I’m probably opening a can of worms by asking this, but if reparations were enacted, how would the goverment decide who gets reparation money?

Pfft! Who knows?

Generally, it’s whoever bitches and moans the loudest.
or they will decide on some certain level of ancestership (ie 1/4, 1/8, whatever) of whatever group has been slighted enough to deserve reparations (Blacks, Native Americans, Irish immigrants, Chinese railworkers, gays, lesbians, pre-sufferage women, vegetarians, people who were picked on in high school) and pay them accordingly.

whoops, I need to clarify. I’m talking about reparations for slavery.

for the slavery of whom? are we talking the blacks in america? even though not a single person alive today was ever enslaved by plantation owners or what not, maybe we should make the egyptians pay reparations to the jews who they enslaved thousands of years ago

Here’s a line of thought to consider. Presumably, the reparations should go from the descendents of those who enslaved others, since the slave-owners and slave-traders benefitted unfairly. (This is assuming in the first place that one buys into the argument that people living now should be made to pay for something their ancestors did.) However, if you’re the child of 19th or 20th century immigrants, your ancestors arrived after slavery had been abolished, so it would be unfair to penalize you for something neither you nor your ancestors did. It would be kind of difficult to locate and tax only those who had ancestors who lived in the Americas up until, say, 1850 or so. It is also well-known that many slave owning men fathered children by the enslaved women. Most American black people probably have some ancestors who were European. In fact, they are one of the few groups who almost certainly had slave-owning ancestors. So who pays for the reparations? The immigrant from India or China who just got here, or the person whose ancestors were almost definitely part of the problem?

The reparations after WWII were made, for the most part, by the governments and people who had actually maltreated others, and they were made to the actual people who had suffered. It would not be fair, IMHO, for this to continue into another generation. My in-laws received some compensation from the German government, for example. But it would be ridiculous for my children to ask for reparation from anyone because their grandparents were mistreated.

If you want to be consistent, and carry the reparations idea to its logical conclusion, everyone who cannot prove s/he has Sioux or Navaho or Arapaho ancestry should have to give everything back to the survivors of the various American Indian groups.

Maybe we should go back and find all the descendents of the original inhabitants of England, too, and make the descendents of the Vikings and the Romans pay them back. I’m sure the Romans and the Vikings committed unspeakable acts upon some of whoever that was.

And then there’s that whole German takeover of the British monarchy to consider. Surely the current German people should have to pay back any current descendents of the Tudors?

Here’s a better question. How do reparation proponents handle the problem of African and Arab involvemnt in the slave trade? After all, African chieftans sold blacks into slavery and Arabs sold more slaves to S. America and the Mid East than to all of North America. Follow the reasoning here. Even though Europeans enslaved Europeans and Asians enslaved Asians and Africans enslaved Africans, why is it that the government of the US owes the decendants of slaves anything? Wasn’t it western thinking that decried slavery as inhumane?

It is, to answer the question, better to simply ingore the cry of (to paraphrase columnist Larry Elder) “black victicrats who would rather tell kids ‘the world remains hostile and the forces conspire against you’ instead of ‘seize the day.’” Reparations are simply stupid. I’ll go for reparations for the decendants of African slaves, as soon as the blacks of the world pay reparations to me. I mean, after all, didn’t Egyptians, who are Africans, enslave the Jews? My pop is hebrew, so my ancestors were slaves of Africans. Where’s my money!?

(must avoid comment that gets me kicked out)

What about someone who a descendent of an individual who is the result of an affair between master and slave?

What does it matter? Even descendents would likely be decedents by now. Reparations are yet another attempt (similar to affirmative action) to create a dependent, uber-victim culture in American society. You, Mr. Black man are not smart enough, not worldly enough, not connected enough to educate yourself and sieze your OWN opportunity and make your OWN way in the world, so I, in my infinite wisdom (cleverly dressed guilt) will do it FOR you, and in doing so, force you to exchange opportunity for oppression, and freedom for the new american slavery.

The master-slave relationship exists now, today, in the form of handouts, freebies, and cries by power-mad community leaders for reparations. This, of course, is not to say that there should not be a system to provide a hand UP, the problem is, you see, the system that provides the hand OUT.

You, Mr. Guilty white liberal, and power driven black community/religious leader (I do so hate to label) if you want to truly help the black community rise up, if you truly want to make equal partners of ALL the members of the melting pot, then please focus on the following;

  1. ELEMENTARY EDUCATION. Children are made or broken here, society is too far astray from the path that will allow a young person in less than perfect economic conditions to exist, not to mention succeed. Start here. Buy books, fix/build schools, pay teachers on their success, and privatize if necessary.

  2. CRIME. Decriminalize (if not legalize) Marijuana, eradicate crack/cocaine (it CAN be done if we’re serious), bulldoze housing projects and replace them with scattered site housing, limit through zoning laws the number of liquor stores allowed within a given area, and give police the resources and authority to enforce the rules.

  3. SECONDARY EDUCATION. The poor don’t go to college not only because they cannot afford it, but because it is indeed a hardship in many cases. Study by location what is necessary, and what ever it is, put it there. If you need to put a vocational school with a day care center in the middle of a blighted area, then do so, and let part of the school day be spent refurbishing the area in whicn the school resides.

There are so very many things that can be done, we simply refuse to do them. As a society, especially here in chicago, we’d rather have an airport turned into a park, than new school textbooks (which on some level is ok, because the newest books are just fabrications of the truth anyway). We are truly in a forest for the trees situation, if we don’t see our way clear soon, we’ll be too far gone to help.

Huh? What? Am I beeing whooshed? Most of the things you listed are liberal causes, not conservative ones.

