Skip to comments.5 Reasons Reparations For Slavery Are A Bad Idea
Posted on 07/25/2014 10:12:57 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
Terrible ideas never really die on the Left; they just come back over and over again, like a gas station sandwich after a night of heavy drinking. So it is with reparations for slavery, which liberals would happily embrace en masse if they ever thought they could ram it through Congress. Here's why reparations for slavery are a bad idea.
1) How do you prove that slavery is responsible for problems black Americans are having today? If it were 1866, it would be easy to prove that black Americans who had been enslaved were hurt by the practice. They were mistreated, deprived of their freedom, and were not paid wages for their labor.
On the other hand, if you fast forward to today, its extraordinarily difficult to show that anybodys problems were caused by something that happened almost 150 years ago. Keep in mind that there were white indentured servants forced to work alongside slaves back then. There were white Americans who were kidnapped and enslaved by the Barbary pirates. There were Japanese and Italian Americans who were forced into internment camps during WWII and many of them actually had their property confiscated and sold. The relatives of many Jewish Holocaust survivors live in America as well. So while black Americans have been treated worse than any other group in America, there are a lot of other groups that have seemingly bounced back with little damage from how theyve been treated in the past.
Additionally, while black Americans are indisputably doing worse than most other groups in America, there are certain subsets of African-Americans that are doing just fine. For example, black female college graduates make 102% of what white female college graduates earn. African immigrants also outperform black Americans who were born here in a number of ways.
A new paper (pdf) from University of Chicago PhD candidate Alison Rauh finds that black immigrants tend to be more successful than black Americans. They out-earn black natives (after accounting for age) and are more likely to be employed. This is not surprising; white immigrant groups outperform their native cohort too. But whats most intriguing is how their children fare. The children of black immigrants are more likely to go to and complete college than native blacks (and whites) and are less likely to drop out of high school. The children of black immigrants also earn more than native blacks or first generation immigrants.
If there are certain subsets of black Americans who are doing well, that suggests that there is no one universal factor like slavery that can be blamed for the difficulties black Americans face.
2) Who would pay reparations? If John Smith gets drunk, runs a stop light, and hits the car of Susie Jones, we know who's at fault. It's John Smith. We also know that Susie Jones is the injured party. We can look at the damage to the car, injuries to Susie Jones, and costs she had to bear because of the wreck and get a rough idea of damages that she sustained because of John Smith's behavior.
How do you make any of those determinations with reparations?
The Civil War ended in 1865; so all the slaves and slave masters are all long dead. Moreover, even in the South, depending on which numbers you believe, somewhere between 80-95% of white Americans never owned slaves. There were also several thousand BLACK AMERICANS who owned slaves -- yes, really. Certainly they would be more responsible for slavery than a white man who didn't own slaves, right? Getting beyond the South, why would a white northerner from a state that didn't have slaves owe "reparations" for slavery? For example, what wrong would a Republican abolitionist -- who hated slavery, voted for Abe Lincoln, and fought in the Civil War -- have done that would require "reparations?"
We don't hold people responsible for what their ancestors did and even if we did, most white Americans, even in the South, didn't own slaves. So 149 years after the Civil War ended, there simply is no way to hold the people responsible for slavery accountable for what they did. Victimizing people who did nothing wrong today to make up for a wrong that was done 150 years ago wouldn't make anything right.
3) Who would receive reparations? There are no living slaves; so it's impossible to compensate the people who were hurt by the cruel and oppressive practice of slavery. So, would we compensate black Americans in general on the theory that slavery has held them back? Blaming the economic problems someone has today on something that happened to his ancestors almost a century and a half ago seems like one heck of a stretch, but let's say we buy into the argument. What do we do about people like Barack Obama and Tiger Woods who are of mixed heritage? Would Obama pay reparations to himself? Would a black man who immigrated to the United States a decade ago be eligible? What about incredibly wealthy black Americans like Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan, and BET's Robert Johnson? Why should some white middle manager in suburbia be asked to kick in money for them?
These are the sort of thorny questions you have to wrestle with when you're talking about "reparations" as opposed to a communistic "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" transfer of wealth from one group of people to another, which is really what most people who support reparations seem to want to see happen.
4) It focuses on the wrong solution: Just giving people money seldom helps to fix their problem. Thats why Americas war on poverty has been an utter and complete failure. After doling out more than 21 trillion dollars over the last 50 years, weve done nothing to reduce the poverty rate.
Shortly after the War on Poverty got rolling (1967), about 27% of Americans lived in poverty. In 2012, the last year for which data is available, the number was about 29%.
In fact, its entirely possible that the poverty rate would be LOWER today if there had never been a war on poverty. You can see this same dynamic with aid to Africa. After handing out more than a trillion dollars, much of the continent has gone BACKWARDS over the last 10-15 years. Even winning the lottery doesnt tend to make a generational impact.
A paper by economists Hoyt Bleakley and Joseph Ferrie traced the results of the Georgia land lottery down the generations. They found that, one generation after the distribution of the Georgia land, sons of winners have no better adult outcomes (wealth, income, literacy) than the sons of non-winners, and winners grandchildren do not have higher literacy or school attendance than non-winners grandchildren.
Of course, that doesnt mean we shouldnt do anything. No American should have to live in an area where hes afraid to let his children play in the yard because drug dealers sell openly on the corner. Terrible inner city schools disproportionately impact black Americans. Thats why school vouchers and charter schools disproportionately benefit them. Slashing tax rates in depressed areas down to almost nothing would encourage businesses to move in and would help black entrepreneurs. Micro-loans could help aspiring small business owners to get on their feet. Helping black Americans to help themselves would do more to create success and prosperity than any giveaway program ever could.
