Bill Kosteas and William Page

Recorded September 9, 2020 Archived September 9, 2020 42:09 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: hub000229


One Small Step conversation partners Bill Kosteas (44) and William Page (49) talk about the country's division and reparations for slavery.

Subject Log / Time Code

BK and WP agree that there is too much division and that's why they wanted to participate in this conversation.
BK talks about his parents being the most influential people in his life.
WP talks about his opinion on how to create racial justice through reparations.
WP and BK talk about the details of how reparations would work.
WP and BK talk about the two party system and how it is broken and how they don't think it will ever change.
BK says he sometimes doesn't think our country is headed in the wrong direction. WP says black people can't afford to be scared.
WP says facts and decency are how we can come together after a divisive election.


  • Bill Kosteas
  • William Page

Venue / Recording Kit



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00:00 My name is Bill Casillas. I'm 44 years old. I'm here in my home office. And today is September 9th. My partner for today's discussion is William page and hopefully

00:25 Hi, my name is William page. I am 49 years old today's date is September 9th, 2020 and I am sitting in my dining room and lovely Warrensville Heights Ohio. My apartment is Bill was to say it and like he said I hopefully will become friends since we live probably like 10 or 15 minutes away. So the first question I'll ask is why did you want to do this interview today?

00:56 Because unfortunately, it seems like today people don't talk to each other.

01:05 Yeah, they they if we're fortunate people talk at each other more likely to scream at each other like sure to each other and then I find that kind of depressing having you having a good discourse that is important of a little bit at some might my parents are from Greece and Greek culture.

01:27 You know, I mean I was like it was kind of in the blood right but people would have conversations.

01:45 You know and I feel like we've lost that ability to do that. So.

01:52 How about you did you want to do this interview today free similar to you? I like having conversations on my like engaging people in similar to your culture in the African-American host. Are you going to the barbershop and you said and hang out and you discuss politics for swimming as you can see, I don't have too much are my barber shop days are limited and most of the people that I talked to her and engage what they have the same opinions and have the same or similar experiences. So it's nice to engage with people who have you know, different experiences in different perspectives on things. So now that's why I wanted to do this today.

02:41 Yurt rental

02:47 Okay.

02:51 You can read what's written of bile out. That is written.

03:07 You can just say introduce it as like this is William peaches by U2 One black. I have a master's degree and I grew up in Southern California in the 80s and 90s. I married to a black woman who also has her master's degree in history books for fun in love dialogue. I cook Garden sheet and

03:37 And love the outdoors. I'm a nice guy and I smell good all the time.

03:42 That's me.

03:48 I'm curious. So did you eat did you see grew up in Southern California? So I'm on my way to interested in kind of like what gets how people arrived to the place where they are now. So what what brought you here to Northeast Ohio, so I was born here and then left for Southern California like 5th grade in my first wife really she was from Sacramento when we move down to La she really couldn't get used to the hustle and bustle of you know, the major metropolis and you know the Hollywood thing so we would come out to Ohio and she really kind of fell in love with you know, this part of the country how green it was the stomach Southern California's, you know, pretty much a desert. C.

04:38 Cam how green it was and then she went to graduate school. My first wife went to grad school in Rochester. So she will come here on the weekends and kind of hang out with my family. So after she graduated from grass School wanted to change and all of my family was here so was an easy transition. So yeah, that's how I that's how I landed back in Northeast, Ohio.

05:06 Okay, so I'm going to read bills bio. He says I meant I'm a married man with two young children. My parents are immigrants came to this country with nothing and built a successful business. I'm a professor of Economics at a state-supported university with a diverse student body.

05:32 Who's there?

05:37 Is there anything you want to ask more about?

05:41 Yeah, tell me about the the professor of Economics. I was thinking about being an Adjunct professor myself actually went up to Tri-C Eastern Campus and kind of looked under the hood and kick the tires with their faculty recruiting guy. So yeah, tell me about that.

06:03 What is a tailor of Two Cities for sure, if you're talking about being full-time versus adjuncts?

