General Order No. 21: Bitcoin and the Compelling Case for Reparations in America

General Order No. 21: Bitcoin and the Compelling Case for Reparations in America

In an era marked by increasing awareness of historical injustices and the persistent legacy of systemic discrimination, the issue of reparations has emerged as a topic of significant debate and contemplation. With an emphasis on historical context, economic disparity, and potential avenues for redress, this article aims to shed light on the complex subject of reparations.‌‌

The story of America is intertwined with a painful history of racial discrimination and oppression. From the horrors of slavery to the enduring effects of Jim Crow laws and discriminatory policies, African Americans have faced systemic barriers that have impeded their socioeconomic wellbeing. ‌‌

While examining the potential role of Bitcoin and other alternative methods as vehicles for reparations, this article recognizes the importance of considering a comprehensive approach that goes beyond mere financial compensation. It delves into the significance of land ownership, the importance of psychological and social empowerment, discriminatory lending practices, and the historical context of reparations given to other marginalized groups, underscoring the need for a multi-faceted response to address the systemic harms endured by African Americans.‌‌

Through this examination, we aim to provoke thoughtful reflection and constructive dialogue on the pressing issue of reparations. We seek to challenge preconceived notions, foster empathy, and encourage a deeper understanding of the historical injustices that have shaped our society. By acknowledging the past and focusing on the path forward, we can collectively strive for a more equitable and just future for all. This article invites readers to critically engage with the topic of reparations, recognizing its significance not only in rectifying past wrongs, but also in forging a path towards a more inclusive and harmonious society.

Reparations is the Final Seal in the Civil Rights Movement

Could reparations be the final seal of the Civil Rights Movement? It certainly brings forth a compelling narrative of healing and true reconciliation.

Whether you agree or disagree on whether any form of benefits should be further appropriated to the black caucus, there is no debate about the significant wealth gap between Black and White Americans, which can be directly traced back to the legacy of slavery and systemic racism. According to a 2020 report by the Brookings Institution, the median wealth of White households in America is ten times greater than that of Black households, with the median net worth of White households being $171,000, compared to just $17,600 for Black households. This wealth gap is not only a result of income disparities but also a result of historical discrimination and disenfranchisement of Black Americans, which has had a long-lasting impact on their ability to build wealth.‌‌

Economist William Darity asserts that “Black heads of households with a college degree have two-thirds of the net worth of white heads-of-households who never finished high school. So, you're not going to eliminate the racial wealth gap simply by giving black people a better education. Because you're not going to interrupt the intergenerational transmission effects that are associated with moving resources from one generation to the next…”‌‌

There is also a clear disparity in business ownership between Black and White Americans, which will be explained further later in this article. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, analysis from 2019 revealed that Black Americans are half as likely as White Americans to own their own company. This is partly due to historical discrimination in lending and access to capital, which has made it harder for Black Americans to start and grow their own businesses. ‌‌‌‌The many economic injustices against Black Americans have been well documented throughout American history, but how we solve those problems is the next (and most important) step in rectifying the historic trauma Black Americans have experienced. ‌‌

Saving in Bitcoin: Digital Reparations‌‌

Bitcoiner Isaiah Jackson has gone on record to say that reparations are justifiable due to the fact that other ethnic groups have received reparations in America for documented discriminatory practices: ‌‌

“I argue that, because reparations have been given out to people in this country who were disenfranchised, black people are owed reparations. There is a precedent to what we are asking for. The problem is… the printing of money debases the currency.”

Since the printing of money would devalue the currency it would not be in the country's overall best interest, and it also would not serve as the ideal form of reparations. The United States Dollar is an asset that is guaranteed to lose value over time and serves no purpose as a vehicle for long-term generational wealth.

Isaiah Jackson went on to emphasize that Black Americans should “get into the bitcoin market [and start] building an economy where we own it. Because the value that you think you’re owed will be given right back to you [if you invest in bitcoin]. Value is given to whoever creates it.”

