Category Archives: Reparations

Bookworm Beat 7/22/20 — news in the world today

I have got the most ginormous list of news that interests me. Let’s see how much I can share, along with my opinions, before I wear you and myself out.

The sins of the fathers. The Bible is clear about visiting the sins of the fathers on the children:

Deuteronomy 24:16 — The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.

I’ve believed in that principle for decades. Long before America went crazy, I said it was a tremendous mistake for Germany and the rest of the world to make the children of the Nazi generation feel perpetually guilty about and responsible for their forebearers’ acts. It would, I said, warp them. Looking at Germany today — a country that commits cultural suicide with Muslim immigration while continuing to hate the Jews whom they blame for Auschwitz — I feel I was correct.

The left, unfortunately, likes visiting the sins of the father on the children, yet another way it roundly rejects the Bible’s universal wisdom. The whole point of the Black Lives Matter movement is to make people feel so guilty about the Civil War (over in 1865) and Jim Crow (confined to the South and over by 1964 at the latest), that they will willingly cede the country to Marxist radicals.

For that reason, I think Alinksy’s Rule 4 currently trumps even Deuteronomy. Rule #4, as you may recall, is “Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules.” And in that spirit, I’d like to direct you to two stories:

1. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), who is white and who supports the historically inaccurate, America-hating 1619 Project, is running against black Republican John James (who is awesome). Normally, it wouldn’t be relevant what Peters’ ancestors did in 1865, but this year, the left has said that we are responsible for our forefathers.

That’s why it matters that Peters comes from a slave-owning family that sheltered John Wilkes Booth. I strongly feel that Peters needs to drop out of the race and give the seat to James, as a form of reparations.

2. And it super-duper matters that the uber-woke New York Times, the one that’s abandoned any pretense of reporting the news and is simply engaged in shilling for Black Lives Matter and Biden — all while making a profit — is built upon slavery. Yup. The money that got the Times started is slavery money.

It’s time for the Sulzberger’s (who refused to report about Hitler’s concentration camps and genocide) to walk away from the Times, from their bank accounts, and from their mansions. They need to give it all to Black Lives Matter and retreat to think about their inherited sins.

Conservatives fighting back. Charlie Kirk is pushing an initiative called DivestU. It’s actually what I’ve been saying for years, only Kirk has a bigger platform, more courage, and more panache. The idea here is that conservatives need to stop giving money to their Marxist alma maters. You’d think they’d have figured out that America’s colleges and universities are the birthplaces of the violence and insanity that’s playing out in America today. Defund the colleges!

Meanwhile, Antonio Sabato, Jr., who was a popular (and very handsome) working actor right up until he revealed he’s conservative, at which point he was forced to do construction work, wants to build a conservative Hollywood studio. Others have tried but maybe Sabato will succeed. I wish him luck because we need to fight back at the culture level.

Biden and China.  A few random points about China:

A woman who escaped describes what’s going on in China’s Uighur gulags and it’s really bad, with everything from torture to systematic rape to brainwashing.

China is engaged in organ harvesting, which is an appalling form of slavery.  Nevertheless, the American media and American businesses, all of which talk non-stop about how racist America is for slavery that ended more than 150 years ago, are ignoring the camps. Money talks and they’re tied to China’s money, not America’s.

Attorney General William Barr gave a great speech about China’s rapacious, dishonest, and dangerous policies regarding trade and intellectual property. China’s practices endanger the free world — and were made possible by our government turning a blind eye for decades. Thankfully, Trump is fighting back, not just with trade policies, but by shutting down the spying apparatus (see, e.g, Trump closed the Houston consulate today, which immediately went on a document-burning binge).

China’s economy is potentially on the verge of a serious economic collapse thanks to a property bubble that is (as Trump would say) yuuuuge. The faster we disentangle ourselves from China, the better for us. If they go down, we don’t want to go down with them.

And now, about Biden. Biden went on an insane rant, calling Trump “the first racist president.” His reasoning is that Trump calls a virus that originated in China and that spread because China lied about it, the “China virus.”

