Renewable Reparations

The conversation on racial justice has moved from “equality of opportunity” when i was younger towards “there is no such thing of equality of opportunity so we must have equality of outcome”

One of the primary drivers behind this argument is the legacy of slavery and jim crow (and the much less mentioned genocide of american indians) but the .

ISTM that Coates may be onto something, there can never really be an end to this conversation until we do something to try to make the victims of america whole to some degree.

One of the primary advantages that white people have over blacks is wealth and familial land ownership. Frequently this land was received for free from the government as a homestead that was only available to white people.

Most of the western USA is still owned by the federal government. Much of it is very suitable for solar farms and wind farms.

Could reparations be structured as a renewable energy homestead act open to the descendants of american slaves and american indians? The government could be a guarantor in power purchase agreements that might last for the entire useful life of the solar panels and wind turbines (and presumably the panels/turbines would only improve over time). Sure heathcliff huxtable’s family wouldn’t get anything out of it but with government sponsored training, ongoing support and guidance we could some of the wealth gap we see between blacks and whites while we increase the population of underpopulated states like Montana and Nevada and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.

The price tag would be enormous but I don’t know if it would be more than the trillions of dollars we are using to mitigate the economic effects of the coronavirus and at the end we might have fundamentally changed our economy for the better and perhaps moved past this historical injustice.

Interesting format for reparations:

I foresee lots of problems.

  1. The plots being sold for immediate short term gain where some richer investor gets richer and the poor descendant gets a short term payday gone at the end of the first year.
  2. People saying no to just the gift of money (or land, or business)
  3. The descendants have no skin in the game
  4. Proving descendant lineage (I don’t think this helps out enough of the others)

But if we were going to have some sort or reparation, I would support something along these lines.

What about descendants of Hispanics deprived of land, subject to persecution and economically repressed by the Northern European conquest of the Southwest?

Weren’t the Hispanics also European conquerors?

Homesteads cannot be sold until then end of the initial power purchase agreement term (approx 25 years). The property cannot be encumbered, the power purchase agreement payments cannot be hypothecated. Those families will have to learn how to run and operate a renewable energy farm.

If they refuse reparations and assuming the reparations scheme is a reasonable one, I don’t know how much more we can do about it. Perhaps we need a few extra options.

They literally have skin in the game. But if they are among the large and growing middle class that doesn’t need it anymore, then that’s fine. I think a large part of the social dynamics surrounding the white black dichotomy are stereotypes that might diminish is black families were largely land owning renewable energy producers.

I would be satisfied with any proof of black ancestry in the USA prior to 1965 as evidence of being a descendant of slaves. I would be satisfied with membership in a native american tribe.
I don’t think the substantiation requirements would be a particularly big hurdle compared to the notion of doing something good for black people.

I like the first part, but I think this part will give you some trouble. And likely the government trouble if that renewable energy is relied upon. There are going to be some run well and other not.

Also one I forgot to mention earlier is relocation.

Wait. Are you saying give them land under or next to wind farms? Ummm… you ought to look at wind farms out west. They are located in sparsely populated areas far from jobs or services. Plus those things are NOISY. I dont think many people would want to live next to them.

And really. So you give a black family say 10 acres in western Kansas (which is filling up with wind farms) and say “Ok, here is your payment. All is forgiven and we are even now”. How will that go over?

Yes, the homesteading program would include paid vocational training and relocation. The power purchase agreement would finance everything.

It doesn’t have to be wind farms. It can be solar farms.
BTW, i don’t know that wind turbines cannot be near homes.
From 300 yards, wind turbines in the middle of nowhere are ~40 decibels. A typical city is closer to 60 decibels. A typical suburb 50. So unless you put the home directly under the turbine, you are better off living near a turbine farm than under an airport flight path.,distance%20of%20about%20100%20m.

How do you think reparations would otherwise work?

