Candidates Who Favor Reparations

We read today “Dem 2020 hopefuls Harris, Warren say they embrace idea of reparations for black Americans”.

Reparations can’t be instituted justly on a mass scale, because property titles can’t be traced. The libertarian view of reparations is briefly summarized here:

“But in the real world, such a [property] claim is incredibly difficult to prove. And failure to prove a legitimate property claim means that the currently recognized property title holds. Anything else would be committing a new injustice to give the illusion of correcting an old one. General, race-based reparations, which is the only basis by which reparations are ever actually proposed, have no place in libertarian theory…”

Kamala Harris treats reparations as a mass wealth transfer: “I’m serious about taking an approach that would change policies and structures and make real investments in black communities.” Cory Booker “…has proposed helping poor children by giving them government-funded savings accounts that could hold up to $50,000 for the lowest income brackets, the Times reported. U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., supports a plan to allow Americans without checking accounts bank at their local post office.”

These plans do not accomplish justice. They are more welfare, and they won’t cause people with lower incomes to improve their incomes relative to those with higher incomes.

There are hundreds of valid arguments against reparations that can be raised that involve basic justice. The comments following the linked article include many of these.

Beyond reparations, Kamala Harris raises another issue: “We have to be honest that people in this country do not start from the same place or have access to the same opportunities.” Do siblings brought up by the same mother and father have the same opportunities? They certainly do not. If, under those conditions, such equality is absent, isn’t the very idea of such equality a hopelessly flawed notion?

Attaining equal opportunity is an illusion. Time alone makes any notion of equal opportunity impossible. At the dawn of the automobile industry, innovators faced different and rapidly changing opportunities than the innovators of 2019 face. The same inconstant and unequal opportunities have faced every human being ever born on Earth, merely by the dynamics of time, life and natural variation in circumstances. Justice cannot possibly consist in the futile (and counter-productive) effort to create equal opportunities for every person. The relevant property that creates wealth and income inequality cannot be identified and it can’t be separated from what a given person sees and grasps as opportunities.

People’s wealth and income disparities occur within countries at a given time. They occur across different countries at a given time. They occur in a given country across time. They occur for a given person over time. They occur for different persons in given times and places. Why? Rectifiable injustices are not the explanation. Here, we can barely scratch the surface of this extremely important question.

If a people at a given time and place focuses on peaceful work and productivity in order to raise its wealth and income, and if its system of government doesn’t prevent its taking advantage of its opportunities, including the opportunity to discover opportunities, the chances are this people will find ways to improve. If they are cut off or cut themselves off from communication and exchange with others who have discovered ways to better their situations, that will hold them back. If they rely upon war and conquest or nature to supply them with their basic needs, which means not focusing on work and productivity, they are likely to stay backward in the long run. If a people focuses on wealth redistribution and equal opportunity or false economic goals, other than work and improving its stations in life, or if their government focuses on these kinds of things, they won’t get ahead.

Why is India poor? Why are American black people poorer than white people, but wealthier than black people in Haiti? Kamala Harris and Cory Booker are clueless, judging from their recommendations and ideas. They need to read Thomas Sowell.


8:25 am on February 22, 2019