Apparently, I "Owe" a "Debt" "to African-Americans"

Can't say I buy that.


Hans Bader (Liberty Unyielding) writes:

Reparations took a step closer to becoming a reality. California's state senate just voted 33-to-3 to create a reparations commission. The commission will "study the effects slavery had on California and recommend to the legislature no later than 2023 what type of compensation would be appropriate, how it might be dispersed and who could be eligible to receive it," according to Fox News.

Supporters of reparations assume the racial wealth gap between blacks and whites is the result of slavery, and thus, something to be fixed through reparations. "If the 40-acres-and-a-mule that was promised to free slaves were delivered to the descendants of those slaves today, we would all be billionaires," state Sen. Steven Bradford, D-Gardena, said. "I hear far too many people say, 'Well, I didn't own slaves, that was so long ago.' Well, you inherit wealth—you can inherit the debt that you owe to African-Americans."

My parents and my brother and I came to the country in 1975. We didn't inherit any wealth in the U.S. (and really none anywhere). I don't owe any debt—because of my skin color my ancestors or theirs—to blacks or whites or Asians, and neither do other Californians.

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  1. Professor Volokh please be careful and pick fights prudently. With this and the n-word post people are going to start accusing you of secretly posting on autoadmit.

    1. Did you read the linked article? It explains how reparations are economically destructive, and also violate current Supreme Court precedent. Reparations and racial redistributions of wealth don’t do anything lasting to fix racial wealth gaps, which usually aren’t caused by discrimination to begin with.

      But they do cause economic damage. (As African nations like Zimbabwe and Uganda have found).

      Most wealth isn’t inherited. America’s billionaires include immigrants who were once poor. And racial wealth gaps often have nothing to do with discrimination. “Asian Americans have the highest average net worth and highest average income,” despite historical discrimination against Chinese and Japanese Americans (who were once barred from even testifying in court by the California Supreme Court).

      As the New York Post notes, “several historically marginalized groups out-perform whites today. Take Japanese Americans, for example: For nearly four decades in the 20th century (1913 – 1952), this group was legally prevented from owning land and property in over a dozen American states. Moreover, 120,000 Japanese Americans were interned during World War II,” which forced many interned Japanese people to sell their businesses at fire-sale prices, ruining them. “But by 1959, the income disparity between Japanese Americans and white Americans nearly vanished. Today, Japanese Americans outperform whites by large margins in income statistics, education outcomes, test scores and incarceration rates.”

      Minorities victimized by discrimination often have a lot of wealth — like the Indians of Uganda, who were dispossessed of their wealth and expelled from the country, and then, after being allowed to return to the country 14 years later, once again ended up dominating Uganda’s commercial sector, and having much of its wealth, even though they never received a dime in compensation for what they lost.

      1. Subsidies and gifts are thrown around all over the economy to various groups, although perhaps not racial groups. Earlier this year, Chairman Powell literally “pressed a button” (to quote him), made $2.5 trillion appear on the books of the federal reserve banks, and used that money to buy investments (mostly treasuries) which pumped the capital markets thus transferring significant wealth into the hands of investors.

        Let’s not suddenly get super stingy and “subsidies never work” when it’s time for African Americans to get something.

        1. What’s a word for “super stingy”?

            1. “parsimonious”?
              You’re missing a really great opportunity here.

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          1. “What’s a word for “super stingy”?”


            1. On some replies, 3T spending this year for the Feds is all Trump’s fault and end of the world.

              In other threads it is Republicans being stingy.

              Can you at least try to stay consistent?

          2. Ooh I know. Jewish.

            I’m Jewish btw. And black.

        2. Ah yes blacks have never gotten anything from old Uncle Sam.

          1. You are precisely the audience Prof. Volokh has in mind when he publishes at this blog, Matt Buckalew.

            1. When I want your opinion boomer I’ll have your wife mention it to me after one of our “sessions.”

              1. This is why I enjoy wiping the soles of my shoes on clinger tongues in the culture war.

                You guys get to whimper and whine, sputter and mutter, rant and cry as much as you want about it, but you will continue to comply with the preferences of your betters.

                Seething impotence while losing the culture war . . . it’s a bitch (extended version).

      2. Hey, how do I get my “reparations” from EGYPT? My people were enslaved. And we had “inherited” that wealth, I’m sure we would all be quadrillionaires by now. Or is this RACIST proposal only apply to “blacks”?

        1. Sounds like a pyramid scheme.

          1. You have made my Monday; thanks.

          2. Internet. Give it to him.

        2. “Or is this RACIST proposal only apply to ‘blacks”

          I’d guess it only applies to people who were enslaved in the U.S. If you want reparations from Egypt, you should be lobbying THEIR government.

          1. Did the government enslave them, or did individuals enslave them? If they want reparations from various plantations, they should file civil suits against these corporations in court.

        3. Damn right! My dad was born a Kohen, a direct male descendant of Aaron. I can only imagine what my share of reparations from the Egyptian Empire would be.

      3. Wait Hans…The United States formally paid reparations to Japanese internees from WW2 in the 1988 Civil Liberties Act. I did not see that being economically harmful.

        1. ” Japanese internees…”

          As opposed to their descendants, or ‘descendants’ or people who look like they might be descendants.

          1. Exactly. Paying “descendants” clearly falls afoul of the Constitutional prohibitions on “Bills of Attainder” and laws “working Corruption of Blood”. You cannot punish descendants for their father’s crimes…. which is why they have to make the false claim that nothing has changed.

            1. It’s not punishment or payment—it would be a type of stimulus just like Trump bailing out a coal miners pension fund because they voted for him.

          2. That is correct. I was hoping somebody would pick up on that fact.

      4. If inherited wealth isn’t a big deal, I assume that you’re fine with a confiscatory estate tax?

        1. Better yet, a wealth tax. The debt is $26 trillion, and the deficit just broke past 100% of GDP.

      5. Most wealth isn’t inherited. America’s billionaires include immigrants who were once poor. And racial wealth gaps often have nothing to do with discrimination. “Asian Americans have the highest average net worth and highest average income,” despite historical discrimination against Chinese and Japanese Americans (who were once barred from even testifying in court by the California Supreme Court).

        I don’t think you understand the full nature of inherited wealth.

        Asians who immigrated had the benefit of centuries of shared culture. This gave them the benefits of social stability in their communities and the knowledge of how to invest in their children. And that’s the major factor that helped them succeed.

        African American slaves were stripped of their culture and the wider American culture clearly considered second or third class citizens. Generations of endemic poverty is a predictable result and loosening the bounds of official discrimination does little to end that in the short term.

        I don’t know in what practical form that “debt” can be paid, but I think the existence of a debt is quite apparent.

    2. “Professor Volokh please be careful and pick fights prudently. With this and the n-word post people are going to start accusing you of secretly posting on autoadmit.”

      I view that as a threat, and highly inappropriate.

      At least in the 1950’s, saying that you weren’t a communist and didn’t personally know any (if that was true) was good enough. Now the fascism is far worse.

      1. We should all be thankful the proprietor made it all the way through
        that post without using a vile racial slur.

        Baby steps.

        1. He never uses them. Sometimes he mentions one.

          1. If your argument is ‘he merely uses that term in a quotation,’ that argument is lame and a falsehood.

            I am confident he is nonetheless grateful for your sycophantic support.

            1. Are you really unfamiliar with the use/mention distinction? Or are you claiming he really has used a slur? I’ve never seen one, but I am perhaps not as devoted a reader as you are.

              1. I have not observed its use here as a slur; I have observed its use here outside the “quotation” context.

        2. Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland
          April.14.2020 at 8:06 pm
          “Especially at an American university, it seems to me, faculty and students (and others) should be free to discuss incidents in the news (or incidents in the law school) without looking over the shoulder to see who might overhear and be offended.”

          That point — and this general expression of support for free expression — would be more powerful coming from someone who has not repeatedly engaged in viewpoint-based censorship.

          What kind of person uses “nigger” but censors “cop succor” and “slack-jaw?” The list starts with a conservative law professor, apparently.

    3. Plus you would think a guy with a 204 IQ would remember macro 101–dollars are simply demand. So reparations at this point in history would be similar to a gold rush except the “gold” just appears in certain people’s bank accounts. Guess who the big winners in a gold rush are?? The people that supply the prospectors like Levi Strauss and none other than the pater familias of the Trump family.

  2. No, I’ve been assured that every single solitary white owes something to blacks. Even if they just arrived last week!

    Look, the purpose of this reparations talk isn’t to achieve reparations. It’s to keep racial tensions at the breaking point, by raising utterly unrealistic expectations among blacks, while mortally insulting everybody else.

    Unfortunately, there are a lot of people in the country who profit off racial tensions, financially and/or in terms of influence. It is NOT in their interest that these tensions relax.

    That’s why, over and over, they pick as their ‘poster boys’ black men whose shootings were defensible, when they could find ones whose shootings were not. They keep picking Trayvon Martins, Michael Browns, Jacob Blakes. They don’t want us united and accomplishing something productive. They want us at each others’ throats.

    For the Marxist insurgents, of course, ideally literally at each others’ throats.

    1. I assure you black Americans absolutely do want money and think they deserve it. So if someone is keeping it alive just to inflame racial tensions it’s not blacks. Not that I don’t disagree with you.

      1. Reparations should restore the status quo ante–that is, recipients go permanently back to Africa before receiving their payout. They must repay the amount plus accrued interest if they ever again enter the USA for any reason. The call themselves African Americans, so we pay them to drop the American part.

        I could support this.

        1. You sound totally not racist.

          1. Just another day at a remarkably white, strikingly male, polemical right-wing blog with a thinning legal veneer.

    2. What about subrogation?

      Seriously — two of my ancestors went down to fight to free the slaves, one came home without his foot and the other never did.

      So if White America owes anything to the descendants of the slaves, they then owe whatever they get to the descendants of the White men WHO DIED freeing them. (Otherwise, they’d still BE slaves…)

      So let’s talk subrogation….

      1. 1. Ancestors of mine fought in the Union army. Imagine if they’d gotten some kind of reward for enabling that 40 acres and a mule, and passed it on down to ME. I’d be filthy rich! What’s that you say? They would have spent it and it would have vanished long ago? Well, hell, same for the 40 aces and a mule for ex-slaves, eh?

        2. Get your damned reparations from the Africans who captured you originally and sold you. Think of how much that would be if it had been invested wisely in the last several hundred years.

        3. Slavery has been rampant throughout history — 5, 10,000 years ago — Greeks, Romans, Muslims, every single civilization up until the 1800s. Still going on in a few places now. Sorry it happened to you, but it happened to a lot of whites, reds, browns, yellows, and others too. What makes you so special? What makes me so special that I owe it? There’s not a single person alive whose ancestors didn’t engage in slavery, as buyers, sellers, or slaves themselves.

        4. Why do you want to elect Trump so badly?

        1. If not obvious, this is not directed at Dr. Ed.

    3. Brett on Sandy Levinson:

      My impression is that he’s losing his capacity to accept that people can disagree with him without their motives being evil. Evil enough that he, expressly, doesn’t need to engage with their arguments. I’m seeing a lot of that going on now.

      Got a mirror?

      1. He probably does, but you sure don’t.

    4. 1. It will never happen.
      2. Talk about it is a huge political loser issue for Dems. The black vote is 12% or so and the Dems already have most of it.

      1. I’m not so sure that Blacks over age 40 will vote for the Dems this time. They don’t want their neighborhoods burnt down, they don’t want their children killed “in some stupid gang thing” or overdosing, they saw Trump’s prison reform (80% of those released were minorities), and they saw JOBS coming back.

        And then you have seen something like this:

        I’ve seen those neighborhoods from the train and if *I* lived there, I’d vote for her….

        1. ” they saw JOBS coming back.”

          The ones that went away in the pandemic?

        2. Yes, I don’t think they are out there yelling, “Burn baby burn!”

    5. You’re correct that activists recently have made poor choices in the selection of incidents to highlight.

      But to take that poor strategic choice and leap to the conclusion that you do isn’t warranted, at least for the vast majority of people who are upset with racial inequality.

      Dies it make you reconsider that your same arguments were used against MLK back in the 50s and 60s?

    6. ” They keep picking Trayvon Martins, Michael Browns, Jacob Blakes.”

      Trayvon Martin, the kid who brought his fists to a gunfight, and made the other guy fear for his life. Jacob Blake who showed his back to a law-enforcement officer.

      Both capital crimes, of course, with sentence carried out immediately. (Ineffectively, in the latter case.)

      1. Lol, Zimmerman’s defense was the he was a big pussy, that makes you a big pussy!!

        1. Above comment a reply to Brett Bellmore.

      2. Yeah, Trayvon Martin, the guy who was stupid enough to start delivering a beatdown on somebody without checking to see if they were armed first, and ended up being shot in the middle of it. And the left’s position on this is that it’s perfectly justified to slug somebody if you don’t like them sharing a sidewalk with you, and that beating somebody’s head into the pavement absolutely does not justify self defense.

        Blake, who punched out the cops there to arrest him, shrugged off a taser, and then tried getting into his car while several cops holding guns on him told him to stop. Well, obviously you’re entitled to walk away from cops arresting you if you’re tough enough to do it after taking a shot from a taser, that’s common sense.

        1. Lol, you are a proud pussy just like Zimmerman…walk tall!

        2. I will disagree on your assessments for the following reasons.

          1: Martin was in reasonable fear of his life, as he was being followed by an armed man with no identification (I have said many times, the entire ordeal could have been avoided with a “neighborhood watch” shirt). He was under no obligation to lead the man to his home and family. That was a weird twist where they both had a claim to self defense.

          2: Blake was entirely in the wrong in his resisting arrest, but the officers should not have brought lethal force into the equation. He was walking and they were in melee range. A tackle, slam, or baton would have been justified. Guns were not.

          1. They had already tried that, AND the taser.

          2. You do realize Martin actually made it back home, called his girlfriend then went back out to try and find Zimmerman, right? Totally fearful for his life there.

      3. Trayvon Martin in fact was guilty of assaulting someone else prior to his getting shot.

        1. Nope, self defense isn’t assault nitwit.

          1. Right, but it was Zimmerman who engaged in self defense. Martin assaulted him. Finding of the court, testimony of witnesses, physical evidence, and the sheer logic of it all.

            Unless maybe you think that Zimmerman brutally scuffed up Martin’s knuckles with his face prior to shooting him, which I wouldn’t put past you.

            1. Zimmerman is a known liar having lied to Hannity on national TV so there is no reason to believe his account. Furthermore the Sanford PD recommended manslaughter charges because Zimmerman’s behavior was so bizarre that evening.

              1. The reason for believing his account is that he was beaten up, and Martin was untouched aside from scuffed knuckles and a fatal gunshot wound.

                This means that Martin beat on Zimmerman, and then was shot. Because Martin could not, physiologically, have beaten up Zimmerman after being shot.

                1. Nope, Zimmerman is a known liar AND there is evidence both were interested in MMA. The testimony that Zimmerman was a pussy means he probably quickly got in over his head and then used force that wasn’t reasonable…so Zimmerman obviously had free movement if his dominant hand but went for his gun instead of fighting back.

      4. The fact that you think they were going to let a violent felon flee the scene of a crime with three children in the car is hilarious.

    7. Give me a break—did you owe the coal miners Trump just have $10 billion to? Did you owe the UAW workers Obama bailed out?? Why not bail out of a group of people that were victims of centuries of pervasive and persistent racism?? Btw, from a macroeconomics perspective reparations would produce 4% GDP growth and have no economic downside…the economic case right now is much stronger than the moral case.

    8. We’ve already compensated them with all the welfare – now they want more?

  3. Please watch this video to understand the horrors of what happened to the ancestors of African Americans and, yes, they are owed a debt. Not like the car loan or credit card you owe, and maybe people like Professor Volokh who emigrated in poverty themselves don’t owe it — but someone owes it.

    www dot youtube dot com/watch?v=PmQvofAiZGA

    1. “From approximately 1525 to 1866, 12.5 million Africans were forcibly transported across the Middle Passage to serve as slaves in the New World. Life aboard slave ships was agonizing and dangerous; nearly 2 million slaves would perish on their journey across the Atlantic.”

      1. And nearly all of those slaves were transported to the Caribbean, not the US. Even more slaves were transported to the middle east and various Muslim areas. And yet, America alone is damned for eternity.

        1. “And yet, America alone is damned for eternity”
          America is held accountable by/to Americans. What the rest of the world does is irrelevant.
          Bad behavior of the rest of the world does not give the USA a pass.

          1. Every child, around the age of ten or so, tries the “but (someone else)” defense to wrongdoing. Most of them are then corrected by their parents. Some didn’t get good parenting. For them, “whatabout (someone else)” is a valid defense to an accusation of wrongdoing.

            1. Every child, around the age of eight or so, tries the “he did it first” defense to wrongdoing. Progressives never outgrow that phase.

      2. AFTER having been captured and sold by other Africans.

      3. And 50% of telephone linemen died of electrocution on the job.
        Go to Gloucester (MA) sometime and look at the list of men who never returned from the Banks each year.

      4. And that’s different from the many millions who were enslaved by the Vikings, the Romans, the Chinese, the Mongols, the Egyptians, the Phoenicians and everyone else how precisely?

        Hell, the Eastern Europeans were enslaved so often and so thoroughly that’s where the word “slave” comes from.

        Your claim that “blacks are different” is racism, plain and simple.

        1. The Romans, as a general rule, didn’t hold the children of slaves as slaves.

          1. That depends on which period in Roman history you’re looking at.

    2. You genuinely don’t understand the disconnect between, “Something bad happened to somebody decades or centuries ago!” and “You own something to somebody else today!”?

