Case for Reparations: Worth the Read

Discussion in 'The War Room' started by Uchi Mata, May 22, 2014.

  1. Uchi Mata

    Uchi Mata Preaching the gospel of heel hooks and left kicks

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    Very interesting article in The Atlantic ostensibly about the case for reparations to the black community, but really more a run down of discriminatory financial practices throughout American history:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2014/05/the-case-for-reparations/361631/

    I tend to be extremely skeptical of race based policy making, but I think the idea of studying what a reparations program would look like is probably worth doing ala the Conyers bill mentioned in the text. I urge reading the whole article, it's really well written and I learned a lot, especially about the early days of the FHA and GI bill.
     
  2. lfd0311

    lfd0311 Pink Belt

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    I'm all for anyone still living who was actually enslaved in the US being paid reparations. Everyone else should just shut up.
     
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  3. MC Paul Barman

    MC Paul Barman Gold Belt Platinum Member

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    Wonder if families of people marched off to gulags asked for reparations of some sort.
     
  4. Cold Front

    Cold Front Double Yellow Card Double Yellow Card

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    It's a silly and tendentious argument which I groaned at as I skimmed through it, but I'm not surprised to see the race-monger Coates making it. The entire thing is more of a play for sympathy by throwing everything and the kitchen sink at anyone sharp enough to notice its flaws of reasoning and invidious moral logic. It's built on an assumption that the system kept black people down and is still keeping them down by it historical weight.
     
  5. Zankou

    Zankou Bringing peace and love Staff Member Senior Moderator

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    I agree with Uchimata, I thought it was definitely worth the read and very hard-hitting.

    I'm not sure that reparations are practical, but the author makes a compelling case. He briefly touches on affirmative action being a form of reparation, but talks about how the Supreme Court has said it can't be used for that. I've never really agreed though. I think it may be one of the most fair and practical ways to address systemic discrimination, as opposed to just dumping money on people. Also, I think the reality is that 'diversity' is just a code word for the reality of using affirmative action to redress systematic discrimination. Which again, strikes me as reasonable if it's done right.

    The author doesn't address some of the harder issues squarely (it's one thing for Germans in 1950 to talk about reparations for the Holocaust, it's quite another when you are talking about the great grandchildren of immigrants who themselves never stepped foot in this country until long after slavery was illegal). He argues that patriotism can't be "a la carte," but ... how does that make any sense? Of course it can. Nobody is under some obligation to embrace every aspect of all of American history.

    Overall, I give it a strong recommendation. The use of specific factual details gives it unusual power. For example, this is just brutal:

    "The next day, I stationed myself by the side of the road, along which the slaves, amounting to three hundred and fifty, were to pass. The purchaser of my wife was a Methodist minister, who was about starting for North Carolina. Pretty soon five waggon-loads of little children passed, and looking at the foremost one, what should I see but a little child, pointing its tiny hand towards me, exclaiming, “There’s my father; I knew he would come and bid me good-bye.” It was my eldest child! Soon the gang approached in which my wife was chained. I looked, and beheld her familiar face; but O, reader, that glance of agony! may God spare me ever again enduring the excruciating horror of that moment! She passed, and came near to where I stood. I seized hold of her hand, intending to bid her farewell; but words failed me; the gift of utterance had fled, and I remained speechless. I followed her for some distance, with her hand grasped in mine, as if to save her from her fate, but I could not speak, and I was obliged to turn away in silence."
     
  6. Cold Front

    Cold Front Double Yellow Card Double Yellow Card

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    It's an emotional appeal, nothing more. The "facts" are arranged alongside photos to browbeat opposition into submission, and the argument is built on a foundation that assumes state largesse can solve group inequalities.

    Here's one of those "facts" at the end:

     
  7. ben236

    ben236 Silver Belt

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    The problem with "reparations" is that it tends to mean: "keep throwing money at the problem until the disadvantaged group is on par with everyone else." And of course, if the money thrown at the problem hasn't resulted in equality of outcome, then it's because the reparations have been insufficient and even more money needs to be thrown at the problem.
     
    Last edited: May 22, 2014
  8. Uchi Mata

    Uchi Mata Preaching the gospel of heel hooks and left kicks

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    I do think that is the underlying assumption, but I think the author provides some pretty good historical arguments for why that is in fact the case, stretching back only to the 50s and 60s rather than back to the 1860s and before. If we believe that the GI bill and widespread home ownership enabled by the FHA played a major part in the creation of the modern middle class, and also that blacks were systemically shut out of those programs, then his central argument that systemic governmental discrimination has prevented the formation of black wealth (which we have recently learned from Piketty is pretty damn important) does lead me to the conclusion that some sort of reparations are worth considering.

    That begs the question: what would such reparations look like? Well, if your central premise is that systemic lack of wealth formation is what really hurts black society (since it's so much harder for them to get education, stable housing, and just in general invest in themselves as a community) then I think the answer would be to enact policies designed to help black people build wealth. Low interest government issued (or guaranteed with strict limits on the terms private banks could offer) loans would be a good start, as would expanded Pell grants or other programs. I'm not really in favor of affirmative action because I think it allocates a scarce resource (seats in elite institutions) to less deserving students, but I have no problem making it cheaper and easier for disadvantaged students to afford going to the schools they can get into. I would also have no problem with expanded funding for majority-minority area trade schools. My parents paid for my undergrad education and invested a lot in me growing up, and it allowed my to start accumulating wealth of my own right out of school. In addition, I just bought a house with very little money down via an FHA loan. I also pay a great deal every month on my grad student loans, and I can only dream of how much excess capital I'd have if those weren't hanging around my neck. The point of that is that I can certainly see how needing significantly more wealth than a white person to do things like buy a house and invest in your children could hinder a whole community, and if the government has maintained policies along those lines until relatively recently then steps to redress the harm that's been done don't seem totally out of line to me.
     