5) The government has already paid out an enormous amount of reparations: Just to give you an idea of how common slavery is in human history, keep in mind that the Brits who brought American colonists here kept slaves. The Indians we took the land from kept slaves. Our neighbors to the north and south (Canada and Mexico) kept slaves. We acquired slaves from nations in Africa that kept slaves. Many of the slaves that ended up in America were captured by Middle Eastern slave traders who also kept slaves. Even some white Americans were enslaved by the Barbary pirates.
Still America had a particularly large and thriving slave trade and weve already paid an enormous price as a nation for it, starting with the 625,000 Americans who died during the Civil War. Keep in mind that America had a population roughly 1/10 the size we have today; so that would be the rough equivalent of 6.25 million Americans dying today. As a point of comparison, the 2nd term of the Bush Administration was practically destroyed by less than 4,500 military deaths in Iraq.
Additionally, although whites make up the majority of Americans on welfare, percentage wise, roughly twice as many black Americans take government assistance as white Americans. Additionally there are Affirmative Action programs and racial set-asides that discriminate against white and Asian Americans to make it easier for black Americans to get jobs and get into college.
So, when you add it all up, hundreds of thousands of Americans have died, numerous special programs have been created for black Americans, and trillions in government assistance have already been paid out. Other than Great Britain, theres no other nation on Planet Earth thats done even a fraction of that much to make up for engaging in slavery. So, if anyone wants reparations, it would be fair to say that theyve already been paid.
Reparations ARE being paid.
Head Start. Food stamps. Free lunches. Free schools. Free housing - Section 8. Free Obama phones.
The prison system alone is costing us billions.
Slavery has been a net cost of trillions of dollars to our country and, given the present regime, it arguably was a fatal wound out our founding.
Liberals are here doing the very thing they claim to hate — sticking stereotypical tags on people.
Another thing that reparations mongers often fail to notice is that the instituting of welfare doles (as opposed to private charity, which long existed without ill effect) dragged the average status of black families way DOWN from what it had been at the end of Jim Crow.
Reparations have already been paid manifold, in welfare, school lunches and breakfasts, affirmative action, busing, etc.
And, the suckage of liberalism in general.
There was a lot of spiritual dodging that had to take place in order to stomach chattel slavery, a kind of slavery far more profound than that which gets cited in the New Testament.
When slavery was finally abolished, this other heritage did not go away. Like a cat trying to cover its droppings in concrete, our dear Democrats hung on to it, instituting things like Jim Crow laws.
Finally the Democrats hit on the idea of throwing black people a constant pity party with the public purse. That got 100+ years of Jim Crow, and more of the brutalities of actual chattel slavery, just forgotten like it didn’t happen.
add Pigford to the list
To the radical types who are pushing slavery reparations, none of the government anti-poverty programs matter. They want cash. Show me the money is their mantra.
If we ever did do cash reparations for slavery, I think it wouldn’t make any difference. At the risk of being called racist and bigoted and all that, to give large sums of money to ghetto type people, people who have no experience and no understanding of how to handle money, will not benefit them. Giving money to people who don’t know how to manage it, will result in them spending it foolishly, or falling prey to con men and scams.
Even if we ever did this, it would not improve the lives of the bulk of poverty stricken black Americans. For every 1 who managed the money properly, 10 others would waste it and be left with nothing.
No blacks alive today have been slaves.
They are only slaves to what they have voluntarily embraced.
My great-great-grandfather was killed fighting against slavery in the Union Army. How much am I going to get paid for reparations???
Sometimes people point to reparations paid to Japanese-Americans who were interred during World War II. But those reparations went to the actual people who were in the camps who were still living at the time that reparations were paid out. If I recall correctly, each internee got $20,000.
So, if they really want to use this as a precedent, we could point out, as you just did, that everyone who was ever a slave died long ago. Thus, nobody is still alive who could be paid reparations.
How about reparations to whites for being discriminated by affirmative action and diversity policies?
My great-great-grandfather was killed fighting against slavery in the Union Army. How much am I going to get paid for reparations???
I also lost a relative in that war. I’ll settle for a million bucks.
6) Let us say that reparations are granted. Can we then put
an end to all discussions regarding past indiscretions
committed against people of color? Or is the issue going
to bubble up to the surface every couple of generations
with new generations demanding reparations? What happens
when a person wins a judgment and collects in a civil suit? When he runs out of money does he get to go back and sue
If I had to pay reparations to people who were not
personally victims I would surely demand that the issue
go away once and for all. I don’t even want to hear about
it.....Slavery...Civil War...Jim Crow...Civil Rights...
affirmative action...reparations...end of story. Shove
your money, shut-up, and sit down!
Add to that the very high percentage of people whose ancestors did not even immigrate to America until well after slavery was abolished. Why would they owe anything?
Once people find they can vote themselves benefits,
And once a nation loses control of its borders,
Those are two signs heralding the end of the republic.
And they have both come to pass.
my Southern ancesters already paid....
My family never owned slaves
In fact my grandparents did not even arrive in this country until the 20th Centuary (one set of grandparents from Canada,
other from Russia)
Therefore will refuse to pay any reparations
Reparations take away the challenge of earning a living like everybody else. And, are the black people legitimately employed going to pay the “reparations” for - - - themselves??!! Hmmmm.