      1. Happened centuries ago, but was never remedied, and on top of that black people were subject to additional injuries and injustices. Someone has to remedy all that eventually.

        1. Africans invaded the European continent, and destroyed the European population, to the point where modern Europeans have a large majority of African DNA. If anything, folks from Africa owe reparations to the Europeans!

          1. 100% of humans on every continent have “African DNA” The human species originated in Africa, and expanded from there.

        2. Yeah, you’re still making the unjustifiable leap from, “That guy got screwed over by somebody else” to “YOU owe THIS guy something!”

          No, nobody has to remedy all that eventually. Almost all wrongs in history go unremedied. Nobody remedied the Irish being starved during the Potato famine. Nobody is going to do anything about the rape of the Sabine women, and when Ugh cracked Norg’s skull open and stole his woman back in the stone age?


          1. Well, if we’re talking “things that are still going on”, England could give Northern Ireland back…

            1. In counter, Ireland could have given St. Patrick back.

          2. “Yeah, you’re still making the unjustifiable leap from, “That guy got screwed over by somebody else” to “YOU owe THIS guy something!””

            It’s unjustified if the white folks alive today didn’t get any benefit from being white folks in America, today.

            there’s few people who can make that claim, and have it be actually true. Sorry if this fact bothers you, but, honestly, not VERY sorry.

            1. I wouldn’t even bother with attempting the moral case. The reality is the economic case is a no brainer at this point in history because the descendants of slaves just happen to have less wealth than white people. So every dollar they get will end up in circulation and right now the Fed is worrying about inflation being too low. So the true beneficiaries of reparations will be productive Americans because dollars will be spent on good and services. Furthermore nobody is being punished because Trump bailing out the coal miners pension fund didn’t punish everyone not in that particular union!?! Economically there is literally no downside at this point in history. Finally racism could work out to America’s benefit! 😉

            2. I don’t get any benefits from being a white person. Haven’t gotten even the first check from this mythical “White person’s fund” people seem to imagine exists. Certainly I never got anything that had been taken away from a black person.

              What I’ve gotten has been traceable to having hard working parents who got married, and raised me to study hard and go into a good paying profession, rather than engage in a life of crime. I got a college scholarship, but it was available to anybody who had a high GPA and SAT score, they had no way of even knowing my race. (There were, in fact, racial preferences and scholarships at the time: By race disqualified me for any of them!) Mostly I paid my way through college working factory jobs over the summer. Some of my co-workers were black, which leads me to suspect I didn’t get the summer jobs on the basis of my race, either.

              There are huge gaps in your reasoning, which you’re just papering over. That blacks were harmed does not imply that whites benefited, for instance.

              Essentially, you’re engaged in the same sort of thought processes racists use: You have a narrative about race, you fit people into it based on their skin color, without caring about any of the particulars of their lives.

              1. You are proud pussy! You support Trump giving coal miners billions even though you aren’t a coal miner!! Walk tall like your hero Zimmerman!

                1. Now ask the obvious next thing: Has anybody accused me of owing those coal miners anything? No, I’m pretty sure it’s being described as charity or welfare.

                  To claim that somebody owes reparations is an accusation. To agree that you owe them is a confession of guilt.

                  “Reparations” are payment of a debt incurred by wronging somebody, that’s what the word means. The innocent can not pay “reparations”, to demand them is an accusation, to pay them a confession.

                  That’s WHY the term is being used here, instead of “charity”: To claim that the money or whatever is owed to the people getting it, by the people from whom it is to be extracted.

                  The term is being used to make the folks imagining that they might get them think of it as something owed, a moral debt. But it’s also being used to make sure the people it is proposed must pay them will dig in their heels and refuse, as I do.

                  1. Nobody owes anyone anything. Reparations would be great stimulus and end up greatly benefiting productive Americans…dollars are only good for spending and African Americans just happen to be a group that in which many live paycheck to paycheck. Definitely have an income limit so Black doctors don’t get the check and add to the obvious asset price inflation that is going on now as wealthy people are unaffected by this economic recession.

        3. For California to give reparations to black people for slavery would be an unconstitutional racial preference. A state is sometimes allowed to give racial preferences to black people to remedy its own recent discrimination against them. But slavery wasn’t perpetrated by California, a free state, but rather by slave states.

          For California to give blacks reparations would be considered a remedy for “societal discrimination,” not California’s own. And the Supreme Court has said that’s not a legitimate reason for a racial preference. The Supreme Court ruled that even Richmond, Virginia — the capital of the confederacy — couldn’t give blacks a preference in access to city contracts, merely because blacks were underrepresented among contractors due to the effects of “societal discrimination.” (See Richmond v. J.A. Croson Co. (1989)).

          Slavery ended over a century ago. Many courts have ruled that discrimination has to be recent, like in the last 20 years, before it justifies a racial preference. (See, e.g., Hammon v. Barry (1987); Brunet v. City of Columbus (1993)).

          The reparations commission may try to justify reparations based not on slavery, but rather current racial disparities between blacks and whites. California’s reparations legislation, AB 3121, complains that “nearly 1,000,000 black people” are “incarcerated,” the black unemployment rate is “twice” the white unemployment rate, and blacks have a fraction of whites’ wealth.

          All of these racial disparities could be due to societal discrimination, rather than discrimination by California itself. Or due to other causes, such as the high rate of family breakdown in the black community. People from single-parent households are more likely to engage in criminal activity and be unemployed. And blacks have the highest rate of out-of-wedlock births.

          To legally give them a preference, California would need to show it itself had recently engaged in a “systemic pattern of discrimination” against minorities, according to the federal appeals court in California. (See Coral Construction Co. v. King County (1991)).

          The fact that more blacks are in prison than whites doesn’t show discrimination, because the Supreme Court has recognized that there are racial differences in the crime rate (see United States v. Armstrong (1996), and courts have recognized that a “disparity” in discipline or punishment rates doesn’t show discrimination (see the Belk decision, 269 F.3d 305, 332), and that requiring equal punishment rates is an unconstitutional racial quota, see People Who Care v. Rockford Bd. of Educ., 111 F.3d 528, 537-38 (7th Cir. 1997).

          1. “slavery wasn’t perpetrated by California, a free state, but rather by slave states. ”

            Except that California, like all the other “free” states, was constitutionally bound to return escaped slaves back to their captors. chattel slavery was a great evil, and the stain doesn’t fade easily.

            1. How many slaves were transported to California or escaped to California and how many were reparated back to a slave state ?

              Probably not many.

              1. California was annexed by the US in 1846, admitted as a free state in 1850. Slavery was outlawed in the US the 1860s, so not much of a window of opportunity for California. Of course no one mentions that the Pure Noble Native Americans in California practiced slavery long before Europeans and especially Americans got there.

                1. Pollock apparently believes the stain of being a free state with no slaves runs deep and therefore blacks deserves reparations since the stain runs deep

        4. Did you know the Cham people had their entire nation destroyed by the Vietnamese somewhere around the time of the US civil war? What about the Gauls who were massacred perhaps by the millions and forcibly integrated into the Roman Republic? How about the old Hawaiian chieftains and their peoples who were conquered by the King of Hawaiian? What about the zillions of formerly distinct peoples in Europe who were massacred and forcibly integrated into other larger polities and had to work for hundreds or thousands of years as slaves or serfs? You know life as a medieval European serf wasn’t that far off from a slave right? What about all the European slaves taking by Arab and African slavers? Do they get any compensation?

          1. If they want compensation, they should seek it from the governments and individuals that benefitted in any way from the slave-taking.

            1. I don’t think any single group has benefited more from the American practice of slavery than contemporary black Americans. Compare the descendants of two men from sub-Saharan Africa, one who had been taken as a slave to North America and one who had remained in Africa. Is there any objective measure by which we may say the descendants of the man who remained in Africa are better off today than those of his fellow African who was enslaved? How can someone compare the fortunes of black Americans and black Africans and conclude that compensation is owed to the former?

        5. Remedy? 600,000 lives were lost (more than all US wars combined), entire family lines erased, wealth destroyed and communities displaced over a four year period. The remedy was paid in blood.

          1. In Maine (and I presume elsewhere), units were assembled with folk from the same town. Hence when that unit was decimated in combat, most of the young men of the town died.

            There are towns that literally evaporated as a result. Not just family lines but WHOLE TOWNS — everyone moved away because there were no young men there anymore.

            Damn it, that’s worth reparations as well.

            1. And what do you call 50 years of welfare handouts and Affirmative Retribution?

              *I* deserve reparations for having been discriminated against….

              1. “And what do you call 50 years of welfare handouts and Affirmative Retribution?”

                A Democrat voter strategy that keeps families broken and dependent, which they are exporting to the rest of us.

        6. OK, let’s let the families of slave owners pay their “reparations”. People like Kamala Harris. “Snopes, which looked into this claim in 2019, when Kamala Harris was still a presidential candidate, found a document held by the U.K. National Archives that shows Brown owned at least 121 slaves in 1826.” Brown is Harris’s great-great-great-grandfather. She should be good for a few hundred billion. Just not from my tax money.

          1. You would simply make every Black American that had a citizen ancestor in 1960 eligible—that excludes Obama and Kamala and is only slightly over inclusive with West Indians like Colin Powell…but you would also have an income limit which would exclude Powell’s offspring anyway.

        7. Never remedied?!? What was that war about?

          I want reparations from Vietnamese, North Koreans, Chinese, Japanese, Germans, Italians, Austro-Hungarians, Spanish, British, …..

          Gimme! What kind of remedy is it that just stops the evil and doesn’t undo it?!?

        8. Was never remedied? Are you fucking kidding? Did they never teach you in school about the 365,000+ Union soldiers who gave their lives to remedy it?

          And as for the additional insults and injuries since that time, feel free to identify the people who did that and sue their estates.

          1. Of course, ending slavery does not remedy the past ill of embracing slavery.

            And, of course, the lives spilled were caused by how much a bunch of Americans loved the slavery system.

            1. And, of course, the lives spilled were caused by how much a bunch of Americans loved the slavery system.

              And they are know as DEMOCRATS!!!!

                1. The Democrat party has never paid the reparations that it owes. Isn’t that how the argument goes? Modern Democrats collectively owe those reparations for the past wrongs of their political body.

                  1. Nah, slavery was bipartisan.

                    1. That why the Jim Crow south was solidly Democratic for 100 years and why Blacks were initially elected as Republicans during reconstruction. The Democratic party opposed Lincoln in 1864 and included a plank in their platform calling for immediate negotiation to end the war.

                    2. Sarcastro will just claim that everyone who was racist magically unburied their dead ancestors and signed their names to a GOP registration card under Nixon. He thoroughly believes that idiocy.

                2. Are.


                  Why do so many idiots believe the Southern Strategy flipped racists? Oh, because you’re an idiot.

                  The Democrats have been race focused for 200 years. Whether it was Slavery, eugenics, KKK, or now with race based victimhood and white fragility.

                  You seem too emotional to understand this sad fact.

            2. Do you ever say anything worthwhile? No wonder you failed your first attempt at education.

              1. You just show up every once in a while, insult a bunch of people and then disappear for a bit.

                I’m not going to really care a lot about your evaluation of my posts.

        9. It is not the case that “Someone has to remedy all that eventually” as either a practical matter, or as a matter of ethics. The argument A wronged B and so we should take something from C to give to D is not a persuasive moral argument.

          1. We could go to the Viking system, and burn a person’s accumulated wealth when they die, and stop this system of subsidizing one person with the wealth taken from another by death.

            1. Or just tax it. I think estate taxes should be higher (with a lower minimum threshold). It’s not the biggest issue facing society since the vast majority of wealth accumulated in any life time is lost by 2-3 generations later. The infinitesimal number of examples of landed gentry in the US are outnumbered by the countless cases of the rich going poor in one lifetime, or the children/granchildren of the rich squandering the money.

    3. To be brutally honest, yeah slavery was a raw deal for the people who actually experienced it but their descendants especially today should be grateful they’re here and not in the homeland being necklaced in one of the endless civil wars.

    4. Fuck off, you guilt-peddling racist cunt.


    5. Would you like me to explain what it was like to have your leg sawed off during the Civil War?

      I’m owed something too…

    6. That’s just it–the people that owe it are gone.

      1. Along with the people who deserve it.

      2. But the wealth was inherited.

        1. It’s amazing how the same crowd who — even in this comment thread — argue that extreme inheritance taxes are justifiable because the wealth evaporates within two or three generations also argue that reparations are due for at least 160 years because that wealth has been inherited.

    7. Who owes any debt? The people who did the deed.

      I propose that anyone who owned a slave should be required to pay said slave $1 billion.

  4. Are we allowed to say such things? Not recommended for anyone without tenure. Or whose address is a matter of public record.

  5. We know from studies of the Georgia’s Cherokee Land Lottery of 1832 quite precisely what the wealth effect of handing out moderate parcels of land to people would have been on their children’s wealth, income, and literacy fifty years later. Exactly zero measurable effect.

    At the same time, we know from biological studies of the variety and sensitivity of spermatozoa exactly what the biological effect of actually handing out 40 acres and a mule to freed slaves in 1865 would have been; exactly zero people who are alive today, worldwide, would have ever come into existence, as the social and environmental ripple effects changed (at the least) conception times, replacing people who were actually born with (at the closest) their siblings.

    Which is to say, Mr. Bradford, if your ancestors had been given forty acres and a mule, we know 1) their descendants wouldn’t be one red cent better off, and 2) their descendants wouldn’t include you.

  6. A union soldier died for every 16 slaves freed. The “reparations” were paid in blood during the war. Want more from me? Fuck you, get a job.


  7. I’m sorry, but I don’t owe anybody a God damned thing. I have worked very hard for what little I have.

    I may be induced to chip in for a one-way economy class ticket back for someone, provided he renounces his US citizenship.

    1. Don’t worry. It will be borrowed! Your children will pay 3x as much as it costs for indefinite financing, then their kids will pick up the tab.

    1. Democrats: Slavery was Awesome for America! Thank you Slavery! Where would we be today without You!

      1. Not really much of a response.

        Though going with the ‘at least you weren’t in Africa to experience the ravages of colonialism’ makes me think you may not really be seriously engaging with the issue.

        1. What about colonialism? You want to know the place Europe meddled in and tried to screw over the most? Other places in Europe. For centuries and centuries longer….and it wasn’t any prettier either. If Africa has a grievance it needs to get in line.

        2. Because Mugabe was a European….

        3. Right. Because the worst thing that happened to Africans was colonialism.

          I’m guessing that no one taught you in school that one important impetus for European colonialism in Africa was the drive to abolish slavery and the slave trade (see

          1. Sorry but colonialism predated the abolition movement by quite a lot. The fact that a few abolitionists tried to use colonialism for good is about as relevant as the fact that a few slave owners put their slaves to work in hospitals.

            1. It only predated the abolitionist movement with regard to a few enclaves along the coasts. The drive to take over the African interior wouldn’t have gotten nearly as much support if it hadn’t been for the desire to extirpate slavery and the slave trade.

              1. Not according to any of the contemporary documents or accounts that I have read. Most attribute the rise of colonialism to the desire for resources – primarily gold, silver and certain spices.

        4. “Not really much of a response.”

          What do you mean. Amos says we get to put whatever words we want into the mouths of people we disagree with.

          Amos also says he enjoys raping toddlers.

    2. How did the Japanese post-WWII do so much better, then?

      1. Rising tide. Everybody in the US did well in postwar America, because our infrastructure wasn’t smashed in the war.

        1. But how does that apply to Japanese Americans and not African Americans?

  8. They didn’t pick any cotton as a slave, I never owned slaves.

    Discussion OVER.

  9. Generally, the argument about blacks being owed is a debt America the country owes them. They’re still going to be paying taxes, some of which would go to reparations like the rest of us.

    The argument goes that promise of America from it’s founding, to the 14th Amendment, to the Civil Rights Acts, is something we are not following, and that this promise not being followed has incurred a debt.

    Now, I think money seems pretty tawdry a recompense. A truth and reconciliation process is a better initial step.

    1. Truth would be that most people with ancestry from nonWestern countries including blacks should be grateful that they’re here rather than being chopped up in some tinpot civil war back home. Reconciliation would be recognizing that they’re far from alone in being victims and they’ve already gotten far more in blood, sweat, and treasure than the vast majority of people do for it.

      1. You know who maybe shouldn’t be telling blacks what they should be grateful for? You and I.

        1. You first. Go ahead. While you’re at it, stop telling EVERYBODY what to be grateful for. I assure you, the rest of us would notice.

        2. Why not? Blacks tell me just about everyday about my privilege.

        3. Yeah, you take reparations the slightest bit seriously, you’ve thrown THAT complaint out the window.

          1. I like to listen to arguments before I discard them.

            If you think that makes me an unserious person, that says something about you, not me.

    2. “They’re still going to be paying taxes, some of which would go to reparations like the rest of us.”

      Well, that’s only fair since lots of black people have white DNA in them.

      The amount of taxes paid should be proportionate to the amount of white DNA.

      The amount of taxes received should be proportionate to the amount of black DNA.

      We’ll need special officials (with high salaries) working at a Racial Classification Board to use DNA to certify the proportion of white you have, and assess taxes accordingly, and to certify the proportion of black you have, and assess checks accordingly.

      The Board should also do something similar with Native Americans, who of course got quite a raw deal from whites – and come to think of it, from the Buffalo Soldiers as well.

      So based on the amount of black you have you should have to pay a little something to the Native Americans.

