Some Democrat Party leaders, are calling for reparations to help atone for the evils of slavery and eliminate the wealth gap between White and Black Americans.
Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden told The Washington Post that he supports studying how reparations could be part of larger efforts to address systemic racism. Biden’s running mate, California Sen. Kamala Harris, has co-sponsored a bill that would study the effects of slavery and create recommendations for reparations.
How much would reparations cost?
William Dority, Duke University Professor of Public Policy, has suggested a 10 to 20 trillion-dollar Federal program that would pay $800,000 to each eligible Black family.
How would reparations work?
I am uncertain about the details of Dority’s proposal, but I have serious questions about how the government would determine eligibility. One way might be to adjust one’s compensation based on an individual’s percentage of sub-saharan African ancestry. That could be determined by genetic testing.
Would a Black be denied reparations if, as in the case of Barack Obama, his African ancestors never served as slaves in the United States?(Nevertheless, his wife and children might qualify.)
It is estimated that the average American Black has at least 20% White ancestry. Many, like Obama, have 50% or more. Some of a Black’s White ancestors are likely to have been slaveholders or overseers. Should that have any bearing on his or her compensation?
Many Whites are descendants of persons who came to the United States after 1865. Others had ancestors who fought to free the slaves. Some citizens are descendants of those three quarters of Whites living in slave-holding states who owned no slaves. Others are descended from slaveholders or those who profitted from the slave trade. Should the taxes needed to pay reparations be levied equally on all these people?
Should the descendants of slaveholders be subjected to a special taxation? What about descendants of Confederate veterans?
Should reparations payments be given only to less affluent Black families?
Can you see how ludicrous a reparations program might be? I believe it would only serve to rip our nation further apart. You cannot unscramble eggs or rewrite history. Neither can you give America back to the Indians nor England to the Celtic Britons. We should learn to accept our past and work for the future. We must continue our efforts to level the playing field and give every citizen an equal opportunity for success.
I still await compensation from Italy for the brutal Roman exploitation of my British ancestors.