Thinning the herd: Reparations

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) (AP Photo/John Locher)

What do Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Kamala Harris, former San Antonio mayor Julián Castro, and Marianne Williamson have in common? All are Democratic candidates for president in 2020. And all have indicated some support for reparations to the descendants of slaves and in Warren’s case, also to Native Americans.

Let me say, here and now, that I do not support and will not willingly help pay for reparations for things that happened one or two centuries ago. I once wrote “me and mine did nothing to you and yours” (people alive today) and therefore I owe you neither an apology nor reparations.

In other words, when I start trying to sort out the umpteen Democratic candidates, the idea of reparations might be a good place to start. There is simply no equitable way to determine who should get what or how much for something that happened so long ago.

I remember when I lived in upstate New York there were local rumblings of the tribes there wanting their land back. How on earth was that supposed to work? Give Albany back to the Mohawks? Give the whole state back to the Iroquois Confederation?

Warren in particular is digging an even deeper hole for herself. She’s made a hash of the whole Native American issue (with a lot of help from the GOP) and now she wants to champion reparations for them? Why? As an apology? As a way to substantiate her claims of Indian blood? To gain Native American votes? 

As for the other three, I’m willing to consider Harris and Castro. And I’ve never even heard of Williamson. I’m trying to keep an open mind, but I really don’t want to hear any more about reparations.

 

14 comments

  1. I agree with you on the reparations issue, PT. There is a case to be made for social adjustments because of past egregious injustices, but reparations is the wrong way to do it. Simply throwing money at social problems won’t work unless there is some underlying plan. Restoring the Voting Rights Act would be something better to do. The same applies, I submit, to schemes like Sanders’ free college for all. It’s just not realistic to think that all kids are college material. Good progress has been made in social justice and the culture is changing but extremism will just damage the cause. Like you, I’m keeping an open mind as much as I can, but Bernie and Liz are already off my list.

    1. Yep, I gag on the free college. It’s a great pie-in-the-sky dream, but how does it get paid for? Same with Medicare for all. Medicare has done well by me but I don’t see how it can be extended to everyone and get paid for. Give me a rational, well-thought-out plan for paying for these things, and I might consider them. As it is, let’s see some solid plans for dealing with existing problems before we start creating new ones.

      1. Oh, btw, I’ve never thought Sanders’ free college for all meant everyone goes to college. Obviously not everyone wants to. I assumed he just meant free for anyone who chooses to go. But I still don’t see how he expects to pay for it.

        1. Right. As I see it, the utility of college is a matter of motivation. What one gets out of the experience is directly proportional to what one puts into it. The avatar of the bottom rung of that scale would be John Belushi’s character in Animal House. On the other hand, I don’t think healthcare is in the same category. If healthcare were single-payer, the country as a whole would benefit by better long-term outcomes and that would reduce expensive recurrent interventions. Also, the government would cap prices of procedures and drugs. The U.S. pays about 250% more for similar outcomes. Of course, getting there would be a bloody battle. We should take baby steps to that end, IMO.

          1. I don’t know if the care would be better with single payer, but it most certainly would be cheaper. Profiting from the illness of others, as today’s insurance companies do, strikes me as immoral. I don’t support socialized medicine but I do support single payer. And we could start with the government option that was originally part of the ACA legislation.

  2. Hear Hear Susan!
    I agree wholeheartedly; we have the same nonsense going on here with the Aborigines, and the do gooders, like it or not the Aborigines here are a damned sight better off now than they ever were before; should they stop to think about it!
    Not only that they should think themselves fortunate that it was the English settled this country and not the Spaniards, we all know what happened to the Incas

    1. What we did to slaves and to Native Americans was nothing less than atrocity. But past generations suffered those atrocities, and past generations paid for them. Are we supposed to keep paying forever for the sins of our fathers?

  3. What a confusing lump of people (Harris is also off why list due to her previous work record – and conflicts with what she says now…plus her attempt to be cool did infuriate her father – and the Jamaican family down the block from us were equally offended) It’s going to be a loooong annoying, torturous campaign trail.(Oh, Beto, please – don’t – you are already making a mess conflicting yourself every other day…)
    I would be in favor of offering the children of school teacher/police officers/firefighters who have 5+ years on the job and commit to staying on the job for 4 more years on the job – scholarships/free 4 years of college at state schools. None of them are paid enough and this perk could help recruit/retain them on the job. Teachers kids always struggle financially because of low salaries…and teachers having to use their own money to pay for students’ supplies, lunches, materials for classroom….It only seems fair – coming from a teacher’s child

    1. Yes, I could see full scholarships for certain groups, and I agree that first responders and teachers certainly deserve more that they get. Given the importance of their jobs, I’ve always thought they are grossly underpaid.

      I know nothing about Harris other than her name. I figure there’s plenty of time to learn about the leading candidates when the field narrows a bit.

  4. I’m a woman and women were denied the vote for so long, and not paid on par with men for so long, that if people want to talk about reparations, they can let me vote twice and also supplement my salary for all the years women were not paid the same as men for the same jobs. Oh, wait, see how crazy that sounds? Yeah. No. I’m with you.

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