  9. CarbonFistprint

    CarbonFistprint Brown Belt

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    I'm fourth generation American. My great grandfather came over in 1890. So I'm exempt from responsibility for slavery, I assume.

    However, having Jewish ancestry on my mother's father's side of the family, I'd appreciate reparations from the Egyptians for keeping us as slaves for all those years. I'll watch for my check in the mail.
     
  10. nixkid

    nixkid Black Belt

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    I think he does address this. When you become an American (by birth or naturalization) you inherit America's debts and a country's debts are inter-generational. If not then why do we make people pay for debt that was incurred before they were born? I'm fairly certain, that right now, some of my tax money is going to pay off treasury bonds that were sold before I was born. Same thing goes for immigrants, they aren't exempt from paying off debts that were incurred before they became citizens.
     
  11. Cold Front

    Cold Front Double Yellow Card Double Yellow Card

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    Don't forget those fucking Russians, Germans, Poles, Spanish, and various Slavs who controlled, expelled, looted, robbed, and murdered your "mother's father's side of the family."

    Play it up. I hear these sob stories work well on juries.
     
  12. CarbonFistprint

    CarbonFistprint Brown Belt

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    If America has reached a certain level of prosperity due to ills suffered by blacks and Native Americans, isn't that prosperity enjoyed now by modern blacks and Native Americans? I think there's a pretty good argument that for a while now, people in general in the US have lived pretty well, on a global standard.
     
  13. Uchi Mata

    Uchi Mata Preaching the gospel of heel hooks and left kicks

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    I think the author would argue (with some justification) that black people broadly speaking do not enjoy the same standard of living as white people (Native Americans definitely don't) and that there are some very clear historical reasons for that that are still relevant today. I think there are a lot of good arguments against reparations but I don't think blacks and whites enjoying American prosperity on an equal footing is a good one.
     
  14. CarbonFistprint

    CarbonFistprint Brown Belt

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    Globally speaking. Our "poor" do pretty well, all things considered.

    And as far as a community's present state, can any of the responsibility for that rest on the community itself? Is there any reason that certain communities outperform (or underperform) financially, that doesn't have to do with their "victim" or "privileged" status?
     
  15. Cold Front

    Cold Front Double Yellow Card Double Yellow Card

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    You don't need to enjoy it on an equal footing to enjoy it.

    Besides, most blacks have not been, and never were in, the kind of value-added industries that drive productivity and economic growth. So they have benefited from being proximate to those (i.e., American whites, for the most part) who do add value.
     
  16. CarbonFistprint

    CarbonFistprint Brown Belt

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    It will be nice to feel the weight of centuries of oppression lifted from my shoulders.

    ...and to be able to buy a jet ski. Yeah, I think my reparations money will buy me a jet ski.
     
  17. Cold Front

    Cold Front Double Yellow Card Double Yellow Card

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    Lol ! I'm going to send my salvia in to one of those DNA ancestry companies and see if I can't discover a long-dead sugar daddy in my background.
     
  18. Uchi Mata

    Uchi Mata Preaching the gospel of heel hooks and left kicks

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    I've never bought this line of argument. If your bar is Ethiopia then yes, we're doing pretty well. Is that a reasonable standard for the greatest nation on Earth? I think not.

    Absolutely. And that's why I don't favor just giving people money at random. I think that a lot of what ails the black community can only be solved by the black community, including out of wedlock births, crime, and lack of educational attainment even at the high school level. At the same time, I recognize that there are historical factors that are still with us today that make those problems much harder to tackle in the black community than they are in other communities (after all, it's not as if high school dropouts and unwed mothers don't exist among whites, we just don't have as many and as such the ones who exist don't drag down the community as a whole as much). To be honest I don't think that if you handed the average black guy $10K that he's just spend it on rims or something equally asinine, but I also recognize that targeted spending would engender greater responsibility and ensure that the money was going to good use. Historically our governmental aid to the poor has basically been just enough to keep them from starving, which while clearly a good thing doesn't really help them get to the point where we don't have to provide for them anymore. While I'm not big on affirmative action as implemented it definitely did help the people who went to college because of it who otherwise wouldn't have.
     
  19. Cold Front

    Cold Front Double Yellow Card Double Yellow Card

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    How about this one? What other thirty to forty million people of African ancestry in the world do African-Americans want to trade places with?

    If there are none, then just how damning to their present circumstances could that tragic history be?
     
  20. nixkid

    nixkid Black Belt

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    Actually, one of the author's major points is that the very first "value-added" industry in America was slavery itself.

    Also, most of the people who participate in these "value added" industries are white which is not the same as saying that most white people participate in value added industries. In fact, most white people DO NOT participate in value added industries so it does not hold that whites on average should have a greater share of the country's wealth. Most white people derive their wealth from real estate and the article CLEARLY outlines why that puts black people at an disadvantage.
     

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