Well, the subject of reparations is back apparently. Haven’t really seen much discussion on this topic in almost 20 years so we decided to dig out an old article from around 2003, dust it off and update it for the present. In doing so, we were reminded just how sensitive this topic is and just how potentially offensive the stance taken in that original article might be. Oh well. Too bad.
First, please recognize that nobody here at The Objective Observer belongs to any of the 5% of present day American whites that are connected to historical American slave ownership. Nor is anyone here at The Objective Observer part of any black or Native American family that historically owned black slaves. We want to be clear on this because reparations is one of those issues that defies objectivity. Everyone has a stake in it because everyone’s tax dollars will go towards reparations. So we want to ensure that everyone is clear on any potential, perceived conflicts of interest that we may possess.
In order to avoid any potential conflicts of interest, we want to stay away from the subject of whether or not reparations should be paid. Blacks have some legitimate gripes. There are some very decent, logical arguments in favor of reparations. However, there are equally legitimate, logical arguments against paying reparations. Those issues and arguments are old hat and have been bantered around ad nauseam. Instead, we want to explore the issue surrounding the fair price of reparations if the powers at be decide that reparations should indeed be paid. This is solely a financial discussion. We are not discussing slavery in general, which was unquestionably awful, wrong and a blight upon the history of the
United States. Just because slavery had existed for thousands and thousands of years and American slavery only existed for a brief time, that does not excuse it.
Now, we want to caution any readers out there. People avoid the reparations debate because they lack the backbone and intestinal fortitude to discuss the issues rationally and logically. People are generally cowards that do not want to offend people. We personally do not care about offending people. Facts are facts, issues are issues, let’s all take a look at them logically and rationally and come to a conclusion. So, prepare to be offended. We make no apologies for the statements made here, if you want to discuss any opinions or arguments made in this piece, use the Contact form or leave a comment. If you are the kind of person that does not react well to being offended, then we strongly recommend that you do not read the rest of this piece.
There are two fundamental issues that we see with the reparations debate. First, everyone looks at the issue from a racial perspective, which clouds everyone’s thinking and reasoning. Second, everyone looks at reparations in an isolated historical perspective. That perspective is that blacks were once slaves and now they are not, so they should be compensated for being slaves. However, a couple hundred years have passed since blacks were considered property and thus, if we are to be objective, we must look at the entirety of what has gone on in this country and the world and apply what we find to the debate regarding reparations. To look solely at a few particular events and ignore everything else is not fair to either side in the reparations debate.
To point, reparations involves taking tax money from the general fund of running the country and to use a portion of that money to compensate certain individuals for being considered property, being denied the ability to acquire and amass property themselves and pass those holdings on to descendants. Now, what this leads to are a couple of interesting logical exercises. First, the basis of reparations is that blacks were harmed economically from the inability to acquire and amass property. Therefore, if this is the basis of reparations, then in order to assign a value to those reparations we must also look at how blacks have been helped economically by the federal government. In addition, we must take into account taxes related to death, inheritance and property ownership. And, well there are a few other things…
First up is welfare. Welfare, like reparations, is the redistribution of wealth among
United States citizens. Between 1965 and 2000, welfare spending has cost taxpayers $8.2 trillion dollars. Now, since blacks represent approximately 13% of US citizens, we will take 10% of this $8.2 trillion dollar number, which is $820 billion dollars. Let’s keep the math simple and err on the side of blacks. This $820 billion dollars represents what the federal government has already paid out to underprivileged and economically destitute blacks between 1965 and 2000. Again, this is money that was taken from tax payers and redistributed to poor and economically challenged individuals, of which blacks, that were denied the ability to own property, are likely to fall into. Therefore, any value assigned to reparations should subtract $820 billion dollars off the top as money already paid. And this is being very nice. If truth be told, this $820 billion number should be much higher because the percentage of whites versus blacks on welfare does not hold true to the national averages among whites and blacks in the population. But, in an effort to bend over backwards to be fair, we will go with national population averages. So, $820 billion off the top of the value of reparations.