Trump and sane Americans understand what’s going on here. The Chinese people are not our enemies, nor is the Asian race our enemy. China, the country, though, is not our friend and is, in many ways, a serious enemy, whether we’re looking at geopolitics in the Far East, germ warfare, or economic warfare.

Biden, however, is entirely beholden to China, which has poured billions into his family via son Baker (Cobbler? Grifter? I forget his name). It may also be behind much of the unrest on America’s streets because China badly needs Trump out of the White House. Trump and the Democrats are aligned in believing that civil unrest, combined with a self-inflicted recession, will do the trick.

Second, is Biden really calling Trump the “first” racist president? First, Trump is not racist.

Second, we have had a few other racists in office:

  • Buchanan, a Democrat;
  • Lincoln, a Republican who didn’t think much of blacks but put his life and the life of our nation on the line to secure their liberty;
  • Johnson, a Democrat;
  • Wilson, a Democrat;
  • Franklin Roosevelt, a Democrat;
  • Harry Truman, a Democrat who nevertheless put principle over prejudice to integrate the U.S. military;
  • Johnson, a Democrat; and
  • Obama, a Democrat (whose grandmother was a “typical white person” and whose son could have been the thug Trayvon Martin).

‘Nuff said.

A few random thoughts about the Wuhan virus. Has it ever occurred to anyone that the Democrat governors’ decision to infect old age homes wasn’t stupidity or incompetence? All of them have states that have been overspending. Old people are expensive because they’re using resources for medical care and getting other benefits even though they’re no longer paying into the system. What better way to fix state budgets that have damaged by gross irresponsibility and really evil lockdowns than to trim the aged fat?

I have no proof for this theory. I’m just sayin’…

There was a vile article in Yahoo saying that pro-life states are hypocrites because their Wuhan virus policies are killing people. The article is short on data and long on invective. The article’s trigger was a report saying that more people are getting sick in the Southeast and West.

The problem, of course, is that the numbers show that these states will have to work hard, really hard, to catch up to the virus massacre in Democrat-run, pro-abortion states (you can see a better image here):

Second, California, a vehemently pro-abortion state, is currently taking the lead in new cases.

Third, the linear thinking about virus numbers fails to acknowledge the lives destroyed because of panic, hysteria, and lockdowns. There’s a balance in everything. We could save people’s lives by banning cars, thereby ending car accidents, but then we’d have a lot of deaths from starvation, lost opportunities for medical treatment, abuse from isolation, etc. Everything is a tradeoff. At the end of the day, in my southern state, we have these signs:

That “now hiring” sign is as much a pro-life sign as the “Baby Lives Matter” signs popping up.

Fourth, one Oxford epidemiologist, whose been a whole lot more accurate than the awful Neil Ferguson (the adulterer from Imperial College London who started the whole panic), says she thinks there’s also going to be a pleasantly low threshold for herd immunity.

Oh, here’s a good fifth one: Fauci is not a very good guy, in addition to being a stone-cold political operative pretending to be a disinterested bureaucrat.

Two funny videos that are spot on the nose. This first video, from Ryan Long, a Canadian comic working in New York, captures perfectly how racist woke whites are. I mean, really, really racist.

This second video also captures something perfectly, this time the awfulness of both Democrat politicians and vapid and pretentious Hollywood actors:

I’ve got more stuff in the queue, but I’m running out of time to post tonight. I’ll try to add another Bookworm Beat tomorrow. It’s just a matter of being organized, efficient, responsible, and the opposite of a procrastinator. In other words, if I can change into a new person by tomorrow….

The 1619 Project: Scholarship Or Race Hustling? — by Wolf Howling

In addition to being an obvious effort to sow racial discord in America, the 1619 Project is based upon false, shoddy, and uninformed “scholarship.”

Let’s take a deeper dive than I did yesterday into the evil of Project 1619.  Let’s take a look at the work of two academics who figure prominently in it, Princeton sociologist Matthew Desmond and Cornell historian Edward Baptist.  Are they pushing scholarship or race hustling?

