Sharecropper: A tenant farmer especially in the southern United States who is provided with credit for seed, tools, living quarters, and food, who works the land, and who receives an agreed share of the value of the crop minus charges.
A semi-fictional tale
Once upon a time there was a Louisiana sharecropper who toiled the land of a wealthy local banker from dawn to dusk year end and year out in order to feed and clothe his growing family.
In the course of time, there were years that the land was good to the sharecropper enabling him to sell his sugar cane for a small profit. With his small profit the sharecropper paid the banker back with interest for use of the land, the small house that he and his family lived in and for use of tools and seed.
Each year that the sharecropper came closer to paying off his entire debt to the banker, the banker would levy a small increase on the interest that the farmer paid on his loan.
When the farmer complained that the increase on the interest of his loan was unfair, the banker explained that due to his businesses’ bad investments, he was forced to pass on to the farmer the costs associated with restructuring the bank’s business model. “It’s the free-market, said the banker, and due to the privilege of doing business with me, there comes certain risks that may require an increase in your rent from time to time. However, if you don’t like this arrangement, you are free to pay me what you owe me upfront and we’ll call it a day.”
Well the sharecropper knew that he didn’t have enough money to entirely pay off all of his debt to the wealthy banker and because the wealthy banker and his family owned all of the other parishes’ banks, he was forced to contend with the increase of his loan.
Sensing the sharecropper’s despair, the banker told the man that he loved the sharecropper and his family and would gladly extend the length of the loan by a few years in order to lessen the farmer’s burden of having to pay for the increase for the use of the banker’s land, the small house and the tools and the seed.
The banker explained to his longtime tenant that lengthening the terms of the loan would not only keep the payments the same, but would in reality lessen the amount owed each month, “besides, said the banker, one day for your hard work and loyalty I’m going to allow you to build your own house next to mine and as a good neighbor and friend, I’ll teach you how to make money as a landowner and you too can be a millionaire.”
Well, because the wealthy banker seemed sincere and honest and the sharecropper knew that the land was fertile he agreed to the new arrangement. Plus, the idea of one day being able to live on top the hill with the wealthy banker and learning all the secrets of becoming a millionaire from the banker seemed too much of a deal and opportunity for the struggling sharecropper to pass by.
The very next year a terrible drought and pestilence hit the land and the surrounding parishes. The sharecropper and his family worked their fingers to the bone in order to grow the required amount of sugar cane to pay the wealthy banker his rent. Unfortunately for the sharecropper, not much was left in terms of buying nutritional food and warm clothing for him and his family.
Undaunted by the sharecropper’s plight and delighted that the farmer paid back with interest every penny that he owed him, the wealthy banker praised the farmer for his effort, assuring the sharecropper and the sharecropper’s wife that because of their hard work, an empty plot of land that was adjacent to his own property, one day awaited them and their children.
That winter, the sharecropper took sick and because he could no longer afford to pay for his mounting doctor bills, the town’s physician stopped treating him. Well, the sharecropper died that winter leaving his family behind with the debt that he owed to the wealthy banker. Forced to sell every possession that she owned in order to feed herself and her children and not being able to physically work the land in order to pay the banker his monthly rent, the sharecropper’s widow fell on hard times.
The wealthy banker, appearing teary-eyed before the widow, explained with heavy heart that “business” was forcing him to evict her and her family in order to make room for a family that could work his land and pay the rent. – Albeit for twenty years her late husband never missed a payment and the small acreage of land in reality was paid for many years past –
The banker told the widow not to worry because charity would take care of her and her children, “besides, said the banker, because your deceased husband worked hard and was loyal, I’m going to ensure that a plot of land next to mine is set aside for you and your children. The banker ended his conversation with the sharecropper’s widow by stating that he promised the sharecropper that as a good neighbor and friend, he would teach the man’s family how to make money so that one day they too could be millionaires, “besides said the banker, a promise is a promise.”
As the years passed and fate wove its individual web for the widow and her children, one of the deceased sharecropper’s daughters through hard work and sacrifice, graduated with honors from a local community college.
Via a business loan obtained from a government grant, the educated daughter started an insurance company in her parish and remembering the ill-fortune of her family, offered reasonable health and life insurance policies to all the sharecroppers and their families that were tenants on the wealthy bankers growing farm.
The sharecropper’s daughter successfully sold her insurance policies under the premise that one day everyone will grow old and sick and should never have to die in disgrace leaving their family in debt to an indifferent land owner. The sharecropper’s daughter’s insurance business became an overnight success. In a flash the enterprising young lady became a respected member of the community.
Within a year the sharecroppers who bought affordable health insurance and became sick / disabled were still able to pay on their loans to the banker and not one sharecropper was evicted from the land. In fact the sharecroppers were able to completely pay off their debts and were beginning to inquire about building a home next to the banker and his children on top of the hill as they were promised.
Outraged, the banker and his children labeled the sharecropper’s daughter a socialist and a troublemaker and highly suggested to their tenants that any association with the deceased sharecropper’s daughter and her business would too make them a socialist and a persona non grata.
Not wanting to be branded as a socialist and because the sharecroppers didn’t want to take the chance of angering the wealthy banker and his children, they canceled their affordable health and life insurance policies and ran the deceased sharecropper’s daughter out of town, never to be seen again.
In the end, no one in the parish would even admit to having bought insurance from the popular young lady. To even mention her name was considered taboo. The wealthy banker and his children maintained control over their tenants and the cycle of poverty in the parish continued, a system that further enriched the lives of the banker and his descendants and ensured the “proper place” of the descendants of the sharecroppers.
When asked by the local townsfolk what ever happened to the enterprising young lady who for a moment lifted the veil of economic despair amongst the sharecroppers, the general whisper is that she is buried on a small plot of earth next to the wealthy banker’s mansion. For in the end, they agreed dead or alive, the wealthy banker was obliged to keep part of his promise to the deceased sharecropper and his family. In the words of the wealthy banker, “a promise is a promise.”
So what’s the moral of this story? It’s easy for the wealthy and their well-paid politician surrogates to spin what’s really good for you as being bad for you and your family if you have enough “sheep-people” who are willing to stay in the mindset of staying a sharecropper for life. Affordable healthcare is good for all Americans and to say that it isn’t is equivalent to believing American adult workers should not be paid a livable wage because it’s bad for business.
The 2014 congressional and senatorial elections are nearing, vote in accordance with the concerns and future of your family, not the concerns of the wealthy land owners who make empty promises of equal partnership; indeed, when was the last time you knew of a wealthy landowner marrying a sharecropper’s child?
As always the Examiner is interested in what you think. Are some Americans easily fooled into voting against their better interests? And if the answer is yes, then how is that possible? Inquiring minds want to know. Sound off.
Until next time Louisianans, Good Day, God Bless and Good Fishing.