06:17 It is not very good. And in her case, she would have been teaching prep freshman writing courses and getting paid very little to do a lot of a lot of writing a review but I'm very blessed and fortunate to have to be a tenured faculty member at the same time a major changes in higher education that I think her concerning and I'm not sure quite honestly if I start it all over again if I would if I would go into into Academia many times where I enjoy what I do and I always, you know, the best part of the Jobs when he hear from her former students who drop you a line in and tell you about how are you helping them where they are?

07:21 Who's been the most influential person in your life? And what did they teach you?

07:27 As my parents, you know, I won't pick one over the other but

07:38 Not just about hard work, but also in a perseverance which I think sometimes isn't overlooks attribute right very talented very bright. But if you can't handle adversity, if you can't can persevere. It's going to be hard to do it to reach the level of success that you want in like, you know, those those are the things they among the many things that they taught me. Yeah. I think those were two important things, you know, seeing them when I when I was first born. They haven't started the business yet. And then when I was younger, they were still building it it wasn't, you know successful yet, I saw them struggle. I saw them work hard and I saw how you know, where where they ultimately got in so

08:41 Actor William who is the most influential person in your life?

08:49 Those people if two people actually it's on my mother. Of course, I was raised by single parent in a single parent household on the west coast, So all of those lessons on how to do, you know how to work hard how to study how to persevere how to endure, you know, when to speak up for yourself and when the kind of shut up all of those things and then my ex-wife's dad really taught me how to work out of work and how to work with my hands because I'd always been like a person who shied away from you know, carpentry or drywall or bobbing were things along those lines. He was a general contractor Scituate education do the multimillion-dollar business and retire down house on the lake. So, you know all of those lessons

09:49 From a guy with a sixth grade education was was mind-boggling and he's also a older at asking you so he's a funny at the time. He was a probably 50 year old white guy meeting a 20 something year old African American man dating his daughter. I'm so all of those things kind of those Two Worlds made me the person who I am today.

10:21 William could you could you briefly describe in your own words your personal political values. Sure. I am a registered Democrat running for office in Warrensville. Actually My Philosophy is IMA.

10:41 Live a social liberal and a fiscal moderate if you whatever you want to do you can do it as long as I don't have to pay for it and you're not stepping on anybody else. That's kind of My Philosophy for politics in a nutshell.

11:02 And how about you? Can you briefly describe in your own words your personal political values the social front, you know more of what you might describe social libertarian actual so it may be a difference of degree, you know, and how do you know how we feel on that? That's the one that set of issues. Yeah, but I'm very very similar. I don't I don't care what you do or how you do it so long as you're not harming anyone and it's all consensual right between adults, that's fine. But don't ask me to you know, he don't ask me to me to keep paying for your mistakes more didn't work physically on the conservative side. Although it's not a hard hard hard line.

12:02 To look at issue-by-issue topic by topic and it in trying to figure out you know, what what is the to meet acceptable role of government and I'm actually not registered actually Independence and the last the last presidential election.

12:21 Do you have to register in Ohio if I wanted to vote in the Republican primary got you to support that just put our governor right in that was a pretty I thought was a good moderate candidate might have been able to get things done. But otherwise, I actually tend to just not strongly.

12:50 So one of the reasons why. You guys together is because you do have some differences when it comes to some economic issues. I'm just wondering William. Can you talk a little bit about some of the economic issues that you feel prettiest passionately about that? We talked about in our pre-interview the legalization of marijuana prostitution gambling the weather in person or over the internet.

13:25 You know all of those things, I think we spend too much money on I'm a strong Pro, you know pro-choice person anything you want to do with your body is your body just you know, I don't want to I don't want to pay for it. I don't want to subsidize it. I don't want to I don't want any of those things. I think we bought way too many people up for marijuana usage which you know Growing Up in Southern California that you know, I've seen it with my own two eyes. I had a buddy who was locked up for 4 years for you know, having a half a pound of Bud and then 10 years later, you know, he's in the marijuana industry, right selling 40 lb of the stuff at $3,000 per pound and he gets his self, you know back in the game just because somebody made a decision that you don't have dominion over his life, which was you know, in hindsight the whole thing was really stupid the whole world.