It would be a lot easier and more efficient for the people given land to rent it to a windfarm company, and continue to live in the same place doing their previous jobs while having the rent as an additional income.

I honestly dont know. While I understand the desire for them I simply cannot see how they would work or even if there would be a long term benefit. Ok, even if they gave every black person a check for $100,000 that would be just a small blip and one would see such a benefit gone after say 10 years or so.

I just think this idea needs to quietly be set aside as impossible and forgotten and society moves on.

That’s not how homesteading works. You have to live on and work the land for X number of years to get ownership.

It’s a lot easier for some to forget than others, easier for some to move on than others. The point behind homesteading is that it’s not money that can be squandered or slowly eaten away by day to day needs, it’s a living. They get a job at a business that they own, it’s not just training that gives them something to offer when a white man has to decide whether to hire them or the white guy that reminds them of their nephew. They are responsible for their own fate and some will thrive and others will fail. But enough will thrive to create a different ses profile for blacks in america and stereotypes will change. For me that’s the long term benefit.

BTW $100,000 to every black person in america would be something on the order of 4 trillion dollars. We just spent 2 trillion to support an economy that wouldn’t need nearly that much support if we had implemented better policies on a national level. I suspect this would cost a lot less than $100,000 per family never mind per person.

Since you cant define 'black", reparations are impossible and also not needed. No Black person in America was a slave before 1865.

I would define “the descendants of american slaves” as current american citizens with a black ancestor who was born in america before 1965, sure there would be a small handful of black immigrants that would also fit into this group but it would be a tiny number and frankly they are unlikely to see running a solar farm as an upgrade to their current lifestyle.

I don’t know exactly how I would define black in every case but I think this is a fairly trivial issue.
Can you give me an example of where the confusion might arise?

The initial question to ask about reparations is this: Will these reparations end the racism that infects our society? Will the next generation grow up without the walls that were created to separate people? Will skin color or heritage no longer matter to the police? Will government priorities suddenly focus on the needs of everyone instead of the majority? If the answer is no then I see no point, and it sounds like a plan more likely to inflame the existing problems than solve them.

In my opinion this drive for equality of results is horrible but I cannot deny that the history of slavery and genocide may put equality of opportunity beyond our grasp for that group. The result is not only a racist version of affirmative action that mostly benefits people other than the descendants of american slaves and american indians; but it has also provided an incentive for institutions to undervalue objective values of merit and muddy the waters on testing in order to justify providing a preference to people with the same skin color as oppressed groups. That’s just my take on it.

I think that reparations of this sort would change how society views blacks and american indians. Some significant portion of inner city blacks would move to the country and tend to solar panels and junction boxes an operate as independent businessmen. Some people might feel like the first generation of black homesteaders got something for nothing (like the white homesteaders did in the 1800s) but by the second or third generation of solar farming, I think this would change attitudes in society, including policing.

This is an utterly ridiculous objection to reparations. For one thing, “Black” can be defined (how about people who have consistently identified and been treated as black for their entire lives?). For another, even if gray areas exist on the margins, this doesn’t eliminate the need for reparations (if there is indeed a need). The possibility that someone might unjustly receive reparations is not an argument that reparations must not be permitted.

As for the OP’s proposal, it’s interesting but I think it’s starting at the wrong point. First, serious study most be engaged to demonstrate, in detail (to the point of dollar amounts, exact and inexact), if and how the various forms of anti Black discrimination in the past (and present) have harmed living Black people.

Then we could start to consider how to rectify that harm.


And you know, Blacks wont accept this as there are few records for slaves.

You speak for Blacks? How did that come about?

So, we just ask them “have you been consistently identified and been treated as black for their entire lives” and if yes, we hand them a large check, right?

No, this would take some serious work. It’s not trivial. We’ve hashed it out in other threads before. This is not a credible or serious objection. Either you think there’s been serious harm done to living black people, or you don’t. If there has been such harm, then it’s reasonable to look at what and how and what could be done to rectify it.