      Before Asians think they’re off the hook, remember that they got the property which should have gone to black people. Plus Asian storekeepers follow blacks around in their stores. So they should be required to make in-kind payments – let’s say, a certain proportion of free soda and chips from their stores.

      And don’t let recent African immigrants get onto this gravy train – they aren’t descended from slaves. The Racial Classification Board should reduce the benefits to descendants of *voluntary* African and Caribbean immigrants.

      I think this system can work with a few minor tweaks.

      1. The African immigrants are descendants of the people who ENSLAVED the slaves.

        Don’t forget that it was other Africans who sold them into slavery in the first place….

        1. The slave trade was basically a white game, Ed. Africans didn’t have a lot of agency other than who they would hand over. Refusing to participate didn’t really immunize your people.

          African tribesmen selling their prisoners of war didn’t know America had really perfected a dehumanizing horror-show.

          1. The slave trade was universal. Whites, blacks, browns, yellow, reds — all enslaved others and were enslaved. White game my ugly ass. This particular trade started with blacks enslaving blacks and selling them for a profit. Why not blame capitalism while you’re at it?

            Go read some history.

            1. The inconvenient truth is that slavery was an economic institution, not a racial one.

            2. I’m talking about a particular institution of slavery. The one that is of concern to American history. And one which was uniquely bad.

              All of which I’m pretty sure you know, so why are you being pedantic about it?

              1. “And one which was uniquely bad.” Please substantiate that. How was America uniquely bad among nations that hosted slavery?

                  1. Nothing in that response demonstrates that these were uniquely American actions. You’re saying this was done nowhere else in the history of man than in America? That this was “invented” sometime between 1620 and 1860 by Americans, and had never been contemplated or practiced before? Utter nonsense!

                    1. Indeed. That is what I’m saying, and I have explained why.
                      The tech level also plays a role in making such a system viable, so the time band is narrow.

                      What other proof would you require? Do you want me to prove a negative?

              2. so why are you being pedantic about it?

                pe•dan•tic pə-dăn′tĭk

                adj. Facts inconvenient to some empty but flowery rhetorical point Sarc is pushing.

                We’ve all been there.

          2. This is the craziest claim I’ve ever seen. What makes it ever more disgusting is slaves in the american South had it infinitely better than they had it is the Caribbean and South America not mention those slaves that were retained in Africa.

            The second one African enslave another the best result for that conquered African was to be loaded on a slave ship for bound for Charleston bay preferably on a gentile owned slave ship.

            1. Yeah…The islands were worse. But they were part of the same system; that doesn’t really address my thesis.

              1. Probably because your theseis is poorly supported.

                1. My thesis is a negative one – that blaming African chiefs for the American slave system is a lame attempt to distract.

                  The burden is on the other side, and they haven’t met it.

          3. Stupidly wrong. Black slaves were sold in North Africa and Asia to POC a thousand years before the first slaves were brought to America, with the Muslim world the primary importers. The same Muslim world was the largest importer of white slaves a well.

            Refusing to participate didn’t really immunize your people.

            Actually it did. Whites were never going to engage in capturing free people to enslave because they wouldn’t have lived long enough to do it. This is an ahistorical claim made solely because it would help your argument if only it were true.

            1. American slavery as different in kind than slavery elsewhere.

              What immunized people was not being on the coast since whites were too afraid of disease to go inland. But, then, those groups didn’t sell anyone to the slave traders so…

              1. “American slavery as different in kind than slavery elsewhere.”

                Now all you need is support for this argument and not just bald assertions.

              2. American slavery as different in kind than slavery elsewhere.

                What nonsense.

              3. Neither of you think American chattel slavery was uniquely bad? That’s fair; I didn’t think so about 10 years ago. But this was not like serfs or slavs.

                Below is a repeat of a post from earlier this month:

                American slavery was unique because of how profoundly slaves outnumbered slaveholders, and how much the slaveholders’ way of life depended on their slaves.

                This lead to a fear of revolt that created a system of terrorism and dehumanization. Black people were not just enslaved, they were broken, their names stripped from them, their language, their faith, their family. That was not something even visited on the slavs or any system in Islam. Teaching a slave to read was a crime, because keeping blacks in dehumanized ignorance was a requirement of the system.

                Ad that doesn’t mention the forced breeding, often via forced rape. Another uniquely monstrous aspect of the American institution.

                Fear of revolt lead to an affirmative policy of breaking up families and keeping black people terrorized.

                And all of this in a country that considered itself a beacon of liberty among all mankind, a blindness and hypocrisy that must also be factored into American slavery’s towering awfulness throughout history.

                1. The notion that this is uniquely American, that this didn’t happen everywhere slaves were kept all over the world and throughout history, is preposterous. What about training slaves for combat and having them fight to the death for entertainment? Ever hear of that?

                  Holy cow. The stuff you believe is incredible.

                  1. So your response to what I wrote is to bring up Spartacus.

                    First, quite a reach.
                    Second, that’s going to have a very different legacy than an institution built on racial dehumanization we’re discussing here.

                2. Again, not unique to American slavery. Awful but not even close to unique when viewed historically.

                  1. I to include the Island trade in the system.

                    But what in the past was as bad?
                    You have clearly read your stuff, so I’m not being defensive; I’m curious to know.

                    Maybe if you call King Leopold a slaveholder?

                3. OK, so let’s assume the argument that American slavery *was* uniquely horrible.

                  How does even *that* justify reparations given to people who were never enslaved?

                  If you want to make an argument for paying reparations to people who are alive today, you have to make it for harms they themselves actually suffered.

                  1. It doesn’t; it’s just a counterargument to the floodgates scenario people bring up.

                    The argument, as I understand it, is as I posted it yesterday evening:
                    August.30.2020 at 8:35 pm
                    Generally, the argument about blacks being owed is a debt America the country owes them. They’re still going to be paying taxes, some of which would go to reparations like the rest of us.

                    The argument goes that promise of America from it’s founding, to the 14th Amendment, to the Civil Rights Acts, is something we are not following, and that this promise not being followed has incurred a debt.

                    Now, I think money seems pretty tawdry a recompense. A truth and reconciliation process is a better initial step.

          4. Bullshite.

            Most of Africa is 1000+ feet above sea level — no natural harbors or navigable rivers. The slave ship crews didn’t leave the ship — if it got wrecked in a storm, they were stuck there.

            Other Blacks produced the slaves — and really didn’t much care if the Americans ate them. Read _Roots_?

          5. “The slave trade was basically a white game, ”

            Historical revisionism, that’s all it is. An attempt to put all the blame on whites, because you really, really want the blame and victimhood to fall along neat racial lines.

            1. Arguing that black slavery in white America wasn’t a system created and run by whites is not a lift you can manage.

              1. Funny, one of the first slaveowners in what is now the US was a black man. (Anthony Johnson.)

                1. So does that somehow make slavery not created and run by whites?

                  1. For starters, slavery in America couldn’t have been created by whites, because the Indians were practicing slavery before the whites arrived.

                    1. Not the American system of slavery.

                      Which is what this entire discussion is about.

                    2. “no true Scotsman,” eh, Sarcastr0?

                    3. More like, stay on topic, TP.

              2. I think you’re just making a circular argument, particularly by separating slavery practiced by Native Americans from slavery practices by Whites.

                “Whites created slavery practiced by Whites” is true by definition, and not at all interesting.

                1. Tell that to the people arguing that slavery practiced by whites wasn’t actually created and practiced by whites.

          6. re: “The slave trade was basically a white game”

            Yeah, no. Not even slightly. To claim it with a straight face displays an astonish degree of willful ignorance of history.

            1. The *American* slave trade was. Do you disagree with that?

              1. That’s true only if you define the “American” slave trade as starting once the slaves arrived in the US. It was not true at the point that the slaves were (mostly) captured from their native lands nor was it especially true for the slaves shipped to the Caribbean or to South American.

                1. I would revise ‘white man’s game’ as what I say above: a system created and run by whites.

      2. There are already Native American reparations. It’s part of why I don’t think mere money is the answer.

        1. If not just money what else? Access to white women? Can they chop off my arm? Reading this comment brings up a horror thats similar to what one reads during the lead up to the holocaust. This is blood lust.

          1. Access to white women?

            Well, that’s a telling comment.

            1. Yes I’m telling on you that’s the point. Historically comments like yours have preceded eras of rape being adopted as a poltical weapon. Unfortunately this is an evil American blacks have at times been extremely eager to adopt.

              1. Reparations are a slippery slope down to rape.

                And blacks love rape.


      3. Did you read what I wrote? It wasn’t just about slavery.
        The promise of African American equality is something owed to all African Americans, not just the descendants of slaves.

        1. But bear in mind that if you find someone black with some white DNA, that may mean they have a slavery-era ancestor who was a *rapist* – not only racist with a “c,” but rapist with a “p.”

          Obviously, the descendants of rapists shouldn’t get anything.

          Now, white people should be able to get something off your taxes based on the proportion of ancestors who were either Union soldiers or white civil rights activists.

          And black people who vote Republican, or who have Republican ancestors, should be taxed like whites. Can’t have any Uncle Toms taking advantage of this situation, that would simply be silly.

          1. You realize during reconstruction most blacks were Republicans and many were until after WWII.

            1. Wow, Poe’s Law really is true…there’s no satire so ridiculous that it won’t be taken for the real thing on the Internet.

              1. Just because you forgot the irony tags doesn’t mean everyone understood your weak attempt. Especially many who don’t know the real history, including the fact that relatively few segregationts converted to Republicans. Nor the fact that Democrat trade unions were often racist. The basis of 5he Davis Bacon Act was to protect Racist Trade Unions from “cheap southern labor”. Thank you FDR.

        2. “Did you read what I wrote? It wasn’t just about slavery.”

          Did you read the post? The California commission is supposed to “study the effects *slavery* had on California and recommend to the legislature no later than 2023 what type of compensation” blah blah.

          So, yes, indeed, it is “about slavery,” in the sense slavery is what the advocates are yammering about.

          Or perhaps it’s that “the issue is not the issue. The issue is the revolution.”

          1. California was a slave state – who knew

        3. “The promise of African American equality is something owed”

          Except it isn’t.

          1. You ask me to support my arguments, and then show up with this?!

          2. “The promise of African American equality is something owed”

            The promise of African American and all others – equality of opportunity is something owed.

            The difference in equality of results and equality of opportunity is something lost to those demanding payment for not achieving equal results.

            The demand for reparations is doing vastly more harm to the black community.

        4. The promise to be treated equally under the law is an existing promise and one that black people have every right to invoke and enforce. Laws that fall short of that promise should be repealed. Are you aware of any laws that fall short of that promise today? If so, the ACLU is a very good resource for having those laws challenged.

      4. “Well, that’s only fair since lots of black people have white DNA in them.”

        What color is DNA?

        1. Probably some mistreatment / divergence of equal treatment under the law.

          But the underlying problem is the culture / sub culture that tolerates and encourages the deviant and criminal behavior at much higher rates than found in the white culture.

    3. The Social Security Ponzi scheme is similarly piling up a debt that, at some point, will have to be repudiated: not even Congress can repeal the laws of mathematics. But I think all reasonable people can agree that Americans living today do not owe the debt: the unwise promise it comes from was made by people now dead, and inheritable debt cannot exist without slavery.

      The same goes for “reparations” to the descendants of slaves, if we take the notion seriously in the first place, which I do not.

    4. In that case, Jamaica, Barbados, and all the other independent Caribbean nations should owe reparations to *their* African Americans. After all, it would just mean that their black citizens would just be taxed like everyone else, and the funds (including funds collected from white people still living in those countries) paid out to the descendants of slaves.

    5. If someone can tie an actual quantified debt to a specific person and show causality to me and my actions, then I’ll hop on the reparations train.

      I would also like all historical debts owed to me sourced and paid off.

    6. I wasn’t aware that the IRS was now collecting on street drug sales? It stands to reason that few would actually file because that would probably get back to welfare.

  10. Reparations for slavery has already been paid in blood.

    1. That’s not how reparations work.

      A criminal paying reparations today doesn’t get to cut themselves and bleed a while, and then the restitution is paid.

      1. wow…just wow…Union soldiers who sacrificed and went through things we couldn’t even imagine….what a swell guy you must be….

        1. Yeah, Amos, I’m crapping on the Union in the Civil War.

          1. No just ignoring them.

            1. No, just saying that payment in blood isn’t a thing.

              1. This is where you are horribly mistaken, Sarcastr0. Those 638K deaths have intrinsic meaning, which you discount to your shame.

              2. How, precisely, is the fact that A’s ancestors were slaves “a thing” but the fact that B’s ancestors rescued A’s not?

                1. Because the debt is owed as a nation. The Civil War was our country’s method of stopping a horrible crime. We didn’t have to have a war about it, but the South wouldn’t go along with that.

                  My ancestors came here after slavery, but the system of slavery and apartheid collectively made whites better off than Blacks.

                  I don’t know if reparations are the answer. There are real complications with that supposed solution, some of which are even mentioned in this thread, But they’re not mentioned in a serious way, and this is a serious issue.

                  1. I lover the “anti-racist” argument that whites made themselves richer by excluding blacks from white society.

                    1. ? Given scarce resources, exclusion does have that effect.

      2. When you can find a modern day American former slave owner, you can get reparations from him. No American has been a slave owner for 155 years. I don’t know when the last former slave owner died, but there are none now.

        Got that? No living Americans ever owned slaves, none are criminals for having owned slaves.

        1. Why should I pay reparations when my ancestors immigrated to the US in 1890 from eastern europe.

          What have I done to enslave blacks?

          What Have my ancestors done to enslave blacks?

      3. Our country has a social safety net for those struggling. But, no family is entitled to wealth. Putting Harriet Tubman on the $20 would be a fitting reparation.

        1. I want the Picture of her with the revolver on the 20 dollar bill.
          That would blow a few minds to have a black woman with a gun on the $20 bill

          1. Sounds good to me. 🙂 Better than Jackson.

      4. “That’s not how reparations work..

        A criminal paying reparations today doesn’t get to cut themselves and bleed a while, and then the restitution is paid.”

        So white people are criminals? You’re trying real hard to get Trump re-elected, aren’t you?

        1. He’s certainly working hard to establish that he’s a moral idiot.

        2. It’s a scenario to point out how silly the ‘Civil War paid the price’ argument. There are other reasons to pay reparations that are not criminal.

          1. And none of those apply either.

            1. I mean, OK. There wouldn’t be a precedent. That doesn’t mean it’s invalid.

              Again, I don’t think monetary reparations are the right rout to go. But none of you care to engage with the actual arguments so you got me making them.

              1. Tell us more about your idea of a truth and reconciliation commission. You made the statement. Let’s hear more.

        3. So white people are criminals? You’re trying real hard to get Trump re-elected, aren’t you?

          Jeez, stop misrepresenting Sarcastr0. He didn’t say white people were criminals. He said white people who didn’t own slaves but who shed their blood to abolish slavery were criminals.

      5. Fuck off, you guilt-peddling cunt. I don’t owe you shit.


    2. A better answer is just a flat no. No, we don’t pay people based on ancient ancestral grievances. We have equality under the law instead. You make your own way in America.

      But more talk about reparations between now and the elections could help a lot.

    3. Like the debts in dollars, by somebody who is not you. Funny how that keeps happening.

  11. Many here (including Professor Volokh) have stated they don’t owe reparations. I believe them. However, the questions is what can the government (state or Federal) compel one to do, and who has the votes?

    Of this year’s Democratic presidential candidates, Kamala Harris (!), Elizabeth Warren, Julian Castro, were clearly in favor of reparations. Others (Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders) would support them. It isn’t just California.

    Now we have a presidential election in which the incumbent is so toxic that there is a threat that Democrats could sweep the White House, the House of Representatives, and the Senate. There is no moderate or mainstream conservative candidate to make a contrary case to voters.

    Who among us actually thinks the Democrats won’t end the filibuster if they take the Senate (both Joe Biden and Barack Obama, among others, have stated they are willing for it to end) and then pass such things on party line votes? It could well happen. Who here is convinced there will /not/ be a major effort to expand and stack the Supreme Court, which would pass on party-line votes, so that party preferences will no longer face clear Constitutional scrutiny? Truthfully?

    Reparations could be among our lesser problems unless we are lucky enough to maintain divided government.

    1. Reparations would spark the race war that Charles Manson wasn’t able to start.

      Watch Seattle — things there could get very ugly very quickly and the rest of the country WILL go into a shooting civil war if this comes to pass. Hopefully it won’t.


      1. As usual, Ed goes the ‘vote like I want or the right will start shooting.’

        1. And you, when have you ever NOT told other people how to live and behave?

          1. What the hell are you talking about? I may have opinions, but I’m not going to shoot people over them.

            Ed is different, it seems.

            1. You’re threatening to steal from him what did you expect?

              1. Don’t defend Ed’s constant invoking of political violence.

            2. If you are not going to shoot people over your opinions, I suggest you change your handle.

              Peaceful disagreement is not what comes to mind when Castro name is evoked.

        2. He’s offering you a friendly warning.

          1. Warning? From the bigoted incel audience that this site cultivates? From the anti-social right-wingers who spend their lives seething impotently about having progress shoved down their whimpering throats? From the readers who mistake the content at a disaffected, white, male, right-wing blog for mainstream legal debate?

            All-talk conservative bigots are my favorite culture war casualties. Your “friendly warning” is mocked and disdained.

        3. There is a huge difference between “I will shoot those that try to violate my natural rights even under the color of law,” and “I will go out looking for people to kill.” That you conflate those two things speaks to your being purposefully obtuse in order to color your ideological opponents as evil or your being woefully ignorant.