I have been lambasted in the comments to the post linked above for pointing out that the 1619 Project is a revision of history designed to sow racial hatred and division for unrelated political ends — and opining that it is mother of all tosses of the race card.  To paraphrase the comments, “No, no, this is just a fair look at history.  It is benign.  There is no ulterior motive here.”  Yeah . . . bull.

Neo-Marxist progressives are in a full court press to destroy the foundations of this nation by tying the Constitution, the application of our laws, and our economic system to racism.  The problem is, there is precious little overt modern day racism in this country — and indeed, apparently most of what accounts for actual racial incidents today on the fringes of society are more likely than not to be hoaxes.

What is a good proggie to do?  Well, claim everything is inherently racist or, to use the words of the NYT in announcing the 1619 Project, all that the neo-Marxists progressives oppose is the “legacy of slavery [that] continues to shape our country.”

There is nothing fair or benign about any of this.  To falsely stir up racial tensions in this country, the cause of so much pain, suffering and loss of life, is pure evil.  Let’s drill down on just one example, the 1619 Project’s neo-Marxist assault on capitalism and the modern wealth of this nation.  Matthew Desmond, an ivy-league professor of Sociology, as part of the NYT Project 1619, authored an essay entitled In Order to Understand the brutality of American Capitalism, You Have to Start On The Plantation.  Heavily anecdotal, it is much more of an appeal to emotion than reason.

Desmond begins his introduction to the “brutality of American capitalism” by giving the example of Martin Shkreli:

A couple of years before he was convicted of securities fraud, Martin Shkreli was the chief executive of a pharmaceutical company that acquired the rights to Daraprim, a lifesaving antiparasitic drug. Previously the drug cost $13.50 a pill, but in Shkreli’s hands, the price quickly increased by a factor of 56, to $750 a pill. At a health care conference, Shkreli told the audience that he should have raised the price even higher. . . .

“This,” Desmond breathlessly tells us, referring to Shkreli as the alpha and omega of capitalism in America, “is a capitalist society.”  That, folks, is an appeal to pure emotion.  And Desmond is lying through his teeth in making the appeal.

The Shkreli story is the opposite of free market capitalism.  It is what happens when the government intervenes in the market place — in Shkreli’s case with regulations that allowed him to create a tiny monopoly.  A monopoly is the antithesis of free market capitalism.  If a government does that on a small scale, it is a market distortion.  If they do it on a larger scale for political ends, it is called, misleadingly, crony capitalism.  And if they do it on a national scale, it is called Venezuela . . . or the Soviet Union, etc.

What it is not is an example of the free market capitalism that has, in its short and imperfectly applied life, lifted humanity — including the progeny of all people once slaves — out of grinding poverty.  And indeed, as you take a look at the graph below, note that slavery ended in all British possessions circa 1843, and in the US, 1865.

 

People like Desmond love the Shkreli story because they think it an indictment of capitalism.  It certainly is an indictment of government regulation that allowed Shkreli to get away with his temporary monopoly pricing but, critically, Desmond and others never tell the rest of the Shkreli story:

Turing Pharmaceuticals, the company that last month raised the price of the decades-old drug Daraprim from $13.50 a pill to $750, now has a competitor.

Imprimis Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a specialty pharmaceutical company based in San Diego, announced today that it has made an alternative to Daraprim that costs about a buck a pill—or $99 for a 100-pill supply.

That is “brutal American capitalism” in actuality.  Bit of a different story, eh?

But enough of that.  Aside from having nothing to do with actual capitalism, what in the nine hells does Shkreli’s case have to do with the “legacy of slavery”?  After all, Desmond raises it as the exemplar of “brutal American capitalism” to indict American capitalism as somehow uniquely founded on the greed of Democrat slave owners.  Really?  Because the history of mankind is kind of full of the stories of people actuated by greed.  Indeed, the Bible, whose oldest chapter was written over 3,000 years, is full of proscriptions against greed.  That was long before capitalism or slavery in 18th and 19th century America.