14:25 The whole world, you know women's Reproductive Rights think we spent too much time and pay too much attention to those things. And those things are distracting us from solving the real problems that's going on in this country. So, you know, we just I think we have to do better and then get out the way of women. Do you know a man can never have a baby? So why do we even have a dog and fight on the conversation and I'm the father of three girls, so I definitely don't want someone dictating and Maddie what they can and can't do with their own skin. So, you know,

15:02 Reparations in and being for them. So the playing field will never be even unless there's there's fairness and equity and the only the only demographic group in this country that's been wronged by a government and has not been made whole and indemnify. Is he African American community? So you be an economist, you know these numbers right you now and I'm in the insurance industry, by the way, so that the way you generate wealth is by what real estate right and you know back in the day with red lining is even if you were lucky enough to be able to purchase one of those properties and say like a Shaker Heights in the seventies, right? Even if you were lucky enough to see why did you couldn't answer it. So if you couldn't enjoy it you couldn't sustain your mortgage. If you can suspend your mortgage, then you have to move back to the hood and then that hamster wheel continues so until those things happen.

16:02 Until there's actually indemnification of the African American Community. What's you're going to struggle? We're still going to have these racial issues because everything in this country all of the systems that were built on top of systems that were built on top of systems have a racial disparity to them. We have to be intentional as we were in in are we have to be intentional in our end as intentional as we work an RX solution and that how we make this thing work in my opinion?

16:37 Unless it's an area where I think you disagree bill in terms of that issue. We're definitely disagree with this notion of let's just meet at night. I think so there is one school of thought one group. That's basically promoting take the 40 acres and a mule and find out what the value of that would be today and make that as a wealth transfer which in an adequate beat the cost is something that exceeds our annual GDP, bye-bye in order of older, but we Play Freakonomics podcast that that that covered some of these issues up. I'm definitely against that

17:33 Hey, what I do believe in his is muddling Plainfield right that you know, so did part for me part of question is are we looking at?

17:43 You're looking or are we back looking and a bit? Of course, you know, I can see room for some you're wanting to go to.

17:54 We can't just say, you know, okay, here. We are today just just start carb lunch, right and move forward. But the question for me is well, what are we going to talk? I mean, there's the one extreme of okay, give give everybody, you know, everybody who's it wasn't is it if your black American do you have to trace your ancestry back? How far back or is it just enough to say and it if your family arrived here from from Africa for years ago, so it's going to be to whom how much and who pays for it. Right? So some of the questions that I always have is

18:34 You know, my parents came here post civil rights movement in the 70s. Please put on discrimination by the way, and I have throughout my life based based issues. Nothing that I would ever try to compare to what a black man in America lineup the space, but I did face my own my own set of issues. And so the question is would it be fair just to turn around and say it's like my parents now pay for right so that that's right tended to disagree with you know on some of these. Um, it's hard being very specific plan and it's hard for me to comment on right like I would love to hear, you know, if you have kind of more specific thoughts on it, you know on what form would reparations take and what would they look like and I'm assuming this is beyond just making sure the laws applied fairly evenly everybody.

19:24 Yeah, I think you know it's it's so we can't you can't boil the ocean. Right? So you have to take you no small bites at a time. So who's going to pay for it? Well, who who the entity bad did the wrong? Well, it's it was primarily if you really want to drag a clock back. It was the Catholic church and the British and the American government and the French government and the Spanish government. I mean, you can look at Africa and it's carved up like like a smorgasbord right Cameroon is a Spanish name, right? Because the Spanish like that rent that were off the coast about the paper this all of those countries that benefited from The Peculiar institution of slavery has to pay for it now, we're talkin about this in America, right? So if if you're talkin about reparations