          1. What is color of law is enough in the eye of the beholder your distinction is without difference.

            No one should make their decisions about what is good policy or what is right based on whether idiots will get violent about it.

            1. You’re using the word policy as a euphemism for theft.

              1. Denying the social contract proves way too much. Sounds like taxes are theft. So is any government spending you don’t personally approve of.

                It’s not a serious argument.

                Which is what I would expect from someone rationalizing political violence.

                1. If your version of the social contract requires me to pay reparations for something I had nothing to do with, I say, tear that sucker up.

                  I’m serious about this: Forget reparations, forget having a “peace and reconciliation commission”. You want a race war that badly? Bring it.

                  I’m down with equal rights, equal protection of the law, and all that jazz. Reparations? That’s a deal breaker, you can extract them from me after you’ve won the war.

                  1. You paid reparations to the Chinese. We still pay them via Indian Casinos.

                    Reparations are just another policy, bro.

                    You want a race war that badly? Bring it.
                    I don’t. But I also don’t negotiate with terrorists. Some guy on the Internet threatening to throw a gun tantrum doesn’t change what’s good or bad policy.

                    Were reparations to be instantiated, it would require a buy in be a lot more than just blacks. Your beef is not along racial lines.
                    I mean, what are you going to do? Go on tax strike?

                    1. Some guy on the internet threatening me if I don’t cough up reparations is better? To quote Kipling:

                      “And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
                      But we’ve proved it again and again,
                      That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
                      You never get rid of the Dane.”

                      Once we pay your damned reparations, you think the demands will go away? Fat chance of that! They’d just escalate.

                      Would I go on a tax strike? Maybe, or worse. But it’s not going to come to that, now, is it? Because there aren’t going to BE any reparations, it’s a fantasy designed to create a sense of entitlement among those proposed to get them, and spark outrage among those proposed to have to pay them.

                      It’s a proposal specifically designed to drive us apart. So keep hammering at that wedge, you won’t like the result if you manage to drive it deep enough.

                    2. I have not threatened you except by noting that you don’t understand the arguments for a policy you don’t like.

                      As for your slippery slope argument, that’s just your usual speculation engine running towards an outcome you already want.

                      And then you go off on Civil War wankery. Given the caliber of people I see who go on about it, I think that’s about as likely as reparations.

                    3. “I mean, what are you going to do? Go on tax strike?”

                      What the left fails to understand is the declining return curve on tax revenue as earning effort declines. People refuse overtime, etc.

                      Not to mention the visceral racism you will *create* with reparations and the inevitable carnage that will follow.

                    4. Just as what’s a good policy shouldn’t be defined by what keeps Ed from unleashing his armed hordes, so too is it not defined by what will make the already racially resentful people become more explicitly racist.

                      Joining Ed in lame hostage taking arguments is a sign of the weakness in your ideology.
                      There are arguments against reparations. And yet you choose not to make them, but rather make threats by proxy.

                  2. “I’m down with equal rights, equal protection of the law, and all that jazz. Reparations? That’s a deal breaker, you can extract them from me after you’ve won the war.”

                    Meh. You seem to think that anybody other than you cares what hill you choose to die on.

        4. That’s not what he said. You have selective reading comprehension diminishment.

        5. That’s not what he said. You deliberately distort what Ed says in order to malign him. He’s making a prediction, not a threat, and you know it!

          1. It’s a threat by proxy, and you know it.

            1. Look at you on your high horse, with your allies not only making such threats but carrying them through, while you watch approvingly from atop a hill.

              1. Look at you, pointing elsewhere to avoid condemning your own.

                I’ve condemned rioters many times on this blog. I’m consistent in my condemnation of political violence. Are you?

    2. “There is no moderate or mainstream conservative candidate to make a contrary case to voters.”

      Whose fault is that? You want a moderate conservative candidate, have your party nominate one.

  12. “I don’t owe any debt….” This is fine thanks to a country that took you in. The motorways, railways and other infrastucture etc that was provided for you by the sweat and labour of countless people that you seemingly take for granted.

    If something was stolen years ago (e.g. land or even labour) then the ancestors can still claim title or compensation much later. If you bought or used this stolen land, even unknowingly, then you may be forced to compensate in some way.

    The same is true of a nation. By coming to the US and accepting its hospitality you also accept to be part of any debts that it owes (e.g. the national debt). If the nation decides (and the current discussion is part of that dialogue), that there should be compensation for past labour theft then that is fine. “You” dont owe anything, but the nation might.

    1. What about the Loyalists who weren’t compensated for what was stolen from them, even though the Treaty of Paris said we were supposed to be?

    2. I don’t think you understand much of how investments work, or business, or probably anything.

      Ever traveled to another state? How much did you pay at the border for all the roads you were about to use?

      Ever traveled to a foreign country? How much did you pay at that border?

      Ever met anybody from another state or country? Did you stomp your feet and cry when they wouldn’t pay up? Or were you just too timid to ask?

      1. I assume you are talking about tourists. They bring huge net income to a country that more than compensates for any temporay use of roads etc. Immigrants are welcome, and bring lots of benefits to a country, but use much more of a countries recources.

        1. “that more than compensates ”


      2. “Ever traveled to another state? How much did you pay at the border for all the roads you were about to use?”

        You don’t pay at the border. You pay at the gas pump.

    3. Exactly if anything he’s more complicit. He’s enjoy the fruits of slavery without have paying the bitter cost many founding stock Americans had to pay. To me the bank robber is infinitely less evil than the greedy girl friend who encourages him on and enjoys the proceeds.

    4. “This is fine thanks to a country that took you in.”

      They come to this country, and the first thing they do is reject concepts of collective racial guilt. Instead, they want this country to abide by foreign concepts like equal justice under the law regardless of race.

      1. That’s not even close to what Eugene is arguing for. He’s using a broader critique of reparations to stake out a more specific claim- my tribe isn’t paying a dime.

        1. Prof. Volokh isn’t arguing for anything. He’s just lathering up his posse of right-wing bigots. It seems to amuse him.

  13. What about the Irish, who were despised and discriminated against as soon as they arrived? They were shut out of any decent jobs, held broadly in contempt, and suffered for generations. Or the Germans – who were reviled in the early to mid 20th century? The Japanese, who were literally put into concentration camps. Shouldn’t we pay those families to make up for the property value that they lost as a result of government intervention and forced removal? While we’re at it, let’s discuss the Chinese Exclusion Act. Women were treated as property long past the end of the Civil War. What about us?

    The institution of slavery was horrific – no question. It was not unique to the Unites States, either. How giving people money now will make it right is going to solve anything I don’t know. I mean, if the government set up a commission to give women reparations from men for all that free housework and child-rearing done for so long, I’d take the check. Who doesn’t want “free” money?

    It’s a dangerous path to go down. My ancestors were in the North, so if anyone was involved in slavery, it was to fight the war that ended it. My father’s family did not get here until the 1930’s.

    We cannot change or repair the past. We can learn from it, and should. But I can barely take care of myself financially, and all I will inherit when my parents die is debt. The whole conversation seems to be based on the false premise that all white people have wealth and no black people have wealth and the only explanation is slavery.

    I’m a practicing immigration attorney. This means I spend my days helping minorities come live and work here. I loved law school, and I love the complex history of our country. But the direction things are going with the exacerbation of race relations and the complete lack of civil discussion or social order makes me seriously look into options for becoming an ex-pat.

    I’m pretty tired of being told “Hey you no-good white racist with all this inherited wealth, you need to recognize your privilege and open your wallet to pay random black people. Can we count on your vote come November?”

    No. I come from nothing, and what little I have, I fought hard to get.

    1. No, worked hard to get…

    2. Lady Dada…The Japanese were not literally put into concentration camps. They were sent to internment camps. Big difference. And for which the United States paid formal reparations directly to the internees.

      1. Yes, paid only to the living, after most had long since died. Is that the same pattern we should follow for slaves?

      2. “The Japanese were not literally put into concentration camps. They were sent to internment camps. Big difference.”

        I’m not seeing the big difference, if they weren’t given a choice about whether to go. You DO realize, don’t you, that “concentration” camps and “death” camps aren’t technically the same thing?

        1. Brett…don’t be obtuse. Please.

          The use of the term ‘concentration camp’ is emotionally charged, and casts an allusion to the concentration camps that Jews were murdered in. It also recalls the concentration camps of the Boer Wars.

          Internment camps were something very different. I am not minimizing the wrong done to Americans of Japanese descent. Far from it. I am glad POTUS Reagan helped to push through formal reparations. But internment camps we ran were quite different, did not remotely resemble ‘concentration camps’, and there is no denying this. There were little league baseball teams, local newspapers, gardens (in which the ‘jailers’ helped maintain, regular school classes and the like.

          I object to the ahistorical use of concentration camp is relation to Japanese internees. It is simply not the case, and I called her out.

          1. The term is emotionally charged only because the Nazis used it for their camps, including extermination camps. But it is appropriately used to refer to the internment camps that the U.S. set up for persons of Japanese ancestry, that the British set up for Afrikaaners during the Boer War, and that Spaniards set up for Cubans during the Cuban War for Independence (where the term was first used).

          2. As Semus says, “concentration camp” is actually the correct term for what we put the Japanese into. That the Nazis used it as a euphemism for death camps doesn’t change that. We were ‘interning’ the Japanese in, yes, concentration camps, before the death camps were a thing.

            Euphemisms, Concentration Camps And The Japanese Internment

            1. So the camps for (allegedly) illegal immigrants we’ve got going on. I’ve called them concentration camps, and you took issue, as I recall.

              1. Yes, and properly so: The notion of “concentration camps”, even apart from the Nazi use of the term to describe death camps, carries a meaning distinct from “jail”, in that you end up in a “concentration camp” without legal process, and legal process won’t get you out.

                The illegal immigrants are in something closer to jail. And the only reason they don’t tend to get very prompt hearings is that their supporters in Congress are deliberately starving the system to prevent those hearings, knowing that most of them will simply be deported after they’ve had their hearing.

                1. They are held there pending due process, and some held for quite a while. They are held there based on status, not act.

                  1. By all means, let us work to promptly address the claims of the people in those jails who did not illegally cross our country’s border to get here.

                    How many of those are there?

                    1. We don’t know. Because we haven’t bothered with evidentiary hearings.
                      Because we don’t care.

          3. You are confusing connotation with literal meaning. It may call to mind the concentration camps set up by the Nazis, but the phrase has a broader meaning. See my post below with a link to the Encyclopedia Brittanica, which explicitly discusses the Japanese interment camps as falling into the category.

            Just break down the meaning of the two words: a camp or location where a certain type of people are concentrated.

      3. From Encyclopedia Brittanica:

        “Concentration camp, internment centre for political prisoners and members of national or minority groups who are confined for reasons of state security, exploitation, or punishment, usually by executive decree or military order.”

        So I’m afraid that they were literally put into concentration camps. If you care to educate yourself further, here’s a link:

    3. While we’re at it, let’s discuss the Chinese Exclusion Act.

      Huh? If we pay reparations to blacks because their ancestors were brought to this country as slaves, we therefore have to pay reparations to Chinese because *their* ancestors were (until 1943) not brought in to suffer exploitation and discrimination? Or are you saying that we owe reparations to those Chinese whose ancestors came in before 1882 and therefore were *not* affected by the Chinese Exclusion Act? I’m so confused.

      1. My point is that many ethnic groups have faced incredible hardship, bigotry, and none of that is fair. Many ethnic groups have been exploited, forced to take the worst jobs for very little pay. Black men could vote before women could. I brought up the Chinese Exclusion Act as an example of grotesque bigotry. And it was the disdain for those who came before 1882 that led to the Act.

        I’m not saying it is the same as slavery. I am saying that, at some point, we cannot be required to remedy the sins of our predecessors.

        1. If the Chinese Exclusion Act is “an example of grotesque bigotry,” its one whose only victims were people who weren’t in this country. It’s not clear who we’d pay reparations to–people in Guangdong Province who credibly assert that their ancestors wanted to come to the United States but are now stuck under Chinese Communist tyranny because of those racists in Congress in 1882?

    4. “What about the Irish, who were despised and discriminated against as soon as they arrived? They were shut out of any decent jobs, held broadly in contempt, and suffered for generations.”

      They got public sector jobs.

  14. Completely agree that reparations are important and must be implemented at best speed.
    Actuaries can determine the value of a life. Likewise, by simple arithmetic, total benefits given to blacks (including, of course, “free” housing, food, schooling and medical benefits, as well as property damage, police and criminal justice costs) minus their contribution to society, and here I mean taxes paid.
    I leave it to those wiser than me to determine their influence in the cheapening and coarsening of society and how to charge accordingly.

  15. “But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay…any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave.”

    United States Constitution, Amendment XIV, Section 4

    Ship has sailed.

    1. Priceless. They’d have to repeal the 14th Amendment….

      1. Or understand it. I can see why you’d favor repeal as the easier option.

    2. Might want to reread that one.

      1. Was about to say the same thing. Not a fan of reparations as often discussed, but also don’t think people should make incorrect arguments either. It undermines the credibility of the anti-reparations argument.

      2. It can certainly be read as forever putting to rest claims on both sides (claims by ex-slaveowners for emancipation, claims by ex-slaves for their loss).

        Auch a reading wouldn’t didn’t prevent the United States from attempting to help freed slaves, as it sporadically did, nor would it prevent various welcare programs from the Homestead Act on. But that’s different from paying a claim that is claimed to be of right.

        1. Which part can “be read as forever putting to rest claims” by ex-slaves? It is talking about “debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave, but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.”

          The “such debts, obligations and claims” refers to the immediately preceding debts, obligations, and claims, which were all held or claimed by slaveholders, not ex-slaves.

    3. Uh, sorry. That provision was one barring payments to *slaveowners* to compensate them for their loss due to emancipation. It says nothing about payments to slaves to compensate them for their loss due to slavery.

      Arguing that the 14th Amendment bars reparations for slavery is as much of a distortion as the claim that the three-fifths clause was somehow pro-slavery.

      1. It was necessary to prevent claims under the 5th amendment takings clause.

        1. True, but irrelevant to my point.

    4. Reading comprehension fail. the text you quote says they aren’t paying the former slaveholder for the fact that eliminating slaves would have triggered a compensation claim for taking the property interest in the slave.

      It has nothing to do with whether or not the former slaveholder owes the former slaves anything.

  16. If the 40-acres-and-a-mule that was promised to free slaves were delivered to the descendants of those slaves today, we would all be billionaires,” state Sen. Steven Bradford, D-Gardena, said.

    How stupid do you have to be to believe this? And yet it’s the motivating principle for tens of millions of Americans.

    1. And if whites hadn’t kidnapped all our rocket scientists, Mars would be a chocolate planet by now. If they can put a Man on the moon, they can put every black family in a six bedroom mansion with a loaded five car garage.

    2. I know my great-great-great-great-great grandfather had 120 acres of very good farm land in the 1830s.

      I think he put his billions in bitcoin and lost the wallet cause I sure haven’t seen any of it

      1. My uncle owns a combined 40 acres right now and he’s not even a millionaire. Must be because he doesn’t have the mule

    3. “How stupid do you have to be to believe this? ”

      there’s a good deal of property in California that’s worth what he says. Of course, there’s a bout a zero chance in hell that the freed slaves would have been allowed to choose property in Malibu. they’d have been given land out in the desert next to what the Indians got.

    4. The idea that people with 40 acres and a mule 150 years ago would obviously have descendants who are all billionaires reminds me of a much more probably scenario, from that theological classic, Bedazzled:

      George Spiggott: [having gotten Stanley’s attention by mentioning a million pounds] Your great-great-great grandfather, Ephraim Moon, sailed to Australia in 1782 on a ship of the Line. Set himself up as an apothecary. The business flourished, and by the time he died it was worth something in the region of 2,000 pounds – a large amount in those days.

      Stanley Moon: Yes…

      George Spiggott: Your great-great-grandfather, Cedric Moon, by skillful management and careful husbandry, increased that sum a hundredfold. This in turn was inherited by your great-grandfather, Desmond Moon, who expanded, diversified, and built up a personal fortune of well over a million pounds!

      Stanley Moon: Oh!… it’s a lot of money!

      George Spiggott: A great deal of money, Mister Moon! And this gigantic sum was inherited by your grandfather, Hubert Moon, who returned to London and frittered it away on wine, women, and loose living.

      Stanley Moon: …ermh… where does that leave me, then?

      George Spiggott: Penniless, and on the brink of suicide! [giggles]

  17. This Original Post, and the comments below, have made up an argument about reparations based on a quote from a single California legislator.

    Read up on the issue.

    I’m not for reparations, but at least I care to understand the arguments the other side is making, not just getting outraged at perceived arguments and accusations without doing the research.

    1. It’s not fun when your own tactics get used against me.

    2. Nah. If the stupid QAnon bogeyman gets discussed with pretend-seriousness, reparations can get the same. We’re not censoring the discussion of this because it’s ridiculous. More reparations talk is better. It’s a huge political loser issue for Dems.

      1. ” More reparations talk is better. It’s a huge political loser issue for Dems.”

        Or would be, if Dems collectively were pushing it.

    3. I’m going to repost, in the hopes that this complete embrace of not caring to engage is an artifact of Sunday night.

  18. Contributing a helpful perspective to the discussion, as always, Eugene.

    Look, it’s cool among the conservative set to harp over reparations being some kind of reductive cash exchange between currently-living non-Black people and Black people, as a kind of payment owed for prior servitude of one’s ancestors. They love this kind of childish framework because it allows them to poke all kinds of holes in the logic – but my ancestors weren’t here! And that Black person’s ancestors emigrated after slavery! Etc. But that’s a childish way of thinking about reparations, and I think anyone who has really thought seriously about the enduring legacy of slavery (or the Native American genocide) in this country would come to understand that simple cash payments for some presumed value stolen from some ancestor or another is a very poor solution to the problem. The discussion around “reparations” becomes, rather, a discussion about institutional racism and about re-investment in communities that are still lagging behind.

