The other day, I decided to take advantage of my summer free time, and rewatch the complete series of The West Wing. As I started to work my way through it, one of the early episodes had a black character advocating $1.7 trillion in reparations be paid to his race. There are few topics that I find more infuriating, so I thought this would be a good time to discuss it, especially as I imagine that the majority of users here, and for that matter the majority of non-idiotic Americans (sadly, a very small group), will agree with me when I say the idea of reparations are obscene.
First, let us establish what the fundamental concept is. Advocates of the measure believe that because their ancestors, though naturally this is not true of all blacks living in America, were made to work as slaves in the United States, that white America owes these, never-before-enslaved individuals financial restitution. On the most basic level, a serious flaw exists. Even if we assume ancestral compensation is just, we know not all blacks in this nation descend from slaves. More importantly though, we know that the majority of whites living here are not related to slave owners. I can tell you that being the first American in my family, we never owned slaves. And I know many of friends come from families who didn't move here until after slavery was banned. For those that did live here prior to that, the lived in slavery-free Union states. So why should we have to pay? It hardly seems fair that just by virtue of having different skin pigmentation, we somehow are culpable and owe restitution to the progeny of long dead individuals we had no interaction with.
The second problem is that there is no validity in compensating these descendents of slaves. Yes, Germany paid restitution after World War II. But they did so to living victims, not their great grand children. These people didn't suffer the hardships of slavery. Quite to the contrary, living in America, they've been given an opportunity that would never exist in Africa. And with the social programs like welfare that are disproportionately used by blacks, quite a bit of financial aid has already been given.
The third, and clearest problem is black involvement. What do I mean? At the time of the Civil War, there were over 5000 black slave owners. And, even before that, the slaves brought to the United States were sold to us by other blacks in Africa. They sold each other, but ignore that, and expect those of us who didn't to pay them for it.