Comment Of The Day: “Reparations Again”

Reparations for slavery are 1) impossible 2) unaffordable  3) offensive, and 4) guaranteed to worsen race relations rather than repair them, but as long as progressives feel the need to pander to a victim mentality among blacks and think they can prosper by professing to support what they must know is a cynical fantasy, we will continue to hear about them. Ethics Alarms, in turn, will have to keep noting the proposal is unethical.

We got a classic example of the kind of “logic” applied by reparations-mongers when one of the more obscure and unqualified contenders for the Democratic Presidential nomination—you can imagine how obscure and unqualified that must be—announced her support for taking the money from other races to enrich anyone who identifies as the offspring of slaves. Marianne Williams—quick, now, who is she?—told CNN over the weekend,

“It’s simply a debt we owe. This country will not heal until we take a serious moral inventory. A nation must undergo the same level of deep moral inventory [and] admission of our character defects. Racism is a character defect. Let’s end this. Let’s fix this. Let’s solve this. Reparations won’t end everything but it will be a profound gift. It implies a mea culpa. It implies a recognition of a debt owed and therefore, it carries not only economic power but spiritual force — whatever it costs, it’s time to do this.”


Here is A.M. Golden’s Comment of the Day on the post, Reprations Again.

I’ll be back with a brief comment after A.M. has his say.

I oppose reparations. It’s no better than the lottery or a medical settlement.

In the Black Community, the concept of “Giving Back to the Community” is huge. It’s expected that, if you run a business in the neighborhood, you will use your largess to help your neighbors. This is, in part, why Asian-owned businesses that tend to be family run get flack because they don’t hire within the community. A wealthy resident or a business owner is made to feel obligated to fund a community center or food pantry (though this is really just making the lottery winner a forced charitable organization or even an extension of government). But, in many cases, “Giving Back to Community” means that you just hand over money to people as loans that are, in actuality, gifts.

I remember attending a sci-fi convention a few years ago with a notable black actor who spent many years working at his trade before becoming famous. At his Q&A session, he talked about a charitable organization he is involved with that sends minority children out into a type of summer camp in open places like Montana so they can be exposed to nature and a different environment. Halfway through the panel, an African-American fellow walked in, sat down, raised his hand and asked what the actor had done to “Give back to the community”. The actor then repeated his earlier description of his charitable work. After that, the newcomer left…probably to go into other Q&A sessions to determine if other black actors were pulling their weight.

In other words, the few have to pick up the slack for the many that lack ambition and the willingness to change their lives.

Someone who has worked hard to build a career or a business rarely blows through money freely without an income to replace it. And a wise person carefully assesses any charitable organizations first before becoming involved.

A lottery winner is just given money suddenly, publicly and, because they’re playing the lottery, generally has no idea how to handle it. This is usually true regardless of the race of the winner. The money gets spent frivolously, loaned out in bad investments, grifted by criminals and con artists or just plain stolen. People who are known to come into a lot of money become targets in more ways than one.

We can expect no less to happen with reparations than happens with welfare payments.. The Black Community is generally in the position it’s in for failing to take education seriously (the quality of neighborhood schools is an issue, yes, but a separate one that I’ll not address here), having children too soon and struggling to maintain consistent employment. This will not change with reparations. The problem will still be there after the last dollar is gone.

I’m back.

I want to note that lottery winnings are materially different from Welfare payments and medical settlements. Data shows that indeed lottery winnings are typically wasted and frittered away depressingly quickly, but the equivalence that some analysts have claimed with other kinds of large cash payments is unsupportable. Lottery winnings are generally regarded by recipients as “found money” that can be blamelessly used to buy luxuries, gifts and other non-essentials. Medical settlements are intended to pay for something specific, such as ongoing treatment. Similarly, welfare payments are earmarked for essentials.

However, I agree with A.M. that reparations are likely to be treated like lottery winnings, and will, in most cases, result in little or no long-term improvements in a recipient’s status.

23 thoughts on “Comment Of The Day: “Reparations Again”

    • I generally agree with Dennis Prager. But I think it is more precise to say that all of the goal posts on the left are perpetually being moved.

  1. I am always skeptical about the concept of “giving back to the community”. This sentiment suggests that the original transaction between the business and the consumer was somehow slanted in favor of the business owner.

    This sentiment of giving back is not unique to minority communities. Even United Way uses it to guilt people into giving.

    If reparations were given and doled out as an annuity to avoid the problems associated with poor cash management, the big beneficiary will be JG Wentworth 877 cash now.

    • “Giving back” has always bugged the heck out of me. It sounds like something from the sandbox of my childhood, as in “You took my shovel! Give it back!” When I retired, a friend asked what I was going to do to “give back.” My response was, “What have I stolen?”

  2. If all the money in the country were collected and redistributed evenly to everyone, how many months or years would it take for the money to migrate back to essentially the way it was before the big gather and redistribution?

    Making and holding on to money is not easy. Not everyone can do it as well as everyone else. But there’s no reason everyone can’t be reasonably self-sufficient in this country.