    Ask yourself this very, very simple question: Why are Black people a disproportionate part of the incarcerated population? Why are they poorer and sicker? The American lore is full of just-so explanations, but empirically speaking, a country that does not have institutional racism and that gives everyone an equal opportunity to advance should not look like this. Even if your chosen explanation reeks of racism – e.g., Black people are culturally more violent and less inclined to work, more likely to get knocked up out of wedlock, etc. – this itself requires explanation. Why is that so?

    Reparations is not so much about addressing a sin that occurred in the past, but about addressing how that sin has continued to reverberate through our laws, our economy, our governments, all the way to the present day. There is a line connecting those long-ago slave trade routes to modern policing and voter disfranchisement, and it’s time we break that line, with clarity of focus.

    1. May I suggest that you consider a 3-in-1 dose of ExLax?

    2. But that’s a childish way of thinking about reparations, and I think anyone who has really thought seriously about the enduring legacy of slavery (or the Native American genocide) in this country would come to understand that simple cash payments for some presumed value stolen from some ancestor or another is a very poor solution to the problem.

      Perhaps you should address these complaints to Sen. Stephen Bradford, whose comments in support of reparations started this discussion?

    3. “Ask yourself this very, very simple question: Why are Black people a disproportionate part of the incarcerated population? Why are they poorer and sicker?”

      Because they were conned by the same political party that first enslaved them, created the KKK to terrorize them, then Jim Crow to keep them out of employment and finally designed the destruction of the traditional family that prevented the sorts of pathologies you enumerate.

      Take it up with the descendants of the repressive, parochial Democrats that were the slavers, Klansmen and legislators that created those conditions. This would be a closer fit to the guilty and beneficiaries than using the lack of melanin as a guilt determinant. Unless that’s just unpalatable for some reason hmm?

      1. “Take it up with the descendants of the repressive, parochial Democrats that were the slavers, Klansmen and legislators that created those conditions.”

        Sure. Those guys are Republicans nowadays.

        1. Those guys are dead nowadays.

          So still voting Democrat.

    4. Empirically speaking, the human condition and world view in the 17th century is being held to account by the 21st century or even the Gene Roddenberry standard of conduct. Aboriginals were not adapted to compete in the face of technology-powered imperialism. We really ought to be considering whether or not technology will always be ahead of morality.
      Ignorance and exploitation will persist and flourish no matter what the payouts. Fact: “A fool and his money are soon parted.” The invented wealth will still ultimately concentrate according to natural laws.
      Will these reparations carry with them the promise of the recipient to never hold any future claim against any party? Will it be reparations AND forgiveness? You might get somewhere with a plan like “here’s your money, all claims are settled.” But I have low expectations, I’m pretty sure it will go more along the lines of “turns out that wasn’t enough, pay me more or I’ll burn down the town. Again.”

    5. Can you say 76% illegitimacy?

      1. Why would we want to talk about the effectiveness of your argumentation skills?

    6. If you take any group and divide them by any trait (race, gender, height, propensity to laugh at dad jokes) you will always and by necessity end up with variations among those groups across any other quality (income, marriage rates, number of pets owned). Some differences may be small and irrelevant leaving the groups relatively equally dispersed across these divisions. But sometimes you will have a clear spread with strong correlations whereby some traits are more likely to be joined by others. Do not accuse me of claiming causation… I am not saying race begets criminality. I am saying, though, that the mere existence of such a spread on its own means literally nothing. That means that you need some other evidence to make a claim of systemic racism. And a theory of systemic racism and inherent white preference in society can only be a correct theory if it also accepts and accounts for data of non-whites succeeding and whites failing. That these data points exist (and are not simply “outliers” due to the universal nature supposed to exist in systemic racism) means that something else must also exist to a greater or lesser degree for various people and can, therefore, override racism in some cases. That it can, then perhaps racism isn’t as strong a force and instead a focus on increasing this force in others’ lives would yield better positive results for those who are “left behind.”

    7. SimonP, that was an excellent comment. So, as anyone familiar with this group of commenters could have predicted, called forth name calling, and outright racist responses.

      1. As man you had that all ready to go thinking it would be accurate but then it wasn’t lol

    8. There is a line connecting those long-ago slave trade routes to modern policing and voter disfranchisement, and it’s time we break that line, with clarity of focus.

      Ok, I’ll bite. Draw that line clearly so it can be critically examined, and please be specific on how you intend to break that line.

    9. I get it. This talk about “reparations”, despite its use of a term for payments that losers in alleged wars of aggression (such as the Axis after World War II, Germany after World War I, or France after the Napoleonic and Franco-Prussian wars) pay to compensate the victims of that aggression, isn’t really about paying reparations at all, but is meant to stimulate “a discussion”–which means, as Brett Bellmoe put it above, “to keep racial tensions at the breaking point, by raising utterly unrealistic expectations among blacks, while mortally insulting everybody else.”

  19. Is there any way to get this whole stupid idea declared unconstitutional?

    1. That would be either redundant or futile, depending on whether the Court gets packed.

    2. “Is there any way to get this whole stupid idea declared unconstitutional?”

      Pack the courts with idiots? Otherwise, probably not.

  20. More reparations talk means more Republicans elected. Everyone keep it up.

    There are still working-class people of all races in swing states who need to decide whether they owe a debt for something from 150 years ago, payable to people who are less than 150 years old.

    There are other house and senate races too. Voters can choose. I think I know what their choice will be.

    I can’t wait to tell all the first generation immigrants at the office that they’re all on the hook for reparations. Maybe they’ll start thinking harder about how they vote.

    1. “More reparations talk means more Republicans elected. Everyone keep it up. ”

      Somebody’s writing down their wish-fulfillment fantasies. Here’s mine: enough Americans have an accurate assessment of Mr. Trump’s qualification to be President that it effects the outcome of the coming election.

  21. Congratulations, Professor, on one of your better trolls. Well done! And for those of you who went for the bait, take a deep breath, turn off the computer, and go to bed. Perhaps you won’t look quite so foolish in the morning.

    1. It’s the morning and you still look foolish.

      1. Perhaps even moreso.

  22. Well, let’s review it in detail. Does Prof. Gene owe a debt? Considering the slave trade was run by the non Christians, cotton merchants were non christians, the biggest slave brokers in Philadelphia and Newport were non Christians, might as well hand the debt bill to the non Christians. Simple.

    Now let’s talk about the debt owed to the indigenous people.

    1. Who would have thought that a calm and rational discussion about racial reparations would have degenerated into anti-Jewish insinuations?

      Let’s keep this classy, and not stain the noble cause of reparations with anti-Jewish stuff. Not openly anyway.

    2. “Now let’s talk about the debt owed to the indigenous people.”

      Owed BY if anything — the tribes that exist today murdered Americans — they were allied with either the French or the British. The tribes that allied with us intermarried and were absorbed into (what they considered) the superior Western culture.

      You know, electricity, indoor plumbing, central heating versus living in a thatched hut in the woods. When it’s February and below zero, where would you prefer to be? They weren’t stupid….

    3. ” Considering the slave trade was run by the non Christians”

      The entertainment of the day, back in the late 1850’s was for each side to make huge swathes of Scriptural arguments either for or against the practice of slavery.

      1. For the Southerners, they thought of it like missionary work.

    4. Look who made a wrong turn on the way to Stormfront.

  23. Reparations are a good idea and anyone who can demonstrate that at least 1/32nd of their “blood” is that of someone who was enslaved in the US for at least ten years should qualify.

    If these people feel that they would be better off today if their neighboring/conquering communities had not sold their ancestors to slave traders, they should apply for reparations.

    Reparations would be in the form of the government paying reasonable relocation costs (perhaps up to $10K per person) to relocate the individual to any other country which any of their enslaved ancestors were originally captured in. In exchange, the person receiving the reparation would be required to renounce their US citizenship.

    After all, these individuals must think that they are worse off today than they would be had their ancestors not been enslaved by their neighbors but, presumably, just don’t have the assets to relocate. Let’s fix that by giving them the necessary support to right the wrong.

    1. Liberia was founded as the place to send freed slaves.

      Just sayin….

  24. What you inherited are the liberty and general prosperity that every American inherits. Yet these were “earned” before you arrived, maybe before you were born. You still owe a debt to those who came before you.

    For example, perhaps your family arrived in the United States after WW2. Does that mean that as an American, you owe nothing to American WW2 veterans? Does it mean you should not be held responsible for paying their pensions or contributing to the VA?

    Of course not. Their sacrifice was complete before you arrived, but you still reap the benefits and now you owe them as much as does every other American. The same is true of African Americans, who were never properly compensated for their work.

    1. With respect to veterans living and dead, the word “owe” means to have a debt of gratitude or thanks for service to the nation which ought to be observed. Those veterans, perhaps their immediate descendants are also “owed” the medical and pension benefits promised as part of government service.

      With respect to those who were enslaved the word “owe” could mean the belief that it is important to remember how terrible that whole peoples could possibly feel that they could own someone else; some might even ruminate on how much it cost in misery and death to destroy the evil nation that was the CSA, founded as it was to preserve and foster the mass crime of slavery.

      One is not like the other. If the latter needs governmental recompense instead of somber memory, take it up with the CSA.

    2. For this to be true you 1) have to prove that WW2 provided me MORE rights [it likely resulted in less freedom for people in the end due to increased govt control of the economy] and 2) that had ancestors received a fair shake it would necessarily mean an ancestor today would be in a legitimate better place. You also would need to consider that black vs white economic standings (and some social standings although not all… and in some very important ways not all) where trending in the right direction post Civil War. That a “gap” was diminishing rather rapidly by historical standards and was then re-created around the 1960s to today. Thus, the gap today must be from something other than slavery. And if you want to say it is due to current trends of racism that exist still today, you would have to inherently be arguing that these forms of racism that exist today (in a world where BLM not only exists but is capable at driving the national conversation and influence some of the largest most powerful and influential institutions like businesses and colleges) are more powerful than racism of the days of Jim Crow, KKK dominated politics, and segregation (and the periods immediately after them). If that is the route you want to take… I would love to see the proof.

    3. Some take a different view:

      “I set out on this ground, which I suppose to be self evident, that the earth belongs in usufruct to the living: that the dead have neither powers nor rights over it. […] What is true of every member of the society individually, is true of them all collectively, since the rights of the whole can be no more than the sum of the rights of the individuals.”

      Letter by Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, September 6. 1789. [worth reading]

    4. If we owe WWII veterans, we owe Union veterans as well, so let’s ask if Union veterans would want themselves or their descendants forced in peacetime to make reparations for slavery.

      Sometimes if you owe something to earlier generations, the way to “repay” is to pay it forward, by leaving a better country to later generations.

      Do “reparations” for ancestral grievances help with this, or does it make the country worse for future generations? Let the Balkans answer that question.

    5. Their work was that of a farm animal.

      1. What the hell is wrong with you?

    6. Yes but the main difference is the pensions and VA benefits are paid to the actual individuals who served in the armed forces (and to a lesser extent their immediate dependents) not their 4th and 5th generation descendants.

      Another example would be the reparations paid to Japanese-Americans who were put in the internment camps. Again the compensation was paid to the actual victims, not their descendants

  25. If looking at it from a contributory negligence standpoint are we also going to seek to hold the Muslims that ran the Africa side of the slave trade responsible and also the other Africans that hunted down enemy tribes and sold those people to the Muslim slave traders?

    1. Exactly. Not every slave ship coming to America contained only those having black skin.

      1. And how do we account for the other side of the ledger? Lives lost in the Civil War. Lost opportunities from certain races to provide for affirmative action. These are not insignificant amounts of money and effort. Surely if we are doing a grand tally to see if there is a debit to be paid someone is going to add up this portion, right?

        1. ” Lost opportunities from certain races to provide for affirmative action. “

          And those victims are alive today.

        2. So when Trump and Manchin gave $10 billion to the coal miners pension fund did that punish you because you weren’t a member of the union?? Reparations are just dollars and dollars given to people living paycheck to paycheck are DEMAND! Nothing more and nothing less. The Fed is worried inflation will be too low so now is the perfect time for reparations. Anyone concerned wit asinine concepts of “fairness” or “punishment” are displaying the maturity level a 6 year old! Seriously, do want to revive the economy or not??

  26. I’m in favor of eliminating slavery — in places like the Sudan, for example — before discussing reparations. Heck, I’d be delighted if everyone would just watch a few PBS documentaries (perhaps the one at ) before discussing the topic.

    1. How about here in the USA?

      Trump hasn’t gotten credit for it, but he is attempting to address human trafficking. See:

      1. He hasn’t gotten credit for it because it’s an attack on a Democrat institution.

        1. Democrats are human traffickers? Are you a QAnon guy?

      2. Trump doesn’t get credit for it because there is no “human trafficking” in the US. Hasn’t been since the pill made forced prostitution largely uneconomical. What there is is a thinly-veiled attempt to normalize the surveillance state by demonizing the voluntary sex trade.

          1. Not even close. Epstein’s case was sex-trade, yes. Allegedly with minors (I haven’t looked at the evidence on this point and don’t care to. I’ll stipulate it for the point of this argument.) And yes, sex with minors is statutory rape because they are legally unable to consent. That does not necessarily make it involuntary. And it’s nothing like “human trafficking”.

  27. If Californians want to use THEIR MONEY to pay for repprotations for something that they had nothing to do with more power to them. But since I had nothing to do to what happened to the African that their own countrymen solded to the slave traders and the hardships that had to endure I will not be a part of that. Now I will try my best to see that the African-Americans nowadays gets an equal opportunity but what they do with that opportunity is up to them. I was as a child a member of a poor white family. We were so poor that we almost did not have a pot to piss in nor a window to throw it out. My family was at times on welfare. But my mother would as soon as we as a family could get off of welfare. The county welfare agent (at that time welfare was a county effort) would often ask my mother who in the community that might need some assistance. Every one that my mother recommended to get help was determined to need it by the welfare agents. When I was about ten I started working in the fields with my mother and brothers and sister. We often worked from long before sunup to long after sundown then went home and had to do the work at home because we had a few cows. Mother bought a single cow with a heifer calf. From that start and about 20 years later when we were forced to sell because of the soil bank took all land that could be rented out of production by paying the owner more than a renter could pay for it, we made one other purchase, a bull. When we had to sell we had about 20 to 25 head to sell at that time and we had sold a head or two along.
    Mother was poor and uneducated, had to quit school in the 8th grade and at that time she was well past the fifty years. On top of that day was a drunkard and could not read nor write. By then he being about 10 years older than mother and he was sick in the lungs because of smoking and his drinking. He was not always a drunkard and was a hard working man who lived through the dust bowl days.
    But in spite of it all I managed to get 2 years of college then was drafted and spent to years in the army and missed Vietnam by just about 20 days. If I had had 20 more days I would have went over. But I was lucky and did not have to go. For which I am glad. Now I would not have minded so much if I has sensed that the US was in the war to win but that was during the LBJ years and winning the war was not an option at that time. So out I got.
    The whole point is I made the most that I could of the opportunities that I had and God was with me and I managed to get a good job with profit sharing. But the profit sharing of the company which was oilfield service related was nearly bankrupted when democrat controlled congress nearly killed the oilfield when during the the congress put a domestic tax on all crude oil produced in the US to make the domestic produced crude oil cost cost as much as imported oil (that was to protect the east cost because they used imported oil. But in a few months the embargo which caused the price to jump had broken and crude prices dropped back to what they were before the embargo but the tax on domestic cruce lasted for several years before it was finally removed. But the damage was done and I became a casualty of the that tax. The company had several reduction in personal and in one of those RIPs I was retired (a kinder term than fired). That nest egg as small as it was grew until I reached retirement age and I found a person who had his clients in mind and he took that nest egg and invested and it has grown since then. I expect that it will grow even more if Trump is reelected not so much if he is not. But it will be God who takes care of me since I am no longer able to work.

  28. Reparations for what?

    The suffering of slavery? Nobody alive endured that suffering so it cannot be that.

    Then is it the lowered incomes resulting from slavery? The counterfactual to slavery is not West Africans being brought to the US as full citizens. It’s West Africans still being West Africans. In that case their incomes would on average be many times lower than the incomes of African Americans today.

    What then is the argument for reparations?

  29. Just to be clear…for the various reasons discussed above, so-called “reparations” is a horrible idea, probably brought up for horrible reasons, and this would be the case even if each racial subgroup of the American population was “pure” and unmixed.

    But we all know that the American population is fairly mixed, so one reason among *many* to reject reparations is thinking of the mind-boggling racial calculations that will have to be done to decide who pays and who gets paid, based on how much “evil” ancestry and how much “good” ancestry they have.

    I really look forward to Prof. Bernstein’s book to learn what a wonderful job the government has been doing so far in classifying the population by race.

  30. Send the bill for the war on poverty, for the 4 fold violent crime rate, for the destruction of real estate values. Dark skinned African immigrants outperformed whites in the 2010 Census, and rebut all claims of racism.

  31. If liberals keep on pushing this Trump’s poll numbers are going to look better. Please oh please don’t keep your pie trap shut for the next two months.

  32. If there’s a coherent objection to my theory of reparations, I haven’t heard it, and I’d like to. So please tell me which of the following is wrong.

