OK, here it comes again, we now have several of the Democratic presidential candidates, and of course some others, talking up the idea of reparations for slavery. An idea that is supported by a tiny fraction of nonBlack Americans, and a majority of Black Americans. So let's examine for a moment this concept and how it might work.
- does every single person in the USA with any African genes at all qualify for the set amount?
- what would the set amount be?
- where does the money come from?
In regard to #1, let's say that everyone agrees that having some trace of African genes, say less than 5%, doesn't qualify a person. OK, so now we have a wide selection of people ranging from 5 to 100% African genes, probably a majority over 75% but still many millions at lower fractions. Should people get an amount of money that's proportional to their fraction of African genes, or does everyone get the same?
But oops, some people will have 100% because they came here recently from Nigeria, Kenya, Somalia, etc. They have no connection to the slavery or even the Jim Crow laws of the past. Why should they collect anything?
Then we have the people who are descended from Free Men of Color, who were not slaves and in fact were part of the business of buying and selling slaves. On top of that we have those descended from the former slaves who bought or were granted their freedom and then bought and owned slaves themselves. How do we find such people and how should that affect their eligibility for reparations? Trying to sort all this out becomes an impossible task. Add in that given that more slaves went to South America than here, many of our immigrants from there will also have some African genes, but they weren't part of American slavery either. This really gets confusing and complex.
OK, move on to #2. Well, the set amount has to be significant but it can't be huge. So it won't be $1000 but neither will it be $1,000,000. Let's say for the sake of argument that it settles out at $50,000 (which of course many will consider way too low). The math says 13% of 330 million Americans (very rough figures) comes out to about 43 million people, so at even just $50K each, that's $2,150,000,000,000. Make it simple, that's Two Trillion dollars. A very significant sum compared to the entire national budget.
Lastly, #3. Where do the trillions come from? Well, if it comes from the government, they only way it gets generated is by taxes, which means a major surcharge on federal tax for everyone. But wait, if it's for everyone, then Blacks themselves will get some of the hit, so will recent immigrants, Native Americans, etc, and people will say that's unfair. But if it's only collected from White people, that'll sure do wonders for race relations, won't it?
The bottom line is that there is simply no way to do this that will work in the first place. And in the second place, even if somehow every Black American remotely connected with slavery in the past got $50K, would it instantly solve all problems, would all the bitterness evaporate, would Affirmative Action stop, would everyone be happy and we'd achieve a colorblind society at last? Not a chance.
It's a very bad and very dumb idea, one of those things that sounds good but in reality is not remotely workable and any attempt at it just makes things worse. It's utterly irresponsible for politicians to push this idea, all it does is contribute to divisiveness and we are drowning in that already.