Almost all of the Democratic Presidential wannabes are claiming that they support reparations for slavery. This is signature significance for shameless pandering and dishonesty, of course, and pretty redolent, in my assessment, of buying black votes. There are many, many things coming out of the mouths of the various demagogues, empty suits and crypto-socialists aspiring to unseat Donald Trump that are impossible–banning combustion engines, free college for all, ending the Electoral College, and many more—but reparations is a special species of fantasy, wrong in every way.
I have been periodically reading scholarly and not so scholarly debates about the feasibility and justification for reparations for decades, and I have come to see this as less of a policy debate than a confession of defeat. Of course, every year that the timeline retreats from the end of slavery, the more logically untenable the mass hand-out of massive amounts of money that the nation cannot afford to the descendants of slaves becomes. Ethically it was always untenable, and guaranteed, if such an irresponsible thing actually happened, to exacerbate racial divisions while creating endless demands for similar programs to benefit other groups, especially Native Americans. And why shouldn’t women receive reparations for all those centuries of forced labor and childbearing without civil rights, if the United States is going into the retroactive damages business?
Polling is a bad way to conduct a nation’s business, but sometimes the public can detect a true stinker when it sees one:. Reparations are unpopular with about 80% of the population, and I sense that even progressives just pretend to tolerate politicians who blather on about it because they know it’s all for show, and designed to harvest naive votes for more practical crazy leftist proposals.
Many of these proposals involve trying to somehow solve the gaps between black and white success and achievement in America, and mostly consist of rigging the system in various ways, especially now that Affirmative Action’s days are numbered, (and didn’t work that well anyway). Are a disproportionate number of blacks getting tossed out of school? Stop holding blacks to disciplinary standards—better yet, stop holding any students to disciplinary standards. Bad test scores making it more difficult to justify discriminating against Asian-Americans with better test scores? Eliminate testing as part of the college admission process! Are too many African-Americans incarcerated? Legalize as many of the crimes as possible, and then stop sending non-violent law-breakers to prison. These and other measures are no more fair of logical than reparations, just cheaper and easier to con or guilt Americans into accepting.
Back in March of 2016, I temporarily lost my mind in the wake of our first black President’s utter failure to address our race problems, despite his soaring rhetoric. Charts from the Brookings Institution’s Social Mobility Memos blog were posted to the web, and starkly indicated that the apparently intractable problems of American blacks that I studied in college had failed to improve in 50 years. I wrote this post, in which I concluded, after a number of depressing observations, Continue reading