    1. The United States, through constitutional support and legal enforcement of slavery incurred a moral debt to the slaves for stolen life, liberty and labor (and that’s without even attempting to substantiate more inchoate thefts like dignity and culture).

    2. That obligation can be monetized.

    3. Until paid, government obligations pass from generation to generation, e.g., unredeemed treasury bills and savings bonds.

    4. Immigrants and other new citizens have taxpayer responsibility for pre-existing government obligations. Newborns don’t get to disavow the national debt that was incurred before they were alive. Neither do immigrants get to move here, become naturalized, and assert immunity from taxation for servicing and redeeming extant treasury obligations on the basis that they and/or their ancestors lived somewhere else when those obligations were incurred.

    I don’t minimize the difficulty of quantifying the debt and identifying rightful beneficiaries. But those are operational problems. If you acknowledge the legitimacy of the above principles, operational obstacles are a bridge that will be crossed to the best of our ability. It you don’t, they don’t matter.

    1. “But those are operational problems. If you acknowledge the legitimacy of the above principles, operational obstacles are a bridge that will be crossed to the best of our ability. It you don’t, they don’t matter.”

      Do you think your salon-intellectual talk can be translated into good policy, or are you reserving the right to complain if (when) reparations goes wrong, by saying that you never endorsed the particular plan involved? You merely laid down general principles, after all!

      You’re one of Burke’s “political geometricians,” spelling out a four-point policy as grandiose as it is vague, and dismissing practical objections. No doubt the French revolutionists faced an unjust status quo, as well – how did their abstractionism and principles-first-practicalities-later approach work?

      And at least the French revolutionists were dealing with problems in the here and now, not reaching back to solve injustices of the past.

      1. Do you agree with the principles or not?

        1. Let’s see, #1 speaks in broad terms of a “moral debt,” which can mean anything, so it’s hard to reject, isn’t it?

          As far as being capable of monetization, I think I’ve already laid down a few practical problems with doing that, so it’s safe to say I disagree with #2.

          As far as 3, it’s stated at a very broad level of generality, but the fact is I don’t have to engage it since I haven’t agreed with your aptly named #2.

          “Newborns don’t get to disavow the national debt that was incurred before they were alive.”

          We’ll soon find out if this is true – not in regard to reparations, but with regard to our actually-existing national debt. If a previous generation incurs a debt to make sure the country continues to exist for succeeding generations – eg, war bonds to save the country or defend national principles – then pay up, little babies, it was for your benefit. But that doesn’t really describe the vast peacetime-incurred national debt, does it? And again, that’s not about reparations but our existing obligations. Sure, I’d love to see a plan to pay off the national debt without whole or partial repudiation. Do I think it will happen? I’m really not so sure.

          1. I regret the unduly-sarcastic tone I adopted, I suppose I’m part of the reason the Internet is such a sinkhole of invective. So replace the sarcastic terms with equivalent non-sarcastic terms, and my points still stand.

            1. Generally, I pride myself on only offering insults in self-defense against a previous insult, but here I initiated the insults, so I don’t have that excuse.

              1. Thank you. I appreciate it and I applaud your self-reflection. I’ll take it as an example to likewise do better.

                1. I’d say “hugs all around,” but with the virus, you know…

          2. The thing he’s trying to get you focused on is that if you accept #1, it’s hard to rely on the others to reject reparations. You should confront #1.

            1. No, he has a four-part “proof” – each part is essential. Slip up in one step, the whole proof fails.

              And in any case part 1 is so vaguely phrased its practical application is, shall we say, not obvious.

              1. I have (for the time being) come around to your position. I think Leo cleverly worded the argument and it caused me to think #1 was the salient issue, but on second thought I think #2 is the broken premise.

          3. It was Thomas Jefferson’s view that it was immoral for a government to saddle posterity with debt, but contracting obligations that couldn’t be paid off within the lifetime of the generation that contracted them. I’m not sure whether he believed that posterity would be morally justified in repudiating debts incurred in violation of this principle, but I suspect the answer would be yes. The earth, he famously said, belongs to the living.

            1. If somebody says each person should be allowed to repudiate all national debt incurred before they were born or naturalized, I’ll believe that person is a reckless idiot for other reasons, but I’ll take their argument against reparations more seriously.

    2. I reject #1. There is no ‘moral debt’ of the US.

      1. Are you saying the US can never owe a moral debt?

        1. Countries do not have morals, they have interests. That aside, the very idea of a ‘moral’ debt is ridiculous on its face. Leo’s use of the term of ‘moral debt’ is being made to try and foreclose the possibility that nothing is ‘owed’; it is a skillful use of language. I am not buying it.

          If you want to make a legal case that the US is obligated to pay reparations then make that legal case. I am all ears.

          The hurdle I see. There are no slaves alive today to make reparations to.

          1. So all those who die for the honor of France, or England or whatever throughout history were being dumb?

            No – countries have always had a moral character. Especially republics.

            OTOH, if you want to argue that paying moral debts with money isn’t doable, that’s where I get off the reparations train.

            1. No, not dumb Sarcastr0. But they died for the interest of their country. Let’s stay on point. The term at question is ‘moral debt’. There is no such thing for a country. Countries have interests, which change over time, and can be completely contradictory in different contexts.

              I have not even reached the monetization question because it is moot.

              1. What you’re describing reads at least at first blush like pure realpolitik. I, and many others, don’t concur with that worldview.

                Or, to perhaps put it in another way, countries have interests, but these interests are informed by what a country values. These values are, as with any system of values, amenable to moral analysis.

                1. Reality Sarcastr0, not realpolitik. We come out the same way, I think, but using very different rationales. Mind you, I do not disagree with your reasoning….but I definitely would want to explore your thinking on ‘truth and reconciliation commission’ and how you see that actually playing out.

                  1. The thing about a truth and reconciliation commission is that it is purely investigatory. No policy recommendation; no penalties for anyone who may be implicated (I’m undecided regarding criminal referrals).

                    They have a pretty good history for creating closure to generational strife, provided you keep to that.

                    Subsequent steps would be taken only after that process. Perhaps even after a waiting period of like 10 years to make sure things stay as apolitical as possible.

                    1. I am only aware of South Africa’s truth and reconciliation commission, that worked for a while but the old hatreds are surfacing. What other (long term successful) T&R commission comes to mind?

                    2. Man, you weren’t even out of the first paragraph before you backed off on that “purely investigatory” bit.

                      Your struggle sessions are going to have to wait on your winning the war, I’m afraid. Nobody’s going to volunteer for them.

                    3. Wow, Brett.

                      I’m not a Maoist.

                      Screw you.

          2. So why did Trump and Manchin give $10 billion to the coal miners pension fund?? Why did Tim Scott and Kushner draft Opportunity Zone legislation if Blacks don’t need help?? You know what helped Blacks more than Opportunity Zones?? Giving them money like the coal miners pension fund got!!

            And here is the great thing—reparations would simply be DEMAND at a time when we need more $$$ in circulation. Economically speaking reparations are a no brainer if you wand to revive the economy.

    3. “Until paid, government obligations pass from generation to generation, e.g., unredeemed treasury bills and savings bonds” — obligations owed to specific people and passed down to their rightful heirs. If finding rightful heirs isn’t possible, what happens to unredeemed government obligations?

      1. Ilya — When you combine the value lost to inflation and the taxes charged the government has essentially defaulted on these bonds…

    4. Easy. Your step 2 is wrong. That obligation cannot be monetized.

      Your step 2 is also incomplete. Even if that obligation could be monetized, the calculation of it would have to be offset by the non-monetary benefits given. Is it, for example, entirely offset by holding a Civil War (with the attendant massive loss of life and economic disruption) to end the institution of slavery? In fairness, you mention this last difficulty in your last paragraph but your tone suggests that you are not giving this difficulty nearly the attention it deserves. This is much more than a mere “operational obstacle”.

      1. This is actually where I come down, as well, Rossami.

        You seem to have actually read up on the issue some before coming to your conclusion. Kudos.

    5. I think there are several problems with the argument. For #1, I believe that the US can owe moral debts, and in this case does owe a moral debt to the now deceased slaves.

      But #2 is dubious. Moral wrongs cannot be monetized; if I wrong someone, money cannot make the ethical violation disappear. The debt owed by governments is to cease engaging in the unjust act, which the government did. But even if moral obligations can be monetized as a general proposition, they can’t be monetized here, since the people who were wronged by the government no longer exist.

      #3 is conflating the moral argument with #1 with technical legal passage of non-moral debt. The reason that unredeemed treasury bill and savings bonds pass from generation to generation is not a moral requirement. I don’t think estate taxes are immoral, as an example.

      #4 strikes me as uncontroversial.

    6. #1 is false, there is no moral debt.

      That was easy.

      1. Every question is easy when you reason backward from the pre-determined (in your case, “my team is right, yours is wrong”) answer.

    7. Leo, suppose I accept #1 through #4. Would you agree on a #5:

      5. Once a debt is paid, that debt is gone.

      Of course that doesn’t mean erased from history. What it means is no longer the basis for any further claims. And since you mentioned “moral” debt, the settlement includes both moral and financial claims.

      Is that the proposal on offer? If so, it might be worth considering.

    8. I would accept a modification of 1, that the US, and the individual slave states incurred a moral “stain” for slavery. The US for not going to war with the slave states earlier, and in some cases passing and enforcing laws that abetted slavery, and the slave states for much more active enforcement of slavery.

      But 1 is cleverly worded as “debt” to lead to 2. And I don’t think every moral stain is a “debt”, and certainly doesn’t lead to a monetary obligation. For example, it is now accepted that woman vote, and to suggest otherwise is immoral. Should women be payed reparations by the government for all the time they couldn’t vote? It is now accepted that there are worker protections and minimum wages, is the government obligated to pay the descendants of workers in the 19th century for the moral debt of not passing such laws earlier?

      In specific cases where the US government held slaves (which I believe they did), I believe reparations would be warranted to the descendants of those specific slaves, because that’s not just “moral debt”, but payment for actual injuries inflicted on the slaves by the government. I could also see there being a much better case for reparations against the individual slave states for their very active role in abetting the slavery system (to a much greater extent than the non-slave states, obviously). But the US paying reparations for the inaction of outlawing slavery in the slave states earlier, or for not going to war with them earlier, is a bridge way too far in my opinion.

  33. Let’s see, #1 speaks in broad terms of a “moral debt,” which can mean anything, so it’s hard to reject, isn’t it?

    I’ll take that as a yes. For eighty years our government incurred a moral debt by legitimizing and enforcing slavery.

    As far as being capable of monetization, I think I’ve already laid down a few practical problems with doing that, so it’s safe to say I disagree with #2.

    Juries put a value on non-pecuniary harm every day. The span between what’s asked for and what’s argued against is often huge, yet final dollar numbers are arrived at. Like all human endeavor, it’s imperfect. I expect putting a number on reparations would be too. That’s OK with me, but then I’m Robespierre.

    1. Let me get straight to the punch line, it can’t be administered in a rationally-justified way, and you’d end up, not like Robespierre, but like Lafayette belatedly realizing your revolution has gone off the rails.

      1. I don’t rule out as impossible that a principled, reasoned and practicable way to pay the reparations debt can’t be found. But we won’t know if we don’t try. And agreeing that it’s owed seems to me the first step.

        1. Persuading people that it’s owed would seem to be a prior step.

          1. I think that’s backward. Persuading people must be based on some generally understood plan. That the problem with “defund the police”, and a lot of similar slogans.

            “Medicare for All” for all of it’s misrepresentations and lack of understanding at least has a basis for people to understand it.

            1. You might need a plan prior to persuading people something needs to be done, but you need to persuade them something needs to be done prior to their agreeing that something needs to be done.

              1. Tim Scott and Trump drafted Opportunity Zone legislation specifically to help African Americans so no one needs convincing African Americans need economic policies designed to specifically benefit them. You know what would definitely benefit African Americans?? Giving them a lump sum of money.

        2. Paying reparations would be very easy—everyone that had a Black ancestor citizen in 1960 qualifies and then you just give everyone in a certain age cohort the money with the goal of maximizing stimulative effect…it is really a no brainer at this moment in history.

          1. Yes, now let’s consult those who *do* have brains.

            1. The only reason anyone would be against more demand right now is because they are dumb racists.

              1. Let’s hope the Democrats run on that plank this year and really focus on it.

                1. Because of racists like you they shouldn’t discuss it, but the first thing Biden should do is sign a reparations bill and just cram it down the racists throats. So racists like you will complain for a few days but once GDP growth hits 4% you will get back to work and forget about it.

                  1. I thought cramming things down throats was the rev’s fetish.

    2. Leo, do you really want a Second Civil War?
      Didn’t enough people die in the first one?

      1. Your endless concern over things conservatives will have to kill liberals for is truly moving.

        1. The bigots lost the first Civil War. Today’s right-wing bigots have been getting stomped in the culture war throughout their deplorable lives, and they would lose a second civil war. In America, the bigots don’t win, not over time, no matter how hard the Republicans and conservatives work for it or pray on it.

    3. “Juries put a value on non-pecuniary harm every day.”

      That doesn’t make them right. The reason juries give money to people is because they don’t have the power to give them anything else. And the payment is not to satisfy a moral debt owed by the plaintiff to the defendant.

      1. But for imperfect remedies there would be no remedies at all.

        And I disagree that jury awards aren’t meant to satisfy moral debts. Of course the legal system interposes legal rules in front of moral norms, but nobody thinks the point of those rules isn’t often to effect moral justice.

        1. “…but nobody thinks the point of those rules isn’t often to effect moral justice.”

          I think it’s much more complicated than that. Assume a case where the plaintiff can be made whole, like they just suffered some pecuniary injury. Damages to make the plaintiff whole are to compensate for the wrong. I guess arguably some part of that is to “effect moral justice” but the state’s concern is primarily putting the plaintiff in the place they would have been but for the tort. Punitive damages serve a policy end, not a moral one. Making a defendant pay more than the plaintiff’s injury is not morally just. It’s just intended to discourage others. I suppose it could be viewed as “to effect moral justice” in the broad sense that it supports a policy (discouraging egregious conduct) that has a moral end, but at that level of generality every policy is intended to “effect moral justice”.

          1. Just noticed this, and it’s probably too late. I doubt you’re reading the thread any more. Maybe we’ll get to continue at a later date.

  34. That’s a position one can take, and from a libertarian perspective it makes sense. Do you apply it consistently though? Would you also say you don’t feel pride in anything the US achieved before 1975? What about obligations (e.g. loans taken out, treatises entered into) that the country entered in just before that date?

    Me, when I acquired my second citizenship, I took it a bit like my wedding vows, for better and worse. Which means that in addition to feeling a moral obligation e.g. towards Israel for things that happened 2 generations before I was born, but also some pride for what my parent’s generations accomplished in facing up to it, I now also feel that I have obligations from the Empire (quite literally in some case – it seems the the UK only repaid the money it borrowed to compensate slave owners when my taxes already contributed to it) . But as part of the deal I now also “owe” what that society achieved.

    Now I’d be the first to acknowledge that this is from some perspectives irrational (hence my use of “feel”) . As long as folks are internally consistent I don’t mind. But it might explain also a difference in citizenship laws that was discussed in another Volokh post. Mt British citizenship comes without ifs and buts – I have the exact same rights and obligations in law as a “natural born citizen”. In the US this is obviously different excluding immigrants (and maybe even their children) from some offices even after naturalisation.

    I always thought that was unjust and unprincipled myself, and driven these days largely by xenophobia But in the light of the discussion now makes a bit more sense to me. If as you argue an immigrant does not need to feel obligated by debts (moral or legal) that their new country took on before they became a member, taken the role that personifies it the way the presidency does may not be appropriate.

    1. But this perspective itself isn’t really consistent. If you say that by becoming American you own the countries past actions then African-Americans every bit as much as white people own slavery and all those harms.

      Or to use a legal metaphor you don’t get damages if you were responsible for the bad act (even if you suffered more) so this doesn’t help the argument.

      1. I’d stay with the legal metaphor, but use unjustified enrichment (you call that restitution, I think?) rather than delict as analogy. Obligations do not always require a bad act on my side, or even any act, merely an unearned benefit (the textbook example of the mistaken bank transfer that ends up in my account)

        Some of the institutions I benefited from (still benefit from) in turn benefited from unjust acts. My university tries to trace e.g. donations made by people who got rich from the slave trade. Without “fault”, I still benefit from this. Even more, continuous unequal access to higher education means the descendants of the victims are less likely to benefit. (that deals with the co-ownership argument) . On these grounds, I’d say a case can be made that my present employer owes a moral duty to use the accrued wealth from these donations to ensure their lasting benefits are equally shared. This then can mean less salary left for me, but the one I do get is still possible, in parts, because of that legacy.

        The “I’m a man and an island” view tends to exaggerate just how much what each of us achieves is due to others, and the institutional legacies on which this builds. I’m reasonably certain that not even Eugene started by making his own tools which he then used to build a road on land only available through free and informed consent etc etc. But as I said that is partly a question of how we feel about the past – as either having nothing to do with us (but then, rally, please) or as something that inevitably shapes us and for which we are therefore in good and bad times responsible.

  35. Also it would make the problem worse. Mere monetary transfer won’t fix the effects of having educated parents who will incalcate and choose peer groups, schools etc which also value it. I mean I doubt EV would have been better off if his family came to the US with an extra 500k but parents who were uneducated and not part of a Russian ex-pat community which values that.

    So imagine fast-forwarding to a future where the effects of a one time wealth transfer have largely vanished but in which most white ppl feel that reparations were paid and it’s not their responsibility if those werent used wisely.

    It’s just a dumpster fire waiting to happen.