20:24 Francine you know America has to help pay for that just as the French have to pay for what what happened here. So all government needs to pitch in as they do in any other disaster or situation that the world needs to pitch in it and make right so that you can pay for it. If the world doesn't want to pitch in the United States is on the hook for it because there slavery was very different and lasted much longer than been in other countries. So and how do you pay for it? You just look at housing about you, right you look at what would be the well-established if the playing field was spare, you know, look at the statistical analysis of how many of homeownership back in the day my father work for Century 21 in the 70s and sold houses that he couldn't live in right? So if if we're basing it on the number one asset

21:24 The number one wealth generating a side in this country is real estate, right so you can say hey if if my grandfather who worked in the steel mill who made really good money and his wife who told Avon if they were able to afford a house in Shaker Heights, right and 1968 and they were able to keep that house. How much would that house on Shaker Boulevard or Van Aken or you know cuz we're talkin historical neighborhoods, right? So you got Cleveland Heights East Boulevard you have you have you know those areas, right?

22:03 So, you know in that where the public transportation was, those were the factories were sold. Those those are the areas that people would have probably lived right and then you say okay. Well if those people were able to have those houses that had access to it how much would those houses be worth now and come up with another and then that's the start of the conversation you bring some economic people from The Economist then write you have those conversations and you start throwing around those numbers and the number is going to be perfect. But the number has to be substantial enough that it is not enough that people will not work for the rest of their lives but enough money to fly cover for lack of a better term given, you know, so that and then you start taking bikes at it and massaging it until you come up with something that looks equitable.

23:01 NN fair to the people who who aren't and in the community, but the people who are you know, who we can say. Well, this is a fair listen to the whole thing on the fair of what we're trying to do is is make it fair. So there's going to be some unfairness in the making it fair cuz I make sense. Would you would you envision curiosity now, would you envision something like

23:34 I was like a voucher for housing or would it just be a here is like 30 grand use it however you want or would you want to tie it specifically to like we want to increase your home ownership or a maybe you can use it towards a business or you know, I mean like some kind of asset that that really will address the well.

23:54 Gap right as opposed to just a dressing up.

23:58 Short-term income gap if you just kind of give someone $30,000 I could go and an invite lots of things they enjoy but if they don't invest it like in housing, right which which is actually probably one of the one of the main sources of the disparity of wealth Gap not the only one that's taking ownership of companies either through owning a business or stocks right now being invested in the market the other one.

24:23 So, you know or would it be something I would encourage, you know, specifically owning assets like houses are ordinances are stupid that it will have to be enough money that it would definitely move the needle in and the direction of it and not an or it's is being able to start a business. And so, you know, whatever that number looks like that number would have to be again substantial enough to make impactful change in someone's life. I mean, you can spend $30,000 I watch you know, you know, if you really want to move the needle that's why I said tie it to Home Ownership, you know being helped me get home ownership for an executive house. My first house was built in 1928. Okay, so I was the third owner in that house. The second owner was the first owners grandchild right there.

25:23 On the third person who lived in this house

25:27 This house was built in 1928 for 16 $17,000. Right? I bought the house and the 90s 485 right? So and in that house has been paid for you know, many times over that the grandchild bought it from the grandparents for 25000, you know, and then they put money into a tree have it. But again, you know, how much value were they able to extract from that one piece of property how many people they said at 1.56 people in the family lived in that house. So how long were they able to just you know how people and say hey don't worry about it, you know bring the kids will help you get on your feet. And once you get on your feet will help you buy a house hears, you know X-Files will the dollar so you can go and do that and you're in a nice neighborhood with good Public Schools, especially after World War II when all of the suburbs were built right now.

26:27 Garfield Heights Bedford Heights Broadview Heights Parma Heights, you know, those are all World War two houses and some of them were sixteen $17,000 and now they're selling for $180 to $9,000 but generations of families have come so that right and then we can measure that value. So these are all things that we can measure let's matrica. Let's measure them has come up with a plan. Let's put some numbers out there and let's get this thing less and less level the playing field on that front. And as far as you know economics goes make everybody compete for job anointing jobs to people who look like other people and make everybody compete if everybody compete and you were better than me, then that's fine. But until we can all start competing for these jobs which RV

27:27 Limited think we're always going to have a problem.

