Legislature ratified the 13th Amendment...

THE MISSISSIPPI

March 20, 1995|By THEO LIPPMAN JR.

THE MISSISSIPPI legislature ratified the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery last week. The vote was 32-30.

Just kidding. About the count, I mean. Actually the state House, as the state Senate had previously, approved ratification without dissent.

Were I a Mississippi state legislator, I would have voted "no." I think it's time to bring back slavery.

I would repeal the 13th Amendment -- leaving intact the 14th Amendment and all the legal protections of individuals that have followed it.

I favor a 21st century slavery. I would call it something like Slavery Plus, Neo-Slavery or Slavery II.

Now in the first place, it would not be race-based, as it was before The Wah.

In fact, a very strict affirmative action policy would apply. Only 12.1 percent of the slave population could be African-American. Nine percent would have to be Hispanic, 2.9 percent would have to be Asian or Pacific Islander, 0.8 percent would be American Indian. So 75.2 percent would have to be white. And, of course, 52 percent would have to be women.

Slaves would have to be citizens. Since my version of slavery would co-exist under the 14th Amendment, they would thus enjoy all the "privileges and immunities" of citizenship, including the right to "life, liberty and property," "due process of law" and "equal protection of the law."

In my plan, slaves would work for private employers, but those employers would have to contract for their slaves through the federal government. That would give the government the right to almost micro-manage slave operations.

The Labor Department, the Justice Department, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, etc. would see that slaves were treated right. And, of course, racial, ethnic and gender quotas would be enforced. That's right "quotas." None of that mealy-mouthed "goals and timetables" under Slavery Plus.

A lot of people would be better off as slaves than they are now working for the modern equivalent of Simon Legree -- the layoff-mad, benefit-cutting, bottom-line driven corporate CEO. Why? Security.

Slaves under my plan would be volunteers. You can't make a person a slave without his or her consent. Contracts would be standard in the sense that depending on the job description all slaves would be paid the same and get the same minimum benefits.

But once one volunteered, slavery would be for life, unless the owner agreed to manumission. Slaves could not be fired, except in very unusual situations. That is, federal Civil Service rules would apply.

Slave families could not be broken up. Black & Decker couldn't keep Dad in Maryland and sell Mom to a tool plantation in, say, Biloxi.

By the way, Mom and Dad would be required to be married under the New and Improved Slavery. And, yes, Mom, day care facilities would be required.

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