While saving in bitcoin is a practical way to combat the atrocities of slavery, it’s probably not the most efficient form of reparations in terms of it being a formal apology for the illegal practice of slavery. There are other ways in which the federal government could appropriate property, credit, cash, digital property, as well as many other assets to the descendants of formerly enslaved African Americans.‌‌‌‌Reparations doesn’t necessarily constitute a pandemic-like influx of cash. If you’re of the thinking that lump sums of cash will not help deter the historical atrocities of slavery, that’s fine. But that also doesn’t mean that an apology in the form of a generational socioeconomic intervention isn’t valid, either. There are alternative methods of reparations that provide comprehensive and tangible means of rectifying historical injustices against African Americans. These alternative methods include but are not limited to,

Credit Reset

A credit reset would involve wiping bad credit scores and appropriating high credit scores to Black Americans. This would help mitigate the long-lasting impact of economic discrimination. Addressing the impact of historical economic disparities, wiping bad credit scores and appropriating high credit scores to Black Americans can be a step toward fulfilling General Order No. 15. This approach would enable Black Americans to access better financial opportunities, such as affordable loans and mortgages, which are vital for wealth accumulation and economic mobility. Research supports the importance of addressing credit disparities as a means to promote economic equity and rectify historical injustices. By providing financial education, offering support for credit repair, and promoting fair lending practices, the government can help rectify the enduring effects of economic discrimination.‌‌

Tax Exemptions

Eliminating tax debts for Black Americans can contribute to fulfilling the promises of General Order No. 15. Eliminating tax debts and providing tax exemptions for Black Americans can be a meaningful form of reparations. This acknowledges the disproportionate burden that communities of color have borne throughout history.  Scholarly works argue that taxation policies should consider the disproportionate impact of historical discrimination on wealth accumulation and economic opportunities for African Americans. Implementing tax exemptions not only addresses economic disparities but also promotes a more equitable tax system that acknowledges the unique challenges faced by Black Americans.

Land Appropriation

Land appropriation represents an alternative and effective form of reparations. There are vast swaths of unoccupied land within the United States that could be made readily available to African American communities. By ensuring access and ownership to more land, the government can contribute to economic empowerment, self-sustainability, and the realization of General Order No. 15's objective of providing economic sustainability to African Americans.‌‌

Population-to-Acreage Appropriation Ratio

Proper representation of land ownership should consider the proportion of the current Black American population to the land within the United States. To address the proper representation of land ownership, a proportionate approach based on the percentage of the Black American population is a valid consideration. 47 percent of the continental United States is uninhabited. This includes the vast swaths of land West of the Mississippi available for appropriation to Black Americans.‌‌

Proper representation of land ownership ensures that African Americans have a fair share in the nation's resources, fostering their ability to build wealth and economic security. Allocating land in proportion to the demographic's population ensures equitable distribution and helps rectify historical disparities. Striving for a 14% allocation of land to correspond with the estimated percentage of the Black American population is a realistic step towards fulfilling the promises of General Order No. 15.‌‌

Universal Basic Reparations

Universal basic reparations, modeled after a blue-chip company, can provide essential benefits to African Americans. Implementing a comprehensive reparations program akin to a blue-chip company could include essential benefits such as free medical and dental care, job training, paid education, and paid vacation during Black History Month and Juneteenth. The concept of universal basic reparations draws inspiration from how America’s top companies treat their employees, and the idea that every individual, regardless of their background, deserves equal access to essential services and opportunities that foster personal and economic well-being, simultaneously breaking cycles of intergenerational poverty.

Monthly Paid Holidays

Minus Juneteenth and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, recognizing the achievements of African Americans through monthly paid holidays would further ensure a sense of cultural pride and inclusivity. A voting process exclusively by the Black Caucus within the Senate and House can determine the honorees for the remaining 10 months. These individuals would represent influential figures from different fields, allowing for a diverse celebration of African American excellence throughout the entire year.