27:32 Another reason why I heard you guys together. It's because you're both sort of not completely in line with the two party system. I was wondering if you guys could talk about that and just turns and you know, do you think that our two party system is changing and anyway

27:58 I'll start with the second one and say no there's two party system working.

28:12 I would say say no and even more emphatically I'd say no to is it is it going to change? I don't I don't see that at any time soon. Some kind of external much. I mean I did the Republican and Democratic parties have such a such a Stranglehold over our politics beard to vested there their they're too strong quite honestly and heard a recent analysis on this listen to out about the bass with a duopoly duopoly that has control of the market, you know, whether it's a system that's broken. I guess it depends on from whose perspective in the form of Voters respected. Yeah absolutely is broken from the party's perspective is working just fine. It's doing what they want. Unfortunately.

29:05 You know that the problem is that we don't we don't get discussion real discussion of issues to be so light on any policy meet right? We weren't going to get any real policy details that it's really just about you know, appease your base and try not to put anything out there that will offend anyone by giving too much in the way of details right? It's about more money reelected then and staying in power than it is about about actually solving problems and let her know how you feel about that. As far as the is the two party system working, you know, again is is perspective from you know, my father-in-law's my ex bothering lost respect as you have an Xbox.

30:04 Is it from his perspective? I think the two party system is working great. He's he's really a conservative guy. Do you know the conservative principles up into you know, the last administration were kind of rock solid in Market hard and you know people were were on board with it. I think no one the stars are two party system. No one gives a power voluntarily. I mean who's going to do that? Right, you know to two lions that have you know, their fair share of of the females, you know, that will put up a little bit of fight but you know, they really don't have to fight each other right you take you take these over here. I'll take those up there. If it's a real Prime stop in the middle will like we're fighting about it. But you know, we'll reach a compromise with that you take this one. I'll take the next one kind of thing. So as long as there is no real.

31:04 Social revolution of social unrest or whatever you want to grassroot, you know, push to change the status quo. This is like the Matrix right now. It's systems built on top of systems that are built on top of systems. And unless you destroy the bottom system everything else that is pop up on wheel repair itself. And that's what we have in our current two-party environment.

31:36 When you think about the future, what are you most scared of?

31:44 I'm most scared of a world where my kids.

31:50 Won't have the same opportunities, you know that I had in my parents give up everything. They need you to come here to build a better life for their kids and I've been blessed and fortunate I have had, you know, I didn't go into the family business. I started working there when I was twelve and You by the time I was in high school, I did not want to go down that bath input on my own route on my happy opportunities that you know that not everybody but it's not just from the having just having the resources, but that

32:30 That will have a society that's open in free that people will be able to choose. I sometimes worry that we were going in the wrong direction, you know, if we can we can we can acknowledge that you not every group in America's had equality of opportunity. I just sometimes I worry about seeing the direction we're moving in with things at that were going to start constricting opportunity for everyone rather than increasing opportunity for groups that have and have those opportunities in part of that feed. The reason for that fear is that I see a lot of times we we rushed headlong with certain policies without thinking through unintended consequences of those policies.

33:17 Now it's kind of more of the general bad for your I think I intended consequences of a policy number of them that I recently that I didn't know as much about but I was just listening to some scriptures of other Economist work was like with check the box policies which prevented employers from asking about criminal history with the intent of helping ex-cons to get jobs. What it actually did was more broadly Harem young African-American men actually because now that they couldn't ask, you know, who's going to who's got this background and who doesn't because of the difference between braids of of you know, every carceration force a young black vs. Young white and young Asian men and young hispanic, man that led to go to call for in statistics in one small example of

34:17 I kind of worry about in general.

34:20 Nice, but I have plenty. You have girls. I have I have boys, you know in one of the things I do know, I'm being in the University working and universities are some of the things I've seen like with the way you know that we basically have kangaroo courts now and universities that if a male is accused of doing something and University can just decide you know, or whatever you want to call it and make it just decide. We think somebody did something and then kick them out of University because I worry about

34:53 Sometimes young and they are white males. Right? And I worry sometimes that end in an attempt to to redress past wrongs a pendulum swings too far. I don't want to see jacobean Revolution right now. I don't want to see you know, I don't think we go that extreme. You know I'm saying.

