(18) Ebony and the Fraud of Reparations
07/19/00 by William L. Anderson
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Ebony and the Fraud of Reparations - 07/19/00 by William L. Anderson

          In this commentary, author William L. Anderson comments upon a pro-reparations piece in the August 2000 issue of Ebony magazine.  The publisher of Ebony is John H. Johnson, a hugely successful black businessman.

          Williams writes:  "Apparently, Johnson ... seems to believe that I owe him and the other millionaires featured in his magazine reparations for slavery.

          "That’s right. In the August 2000 issue, lodged among the numerous articles featuring black professionals who have garnered wealth and fortune are three pieces by prominent blacks demanding that whites pay them reparations because of slavery. Rep. John Conyers, D-Michigan, has introduced a bill (H.R. 40) that calls for whites to pay reparations to blacks that live in the United States. While the bill is long on rhetoric and short and specifics, Conyers calls for the government "to examine not only slavery, but all of the forms of discrimination which, in effect, re-enslaved the former slaves and their descendants in the post-Reconstruction era and have effects that dribble down right to the very present."
Such actions, Conyers assures us, are "a very necessary part of healing the race problem and taking it off the agenda as the No. 1 unfinished problem in America’s social and economic history." In other words, if Conyers is successful in taking enough money from America’s whites, he will have been "healed" from racism.

          "Conyers isn’t the only one demanding reparations in this latest issue of Ebony. Dorothy Tillman, a member of the Chicago City Council and author of that body’s "Resolution on Reparations," writes that blacks, slave and free, "built this country." Payments, she assures us, will allow Americans to "begin the long overdue healing process."

          "Not to be outdone, Randall Robinson, president of TransAfrica, an organization that fronts for some of the world’s most despotic and murderous regimes, says that slavery left blacks permanently behind whites in social and economic development. "Lines begun parallel and left alone can never touch," he writes.

          "At least Robinson has an idea of the size of the bill he wants to send whites. Quoting a study that came from economists at the University of California-Berkeley, Robinson writes that "the value of income lost as a consequence of racial discrimination between 1929 and 1969 alone comes to about $1.6 trillion." And, remember that Robinson is demanding payments that cover not 40 years, but nearly 400 years. In other words, he is looking for payments that will exceed anything the U.S. Government has run up in its own indebtedness.

          "Robinson’s "parallel lines" argument is bogus, of course. Thomas Sowell in his book Markets and Minorities points out that the income levels of blacks in the post-war South (that is the War of Northern Aggression) rose at much faster levels than did the income of whites. This was despite the passage of black codes, Jim Crow laws, racial discrimination, and periodic lynchings, all of which made life difficult for blacks in the South (and the North) at that time.

          "I am not so sure [reparations for slavery] won’t happen. Had someone told American taxpayers in 1965 that over the next 35 years they would have shelled out more than $6 trillion to fund the welfare state, they would have believed that poverty would have been solved for good. A trip to many American cities, including parts of New York, Detroit, Philadelphia, and our nation’s capital, will dispel the notion that this grand welfare experiment has been a grand failure. In fact, had someone told Americans in 1965 that Lyndon Johnson’s "Great Society" programs would have cost $6 trillion and counting, they would have demanded a recount from the 1964 election and put Barry Goldwater in the White House.

          "Although black Americans are hardly the total recipients of welfare, they are definitely disproportionate in what they receive compared to their percentage of the U.S. population. It is safe to say that blacks throughout the years, if one includes all of the subsidies, employment breaks, affirmative action, and the life, have received perhaps $2 trillion or more that they would not have had otherwise. In other words, if reparations were to be paid, blacks have already received them."

(Excerpted from William L. Anderson "Ebony and the Fraud of Reprations", July 19, 2000)
[link http://www.lewrockwell.com/anderson/anderson11.html ]

William L. Anderson, Ph.D., is assistant professor of economics at North Greenville College in Tigerville, South Carolina. He is an adjunct scholar of the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

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