Legal Marijuana

Legalizing marijuana and providing exclusive licenses for 89 years can address the harms caused by the criminalization of marijuana. Michelle Alexander's "The New Jim Crow" (2010) highlights the disproportionate impact of drug laws on African Americans. The criminalization of marijuana has disproportionately affected Black individuals, resulting in higher arrest and incarceration rates compared to their white counterparts. This has perpetuated systemic racism, contributing to the cycle of poverty and limited opportunities within African American communities.‌‌

By legalizing marijuana and ensuring access to resources to grow, cultivate, and sell cannabis, the federal government will not only address the historical injustices of the "War on Drugs" but also create new economic prospects for African Americans. Exclusive permits and licenses to grow and sell cannabis would provide the Black community with a fair chance to participate in the new legal marijuana industry, which is expected to reach over $100 Billion worldwide. This alternative form of reparations can pave the way for increased economic empowerment, job creation, and wealth accumulation within the African American community, helping to dismantle the unjust legacies of discriminatory drug policies.

Priority Business Grants

To address  the disparities in business ownership, providing more business grants exclusively to Black individuals for business startups can rectify historical injustices and promote economic empowerment. In 2019, there were a total of 5,771,292 employer firms (businesses with more than one employee), of which only 2.3% (134,567) were Black-owned, even though Black people comprise 14.2% of the country’s population, per the Brookings institution. Priority business grants represent a strategic investment in the future of Black entrepreneurship. By empowering Black individuals to establish and expand their businesses, we cultivate economic self-sufficiency, wealth accumulation, and job creation.

Appropriating “illegal” Bitcoin

The federal government could definitely appropriate bitcoin to unjustifiably disenfranchised Black Americans. Reappropriating the Bitcoin that has been seized from illegal internet activity by the government would be considered a major step towards addressing the many untold crimes committed by former slave owners. Additionally, Black Americans would finally get the monetary recognition they deserve from the unaccounted labor of their ancestors, and it would be a great PR move by the Federal Government.

AirDrop Acres of Land

Being the realist that I am, a “great transfer” of wealth to black people will not ultimately result in the absolute reparation of generational, psychological, and emotional damage that affects the descendants of formerly enslaved African Americans to this day. After the Civil war, many newly freed blacks bought land and, at its height, black Americans owned about 14% of American farmland. Afterall, there were laws passed in the 19th and 20th century that distributed land to Americans for free… as long as you were white, of course. Between 1910 and 1997, African Americans lost about 90% of their farmland. One of the main causes of this property loss is heirs' property, where descendants of land owners inherit land from their family, but have no will or legal documentation that proves their land ownership. Had bitcoin been around during that time, bitcoin’s open-source, and unwavering ledger would have been a great source to verify land ownership. One of the laws of bitcoin is that it provides equal protection under the protocol. ‌‌

The percentage of Black landowners in the United States has declined significantly over the past century. This decline is the result of a number of factors, including discriminatory lending practices, laws that restricted land ownership for people of color, and domestic terrorism by racist organizations. ‌‌

One of the main factors to the decline in Black land ownership has been discriminatory lending practices. Black farmers have historically faced significant barriers to accessing credit and loans, which has made it difficult for them to acquire land and maintain their existing farms. This has been compounded by the fact that land-grant universities, which were established to provide education and research opportunities in agriculture, have received unequal funding and resources based on the race of the students they serve. In addition to discriminatory lending practices to Black Americans, there have also been laws and policies that have directly restricted land ownership for other groups of people. ‌‌

For example, the Homestead Act of 1862 granted land to white settlers, but excluded Native Americans and African Americans from participating. Similarly, the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 prohibited Native Americans from selling or leasing their land without the approval of the federal government, effectively preventing them from gaining economic independence. Overall, the decline in Black land ownership in the United States is a complex issue with deep roots in America’s history of systemic racism. It is a result of the many ways in which people of color have been systematically excluded from economic and political opportunities, including land ownership. Additionally, the fact that reparations have been given to other groups, such as Japanese Americans who were imprisoned during World War II, further strengthens the case for reparations for African Americans. The US government granted reparations to Japanese Americans as a way of acknowledging and redressing the harm that was done to them. The same logic should apply to African Americans, who have suffered from centuries of socioeconomic hardship.‌‌

