This week’s Open Forum was epic. All four major topics raised—children allowed to attempt dangerous challenges, Southern Democrats, Artificial Intelligence, and reparations for slavery, led to excellent, varied and provocative debates. I feel a bit guilty for co-opting the child exploitation thread with a full post; several of the comments in that thread were COTD quality, especially A.M. Golden’s at 8:12 am on the 20th.
The A.I. thread was one of the very best on any topic in the history of the blog. I started out trying to choose a Comment of the Day from that discussion, and after realizing that there was one great comment after another, considered re-publishing the whole sequence, but it is too long. I urge anyone who hasn’t done so already to read it all. The participants were adimagejim (who gets credit for opening the topic), Michael R, Steve Witherspoon, Alex, johnburger2013, and Bad Bob.
I chose the reparations thread to highlight the comments because the topic was recently the subject of a hearing on the Hill, and because I think the “debate” is and has always been intellectually dishonest on the part of “reparations” advocates, who, I suspect, know exactly how impossible their demands and proposals are. Nonetheless the news media treats the arguments with reverence, and are happy to assist when naysayers are accused of insensitivity and bigotry. The Comments of the Day that follow effectively show just how absurd—and unethical—the reparations case is.
See – I think this is actually a fun exercise because the politicians on the left that are trying to make the case that reparations *should* occur haven’t said anything about *how* we should determine the equity of it.
I think it’s fun because I stipulate “fine, let’s have reparations, now what?”…..and they come across as The Joker from The Dark Knight: “I’m like a dog chasing cars, I wouldn’t know what to do if I caught one, you know, I just do…things.”
So what makes sense for reparations? Are we providing reparations for descendants of slaves, descendants of POCs who had to endure the 1st 100 years of bigotry until the Civil Rights Act was passed, or anyone who has never felt “white privilege”?
Let’s stipulate that we should only concern ourselves with those who can positively trace lineage to a documented slave; as a lighter standard would be rife with abuse and fraud. Black immigrants from Africa after slavery ended, and especially after the CRA passed, simply did not have the same tortured experience as that of a slave. Additionally, the lineage should not extend to ancestors who gained freedom prior to our current form of government in 1789. For reference, Pennsylvania passed the first state Abolition Act in 1780 and by 1790 2/3rds of the black population were listed as “free” in the 1790 census.
So, the first question is: how many people can trace lineage to at least 1 ancestor who was enslaved in the U.S. between 1789 and 1865?
Second, how many unique individuals were slaves during that time period?
Third, is reparation based on the number slaves or the number of verified descendants?
If the former, does the reparation amount divide equally among the existing descendants today or does it flow from the ancestral slave based on traditional inheritance rules? Let’s take my ancestry as an example and take my youngest ancestor during the time period J.M. (1838-1900). J.M. would have been a slave from 1838-1865 (26 years). He had 12 offspring, including E.L. (1868-1925) who had 8 offspring including L.R. (1893-1968) who had 5 offspring, including L.E. (1929-1951) who had 1 offspring Dad (1949) still living who had 3… but we don’t matter. Does that mean my dad gets 1 share of 1/5th of 1/8th of 1/12th of a reparation payment? (0.20% of a reparation payment, assuming J.M. was my only enslaved ancestor.)
If the latter, do you balance a descendant’s total ancestry and provide greater reparation to someone whose ancestry is…
100% U.S. Slaves vs 1/16 U.S. Slave; 12/16 free black citizens; 3/16 recent black immigrant vs 1/16 U.S. Slave; 3/16 free black citizens; 8/16 white slave owners; 4/16 recent white immigrants vs 1/1024 U.S. Slave; 1023/1024 Massachusetts White High Society
Fourth, do you reduce a reparation payment based on public welfare payments that have already been distributed to an eligible recipient?
Fifth, how big of a reparation payment per slave is appropriate, and if that amount is not meaningful enough to the end recipient, will there be a call for additional reparations again and again?
Unless the rule is any claimed percentage (claim must be submitted by end of year 20_ _), and it doesn’t have to be proven with documentation (their oppressed black victims that’s good enough) will receive an flat dollar figure (outcome equality) then the entire thing goes into a endless black hole of government red tape muck to get a claim approved. Even if it’s as simple as making a claim without proof, it will become never ending; why, because children born after the end of year 20__ make the same claim, after all they too are descendants aren’t they equally deserving? What’s to stop people claiming to be slave descendants from having a many more slave descendant children just to claim the endless dollars – talk about winning the lottery for having a child, this would probably stop abortions in the black community dead in it’s tracks.
For the sake of argument, let’s say the one time reparation payment for any individual descendant will be fixed at $100,000 in today’s dollars, which would have been roughly $6650, a nice nest egg in 1865 to start a new life. With just the roughly 37 million African American people in the USA, that would add up to 3.7 trillion dollars.
