The crowded field of Democratic presidential candidates, whose number (25 as of this drafting) seems to be growing as quickly as the number of genders, is rather interesting in its lack of diversity. Oh, it certainly checks off many of the identity boxes: (race, ethnicity (real and professed), orientation, religion, age, etc), but when it comes to opinion, every new policy idea spawns a cavalcade of “me-too” affirmations from the pack. With some exceptions, of course, but the exceptions often find themselves called out by the slavering prog-hordes for not affirming what’s obviously the Correct view point. So, when the Green New Deal appeared in a miasma of pixie dust and unicorn farts, it was the slow-to-affirm candidates who got looked at askance.

The latest “magnet” issue is slavery reparations, which would make good on the stolen fruit of slaves’ labor. It’s not a new idea, but in this lemming-like political environment, where ideological nonconformity is treated the way heresy was during the Inquisition, its re-emergence has the candidate pack bandwagon-hopping. Per Elizabeth Warren:

We need a national, full-blown conversation about reparations.

OK, lets begin. That conversation needs, first, to define and demarcate “reparations.”

Who would pay?

Who would receive?

Would there be a mining of historical records to identify and build a tree of descendants for every slave?

Would there be a mining of historical records to identify and build a tree of descendants for every slaveowner?

Would a determination of stolen wages/work value be made for every slave, then actuarially projected to today’s dollars and apportioned across all descendants?

Would the wealth generated by every slave’s stolen labor be tracked through the decades, to determine whether it still exists and how much of it remains?

Would there be a presumption of genetic guilt, whereby every descendant of a slaveowner would have an apportioned financial obligation to every descendant of that owner’s slaves?

Would the descendants of non-slaveowners from that era be exempt from reparations?

How about the descendants of the abolitionists? How would they figure into the math?

What of non-slaveowners who weren’t active abolition its? Will there be a version of the modern definition of racism, where you’re guilty if you don’t actively work against it, meaning that descendants of non-slaveowners who could not prove their forebears were active abolitionists would be “guilty by association,” and therefore obligated to pay reparations?

Would those whose ancestors immigrated here after the Emancipation Proclamation be obligated to pay reparations?

Would an asset, lets say a parcel of land, that was bought with monies earned via slavery, but which changed hands numerous times since and is now owned by someone who has no connection to slavery, be subject to lien or seizure?

What of the descendants of slaveowners whose intermediate generations lost all the family wealth?

What of the descendants of slaveowners who didn’t inherit anything?

Sounds complicated.

Of course, these obvious complications are waved off, by asserting that it is the government that instituted and maintained slavery, and therefore it is the government that must make reparations.

Therein lies the core flaw of leftist thinking: that “the government” is an entity unto itself and apart from the citizenry, with its own wealth.

The government does not create wealth, it does not earn money, it does not function the way an individual does. What it possesses, it does not own. Rather, it serves as a steward for the portion of wealth it takes, via taxation, from the people it serves. The money the government holds does not belong to the government, and therefore the government cannot be penalized for its past sins by taking the wealth it has drawn from the people.

If reparations are to be made, to individuals, they must be paid by individuals.

This, too, can be waved off, by asserting a systemic problem in need of a systemic solution. This is where the idea of “privilege” comes in. If you’re white in America, you are presumed to benefit from others’ racism, past and present. So, by extension, you’re on the hook for reparations. For a segment of society that looks askance at Christianity, the Left sure puts a lot of credence in the Biblical concept of original sin, which is the essence of this systemic approach to reparations.

Of course, once you couch it in such terms, it’s no different from all the affirmative action programs, the implementation of the public accommodation principle, forced integration of schools and neighborhoods, and countless other forms of government intervention in the name of race relations. In other words, the same old same old, just re-branded so it can appear to be something new. All I see in the “reparations” debate is a high-concept justification for wealth redistribution by people who crave power and see the path to that power in buying votes.

I’d also bet dollars to doughnuts that payment of reparations would not be considered the end of remediation of our nation’s history of racism. The race warriors would move onto another method of separating us, forcibly moving wealth from some to others, and imposing more forms of social remedy. Even if they genuinely seek to assuage guilt (guilt that they declare you and I should feel), that guild is, in their eyes, bottomless. And, if it’s as I suspect: driven by baser and more selfish motivations, their success will only prompt more of the same.

Race relations will not be resolved by government coercions that continue to treat people differently based on the color of their skin (or based on any other identity marker). Yet, to advocate for an approach based on individualism, on treating each person you meet as a person, rather than as the result of a laundry list of external check boxes, is now itself deemed “racist.” Indeed, to advocate for a color-blind society has been dubbed hate speech by the people who’ve decided to decide such things for the rest of us.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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