    The Manhattan Contrarian is great on what he calls the Income Inequality Hoax. For example, if government assistance and credits are not included as income and taxes paid are not deducted from income, how will increasing benefits to the poor and taxes on the wealthy ever move the income inequality needle? Frankly, I’m not sure anyone in the entire country is really poor. If they are, they’re simply not capable of availing themselves of the social safety net.

  3. Great comment of the day. Congrats!

    Now, to something Jack said:

    …welfare payments are earmarked for essentials.

    You owe me a keyboard.

    My very first exposure to welfare fraud was when, as a mere lad, I noticed a father giving each of his stair step kids a dollar plastic food stamp chip (yes, that used to be a thing) to buy a 3 cent piece of gum.

    It caught my attention when one of the kids asked if he could buy a candy bar instead, which likely cost 28 cents. The father verbally stomped the kid, threatening physical mayhem on his gluteus maximus (yes, that used to be a thing) if he did not do as he was told.

    The father collected all of the change from each separate child’s transaction, then bought cigarettes and a six pack of beer. This was illegal using food stamps, but the leftover change was legal tender – and scamming the system.

    Your statement that welfare is earmarked for essentials is belied by all of the kids I grew up with who wore better clothes than my family could afford, yet got free school breakfast and lunch. These people drove Cadillacs to pick up their free cheese.

    Every year these agencies take out ads in local papers, looking for more poor to whom they can give stuff away. The greater the need, the more money in the next year’s budget.

    My uncle, as a young man, was given a well paying job unloading trucks for a new government program. Truckloads of food would drive into the community, and people would line up for the goodies. My uncle knew most of those citizens, and he objected to his boss that “these folks are not poor.” His boss took him aside and replies, “Look, we have to give this food away, and are paid good wages to do so. You know you are making more than you were at the grain mill, and for less work. We either give all this food away or they quit sending it… and we are out of a job.” (To his credit, my uncle quit on his ethical objections… and worked as a prison guard for several decades)

    The fraud inherent in the welfare system is prevalent, and a slap in the face of those who pay taxes into that system.

    (Oh my: did I just rant on a tangential topic? Well shut me up and call me Lawrence)

    • SW

      I am of the belief that every governmental social welfare department should be required to have in its mission statement the following:

      The goal of this agency is to achieve an outcome that results our own unemployment due to lack of a problem.

      • He only thinks my typical contributions are tangential because he thinks they don’t connect. But I try to show a connection! So, at worst I may be mistaken, but I am indeed trying to move things along.

        When I do digress, it’s more likely to be a joke – or an attempt at one.

        • My opinion is evolving, PM, as I begin to see where you are coming from. Your last few posts have changed my point of view.

          This reminds me of those 1990s Thomas Kinkade paintings where removing the direct light made the picture change from a day scene to a night one

    • A unelected government official in my state went on TV lately to try to guilt us into paying more taxes for more welfare. He said that 40% of the children in the state suffer from ‘food insecurity’. He went blathering along about how we are all terrible people for letting these children go hungry. I am always upset with our idiot press for eagerly going along with such a narrative instead of asking questions. The ‘food insecurity’ is the new buzzword because you can’t say the government isn’t providing.

      (1) All schoolchildren in my town get free breakfast and lunch from the schools. This is 12 months of the year. The schools stay open in the summers to feed the kids breakfast and lunches. Buses either bring the kids there or deliver the meals to their houses.

      (2) The poorest children in the state receive SNAP. That is roughly $200/month to pay for the 11 meals/week that the school’s don’t provide. If we say $50/week for 11 meals, that works out to $4.50/meal. You can pay for fast food for each of those meals with that level of money.

      Despite this, the social workers are telling us that 40% of the children have almost no access to food on the weekend. Schools are sending snacks home (think peanut butter crackers) with the kids so they will have something for dinner. Well, where is the money going? Parents are selling the benefits for half price in casino parking lots. On the first of the month, you can see the line of people buying shopping carts full of steak or baby formula with SNAP to sell for cash.

      My personal guess is that 80% of welfare spending is wasted. It is too hard to write policies to try to help the least responsible while not also making people who don’t need the help eligible. It is also nonsensical to expect the least responsible people in society to act responsibly.

      • It’s very, very well-known around these parts that welfare recipients routinely turn over a percentage of their monthly allotment for paper currency at the local “bodega”, and also buy cigarettes and alcohol at full-rate at the same places. Just imagine where that cash, our tax dollars, is going.

  4. Sadly, it is too late for reparations to make sense.

    The only reparations plan that made any sense was “40 acres and a mule.” You get something of value and you have to work to make it pay off.

    Of course, that came at a time when: 1) former slaves could be identified; 2) there was land to give away; and 3) there was no welfare state to fall back on.

    It is too bad that that did not go very far.

    Jim Crow stepped in. (Why not reparations for that?)

    Woodrow Wilson re-segregated the Government, causing great damage to the black community.

    FDR further damaged the black community with minimum wage laws, etc. It removed the inherent cost of being a racist. (I forget who said it (maybe Walter Williams), but racism is expensive if you have to pay white people twice as much per hour as black people. But, if you force black people to sell their labor for the same price as white people do, the racists suffer no economic detriment for being racist.