Greed is a constant of mankind.  It is fair to say in the modern era that it is always at its worst when not blunted by the market forces of capitalism.  Take a look at any socialist economy, where the people starve while the rulers get fat and their children accumulate fortunes beyond the imagining.  For but two examples, in Cuba the average wage is $29.60 a day; Castro’s son is an international playboy.  In Venezuela, people are starving; the richest person in Venezuela was the daughter of Hugo Chavez.  Etc., etc.

But back to Desmond.  His drive-by hit on capitalism is Desmond’s template for the entire article.

As Craig Pirrong, a professor of finance at the University of Houston, writes at his blog

Desmond observes X (a bad thing) in the modern American economy. He observes something sorta kinda like X in the slave economy. He asserts that sorta X developed sui generis in the slave economy, and then asserts that the slave economy sorta X caused the modern economy X.  Every part of this “reasoning” is false.

It is not just false, it is insane.  It is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez levels of insanity, where she, with her degree in economics, celebrated driving Amazon out of the Bronx and saving the taxpayers tens of billions of dollars, not understanding that she was in actuality preventing her city from collecting billions of dollars in tax revenue that did not exist without Amazon there.

Two more examples from Desmond’s work should be sufficient to show his fact-free blame game.  The first concerns the fiscal crisis of 2008 which resulted from Democrat race-based social engineering in the market in the 1990’s.  The second concerns accounting.  Again, Prof. Pirrong addresses both:

The bulk of Desmond’s screed consists of just-so stories showing that pathologies and misfortunes of modern American life trace back directly to slavery. My favorite – mortgages and financial crisis. You see, slaves were collateral in mortgages extended by greedy New York bankers. There was a credit boom in the South in the 1820s and 1830s, fueled in large part by mortgages with human collateral. The boom collapsed with the Panic of 1837.

Just like 2008! – only replacing “slaves” with “houses.” Per Desmond: “C.D.O.s were the grandchildren of mortgage-backed securities based on the inflated value of enslaved people sold in the 1820s and 1830s. Each product created massive fortunes for the few before blowing up the economy.”

As if there have not been other financial crises in other countries with totally different histories that have resulted from a collapse of credit. Indeed, this a hardy perennial of financial history.

Which can bring us back to Desmond’s beloved Iceland, which had a debt-fueled financial crisis that was arguably the worst in the world in 2008. . . .

Just how the hell does Iceland’s implosion have anything to do with American chattel slavery? And if it doesn’t, how can Desmond claims some sort of necessary causal link between a financial crisis during the slave era (which, by the way, was followed by many other US financial crises in the non-slave era) to a financial crisis 143 years after the 13th Amendment?

And as for mortgages, they’ve been around since Roman times (as the Spanish word for mortgage, hipoteca, indicates, that also being the Roman word for this kind of debt, which also lives on in English as “hypothecate”).

Ridiculous, I know. Oh, but there’s more!

Accounting. Seriously. Slave owners depreciated slaves in their plantation accounts:

“They quantified capital costs on their land, tools and enslaved workforces, applying Affleck’s recommended interest rate. Perhaps most remarkable, they also developed ways to calculate depreciation, a breakthrough in modern management procedures, by assessing the market value of enslaved workers over their life spans. Values generally peaked between the prime ages of 20 and 40 but were individually adjusted up or down based on sex, strength and temperament: people reduced to data points.” (Emphasis added.)

Uhm, slave owners didn’t “develop ways to calculate depreciation,” they applied a long standing concept to their capital in slaves. It is horrific that humans were viewed as capital, but this did not spur the development of a universal accounting concept: the concept has been around since people figured stuff wore out. And it is ridiculous for him to say that “scientific accounting” was developed on plantations: it was developed long before, starting with the Renaissance Italians, and plantation owners found it useful. As did Boston merchants and Manchester mill operators and on and on and on.

Desmond also focuses on the meticulous monitoring of slave laborers, and sees it as the forerunner of “unremitting workplace supervision” in the modern American economy. Put aside for the moment that workplace supervision today is at its most unremitting outside of the United States (can you say “Foxconn,” Matt? How the hell does that relate to US slavery?). What the hell do you think Marx and Engels kept going on about when describing the horrors of the English factory system? . . .

