Updated: Dec 18, 2018
“Uncle Tom’s Multi-Million Dollar Cabin” Joe Ricketts On Being A Slave
We watch '12 Years a Slave' as it plays in 4K projected along a giant outdoor screen. "You watch this, and think it's horrifying to see what slaves went through. I watch this, and I'm envious he was only a slave for 12 years."
Joe Ricketts, who founded the family trust responsible for buying the Cubs, is tired of being a slave. And he’s speaking out about it in his new book, “Uncle Tom’s Multi-Million Dollar Cabin.”
The cabin is the location of our conversation. Rickett’s says he bought it some years ago as a tax write-off, though he’s rarely used it. “Just another scar in my portfolio of the slavery I’ve had to endure. It’s time people understand that hundreds of years of people being kidnapped from their families, shipped across continents, and forced into a life of hard labor, abuse, and death based upon nothing more than the color of their skin is exactly the same struggle as it is to be a billionaire that pays taxes in this country.”
“In fact, I’m not even a billionaire. I’m worth a scant 900 million dollars. I’d be a billionaire if not for the taxes I have to pay. Imagine how it feels when I see other billionaires. The embarrassment. The shame.”
“They came over on giant ships across the ocean. Do you know what that must feel like? You have no idea. I do. I often have to take my Yacht - the S.S. Amistad - to new ports in order to find the best tax shelters. It’s hell.”
“It’s simply a matter of fairness,” he explains, “Why should I pay more for police to protect my several miles of property than someone living in a studio apartment pays for theirs just because we make different amounts of money? It’s ridiculous. When you compare our incomes and our expenses, really, they should be separate but equal.
And the whipping, don’t get him started on the whipping. He shows me the scars along his back. “I’ve felt their pain,” he tells me. Slaves were slashed so that they could be broken down as human beings and made to obey their masters as though they were animals. I get whipped by Esmeralda, my high priced S&M prostitute, so that I can get off. But understand, the pain – the pain of the whip is the same. Sometimes it’s worse when I can’t remember my safe word, “Lincoln.”
To hide the sound of his crying, Ricketts turns on the jets of the 45 person infinity-pool hot tub he has fittingly nicknamed his own “Harriet TUBman.” He stares down the side of Harriet and gazes upon the hundreds of acres he owns here at what he just calls his plantation. “When am I going to be emancipated?” he wonders aloud.
“It’s time people understand how tough we really have it. In reality I’ve have had it worse than slaves. Slavery only existed in this country for under 90 years. My people suffered for 108.”
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