Reparations, America's hard-working families and the politicians stoking division and distrust between us all...
Bill Bonner, reckoning today from Youghal, Ireland...
Larry Elder’s smile sparkled with mischief. The black talk-show host was being interviewed. ‘What did he think of reparations?’ was the question.
“Kamala Harris is half black. Her father says his ancestor – a white man – owned slaves. So what are they going to do? Is she going to pay reparations? Or get a check?
“And how about Colin Kaepernick? He was raised by a white family. Are his parents, the people who raised him, supposed to send him a check?”
We thought of our granddaughter. Should she get a check to compensate for the hurt she never felt from alleged hurters who never hurt her? She is part black. But she is also part Philippina. Surely, she should get an even bigger check for the hurt inflicted by the US army when it put down the ‘Tagalog Insurgency’ (as many as 1 million died) in 1899. And how about some reparations from the English? They sold her Scottish great…grandfather into indentured slavery (in Maryland!) in the 18th century. And they murdered and starved her Irish great…grandparents in the 17th century.
Righting the wrongs of the distant past can get messy! Where do you stop? Should American Jews get reparations from Iraq for the Babylonian Captivity?
America’s Hard-Working Families
But every day we give thanks. What luck! To be alive today, when all the wrongs are behind us. Today, we no longer do bad things. We only do good things. And since we no longer do bad things ourselves, we can focus on correcting the bad things others do – TikTok, Putin, White Supremacists, people who drive autos with internal combustion engines, and even our remote ancestors.
Yesterday, we highlighted how Ms. Yellen is eager to do a good thing – to raise the debt ceiling. It is in anticipation of the 81st ‘debt deal,’ say commentators this morning, that stocks are rising.
According to their own estimates, the feds will spend roughly $60 trillion over the next 10 years. But they will only receive $40 trillion in tax revenue. That leaves a gap of $2 trillion per year, or $20 trillion total. Raising the debt ceiling will allow them to borrow the money so they can continue to do more good things for “America’s hard-working families (AHWF).”
Once again AHWF are the beneficiaries of Washington’s bounty. Every program is designed to help them in some way. If we are bombing people overseas it is a good thing -- to make AHWF safer. If we are handing out free money to poor people, either at home or abroad, it is to keep the ragged ones from making trouble for AHWF. And if we are loading $20 trillion more in federal debt on their backs, that must be a good thing too; maybe it will improve their posture.
But among the many good things that our politicians propose, the promise of ‘reparations’ stands out. It is alarming to the prospective payors – AHWF – and almost grotesquely cruel to the prospective payees.
Free for Some
To set the stage… it’s a ‘white thing.’ California’s lawmakers committed the ultimate race crime; they set up their black brethren to make fools of themselves. They invited them to squabble over money they didn’t have and never were going to get. They convened a “Reparations Task Force” of 9 solid citizens – 8 of them black, one Asian – to decide how much money black Californians should get. Then, the committee decided that they…yes, they!…should get a lot of it.
This was a little like asking a group of squirrels if they would like more nuts. Any appearance of impartiality or objectivity was dismissed. They wanted more. And now they were being asked ‘how much?’
First, the Task Force gave its opinion. Straight Arrow News:
California reparations task force report estimates $1.2M per Black resident
California reparations task force released an estimate of the damage caused by the state's history of slavery and white supremacy.
Then, others rushed to the microphone to say ‘that’s not enough.’ Fox:
Activists demand higher payments from California reparations task force: '$200 million' per person
An activist identified as Reverend Tony Pierce:
"You know that the numbers should be equivocal to what an acre was back then. We were given 40, OK? We were given 40 acres. You know what that number is. You keep trying to talk about now, yet you research back to slavery and you say nothing about slavery, nothing," said Pierce. "So, the equivocal number from the 1860s for 40 acres to today is $200 million for each and every African-American."
But it wasn’t just about money. The Daily Mail:
California reparations task force says black people should be given PRIORITY in renting and buying
California's reparations task force has said that black people should be given priority in the renting and buying market - and demanded that a state agency should have the veto power over real estate decisions to 'lessen racial segregation.'