There is more.  Do read the whole post.  This crap is ridiculous.

That said, Desmond, a sociologist, bases a significant portion of his work on that of a new-age Cornell professor of history, Edward Baptist, the darling of the reparations set.  Indeed, Desmond quotes and references Baptist several times in his essay for the NYT 1619 Project.  Baptist is the author of the 2014 book, The Half That Has Never Been Told:  Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism, the book Ta Neshi Coates relied upon when arriving at the rather large number he claims that today’s white Americans, none of whom have ever owned slaves and some of whose ancestors died in the fight to end slavery, owe to some or all of today’s blacks, none of whom have ever been slaves, some of whose ancestors may have been slave owners, and some of whose ancestors may have been slave traders.

Many of the same comments about Desmond’s ideas apply with equal force to that of Baptist.  Baptist tells the sad tale of slavery that everyone knows, cherry picking the most brutal stories.  He ignores the abolitionist movement — at one point in a recent Vox interview ludicrously crediting the decision of Northern states to outlaw slavery with being “largely due to the resistance of enslaved people,” as if in the years before the Great Awakening triggered the abolitionist movement, blacks had been fine with their slave status, encouraging white passivity.  Well, that certainly makes the moral issues much easier for progressives.  But Baptist does not stop there.

In tallying up the amount he believes are owed in reparations to free blacks today, a number he puts in the trillions, he essentially erases the staggering economic costs of the Civil War, while simultaneously claiming that the wealth of the pre-Civil War South is responsible for American wealth today.  As he states in the interview:

The debt is so great that whites have little claim to say that something is too much to pay. They have no standing to argue that the wealth distribution should remain where it is today. There’s no justifiable way — in my opinion — to make that argument.

So this is the moral argument not merely for reparations, but wealth redistribution on a grand scale.  Is that justified, or are there problems with Baptist’s scholarship before you even reach the question of justification?  This from The Statistical Errors of the Reparations Agenda appearing at The American Institute For Economic Research:

[During the reparations hearings, Ta-Nahesi Coats testified that] by 1836 more than $600 million, almost half of the economic activity in the United States, derived directly or indirectly from the cotton produced by the million-odd slaves.”

This stunning statistical claim was widely repeated in commentary . . . [it] is, however, unambiguously false.

Coates’s numbers come from Cornell University historian Ed Baptist’s 2014 book The Half Has Never Been Told. In a key passage in the book, Baptist purports to add up the total value of economic activity that derived from cotton production, which at $77 million made up about 5 percent of the estimated gross domestic product (GDP) of the United States in 1836. Baptist then committed a fundamental accounting error. He proceeded to double and even triple count intermediate transactions involved in cotton production — things like land purchases for plantations, tools used for cotton production, transportation, insurance, and credit instruments used in each. Eventually that $77 million became $600 million in Baptist’s accounting, or almost half of the entire antebellum economy of the United States.

There’s a crucial problem with Baptist’s approach. The calculation of GDP, the main formulation of national accounts and a representation of the dollar amount of economic activity in a country in a given year, only incorporates the value of final goods and services produced. The rationale for doing so comes from accounting, as the price of the final good already incorporates intermediate transactions that go into its production and distribution. Baptist’s numbers are not only wrong — they reflect a basic unfamiliarity with the meaning and definition of GDP.

When The Half Has Never Been Told first appeared in print, economists immediately picked up on the error. Bradley Hansen of Mary Washington University kicked off the scrutiny by posting a thorough dissection of Baptist’s errors on his personal blog. Economic historians Alan Olmstead (UC-Davis) and Paul Rhode (University of Michigan) chimed in with a devastating critique of Baptist’s empirics, observing that a continuation of his “faulty methodology by summing the ‘roles’ of cotton with a few other primary products” would yield an amount that “easily exceed[ed] 100 percent of GDP” in the antebellum United States — an economic impossibility.