    (Of course, don’t worry, the same government will eradicate racism in employment practices; they have all of the answers.)

    Then LBJ solidified the welfare state, which I have heard was to be a form of reparations to poor blacks.

    We are too far removed for any coherent scheme of reparations to work. Any scheme that is tried will ultimately fail because of economic realities that come with wealth distribution. Assume that a full and ideal reparations scheme is played out. On the very next day, the money will start being spent, inequalities will appear, some will get more money, some will start losing theirs. Even assuming that reparations helps push 30% of the black community up into the middle class, in 75 years, they will be asking for reparations for the other 70%.

    That is one big problem with big government progressives: they cater to the lowest common denominator. I read a rant on Facebook last week about how stores should just stop selling pre-cut melons in grocery stores. It might have had to do with a recall on pre-cut melons that were contaminated. It might have had to do with the foam and plastic packaging for these. The objection came up: some people can’t cut there own melons and need stores to sell pre-cut melons. So, they should be available for the handi-capped/disabled/differently-abled/quasi-abled people, but abled people should not buy them; to that, the response was that you have to cut enough melons for the abled people so that it would be cost-effective enough for the unabled to get some too. Good God! A simple discussion about pre-cut melons descended immediately to the tiny fraction of people who may actually have a problem with uncut melons and that tiny minority dictates how things must be done. Of course, government loves it; if the minority rules, who gets the power to regulate things? The government.

    Wow. That was a pretty swift digression in that last paragraph.

    Back to work.


  5. The definition of fanatic is one who loses sight of the path, then redoubles his efforts. If there is no path to the goal posts to be seen, then we are dealing with fanatics. I think we always were, pretty much from the rise of the American left in the wake of WW1, typified by personality-driven activists who would have become tyrants if given the chance like John Reed and loudmouths with visions that couldn’t possibly work like Eugene V. Debs. From there you move to would-be Messiahs like Ammon Hennacy and almost-made-the-left-work types like Huey Long. As we move into Vietnam you get to folks like Abby Hoffman, Ira Einhorn, and Philip Berrigan. Today you have Bernie Sanders and this new Johnny-come-lately out of South Bend.

    These people all had/have three things in common: lofty-sounding goals without a clue or much of a clue as to how to make a workable path to reach them, outsize, ultra-charismatic personalities that commanded huge amounts of devotion, and absolute certitude in the righteousness both of their cause and their status as the anointed, central person to lead that cause who could do no wrong and tell no lie. The rest is history: Reed died at the age of 32 as his adventurous, unhealthy lifestyle caught up to him. Huey Long was shot dead by a political enemy, probably for the greater good of this country. Ira Einhorn killed a girlfriend for the offense of stopping her total devotion to him, and, though he avoided the consequences for decades, they finally caught up to him. Hennacy, Hoffman, and Berrigan all faded into irrelevance and finally died, still surrounded by a few true believers, reliving the great things they never did and promising they’d never give up the fight until the dying luminaries’ vision became reality. Sanders now almost tops the Democratic field, and Buttigieg is close behind. Their ideas are ridiculous, but they sound good to those who have lost or not done as well at the game of life and to those under 30 who believe they can create that paradise of peace, equality, and solidarity that Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger sang about and the hoboes told legends about if they only believe hard enough and do as they’re told.

    History tells you otherwise. Vision and charisma and certitude gave us Charlemagne and Cavour and FDR and Reagan. It also gave us the failure of William Wallace, the brutality and self-centeredness of Michael Collins, the ultimate abuse of power that was Lenin, and a charismatic failed artist who should have been named Schickelgruber. No fanatics wanted, thank you very much.

  6. Reparations were already paid for in blood. 620,000 Union soldiers died in the civil war which was a defacto war to end slavery. Period and done.

  7. “It’s simply a debt we owe. This country will not heal until we take a serious moral inventory. A nation must undergo the same level of deep moral inventory [and] admission of our character defects. Racism is a character defect. Let’s end this. Let’s fix this. Let’s solve this. Reparations won’t end everything…”
    This struck me more today. So everyone not a descendant of American slaves owes reparations? Right off the bat, all immigrants would have to pay. What if they came in the 1970’s, they didn’t benefit from slavery or Jim Crow laws? How far back do immigrants get a pass? What about the mass of immigrants that care circa WW1, their descendants didn’t benefit from owning people? (and if the sin of a slave owner in 17th-century MA perpetuates, shouldn’t the virtue of the 18th-century abolitionist who died also perpetuate) The multitude of special interest groups will all be second class compared to the favored groups, blacks and women right now. How far forward does victimhood go? How far back does immunity go? As a female, handicapped immigrant, should I owe? I doubt that there are enough white males who inherited wealth from the slave era to make much of a penance…

    On top of that comes the problem who is owed money? I predict lots of people will get their genetics tested, hoping, even if they can’t cash in, that they don’t pay. Add fraud in both directions. What about slavery and serfdom in other countries over the ages? Everybody will owe everybody reparations for events they didn’t even know they were oppressed by. That becomes diminishing returns that benefit no one.

    This isn’t guilt, this is a pandemic spread by typhoid marys with a vested interest in raking in the danegeld.

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