Reparations are just a way to weaponize guilt

If paying reparations would buy racial amity, then the descendants of slaves would be complaining only because they didn't receive a cut of their ancestors' sale price.  Reparations can't change the past.

Wouldn't acceptance of money by blacks (however the law might qualify them for the benefits) amount to approving of the sale of their ancestors, as long as they personally profit?  Again, this doesn't change the morality of slavery, though it might be argued to address the economic wrong, but at the cost of involving the current generation in approving it.  Accepting payment would be like agreeing that the slavery, or the sale of a human being (legal at the time), wasn't a moral wrong, but there was an economic wrong in not providing some portion of the money for the slaves and their potential descendants.

The reparations are sometimes presented as justified because the slave-owners and some businesses profited from “free labor” and “got rich.”

  • There's no such thing as free labor. Slaves were treated more or less like livestock.  They had a purchase price and maintenance costs (e.g., food and medical care).  Labor costs were as low as possible, but they weren't free.  Livestock wasn't well treated either, nor were indentured servants, many of whom were white.
  • Not all slave-owners became wealthy, nor did the wealth always persist through the generations to the present day.  They tended to live in the South, which lost the Civil War.  Sherman's “march to the sea” burned a lot of plantations and left many people destitute, and then the carpetbaggers came along like locusts and scavenged a lot of what was left.

As far as someone getting rich off the labor of others, this is how business works.  The owner comes up with the capital to start the business and takes the risks of losing it all if he makes unwise decisions in running it.  All the workers typically need to do is show up and work.  Will the descendants of Amazon workers be demanding that the descendants of Jeff Bezos pay them reparations for having profited hugely at Amazon?

The American people and our leaders have tried to undo the inequity implicit in having allowed slavery to be legal in the past.  There have been missteps, but we deserve credit for trying to make things right.  Schools, scholarships, welfare benefits, job training, and other provisions were intended to enable blacks to stand on their own, which it seems most of them now do.  We can't change the past, but we have tried to encourage a better and more equal future with regard to opportunity.  There are still problems because of undermining black family units, and there are still racist incidents, but these are so rare that the ones that get reported in the news are often fake.

Reparations are just a way to weaponize guilt, and I don't feel any at all on the topic of the behavior of my ancestors.  By the way, full disclosure: My ancestors didn't leave me any financial legacy, either, so I'm interested in finding out whom I can sue about that — you know, in case reparations actually become law, setting a precedent.

Sam can be contacted at syounnokis@gmail.com.  Please keep article comments here at AT where others can also read them.

If paying reparations would buy racial amity, then the descendants of slaves would be complaining only because they didn't receive a cut of their ancestors' sale price.  Reparations can't change the past.

Wouldn't acceptance of money by blacks (however the law might qualify them for the benefits) amount to approving of the sale of their ancestors, as long as they personally profit?  Again, this doesn't change the morality of slavery, though it might be argued to address the economic wrong, but at the cost of involving the current generation in approving it.  Accepting payment would be like agreeing that the slavery, or the sale of a human being (legal at the time), wasn't a moral wrong, but there was an economic wrong in not providing some portion of the money for the slaves and their potential descendants.

The reparations are sometimes presented as justified because the slave-owners and some businesses profited from “free labor” and “got rich.”

  • There's no such thing as free labor. Slaves were treated more or less like livestock.  They had a purchase price and maintenance costs (e.g., food and medical care).  Labor costs were as low as possible, but they weren't free.  Livestock wasn't well treated either, nor were indentured servants, many of whom were white.
  • Not all slave-owners became wealthy, nor did the wealth always persist through the generations to the present day.  They tended to live in the South, which lost the Civil War.  Sherman's “march to the sea” burned a lot of plantations and left many people destitute, and then the carpetbaggers came along like locusts and scavenged a lot of what was left.

As far as someone getting rich off the labor of others, this is how business works.  The owner comes up with the capital to start the business and takes the risks of losing it all if he makes unwise decisions in running it.  All the workers typically need to do is show up and work.  Will the descendants of Amazon workers be demanding that the descendants of Jeff Bezos pay them reparations for having profited hugely at Amazon?

The American people and our leaders have tried to undo the inequity implicit in having allowed slavery to be legal in the past.  There have been missteps, but we deserve credit for trying to make things right.  Schools, scholarships, welfare benefits, job training, and other provisions were intended to enable blacks to stand on their own, which it seems most of them now do.  We can't change the past, but we have tried to encourage a better and more equal future with regard to opportunity.  There are still problems because of undermining black family units, and there are still racist incidents, but these are so rare that the ones that get reported in the news are often fake.

Reparations are just a way to weaponize guilt, and I don't feel any at all on the topic of the behavior of my ancestors.  By the way, full disclosure: My ancestors didn't leave me any financial legacy, either, so I'm interested in finding out whom I can sue about that — you know, in case reparations actually become law, setting a precedent.

Sam can be contacted at syounnokis@gmail.com.  Please keep article comments here at AT where others can also read them.