    1. I don’t believe he’s Russian.
      Most of the people in the Soviet Union weren’t — Chechnya being perhaps the best known example.

      1. Prof. Volokh is Ukrainian-American.

        1. I know. And I also know what Stalin did to that country.

        2. He was born in the Ukraine. That doesn’t necessarily make him Ukrainian. There are a lot of Russians in the Ukraine, and I believe Prof. Volokh grew up speaking Russian rather than Ukrainian. (The Soviet Union used to identify the nationality of its citizens on their identity papers, so perhaps his old Soviet papers would answer this question. If, however, they identify his nationality as “Jewish,” we’re back at square one.)

    2. I have it on good authority, reparations don’t do nothin’ but make Cadillac the number one dealer in the country.

  36. It’s a commission to study reparations. Yawn. Don’t like it, move from California.

  37. That’s what I was waiting for.

    Follow the money.

  38. A little too much virtue posturing perhaps.

    If they want to help the people today, then they should call it a Commission to Increase Inner Cities’ QOL or Minorities Investment Act.

    I wonder if Prof. Volokh would have a problem with that.

  39. I am not sold on the idea of reparations. But even if I were, California was never a slave state, so why should California, at the state level, be doing this? It might make sense if it were Alabama or Mississippi, but why should California pay for what happened in other states?

    1. “California was never a slave state, so why should California, at the state level, be doing this?”

      If you have to ask, I can’t explain it.

  40. This Original Post, and the comments below, have made up an argument about reparations based on a quote from a single California legislator.

    Read up on the issue.

    I’m not for reparations, but at least I care to understand the arguments the other side is making, not just getting outraged at perceived arguments and accusations without doing the research.

    1. Relax. Prof. Volokh is just trying to provoke the UCLA dean into issuing another apology for his tone-deaf, partisan antics.

  41. Plenty of comments here already, so this may have been noted before, but surely the difference between slavery in America and cases that others have pointed to (from Ancient Egypt through to modern sex slavery) is that the governing entity which oversaw and regulated slavery, and which failed to provide [adequate] restitution when it ceased to condone slavery (i.e. the US government) is still in existence. Absent an overthrow of the system via methods not inherent in that system (i.e. not elections), the long-standing system of government, of which Americans are justifiably proud, is what makes this case unique. Professor Volokh, and immigrants like him, may not have “blood on their hands”, but that doesn’t mean the government that they have chosen to represent them does not have obligations that precede their citizenship.

    1. So you’re saying that all we have to do to get rid of this silly idea is to hold a civil war and change the government? That’s a great idea. Let’s do that… again.

      In the meantime, I assume you will be equally vocal in your petitioning for reparations from the UK, Switzerland, the Vatican and all the other governments that are still in existence from the time when slavery was legal?

      Or maybe we could instead look to international law and see that regime change is not an accepted way to repudiate debts. Some debts remain even after the regime change. (Ask the Weimar Republic about it, for example.) Others are repudiated by the same regime. Your claim of uniqueness fails entirely.

  42. I assume the purpose of the lengthy time line is to be sure only those proven to descend from slaves are paid only by those proven to descend from slave owners?
    Perhaps Kween Kamala could head the committee after her defeat in November?

  43. Just another vote getter.

    “I tried to get you reparations”.

    Just like “Vote for us Democrats and we’ll get you good jobs, good schools, good social services, good welfare, and other good stuff.”

    Of course, the day after the election…

  44. I truly hope the people in California suffer the impact of the politicians they keep voting for.

    I hope the suffering is real and consequential.

    1. Shouldn’t you be out trying to score the handful of street pills needed to get through another desolate day in Red State America, Sam?

      Or sitting in church, wondering how it worked exactly — the logistics — when Falwell was sitting in the corner, watching his wife get “blessed” by the pool boy?

      Or . . . whatever is it clingers do while awaiting replacement.

      1. Kirkland, your side had Orgy Island…

    2. You mean like the people in Tennessippi?

      The Dixie states perennially have the lowest Quality of Life, Education, Incomes, etc, and the highest crime, infant deaths, homeless, unemployment, etc.

      So yeah, you get what you vote for.

      1. They voted Dem for over a century, it takes a while to undo the ravages.

    3. You’re assuming elections in California are fraud-free, which, given all the other corruption, is a stretch.

    has operated for
    3 DAYS
    without using a
    vile racial slur and
    483 DAYS
    without engaging in
    viewpoint-driven censorship.


    1. You either are a parody or you are mentally ill.

      1. Facts, the reality-based world, and progress seem to infuriate you.

        1. Haha yeah progress like executing a Trumper in the middle of the street for being a Trumper!

          Or progress like the wildly successful black culture after the Liberals have been progressing them for the past 60 years! Forward!

          1. Your sputtering rants assure me that stomping the conservative bigots in the culture war has been worth it. Every penny, every second, every clinger.

            1. Your last culture war victory was 11 year olds twerking on Netflux and 10 year old children dancing in gay strip clubs!

              Forward! Pedosexual Rights are Human Rights!

  46. Just a scam.

    Sort of like a bunch of white folks hailing from the Caucuses who adopted an unrelated ancient religion as it conferred chosen people on the worshippers, then laid claim to an ancient land of a people unrelated to them, but claimed an ancestral ‘debt’ which bamboozled the clueless….now we have Israel. What not give America back to the Indians. Send all the blacks back to Africa.

    The arguments are just designed by the chosen to incite discord in the host society. Ancient game that the Professor perpetuates under the guise of ‘law’.

    1. Just so you know, your assertion is refuted by the well established genetic evidence.

  47. I’m unhappy to say that this post completes a transformation of sorts for me. When I first started reading this blog I was so impressed at Prof. Volokh’s intelligence and writing. Over the years I’ve seen that intelligence doesn’t necessarily equate with wisdom or even good judgment. This post, and the tenor of the large majority of comments on it, is depressingly similar to something that you might find on Breitbart or Instapundit (if Instapundit’s Prof. Reynolds were more willing to actually state his opinion rather than preserve plausible deniability).

    1. Your lame concern trolling is noted. To me, this is the first time Eugene has been right since his terrible, fascist opinion that Christian artists and craftsman should be compelled to create artistic expression in the service of a homosexual’s feelings.

      1. Wait . . . Prof. Volokh is a sufficiently committed clinger for your tastes?

        1. is not

  48. Lets blame Eugene Volohk for stalins enslavement of eastern europe and make him pay reparations

    Lets blame japan’s children for pearl harbor

    Lets blame germany’s children for the murder of 6m jews and make german children pay reparations

    1. Of course, Germany made many guilt payments to Israel. But at least some holocaust survivors were alive and resident there.

  49. Can we just hug it out?

  50. There are millions of acres of unoccupied land owned by the US Government, and wild mules and horses… in the state of Nevada.

    Pinky, are you thinking what I’m thinking?

    1. Blacks have a right to self-determination, just like any other discriminatory group of people.

      1. So, as a Black man I can choose my 40 acres? I’ll take anywhere in the north east corner of San Francisco. You can even draw the exact boundries.

  51. Any excuse to wheedle out more welfare money. Any silly excuse without logic or justification whatsoever.

  52. Similar my descendants were mid to late 19th and early 20th century immigrants. Irish tenant farmers. They owe nothing and I owe nothing.

    This is absurd! as is much of the stupid racial crap that is going on today.

  53. So does Obama owe or receive reparations?

    His mom is white and his dad is black and Obama is not descended from slaves.

  54. I am all for literally giving each 40 acres and a mule.

    1. That’s a good start. Now adjust for 150 years of inflation.

  55. I’d be in favor of giving each African-American adult a 100 acres of federal land. The feds have so much land they’d never notice the difference.
    Also, I’d like some reparations for all the money I’ve spent on all those government programs that were supposed to lift African-Americans out of poverty but have utterly failed.

    1. Do you live in a red state (parasitic freeloader) or a blue state (net contributor)?

  56. Suppose somebody steals $10 from you, and then uses that $10 to pay a kid to mow his lawn. Does that kid then owe you the $10? Why would he if he came by it by doing honest work? If you take it from him, doesn’t that leave him as the exploited one, since he did work that he was not paid for?

    Furthermore, suppose the kid then spends the $10 on candy bars. Are the candy bar manufacturers now in debt to you? How about the farmers that grew the sugar and cocoa, or the truck drivers that transported the materials, etc. ?

    Suppose eighty years from now, some of those people’s grandchildren buy something produced by your grandchildren. Does that mean that your grandchildren owe reparations to themselves?

    Past exploitation may have been an ethical abomination, but those exploited and those who were guilty of it are long gone. There is no rational way that one can reckon how much is owed to the ancestors of the victims. And to assert that reparations should be taken from people of one ethnic ancestry to be given to those of another ethnic ancestry is pure bigotry.

  57. Yes, but Professor think of all the reparations the Egyptians owe you for being a slave at the time of Exodus!

  58. Mr. Voloch, I believe that you are not framing the issue correctly. In spite of what many commentators say, the issue is not whether White people owe reparations to Black people. It is whether the government owes reparations to those who have been harmed by government action or policy. That is, by not recognizing that enslaved people are entitled to due process and other rights, and by actively denying the protection of the law to enslaved people, and by requiring segregation of public and private places, the government has harmed Black people.

    I think it was correct for the government to pay reparations to Japanese Americans where were put into camps in the 1940’s. I think the government should also pay reparations to those harmed by other racist government policies, and that the claim should be inheritable by their descendents. But no, you and I don’t personally owe that money.

    1. The government has no money that he does not take from you and me.

      1. Except the money it prints.

        1. That’s just a back door way of taking it.

      2. Lol, Trump stole $10 billion from you and gave it to white coal miners—u r a dumass!

  59. 1. Most of the comments here deal with the problem of reparations as if it is a legal, moral, or historical issue. But that’s not the point of the CA proposal. It’s purely political, and just another way for pols to make hay and get votes. A big yawn to that, we should be used to such blatant moral posturing by now, and see it for what it — standard political cynicism.
    2. As for Prof Volokh saying he doesn’t owe any debt to descendants of former slaves, that is logically and morally correct, but misses the point. He owes whatever the CA legislature can pry away from him. He will just be another victim of blatant majoritarianism, if this idiocy passes constitutional muster.

    1. Correct, CA just set the movement for reparations with this stupid stunt. The argument for reparations is purely economic because right now we need to increase demand and reparations would be ideal economic stimulus at the point in history. America is almost lucky to have been racist just so we have access to this economic tool right now.

  60. If the USA deigns by law or constitutional amendment that reparations are due, then reparations are self-evidently owed by every citizen. To argue otherwise is to advocate the non-equality of citizens or laws.

    I oppose reparations absolutely, because I believe that reparations must be paid to the direct victims, which is impossible. As a descendant of both Euro and Afro colonial Americans, my racial/ethnic identification is not the same as that of my ancestors, and I don’t see any substance to the claim that the ancestry of the current citizen who would be affected by current legislation has any relevance to the matter at all.

    1. Nobody has to actually “pay” reparations just as nobody had to “pay” when Trump bailed out the white coal miners pension fund. We would simply print the money which then leads to an increase in aggregate demand as descendants of slaves hand money to productive Americans. Reparations would be great stimulus at this point in history as long as there was an income limit.

      1. “We would simply print the money which then leads to” rampant inflation which rapidly outpaces the short-term “wealth effect” stimulus. After adjusting for the inevitable inflation, both the payors and payees are worse off. Only the government (as the largest debtor in the world) is better off.

        1. A one time lump sum payment in this particular economic climate wouldn’t lead to inflation—the Fed is worried about too little inflation right now. Do you have any other economic worries that I can easily dispel??

          1. Well, I am worried about you and your family given the phenomenal economic ignorance you are displaying. I hope your significant other is the one who handles your finances.

            Just printing money always leads to inflation. That’s what happens when you increase the money supply beyond its value.

            The Fed is not worried about “too little” inflation for our benefit. They are worried that the things holding inflation down might also be holding down economic growth. If increasing inflation were their goal, there are any number of things they could do easily. They are doing none of them.

            But just in case you missed the connection, the Fed is an arm of the US government, the largest debtor in the world. And inflation is good for debtors.

            1. You are a fucking idiot! Fiat currency economies need inflation to grow. Right now we have asset price inflation which is negatively impacting the economy because wealthy people aren’t really feeling the impact of this downturn. The solution is obvious—get more money to people with little saving that live paycheck to paycheck. You are such a piece of shit that you would rather have a long drawn out recovery than simply do the right thing economically AND morally and increase aggregate demand for consumer goods and services and create a win win win situation.

              1. You would do better to avoid insult and profanity if your purpose is to educate and / or convince others that your positions are correct. Regrading your economic views, I would be interested to know how wealthy people feeling the pinch would help the economy? No snark intended, serious question – Keynes proposed that that getting cash into the hands of the poor benefits general economic activity but that is a separate matter.

                You’ve claimed a few times that granting reparations would increase GDP by 4%. Seems awfully specific but whatever. If that is correct, assuming that the entire cost were printed (since it would have to be), how much would a one time payment of $1M to every person in the country increase GDP? And would there by any negative consequences to such a plan? If not, why not?

                1. Hold on, reparations would be more like a lump sum of $40-50k along with a guaranteed mortgage of up to $150k with down payment coming out of the lump sum. Plus free college as I have laid out below. Also maybe $200 extra a month SS for those over 62 which probably reduces SNAP an equal amount (the Bush Medicare Drug plan reduced Medicaid by increasing Medicare so that happens all the time with welfare programs).

                  The program would cost $1 trillion so only one generation would get the lump sum because this is a stimulus program so it should go to people over 30 and under 60 because you want to maximize stimulative effect.

                  Wealthy white people would benefit greatly from reparations being paid because we would have 4% GDP growth. Wealthy people would invest in the right stocks and hard working productive Americans would benefit from newly flush descendants of slaves purchasing goods and services. Another thing that would help homeowners in red states is giving descendants of slaves the guaranteed mortgage of $150k that couldn’t buy squat in Seattle but could buy a nice house in a city like Memphis and Montgomery and then those cities get more property taxes AND demand for goods and services which leads to more jobs.

                  Once again, we throw money at groups of people all the time like coal miners and the UAW…why not throw money at African Americans when we need more demand to revive the economy. This would essentially be the gold rush for African Americans without the digging for gold…and the Trump family made a fortune in the Yukon by selling goods and services to prospectors!!!

                2. It would also help if Sebastian had a clue about economics. The claim that fiat currency economies need inflation is simply ludicrous. There is neither theory nor evidence to support that claim.

                  Introducing “free” money into an economy does not increase real GDP. It adds no value, creates no products, provides no services, and allows neither greater nor lesser access to the real assets necessary to do any of those things. All it does is drive inflation. Purchasing power is unchanged. If you could buy 12 loaves of bread before the inflation, the most you can buy is 12 loaves of bread after the inflation. (And usually the best you can do is slightly less because of taxes and other artificial inefficiencies in the market.)

                  The only two things Sebastian’s “reparations” accomplish are a) a one-time wealth transfer on racial lines (recent data on other “stimulus” packages shows that they do not have net benefits on the economy) and b) a long-term involuntary wealth transfer from savers to debtors.

                  1. Dollars are demand…it really is that simple. And Trump and Pelosi have injected trillions of deficit spending into this economy and inflation is way below the Fed target. I wonder why the Fed has a target of 2% inflation if inflation is such a bad thing??

                    1. The economic feasibility of financial reparations doesn’t imply that reparations respond to the core problem, which is the distress inflicted in this century by four centuries of retarded development caused by slavery.

                      Doesn’t it seem reasonable to address the problem by attempting to reverse some of the damage, rather than pay for all of it, and thus to rectify at least some of the damage, if only by acknowledging the reality of the unpayable debt?

                      It does to me, but I would like to understand an opposing point of view.

                    2. Sequel, the primary goal of reparations is to revive AND reboot the economy which has been suboptimal since 2000. Descendants of slaves is a group not unlike the UAW and coal miners which have been bailed out by Obama and Trump. Inflation is too low so now is the perfect time for reparations from an economic perspective.

                      With respect racism in America the fact Black immigrants is not the insurmountable obstacle AND intermarriage is increasing BUT the wealth disparity is very real for descendants of slaves so just cut the checks and then let everyone enjoy real 4% GDP growth that we haven’t had since the 1990s.

  61. No one says “you” own a debt. But your country does.

    The US as a nation perpetrated a huge injustice on African Americans, and to some extent the nation as a whole profited from the forced labour of that minority.

    Becoming an American means you assume the assets of the American nation along with its debts.

    You don’t get to opt out of paying interest on US bonds issued prior to 1975. I don’t see why you would get to opt out of any obligations relating to reparations either.

    1. Correct, Volokh didn’t owe the coal miners any debt but Trump still gave them $10 billion to make their pension fund solvent.

  62. Just halt unskilled immigration until every person can get a 50k job.

  63. Wanna pay reparations? Fine. Drop all the money in the United Negro College Fund or some other organization/program that will benefit the current generation of those descended from those once held in slavery. I’m all for that (as someone whose ancestors held more than 400 slaves in Barbados in the 1700 and 1800’s before the Brits ended the practice in about 1835).

    1. Free college would be a part of reparations but what would be free would be 2 years of community college while living at home followed by 2 years at a state university with room and board paid for. So you don’t want to exacerbate the current problem of college tuition inflation. So private colleges should be using endowment funds for tuition for students from middle class families right now.

  64. You owe. My family moved here from Russia around 1900. My grandparents on both sides were all born in Russia. Depending on how you count generations, I am either a second generation or third generation American. My dad faced discrimination when he was in medical school; many schools limited the number of Jews who could attend. When I interviewed for jobs in the 1980s with various law firms, I was warned that many firms in south Florida would not hire Jews. Yet, I owe reparations too.
    And the progressive answer to us is: “Pay up you bigots!”

