Nothing is more disconcerting than to challenge your own assumptions.
This is one of my longer posts because I believe it requires a more complete answer. It goes to the core of several issues, including racism in America, economic inequality, the use of public funds as a form of bribe to elect candidates, the growth of government power in general. I think we need to be able to discuss these topics honestly and openly.
Reparations can mean several things. We often hear discussions about the need to correct inequities brought out by slavery, Jim Crow laws, lack of equal protection under the law, and a variety of assumed inequalities.
“Several Democratic presidential candidates are embracing reparations for the descendants of slaves — but not in the traditional sense.”
“Universal programs are not specific to the injustices that have been inflicted on African-Americans,” said Duke University economist William Darity, a veteran advocate of reparations. “I want to be sure that whatever is proposed and potentially enacted as a reparations program really is a substantive and dramatic intervention in the patterns of racial wealth inequality in the United States — not something superficial or minor that is labeled as reparations and then politicians say the national responsibility has been met.”
Montague Simmons of the Movement for Black Lives, which has pushed for reparations, said the debate is “not just cash payments.”
But “unless we’re talking about something that has to be systemic and transfers power to the community, it’s not likely going to be what we would consider reparations,” he said.
“We had over 200 years of slavery. We had Jim Crow for almost a century. We had legalized discrimination, segregation. We have to recognize that everybody did not start out on an equal footing in this country and in particular Black people have not.”
Sen. Kamala Harris –
“We have got to… do something about that and give folks a lift up. That’s why for example I’m proposing the LIFT Act: Give people who are making $100,000 or less as a family a tax credit, which will benefit and uplift 60 percent of Black families who are in poverty,” she explained.
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, was asked at a CNN town hall Monday about his position on reparations given Warren’s and Castro’s comments, said, “What does that mean? What do they mean? I’m not sure anyone’s very clear.” He said – “the U.S. must put resources into distressed communities to improve the lives of people affected by the legacy of slavery.“
In order to minimize the chances of being poor the following choices should be made.
- Graduate high school.
- Don’t have a child until you can support yourself and that child.
- Get married before you have a child.
- Work consistently and improve your job skills.
Several centuries of migration, conquests, marriages and intermixed racial births are a biological fact that can’t be ignored. In order to execute any government assistance, there would need to be some type of classification and identification. Who is qualified? Who has generations here long enough? How much of a percentage of someone’s ancestry is necessary to qualify, and what duration of their ancestry? What about those who clearly are not “economically disadvantaged”? We have a large population of blacks or mixed race that aren’t on or near poverty row. I have a primary care physician from Nigeria. The man was extremely helpful to me in a serious health issue. We discussed some of the conditions he was experiencing, which caused him to uproot his family to come here.
If black Americans constituted their own country, they would have the 11th largest economy in the world. As a demographic group (richer than 90 percent of the people in the world), blacks in America have a longer life expectancy than African and Caribbean blacks, as well as whites in many parts of Eastern Europe and Latin America. African Americans have higher rates of literacy and achieve more post secondary degrees as a percentage of the population than blacks in Africa.
The assumption being made is that we can lift up individuals and families through some economic incentives. I’m old enough to have lived during the period of “The Great Society”, as promoted by Lyndon Johnson. As I’ve seen far too often, good intentions (at least they sounded good at the time), were a horrible tragic experiment which to this day has done more harm than good. The welfare incentives from this program were given primarily to single mothers. If the father lived with the family, the financial assistance wasn’t available. This altered the families in ways not imagined at that time.
Kids are less likely to experience poverty when they grow up with both parents at home. For example: In 2016, 32% of single-parent families with children were living in poverty versus just 7% of two-parent families. 66% of African American families are single parent households. 42% for those of mixed race. 24% of white (non-Hispanic).
One of the key reasons children struggle to get ahead has to do with their parents. Two parents are better than one. (We’re keeping this short so lets not talk about dysfunctional parents). How their parents treat their children, meaning do they hold them accountable, and do they personally value education. Children start as blank slates, and what we do at home is a powerful influence of how high they reach as adults. Single parent households are also typically lower income, and that has an affect on the child.
Overall, there are a lot of things which create disadvantages and advantages. The number one thing I saw teaching students for a technical career is, “you gotta wanna”. Those who were successful weren’t necessarily the brightest, or wealthy, nor their ethnicity. The worthwhile goals people choose must include a sense of accountability for their own actions. Where we aim and our willingness to fail, most often is the final determination of our success.
Denzel Washington ~ “It all starts in the home. I saw it in my generation, and in every generation thereafter. If you’re raised by the streets, the streets become your father, and the courts become your home and the jail becomes your residence.”
What we can continue to do is make sure our institutions and are laws are neutral. If justice is blind, then so should our institutions, and picking people by race is certainly nowhere close to blind. We’ve come a long way in a few decades to correct these past problems. Many believe we have much more work ahead. From where I’ve been and what I’ve experienced I’m convinced we’ve made many of the necessary changes. There will be more.
A Conflict of Visions ~ Thomas Sowell
Ideological Origins of Political Struggles [ 1987 reprint 2007 ]
The constrained vision “see the evils of the world as deriving from the limited and unhappy choices available, given the inherent moral and intellectual limitations of human beings.”
“When Rousseau said that ‘man is born free’ but is ‘everywhere in chains,’ he expressed the essence of the unconstrained vision, in which the fundamental problem is not nature or man but institutions.”
All progress requires change. Not all change is progress.