Just to correct (I think the reparations idea is noble but moronic and unworkable) the Hanoverian kings because they happened to be first in the line of succession, not by force or coup d’etat.

The first two Georges were less than enamored of their new thrones and spent most of their time after their coronations back on the Continent.

George I never learned to speak English.

I just want that kid to return the marbles he took from me in elementary school. is that too much to ask?

I don’t know… were they black marbles?

I for one find the lack of reparations offered to the noble Neanderthals for the injustices suffered at the hands of their Cro-Magnon opressors outrageous, myself.

Thanks for the correction. I had the impression that the Hanovers were of non-English origin since they did not speak English. There is probably a better example of the point I was trying to make, but it was late when I was writing that.

What about us noble hispanics from Mexico and parts south? Here we were, cheerfully opressing our native populations in latin bliss and along comes you white boys and steals Texas and California for us (ok, maybe not a major loss). I’m feeling pretty oppressed, and I want my piece of the pie from the guild ridden white liberal crowd (and lets leave out our own natives, or we will have to pay THEM reparations as well…or maybe I’ll have to pay myself as my ancestors were both Spanish AND Native Indian…hm)…

:slight_smile: Just kidding, obviously (have to put in this disclaimer as some of you wouldn’t know humor if it reached up and bit you on the culo). If America is ever stupid enough to actually PAY reparations to decendents of former slaves, it will tear the country appart…

I think buttonjockey308 made some very good points on what REALLY needs to be done.

BrightNShiny, I don’t think that the points were either Liberal OR Conservative, as NO ONE is doing them. The Liberals, in my own experience, are more disposed to giving the poor a fish, not TEACHING them TO fish…and I think that the Conservatives are disposed to just ignore the problem and hope it goes away.


The trouble with reparations is that they are completely unworkable in a practical sense.

The perpetrators of the crime of slavery are dead. And in any case, the constitution prohibits ex post facto laws. So slaveholders could not be held liable for actions that were legal at the time they commited. And even if they were liable, that doesn’t mean that their descendents are liable. If Grandpa owes John Doe $10,000 dollars that doesn’t mean that I owe John Doe after Grandpa dies. And of course, proving that certain people had slaveholding ancestors would be extremely difficult in most cases.

So logically reparations would have to be paid by the Government. That means every taxpayer would pay them, black, white, asian, hispanic, european, northern, southern, everybody.

But who should get reparations? If we are talking about reparations for slavery, then obviously only the people who were enslaved should be paid reparations. But all those people are dead. Perhaps the heirs of those slaves should be paid what was owed to the slaves. But it is extraordinarily difficult for most people to prove that they were descendents of particular slaves, since in most cases detailed records were not kept. So it would seem that many if not most black people would be unable to prove that they are the legal heirs of those slaves. A lot of that money would go unclaimed, even though most black people in the US are in fact the descendents and heirs of those slaves…they just wouldn’t be able to prove it.

And of course, paying reparations to anyone who is “Black” would be unworkable. There is no such thing as “Black” from a legal or scientific standpoint. Many American Blacks are NOT descendents of slaves…they are descendents of free blacks, or African or Carribean immigrants. Looks mean nothing. There are many “White” people who are also descendents of black slaves…one of their ancestors looked “white” enough to pass as white and evaded the “one drop” rule.

So reparations for Slavery itself is an unworkable notion. But it seems to me that the notion is miscast. What people really want are reparations for racism today. Racist harm from individuals should be handled on an individual level. But handing out cash to individuals doesn’t seem like a very wise remedy for institutional racism. A better solution would be to find institutional ways to remedy institutional racism.

I mentioned this the other day in another thread and am still interested in what y’all may have to say about it:

Reparations for the descendants of slaves is based on the assumption that they/their ancestors have been harmed by slavery, and would in some sense be better off if not for slavery.

I will make an assertion that challenges that assumption:

The Africans who remain in Africa, the ones left behind by the slave ships, are doing far worse (on the whole) than the ones who did get put on the ships. Yes, the slaves died by the boatload and they have been (and in many ways continue to be) hugely mistreated, no-one can or should deny this.

But the ones left behind, the ones currently populating the Homeland, Sellassie’s land, etc, now are suffering under extensive civil war, famine, AIDS, and other hardships too numerous to mention (including various forms of racist oppression that African Americans currently experience).

Of course this brings up difficult questions like, how do you measure who is badly off? Do Oprah Winfrey and Michael Jordan get some of that reparation money? Do we measure the average income of African-Americans vs the average income of Africans? Or compare the poorest of each group?

Just thought I’d add some more unanswerable questions to the discussion.

Do we reallly need one more thread dedicated to bashing reparations with specious arguments? I’m not even in favor of slavery reparations, but whenever a reparations thread is started I feel compelled to dispel ignorance.

Like this pretty nugget by phillyb285:

Is your point that there are no actual slavery survivors today, or is it that the existence of slavery in other countries during other time periods is sufficient to negate the responsibility of our country’s misdeeds? If you’re making the former point, there is validity in that statement. If you are making the latter point, then I call it bullshit.

by Stemba:

Yes, it takes two to tango. But we got a thing called a consitution in this country and our government is required to live under its tenets. Other governments are not. When our government drops the ball, it should compensate whom it drops the ball on. Other governments, abiding by their own constitutions, are not expected to fix things, when technically, they are not being as hypocritical as saying “All men are created equal” but then treating some men like chattle livestock.

by MLS:

Well, was it fair that my tax-dollars went to reparations for interned Japanese? I was born in 1977, years after WWII. Since when did the age of taxpayers matter when it comes to paying for government debt?

I now return you to your regular scheduled griping.