Bankruptcy or other maneuvers to get out of paying altogether are certainly a concern, however the reason I used the term “penalty” is because I don’t think we’d necessarily want to try to calculate exactly how much profit an institution derived from slavery because in some cases (I think Aetna, Chase, and some other big players) the amounts would in some cases definitely run into billions and basically end the companies as such. But these companies by and large have insurance policies to cover catastrophic-level payouts from judgments, lawsuits, and this type of thing and legal teams to set up annual payments so they can survive and meet unexpected legal liabilities and obligations.

Ultimately I hope the 2020 primary leads to a serious discussion of this issue and proposals that are more advanced than John Conyers’ HR40 which would set up a commission to investigate slavery, its effects, and potentially determine whether reparations were warranted or not. In my view, Sanders should be saying he’s sympathetic and open to reparations proposals (which is where he’s at on the topic of universal basic income) rather than stand against it.

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