Calls for reparations for slavery continue to surface and be entertained by various governmental agencies. It does not seem to matter to any of the liberals who purchase for reparations that slavery was banned more than 150 years ago. Since no humans are currently living 150 years, I believe that it is safe to say that there is no one alive who was a slave or a slave owner.
The latest government to call for reparations is San Francisco, a city located in a state that was founded as a free state. In other words, slavery was never allowed in California. Yet the San Francisco African American Reparations Advisory Committee wants “the city to pay every black resident $5 million and absolve all of their outstanding personal debt.”
If I understand that statement correctly, such people are not satisfied with giving the $5 million to those who qualify, but they also call for all personal debt to be paid. I would think that most people could pay their own debts if they received $5 million!
Ben Shapiro had some interesting words to say about the San Francisco proposal. He quoted the following statement: “While neither San Francisco, nor California, formally adopted the institution of chattel slavery, the tenets of segregation, whit supremacy, and systematic repression and exclusion of Black people were codified through legal and extralegal actions, social codes, and judicial enforcement.” He continued with his own statement:
This rationale serves as the same sort of catchall term as “equity,” widely beloved by the political Left. It conflates specific harms from deliberate policies – which deserve redress – with vague societal ills that indirectly and unverifiably impact the specific life paths of individuals. Thus, every inequality between blacks and whites, for example, becomes an instance of societal failure, to be cured with social engineering.
This is bad ethics, and it is bad social science. It’s bad ethics because the innocent should not be forced to pay people against whom they have not sinned, and because the connection between continued suffering and past discrimination must be measured and clarified rather than merely assumed.
It’s bad social science because it ignores the role of individual decision-making in persistent intergenerational inequality, despite the massive intervention of state, local, and federal government.
Simply put, the preferred solution of San Francisco’s reparations committee – simply cutting checks – has been a dramatic failure in the United States.
Shapiro made some important points. The first point is that it is unethical to force innocent people to pay for the sins of other people. A second point is that every person has agency and individual responsibility to decide how they want to live. Slavery was bad. Most reasonable people recognize that it is inherently evil for one human being to own another person. However, every person who has reached adulthood has the freedom to choose how they will live and where they will live.
Thus, each person is responsible for whether they make good choices or bad ones. There are lots of Blacks who have made good choices, worked hard, sacrificed much, and become successful. The numbers are so high that they clearly show that black skin alone does not hold anyone back. We live in a nation that had a Black president and now have a Black vice president. We see successful Blacks wherever we choose to look.
Despite the truth of the above statements, there is also evidence that many Black people struggle. However, I do not believe that reparations for a condition that has not existed for more than 150 years are necessary to help people. Paying reparations is a bad idea for numerous reasons.