Second, we must also look at whether blacks economic status was actually improved by slavery. This may seem offensive to some, but if the argument is going to be made that slavery hurt the economic welfare of blacks, then it is only fair to look for data that might show that blacks in this country were in fact aided by slavery. If we look at the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita, a good indicator of overall standard of living, for the
United States, we get the following:
|Year||GDP per capita (US $)|
Now, if we look at the GDP per capita of the second richest country in Africa, South Africa (data on Nigeria is sparse), we get the following:
|Year||Nominal GDP (in billions US$ PPP)|
Now, the facts are irrefutable and the conclusions, while obviously offensive are inescapable. The GDP per capita of the
United States is over 4 times that of the second richest country in Africa in terms of pure GDP. Thus, the inescapable conclusion is that those blacks that were previously slaves in Africa and brought to the United States are roughly 4 times better off economically from blacks that remained in Africa. And again, to be fair, we should really use the average GDP per capita of countries in Africa which is a tenth that of the United States, but we are bending over backwards to be fair to all sides here, so, for the sake of argument, we will assume that all slaves brought to the United States would have grown up in one of the richest countries in Africa. In fact, there is no country in Africa where the GBP per capita is over a third of the United States GDP per capita. What this means is that whatever economic advantage being brought to America afforded blacks should be deducted from the total amount of reparations.
We are absolutely certain that there are some people out there that are blowing blood vessels right about now. “How dare you insinuate that blacks were actually helped economically by slavery!!” Well, we are not insinuating that at all. We are actually stating this as a fact, and it is a fact that cannot be refuted or denied. The facts are clear on this issue, blacks were helped economically by being brought to the
United States. It may be offensive or politically incorrect to say this, but that does not make the statement any less true. And it certainly is offensive to say so, but if some people are going to point to the economic effects of slavery as an argument for reparations, then an objective observer cannot simply ignore the positive economic effects of slavery. It would simply be unfair and not objective to do so.
Along this same line, slave owners completely provided for the needs of their black slaves including food, shelter and clothing. Thus, it would be reasonable to deduct these costs from the total value of reparations because these are costs that would otherwise have had to been paid by blacks. Again, if we are going to focus on the negative economic impact to blacks, then we must also take into account other, positive economic factors. Yes, blacks were denied the right to own and amass property, but they also did not have any expenses. Therefore, basing reparations solely on what was denied and not taking into account what was given is simply unfair.
Now, the last item that must be taken into account is death, inheritance and property taxes. The logic here is that if blacks had been allowed to acquire and amass property, then they would have had to pay taxes on that property, including death and inheritance taxes. Therefore, we also need to deduct allowances for death and inheritance taxes as well as property taxes from the total value of reparations.
Now, we are not going to add up all of the values of what should be deducted from reparations. We have $820 billion off the top of reparations due to current paid reparations, a la welfare. We also have the fact that blacks in the
United States are 3 to 4 times better off than if they had remained in Africa. Finally, there needs to be allowances for food, shelter and clothing provided free-of-charge to blacks as well as allowances for death, inheritance and property taxes. At the end of the day, it is quite possible that blacks actually owe the United States billions or trillions of dollars for the positive economic impact of slavery, not that the United States owes blacks billions or trillions of dollars in reparations.
This is quite possibly the single most offensive piece that we have ever written. We make no apologies for that. This piece came out this way because of fundamental flaws in arguments made by Randall Robinson, Kamala Harris and others in the pro-reparations movement. They claim economic hardship from the effects of slavery, but the facts clearly show that slavery actually helped, not hurt the economics of blacks brought to America. If the facts came out a different way, we would say so, but they do not. To us, it is a simple case of some morons inflating weak ideas hoping that the evidence to refute those weak ideas was so incredibly offensive that no one would stand up and call them on it. Too bad for them, they did not count on The Objective Observer where, frankly, we don’t give a damn.