Wednesday, June 18, 2014
The Reparations Solution
The reparations movement got a media boost this month when The Atlantic ran a cover story long essay by Ta-Nehisi Coates with the title The Case For Reparations. The essay was given a more somber tone with a prominent black boarder surrounding each page.
The Harvard educated Mr. Coates details a long history of economic and societal abuses inflicted on the black population. No doubt there are many times more examples of this terrible treatment of people who did nothing wrong and were discriminated against because they were black. There should be no argument that such mistreatment was horrible and wrong.
What Mr. Coates fails to do (on purpose) is provide context to his list of abuses. Read without an expanded understanding of history, a reader is bound to think that the oppressive American white population is uniquely evil in its treatment of blacks. The sad fact is that the mistreatment of blacks reflects the general human trait of dominant groups oppressing minority groups. Yes, the black minority in America was treated horribly, but minority populations have been mistreated throughout the world and throughout history.
Black slavery of other blacks, which still goes on in parts of Africa, shows that this behavior is not a uniquely white problem.
Mr. Coates spends the majority of his essay reviewing the many examples of injustice that blacks endured, even up to our lifetimes. He spends far less time discussing what reparation would look like, probably because there is no fair way to address a problem that was not addressed in a timely manner when slaves were still alive after 1865.
My main objections to modern reparations to the great grandchildren and great great grandchildren of slaves are these:
1. Giving people money is rarely a solution. Just look what happens to people that win big lotteries. A large percentage of them go broke. Given human nature, the same thing would happen here. Too many people would squander a reparation settlement and be no better off than before.
2. There is no fair way to determine who gets paid and who would pay for it. If half my ancestors were slaves and half of them were slave owners, would I have to pay the reparation to myself and get nothing? If all my ancestors got to America after 1865, why should my taxes pay for this? African slaves were often sold to slave traders by other Africans. Should African nations be responsible to pay part of the reparations since they were responsible for sending slaves here?
3. Government does a terrible job managing complex programs. Does anyone seriously think government could competently manage a reparations program?
It's a grave misfortune that many black citizens in America live in poverty and are poorly educated. Fifteen trillion dollars and fifty plus years fighting the War on Poverty should tell us that throwing more money at this will not work.
There is a plan that can help black people succeed.
1. Don't have children when you are single.
2. Finish high school.
3. Get a job.
4. Get married.
The overwhelming reason why blacks (or others) end up in poverty is because they drop out of high school, have kids without being married and not finding a job (because of the first two mistakes).
This cultural shift would do far more to improve the economic position of blacks than demanding money from a broke Uncle Sam.
During June 2014, enter to win a free copy of Inherit the Wind Overturned by Design. This is an update of the Scopes Monkey Trial for the 21st century. This time, instead of basing the over-the-hill politician turned prosecutor on William Jennings Bryant, he looks a lot like Al Gore. Instead of Clarence Darrow, the feisty defense attorney is based on Ann Coulter. It's conservatives debating liberals, intelligent design vs evolution. It shares the message that intelligent design should be taken seriously, and not dismissed without any debate.
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