    1. It’s reverse Santa Claus – “Owe, Owe, Owe!”

    2. And the progressive answer to us is: “Pay up you bigots!”

      Boy those straw progressives are real idiots.

      My family’s background and American experience is the same as yours. My dad and many of his 1940s NYU Law classmates went into law enforcement because hardly any NY firms hired Jews. My older brothers and their nearly 100% Jewish high school classmates were told by the school’s college counselors to divvy up Ivy League and other elite colleges amongst themselves, since in the interest of “geographic diversity” those schools typically accepted a maximum of one applicant each from any NYC high school.

      Yeah, it sucked. Do you think it compares to what this country did to African-Americans?

      Let me put it a whole other way. Was Germany wrong to tax its citizens born after 1945 to pay Holocaust reparations?

      1. My older brothers and their nearly 100% Jewish high school classmates were told by the school’s college counselors to divvy up Ivy League and other elite colleges amongst themselves, since in the interest of “geographic diversity” those schools typically accepted a maximum of one applicant each from any NYC high school.

        I hate to be the one to break the news, but that still happens. You don’t think, do you, that every applicant from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (62.5% Asian, and rated by U.S. News and World Report as the best overall high school in the United States) who applies to Harvard gets in? Even every applicant with 1600 SATs?

      2. “Let me put it a whole other way. Was Germany wrong to tax its citizens born after 1945 to pay Holocaust reparations?”

        It would be wrong to do so today, I think. Any German born after perhaps 1935 (and arguably earlier) isn’t responsible for WWII. The youngest would be 85 today. So Germans younger than 85 shouldn’t be paying reparations.

        And if you do go down that route, should Serbians be paying reparations for WWI? The French for Napoleon? Do the French reparations for Napoleon offset the German ones for WWII? There is an extra century and a half of compounding interest there, after all.

        ‘Let not the sins of the fathers be visited upon the children’.

        1. First, it’s not visiting the sins of the father on the children. It’s assuming a non-personal, national responsibility for which every citizen, irrespective of purported personal guilt, is required to contribute on the same basis citizens are taxed for any other national obligation.

          Second, I’d say, if anything, the argument for American slavery reparations is stronger than it was for German Holocaust reparations. Post-war Germany was discontinuous with the Third Reich, which by then was festering on the ash heap of history. We’re the same nation with the same constitution we were throughout the time we legitimated and enforced chattel slavery.

          1. “First, it’s not visiting the sins of the father on the children. It’s assuming a non-personal, national responsibility for which every citizen, irrespective of purported personal guilt, is required to contribute on the same basis citizens are taxed for any other national obligation.”

            Still not persuasive. You are trying to mix legal and moral arguments. The above is the legal argument – that if I’m digging around in an old trunk and find that the government owed my great great … great granddad $50, I can claim payment and interest from today’s taxpayers, without worrying about whether that is just[1]. That’s true as a matter of law (AFAIK, not a lawyer), but there are several problems with that line of argument.

            1)Before you make the narrow legal arguments, you are arguing in the moral sphere to create the debt, before pivoting into the legal sphere to collect it (otherwise, I’d just ask to see the original contract). Having used morality to establish the debt, you can’t then ignore morality when trying to collect.

            And it is far from obvious that taxing some dirt poor kid or Granny from Appalachia to pay Ben Carson’s kids is just. You’ll have to address that, not ignore it.

            2)If we restrict ourselves to the legal sphere, treating this just like the taxpayers fixing my fender after the city truck backs into me, then we should be clear: making the payment ends the obligation, right? Once the check clears, from that moment on we run a strictly color blind society, right?

            “Second, I’d say, if anything, the argument for American slavery reparations is stronger than it was for German Holocaust reparations. Post-war Germany was discontinuous with the Third Reich, which by then was festering on the ash heap of history. We’re the same nation with the same constitution we were throughout the time we legitimated and enforced chattel slavery.”

            You make much of the people/government distinction. I disagree. In 1945 I think Germany was right to try and make amends … because the Germans then alive did, in general, share culpability for what they, personally, had abetted. That’s not true of most Germans today. Governments, and nations, are just groups of people.

            1. And it is far from obvious that taxing some dirt poor kid or Granny from Appalachia to pay Ben Carson’s kids is just. You’ll have to address that, not ignore it.

              That proves too much. It lets everyone off the hook for any tax they didn’t personally create the need for. I understand there are conservative/libertarian “tax is theft” positions which approximate that view, but that argument is beyond the scope of this discussion.

              In 1945 I think Germany was right to try and make amends … because the Germans then alive did, in general, share culpability for what they, personally, had abetted.

              Your “in general” is doing a lot of work there. To the extent there were surviving Germans who had opposed Hitler, tried to save Jewish lives, etc., do you think they were exempted form the taxes used to pay reparations? No, and God bless those people, but nor should they have been. When an obligation is attributed to a nation as a whole, we don’t cherry pick only the culpable citizens to pay for it. It’s why in the reparations system I envision, many African-Americans would simultaneously be payees (as descendants of American slaves) and payers (as current American taxpayer) of reparations.

              1. I think his point is like this. When the argument is legal, you are right that we don’t cherry pick who should pay and who shouldn’t, the debt is on the nation as a whole. But your argument isn’t legal, slavery wasn’t illegal at the time, and compensation can’t be legally due. Your argument is moral, that slavery was morally unjust. If so, it is also morally unjust to visit the sins of the fathers on the children. The fact that we do that all the time with taxes and national debt is indeed an immoral price we pay for the BENEFIT of living in a society that is able to take on debt. But no, it’s definitely not intuitively moral to make people pay for a bridge they never wanted, that never benefited them, that was demolished 15 years ago. But we do it anyways, for the utilitarian benefits of being able to take on debt.

              2. (I’ll save a post here by saying I agree with dislucky above)

                “It lets everyone off the hook …”
                “Your “in general” is doing a lot of work there…”

                Indeed it is, and deliberately so.

                Taxes are, in general, a blunt axe; you can never get an exact congruence between who pays them and who ought to pay them. But if you consider the class ‘adult Germans in 1945’, the vast majority had supported Naziism, either enthusiastically or by silence (and yes, I get that even verbal opposition was not tolerated). But the ratio of complicit to innocent changed with every birth and death, until today it is almost all innocent. Somewhere along the way, that changes the morality.

                There is a similar calculus with criminal justice system – you can never drive the false conviction rate to zero, but it matters whether it is 1%, 50%, or 99%.

                FWIW, I strongly supported affirmative action in the 1970’s. At that time, blacks who hadn’t been strongly, negatively affected by Jim Crow were extremely rare. And, surely, AA negatively affected some dirt poor whites who didn’t have a bigoted bone in their body. It was a blunt axe, but it wasn’t the time to be making fine shavings. But as time marches on, things change. It’s no longer obvious that Obama’s kids ought to get preferential admission to Harvard, vs. some Appalachian opioid orphan.

                So yes, ‘in general’ matters. Don’t swing the blunt axe unless the number of people unfairly affected is quite small. Moreover, don’t swing it at all if you have a sharper tool available. For example, I’m all for income based, colorblind preferences in e.g. college admissions. That neatly makes the system self adjusting – if the Hmong need help (and what this country did to the Hmong was terrible) they get it. Ben Carson doesn’t, and the opioid and crack orphan both get the leg up they deserve.

      3. Paying reparations doesn’t require more taxes or anyone feeling they are being punished. Inflation is currently way below the target so technically the Fed could just print the money as part of its mandate.

        1. In that case, let’s do them like Oprah – “Reparations for everyone!!!”

          1. Trump bailed out white coal miners to the tune of $10 billion but nobody believes that increased inflation. So it is better target groups that live paycheck to paycheck because giving money to wealthy Americans would lead to even more wealth inequality which lead to asset price inflation. So the coal miners weren’t living large and some depressed areas of the country benefit with the coal miners having a fully funded pension.

  65. “But #2 is dubious. Moral wrongs cannot be monetized”

    What makes a moral wrong harder to monetize than a legal one? A theft of life, liberty or labor today is a legal wrong. Legal process turns it into legal debt which a jury monetizes. Easy peasy. It should have been thus in 1860 too, but it wasn’t, and that was immoral. Ergo what should have been a legal debt is a moral one.

    Take the stolen labor alone, since it’s the easiest. Is labor really that hard to put a dollar value on? Does anyone dispute it was stolen?

    1. I would agree in cases where the US government actually purchased slaves and used stolen labor, that compensation is due to their descendants. I could also agree that there is perhaps compensation due to the descendants of slaves who were captured in the North and returned to the South. But only to the same extent that one would argue compensation is currently due to Hatians that the US deports back to Haiti who may face certain death or sexual slavery.

      1. I would agree in cases where the US government actually purchased slaves and used stolen labor, that compensation is due to their descendants.

        Now we’re getting somewhere.

        I could also agree that there is perhaps compensation due to the descendants of slaves who were captured in the North and returned to the South.

        Good. The final piece, I’d argue, is compensation due the descendants of slaves, i.e., all the rest of them, who didn’t try to escape because it was known there was a legally enforced system of chasing, capturing, and returning them to their owners.

        A store owner might feel different about paying protection money to a street thug if it wasn’t common knowledge the thug has the force of the Mafia behind him. Don’t you think the Mafia owes a moral debt to the store owner?

        1. That is why I say perhaps. Because slaves were not legally citizens at the time, the act of the Northern states of deporting them to the Southern states is not necessarily something deserving of compensation. You are saying that the Northern states had a responsibility to provide them refuge rather than deporting them, and this is true from a moral perspective. But I don’t believe failure to do so translates into a monetary obligation (and neither does the failure to recognize them as citizens).

          A thought experiment: Suppose there was a repressive island regime close to the US, and people who tried escape to the US by boat were rebuffed and returned, where they faced almost certain imprisonment or death in rebuffing them. Certainly we would say the US is doing something morally wrong. Would this translate into a monetary obligation to those refuseniks and their descendants? Would this translate into a monetary obligation to everybody on the island, even those who didn’t attempt escape?

          Secondly, even if this failure to provide refuge did translate into a monetary obligation, reparations advocates are claiming that the poverty of African Americans today is entirely due to slavery/racism. They are claiming that without slavery/racism, African Americans would be equal to whites, and the goal of reparations should be to equalize them. But even this was true, this failure of the Northern states to provide refuge was only one small part of the institution of slavery. Thus , even if this did translate into a monetary obligation, it wouldn’t come close to equalizing African Americans with whites.

          And all of this is without taking into account the fact that the North fought a long a bloody war that freed the slaves. How much does that subtract from the supposed monetary obligation of the deportations?

          1. I appreciate you taking the time to answer, and I don’t want to be rude, so this is just to let you know I’m running out now for the whole day. If you’re still interested I’ll respond tonight. Thanks.

            1. Certainly, I would be interested. Rarely is one able to engage in an good-faith, online discussion.

              1. You can’t see the forest for the trees—we need to revive AND reboot the economy…reparations just happens to be the perfect economic tool at this point in history. Nobody will be penalized by certain Americans getting reparations just like nobody was penalized when Trump gave the white coal miners $10 billion to bail out their pension fund.

                1. “just like nobody was penalized when Trump gave the white coal miners $10 billion to bail out their pension fund.”

                  Except, of course, for people … well, taxpayers … who aren’t white coal miners.

                  (as an aside, shame on Trump – if he is going to bail out coal miners, he ought to bail out all of them, not just the white ones. That’s just unconscionable. Congress should have just told him they weren’t about to fund anything that discriminates like that))

                  1. Strange you didn’t protest when Trump bailed out the white coal miners that sent a KKK grand wizard to the Senate?!? Such a head scratcher. 😉

                    1. Sorry, just didn’t hear about it at the time, or I sure would have. Discriminating on the basis of race (religion, sex, nationality, …) just isn’t OK.

                      Do you happen to have any links to the actual legislation, that bailed out only coal miners of one race?

                    2. In history class I remember learning about how West Virginia coal miners had very progressive views on civil rights and many ended up being leaders of the Civil Rights movement…and then they voted for a KKK grand wizard for senator. 😉

          2. You are saying that the Northern states had a responsibility to provide them refuge rather than deporting them, and this is true from a moral perspective. But I don’t believe failure to do so translates into a monetary obligation (and neither does the failure to recognize them as citizens).

            No, Federal law prohibited the northern states from providing refuge. It was that constitutionally enshrined national policy that I’m saying amounts to aiding and abetting every act and abuse of slavery, and thus translates into monetary obligation.

            A thought experiment: […]Would this translate into a monetary obligation to everybody on the island, even those who didn’t attempt escape?

            I’d need more context about what American law required and permitted re: return of the foreign slaves. Suffice it to say that without an analogous constitutional provision legitimating the foreign slavery we’re at least talking about a more attenuated responsibility than we have for the constitutionally blessed homegrown version.

            Secondly, even if this failure to provide refuge did translate into a monetary obligation, reparations advocates are claiming that the poverty of African Americans today is entirely due to slavery/racism.

            That’s neither my claim nor my basis for reparations. My only argument, and it’s pretty narrow, is that compensation is due on account of a theft in which our nation was constitutionally complicit. Everything that happened after 1865, awful though it was, is a separate issue on which I take no position.

            And all of this is without taking into account the fact that the North fought a long a bloody war that freed the slaves. How much does that subtract from the supposed monetary obligation of the deportations?

            Not much. It was mostly a happy coincidence. The North fought to preserve the union, not to free the slaves. Eventually slavery got added to the agenda, but Lincoln’s pre-war willingness to let it continue if the South would just stay put belies the claim that any but a small portion of the war’s cost was paid for the benefit of slaves.

            1. I don’t think the fact that constitutional law mandated the deportations changes anything. You can add that to the thought experiment, if the US had a law that prohibited harboring refugees from a despotic regime, would that entitle the refugees to compensation? Would that entitle everybody else in the despotic regime to compensation? My intuition is definitely no.

              You say that that the long bloody war shouldn’t detract from this obligation at all, because it was a happy coincidence, and the war was fought to preserve the union. I don’t see why the intentions should make a difference. But if they do make a difference, that should definitely get rid of the alleged obligation in the first place! Because the intention behind the Fugitive Slave Act was not any particular love of slavery on behalf of the north, which had all but abolished it, but with the intention of preserving the union.

              I also don’t agree that the Civil War wasn’t fought over slavery. This sounds like Confederate revisionism to me. Certainly the rebelling states thought that Lincoln would eventually free the slaves, which is the reason why they rebelled.

              1. It’s simultaneously true that the south fought over slavery and the north to preserve the union. The North fought because the south seceded, and the south seceded because it knew it couldn’t extract any more favors to keep slavery viable long term. Lincoln was content to let slavery die a slow death if he could keep the union together. He didn’t enter the war to free any slaves.

                As for why that intention matters, I was being generous to our forebears. Even fighting the war for the purpose of ending slavery wouldn’t have compensated for the theft. It would have just stopped it from continuing, as it did in any event. But as long as the purpose was to stop the theft, I could be sympathetic to an equitable argument that some of the war’s cost should mitigate the debt that was due. Without those good intentions, I see no reason the debt shouldn’t be payable in full.

                1. Thanks for the “civil” discussion! I think that there are two issues. The theft, and the law prohibiting refuge of escaped slaves. The theft was not done by the north non-slave states, there is no reason they should pay for that at all. If they should pay, it should be for the whatever damages were presumably wrought by the Fugitive Slave act. The Civil War freed the slaves, which was much, much, much more than repealing or never having the Fugitive Slave act would have ever done. Therefore, I think that is more than adequate compensation for the damages of the Fugitive Slave act, even in the even that compensation for that was warranted (which as I mentioned before, I’m very skeptical about).

                2. Furthermore, I disagree with how you are attributing different intentions to the North and the South. Both knew that continuation of the union threatened slavery, and both knew what the secession was all about. If the North was interested in keeping slavery, or was apathetic about it, they could have preserved the union with an iron-clad constitutional guarantee that slavery is perpetually permitted in the South + new states. The fact that they didn’t, shows, in my opinion, that they were interested in the eventual end of slavery in the entire United States. The fact that they fought a bloody war over this is to their GREAT credit, which shouldn’t be denied to them just because they would have been content with the slow death of slavery rather than the war.

                  But even if you are right to separate the intentions like that, that has no bearing on my points above.

                  Finally, I am much more agreeable that the former slave states themselves should provide reparations, as they were the entire apparatus that kept slavery going. As opposed to the Fugitive Slave act of the North, which at best played a minor role, and as I asserted before, shouldn’t be something that translates into a monetary obligation. But keep in mind that the slave descendants would only end up collecting a fraction of what they are owed, before the inevitable bankruptcy declaration.

                  1. I don’t hold the northern states responsible for reparations. I hold the entire nation, north and south. The slavery-blessing constitution and slavery-enforcing laws were national.

                    Agree to disagree. Be well.

                    1. Yes, I suppose this is where we reach an impasse. I don’t hold the entire nation responsible for the actions of individual states. The divide between the slave states and the non-slave states was pretty stark from the beginning of the Union. I don’t think that legally or morally, the entire nation takes on the debts and damages of individual states, even today, when states have much less power, and surely back then. As for the “slavery-blessing constitution” and slavery enforcing laws, that was what most of our discussion was about.

  66. Reparations are simply a wedge issue created by communists to hand to the weak minded to internally damage the country. I’ll consider it when I see Kamala cut a check for her “slavin” background.

    1. They also called race mixing communism.

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