General Order No. 21: 40 Bitcoin and a Macbook

One of the most impactful unfulfilled promises in the history of America was SPECIAL FIELD ORDER No. 15. This was a military order issued by General William T. Sherman during the Civil War. The order stipulated that 400,000 acres of land along the coast of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida would be distributed to formerly enslaved African Americans in 40-acre plots. It is estimated that the allotment would actually have been as much as 5.3 million acres stretching from South Carolina to central Florida. The order was designed to provide economic opportunities and independence for the newly freed slaves.‌‌

Economist William Darity contends that: ‌‌

“...The moment of the failure to provide the 40 acres is really a critical epic in American History. It shapes the basis of the immense wealth gap that we observe today. ‌‌

At the same time, the Homestead Act was implemented in the United States, providing large tracts of land to white settlers in the western part of the United States that had been appropriated and seized from the Native American population. In fact those allotments were 160 acre allotments. And we estimate today that anywhere from 45 million to 90 million Americans are beneficiaries of those allocations because of the intergenerational effects of wealth transfers...” ‌‌

After the Civil War ended and President Andrew Johnson took office, Special Order No. 15 was essentially swept under the rug and the land was returned to its previous owners. This decision left many formerly enslaved African Americans without the promised land ordered by the union, and they were forced to work as sharecroppers or wage laborers for their former masters. This failure to follow through on the promise of land ownership for African Americans was the essential reason why economic inequality and lack of generational wealth continues to plague many Black Americans to this day.

‌‌Bitcoin Mining and The New Reconstruction‌‌

Expanding the federal government's investment in the Bitcoin Industrial Complex presents a unique opportunity to stimulate job growth, boost local economies, and provide reparations for Black Americans in the United States. By allocating resources towards the development of robust Bitcoin mining infrastructure, the government can capitalize on the growing demand for Bitcoin and position itself as a major player in this emerging sector. The increased hashrate would enhance the efficiency and security of the Bitcoin network, attracting more investors and further legitimizing the cryptocurrency as a valuable asset class.‌‌

The construction and maintenance of the required mining facilities would generate a considerable number of job opportunities across various sectors, which could include all Americans it should be noted that an emphasis on hiring Black americans at a rate inversely related to Devah Pager’s dissertation on job hiring in the United States should be applied in this subsidy program. Skilled workers would be needed for tasks such as facility design and construction, electrical and network design and infrastructure, mining operations, and security implementation. Additionally, equipment manufacturers, software developers, and logistics providers, would experience growth as they support the expansion of Bitcoin mining operations. The influx of jobs would not only reduce unemployment rate, but also stimulate local economies by increasing consumer spending and tax revenues.‌‌

Furthermore, a significant portion of the Bitcoin rewards generated through mining could be appropriated specifically for this purpose until the last halving event. Rather than merely saving in bitcoin, this approach would create a unique avenue for providing reparations by leveraging the potential economic growth and wealth accumulation associated with Bitcoin for at least the next 100 years. The allocated funds would be utilized for various initiatives aimed at uplifting and empowering the African American community, some of which I have mentioned in this article. ‌‌

Building out an entire industrial complex to financially empower a group of people rather than to disenfranchise them would be a giant step forward for America. This “build and deploy” strategy aligns with the principle of restorative justice, aiming to rectify documented atrocities and bridge the racial wealth gap. By ensuring a percentage of the Bitcoin rewards directly benefits the Black community, the federal government can address the economic disparities rooted in systemic racism and provide a pathway for greater economic prosperity. However, it is essential to implement appropriate governance and oversight mechanisms to ensure the equitable and transparent distribution of these resources, in order to maximize their impact and avoid unintended consequences. The federal government's investment in Bitcoin mining infrastructure offers a dual opportunity: to strengthen the economy and create job growth while simultaneously addressing the issue of reparations for the Black community..‌‌

The case for reparations for slavery in America is supported by a range of economic and historical factors. By acknowledging, apologizing, and addressing the harm via credit reset, tax exemptions, land appropriation, universal basic reparations, monthly paid holidays, appropriation of legal marijuana businesses, and increased business grants, and Bitcoin Mining Programs aimed exclusively for African Americans, or some combination thereof, the federal government can rectify historical injustices and justifiably promote economic and social equity to the world. ‌‌