebuilding Iraq; now we learn that too was untrue. So, where did the money go? How many millions were found in the walls of Saddam Hussein’s palaces? Surely you can think of spending that could be cut or eliminated. Furthermore, this act refers to Washington only, a minuscule number of contracts in the country.

Before I submit this, I’ll most likely have come up with more suggestions for reparations. You yourself may have ideas. For much too long, African Americans have been marginalized, left out, ignored. Despite ability, talent, desire, effort, African Americans have not always had opportunities in any area. Our country has committed heinous deeds, slavery at the top or certainly near the top of any list. These deeds cannot be undone, but financial compensation could at least provide a means of acknowledging descendants of those whose personhood was never acknowledged. Financial compensation could provide a semblance of racial justice.

According to Washington’s Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises, “In the five years before the passage of I-200, state agencies spent an average of 10 percent of their public contracting dollars on small businesses owned by minorities. In the 20 years after I-200 passed, that rate has fallen to an average of 3 percent. That translates to $3.5 billion dollars lost in earnings.” Stated another way, before I-200, minorities received 10¢ of each $1.00; after the passage of I-200, minorities received 3¢ of every $1.00.

Port of Seattle Commissioner Stephanie Bowman said, “We have empirical evidence that disparity has grown, meaning opportunity has been denied to those who have not had the traditional advantages of contracting.” Bowman then added, “I would ask you a question: How many Caucasian males have come before this committee saying that they have not had enough work in the last 20 years?”

Thanks to each of you who voted to accept Referendum 88. Perhaps the day will soon come when more persons will see that such an act as Referendum 88 would contribute to the movement of this small section of the country on the road to parity.

~Georgia S. McDade, Ph. D.

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