The whole thing is an endless money sucking block hole and that doesn’t even touch on the Constitutionality of the whole thing.
I know that I’ve got some Native American blood in me, who’s to say that I don’t also have some slave blood in me too; some might call it a sordid family tree but I’m fine with it. Is it time for me to start writing up my claim for my share.
P.S. Anyone want to guess what would happen to the United States economy if 37 million people were handed $100,000 over night?
And, again, I have to add that giving a big payout to people who don’t know how to handle money is just putting it in front of an open window with a fan behind it.
Those who do not avail themselves of educational opportunities, stay consistently employed or save money instead of spending profligately will not benefit from a wad of cash being handed to them. They might buy a new car or fancy electronic equipment, go on vacation or quit their minimum-wage job for a year. At best, some may pay off bills or set the money aside for college tuition for their kids.
But you cannot change the lives of people for the better by handing them money if they are not willing to do what it takes to learn how to treat money as a tool and not the endgame itself.
My own take on reparations: They have already been paid. Here’s the Cliff Notes version: Since we ALL know the American Civil War was all about slavery, the costs of that war are fairly balanced against any call for additional reparations, to wit:
Monetary Costs: The Union – at least 6 billion dollars (over $70 billion in today’s money) This doesn’t count veterans pensions which continued well into the 20th century. The Confederacy – roughly 3 billion dollars in direct wartime costs. The various southern states also dealt with the veterans pension issue, with hardly any money left to pay for it.
Cultural / Economic costs: Much of the South had been physically devastated by the war. Most of the conflict had been fought in the southern states. Cities (Nashville, Atlanta,, Richmond and Columbia, for example) were reduced to ruins and ashes. Industry and railroad infrastructure were destroyed, bridges and roads ruined or neglected. Homes and farms had been burned and/or pillaged of anything of value, including livestock. Crops had been taken by the Federals or destroyed to deny them to the Confederacy. Large portions of the countryside were nearly lifeless. It would be decades before the South even came close to restoring its pre-war economy.
Human costs – over 1 million lives lost.
Union casualties – over 110,100 KIA / mortally wounded, and another 224,580 to disease.
Confederate casualties – app 94,000 KIA / mortally wounded and another 164,000 to disease.
This does not account for those permanently maimed or disfigured by their wounds.
In short, America, the only western nation that resorted to war to achieve abolition, paid an extremely high price (and many of us would say it continues to pay a high price) for the sin of slavery, that makes any talk of reparations seem foolish.
As a side note, my neighbor, who is as white can be, recently discovered through DNA testing that he has African American ancestry, almost certainly through a female slave owned by one of his “great-great-greats” in the early 1800s. Does he get a reparations check, or should he just write one to himself?
Your 2nd question is important. I used to be a believer in reparations until I read more & attended several forums regarding the issue.
The question regarding the financial amount of reparations distributed, based on percentage of African ancestry, coupled with proof those ancestors were subjected to slavery, is daunting at best. First off the answer regarding percentage depends on who you ask. I’ve heard comments saying you have to be at least 50% or 25% or other numbers. This means if the percentage is higher, more descendant of slaves will be left out, potentially leading to further grievance & division within African American networks. If the percentage is low (like 1/16 African) then whatever monies available may quickly become exhausted. Then there is proving your family was enslaved, which is difficult as documentation was sometimes lacking back then. If you can’t prove slavery existed in your family, you may not get anything, which again could lead to more grievances.
Then we have to consider how the government and it’s inefficient bureaucracy will acquire genetic data in order to efficiently distribute funds to many people. Will it be voluntary? Will the data be sold to the likes of Google & other tech giants who are quickly & deeply harvesting such information for their own medical inventions? What happens if there’s data breaches, leading to slave descendants being harmed once again by our government and now hackers? Can there be a guarantee this data won’t be used in any kind of future eugenic protocol, since there is a history of blacks being subjected to such “progressive” dictates?
Another question is, who pays? Do we track the families who had slaves and make them pay? How do we attain that information? How do we make them pay? How much do they pay? What do we do about the small percentages of other blacks who owned slaves? Do we make the (small amount) of Native Americans who had slaves pay too? Do the Natives who had their slaves with them on the Trail of Tears have to pay? If we don’t target such families, then does every citizen have to pay, even if their families, regardless of race, never had slaves?
Even if DNA isn’t collected and “guilty” families don’t have to pay, at some point we have to determine when the price has finally been paid for these sins. Who decides that? If payments aren’t handed out, who decides what is a sufficient reparation and will all descendents approve of it? And at what point do those blacks asking for reparations, take control of repairing and helping their own people, especially regarding the legacies of fatherlessness, drugs, and allowing themselves to continue to be ghettoized by democrats, wokesters, and race pimps?
There is no way to make the complicated questions surrounding this issue render clean & easy answers. It’s high time reparation advocates admit this.