35:17 And I worry about that and I don't want to see us, you know, like pendulum swinging from extreme to another and increasing streifen and harming people who haven't done anything right at Willie. What what? What about you? What are you funny?

35:36 Black people can't afford to be scared, you know because when you start being scared and you stop thinking and when you stop thinking you get yourself in a precarious situation becomes life threatening, right? And then I'm speaking from you know, my own experiences, you know, when you get scared, you know, starts things happen physiologically in your body that prevent from happening, right? So you we can as a whole and me as a as a business person. I can't afford that but what I am is is cautious about a lot of things, one of the things that some of the things I worry about is his masculinity and and since I have girls, right and what what masculinity what what men are teaching masculinity is, you know, masculinity isn't beating on your chest and and

36:36 You do any NBA Macho and trying to prove a point, you know, sexually it's it's being vulnerable then it's being stand up and it's doing the right thing with nobody else. Will you think no one's looking? You know, that's that's what a real man is Right. A man takes care of a man. Not not necessarily his own but everyone around that man should be taken care of. So I wonder you know, I worry about that and I also just worried about economics and social justice and end things along those lines, you know, we've always been as if black people in this country. We've always been at 4 carry a situation, you know, whether it be, you know, from a legal standpoint weather be from a social economic standpoint, whether it be from a Justice Criminal Justice or Justice a civil Chevrolet as well. It's always been a precarious situation. So, you know, you just learned

37:36 You operate you have you learned that you have to learn how to be comfortable being uncomfortable and with my biracial girls? They don't get it.

37:47 So I worry about that because they see themselves as white women and the world sees them as light skin black women and when they have that

37:57 That wakening. I have worried how they're going to happen.

38:02 So how do you think that we can come together after a very divisive election? Sure. Yeah, I think fax honesty decency all of those things play a huge factor. I think, you know a lot of people that weren't honest Brokers are going to have a hard time recovering from this stage in their lives because you know, once you once you tell one liar, you're a liar, right? It's like being a bird just like being a virgin when to have sex. Once you're no longer version. You're always a lot right? So I think just civility getting back to regular order in the house and the Senate

38:54 Civility decency and somebody being broke and the previous, you know, truth-tellers need to apologize for not telling the truth and you start going out of their way to tell the truth things that will go a long way with healing some of the device politically in this country. And how about you? How do you think we can come together after this election year, I think if we look at the top

39:28 Whoever loses is going to have to graciously accept defeat but also then whoever wins is going to have to be gracious in in in their Victory and be inconclusive in governance. I think we I worry that whichever side, you know, whoever wins it. It's that there maybe now I have a mandate let's shove things. You know, I I want to see if I like you I want to see us get back to what I remember actually is a kid in in the 80s, you know, and you would see both sides working together. You hear all the story about, you know, the minority leader in the majority leader going out and having lunch together or playing golf or whatever, you know, whatever it is and then I think from

40:15 The rest of us, right and I beg you think it has to come like they have to set the example in an understanding car. That is we need. We need to tell in a society to change right we need we need everyone the moderate middle which I think is the majority of us. If I don't get what you want on the extremes to tell everyone else knock it off, you know, just to knock it off and you know, most of us are capable of having civil conversations. You know, I'm hoping once Publix Dunn will get back to seeing people getting together in person. I'm a big believer in you know, sitting together whether it's at the Captain EO the barbershop or in my case going and grabbing me. I'll go and grab a beer and something to eat and then sit down with people face-to-face and

41:15 Stop

41:16 Yeah, that that Whole Foods or know that Market District right in ribs at in Solon. What round do you grocery shopping shop it up a little bit beautiful thing at the bar at the Market District phone number.

42:02 I write that was it. Thank you guys so much. I'm going to stop recording.