Black Thing, White Thing
By this stage, word had gotten out. It was like a game show on TV. The contestants were meant to scream, jump up and down and generally make spectacles of themselves. But they were all going to be winners. Pretty soon, others wanted to get into the act. The Daily Mail stays on the story:
Striking Oakland teachers return to class in exchange for 'Black reparations task force,' salary raises
An Oakland school district teachers’ union strike that left over 34,000 students without instruction for nearly two weeks finally ended after the district agreed to pay teachers more and start a Black reparations task force.
Around 3,000 educators and staff from Oakland Unified School District returned to work Tuesday after striking a tentative deal with the district to raise teacher salaries, help homeless Black students and create the reparations task force.
$1.2 million…$200 million…priority in real estate …help for homeless Black students…the purpose of the reparations was to salve a hurt. What else would it take to make the pain go away? The Daily Mail…
'Squad' member calls for $14 TRILLION in federal reparations for descendants of slaves
A number of House Democrats led by Rep. Cori Bush introduced a resolution Thursday to reignite a push for federal reparations that would amount to over half the U.S. GDP.
The $14 trillion figure is in line with the findings of Duke University professor and economist William 'Sandy' Darity, who estimates the wealth gap is in excess of $300,000 per person and there are roughly 40 million black people whose ancestors were enslaved in the U.S.
Asked about the funding source of such a program, Bush suggested the nation reduce its spending abroad and on defense.
Sure, why not? If ‘Sandy’ says so. Besides, he’s got a point. The ‘defense’ budget is largely a waste of money. And think of what fun it would be to hand out $300,000 checks to each person in West Baltimore.
But wait. Here comes the ‘white thing’….the old rug pull.
Gavin Newsom Declines Support For Reparation Checks For Black Residents
California Governor, Gavin Newsom, has declined to support the reparation checks for Black residents recommended by his reparations task force. Newsom said that the reparations, which were a way to mend the country’s history of slavery and racism, “were more than just cash payments”…
The show had gotten out of control. Even by Newsom’s standards, it had become too absurd. It was appalling to the spectators and degrading to those who were being played by the politicians.
‘Tis a pity. There’s so much more good left to be done.
Joel’s Note: Meanwhile, here in Europe, a continent that has had its share of racial struggles and tensions throughout the ages, it seems the only color that really matters today is the color of your money.
Your editor-at-large is in Florence, Italy at the moment as part of an extended “Junior Grand Tour” with dear wife and daughter. (We’re an “away-schooling” family… a bit like the “home-schoolers” you’ve heard about… only, without the home.)
Looking around the streets and cafés, you wouldn’t know the world may be heading into a recession… that debt levels (federal, state, local… and individual) are at historic highs… or that those $300,000 checks Bill mentioned haven’t exactly cleared yet.
Tourists are back, baby, “revenge traveling” after their respective governments locked them up and frightened the bejesus out of them for the better part of three years. Michelin star restaurants are packed. Lines to the main attractions – the Uffizi Gallery, the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, the Accademia Gallery (where stands Michelangelo's David) stretch around the block. And the high end retailers along the Ponte Vecchio – where you can pick up an antique Patek Philippe timepiece for about what one of America’s hard-working families (AHWF) earns in a year – are crammed with eager buyers.
And while there are certainly many Americans (as evidenced by the prevalence of Birkenstocks and North Face gear)… and plenty of Australians (lots of grown men in shorts above the knees)… and no shortage of Germans, Englishmen and Irishmen (bars are full to overflowing)… the crowd is fairly represented by a veritable babelfish of international language…
Reuters has some numbers for us:
ROME, May 19 (Reuters) - The travel industry was worth 100 billion euros ($110.08 billion) or 6.2% of Italian output in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic brought the sector into its knees. Add the wider income generated by tourist-related business and the figure more than doubles to 13%.
In Greece, tourism accounts for no less than one-fifth of gross domestic product.
The number of foreign tourists visiting Italy was up 70.5% in the first two months of the year compared to the same period in 2022, according to the national statistics agency. It added that if the trend continues, Italy could match or surpass pre-pandemic levels.
Annual inflation here on the continent is still around 6.9%. One gets the feeling people are spending money today not because they expect to earn a whole lot more tomorrow, but because it may be worth a whole lot less. We’ll see…