Stanley Engerman, perhaps the foremost living expert on the economics of slavery, weighed in next:

“Baptist’s economic analysis, intended to demonstrate the essential role of the slave-grown cotton economy for Northern economic growth, is weakened by some variants of double and triple counting and some confusion of assets and income flows. To go from a value of the Southern cotton crop in 1836 of “about 5 percent of that entire gross domestic product,” to “almost half of the economic activity of the United States in 1836″ (pp 312-22) requires his calculation to resemble the great effects claimed by an NFL club when trying to convince city taxpayers that they should provide the money to build a new stadium because of all the stadium’s presumed primary and secondary effects.”

The main takeaways are that (1) the actual percentage of GDP derived from slavery is measured from final goods and services that involved slave-based production, and (2) Ed Baptist clearly did not understand what he was doing when he calculated his statistic. Cotton was by far the biggest item on the list of final goods and services, and, while its output varied year by year, it is probably reasonable to place slave-based goods in the mid to high single digits, not the 50 percent claim that Coates repeated.

Unfortunately, historians who work on the “New History of Capitalism” — a school of historiography that emerged after the financial crisis of 2007–8 and that purports to study the relationship between slavery and capitalism — have proven remarkably ill-suited at grasping the fundamentals of GDP and other economic concepts.

So this is the level and type of scholarship the NYT is pushing with Project 1619.  There is not an act undertaken in good faith.  It is an effort to stir up racial tension using the basest of polemics.  All so progressives can take power in 2020, because everyone who does not agree with them is a racist or white supremacist.

The post The 1619 Project: Scholarship Or Race Hustling? — by Wolf Howling appeared first on Watcher of Weasels.

On this Juneteenth, looking at reparations America already paid

As more Leftist voices join the reparations choir, I’d like to remind people that Americans paid a very precious form of reparations a long time ago.

On this Juneteenth, I’m not going to defend either slavery or Jim Crow, because the former, while still a worldwide norm, was a betrayal of the American Revolution and the latter is entirely indefensible. I will point out, though, that both were Democrat institutions enforced by Big Government — so maybe blacks would be better off without either Democrats or Big Government.

The purpose of this post, given the rising demands for reparation, is to point out that, unlike all other nations, America has already paid some of the most precious reparations ever, those paid with blood:

Civil War reparations

 

The post On this Juneteenth, looking at reparations America already paid appeared first on Watcher of Weasels.

Bookworm Beat 4/16/19 — the sanctuary cities edition and a parable

Trump’s plan to send illegal aliens to sanctuary cities is politically brilliant. The internet had fun with it along with a lot of other issues of the day.

sanctuary cities illegal immigration invasion




















































I got the following parable in an email and thought it clever enough to share:

THE ANT AND THE GRASSHOPPER

This one is a little different … Two Different Versions … Two Different Morals

OLD VERSION

The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter.

The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away.

Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed.

The grasshopper has no food or shelter, so he dies out in the cold.

MORAL OF THE OLD STORY:

Be responsible for yourself!

MODERN VERSION

The ant works hard in the withering heat and the rain all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter.

The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away.

Come winter, the shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while he is cold and starving.

CBS, NBC, PBS, CNN, and ABC show up to provide pictures of the shivering grasshopper next to a video of the ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food. America is stunned by the sharp contrast.

How can this be, that in a country of such wealth, this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so?

Kermit the Frog appears on Oprah with the grasshopper and everybody cries when they sing, “It’s Not Easy Being Green”

Occupy the Anthill stages a demonstration in front of the ant’s house where the news stations film the Black Lives Matter group singing, “We shall overcome.”

Then Reverend Al Sharpton has the group kneel down to pray for the grasshopper while he damns the ants. He later appears on MSNBC to complain that rich people do not care.

Former President Obama condemns the ant and blames Donald Trump, President Bush 43, President Bush 41, President Reagan, Christopher Columbus, and the Pope for the grasshopper’s plight.

Nancy Pelosi & Chuck Schumer exclaim in an interview on The View that the ant has gotten rich off the back of the grasshopper, and both call for an immediate tax hike on the ant to make him pay his fair share.

Finally, the EEOC drafts the Economic Equity & Anti-Grasshopper Act retroactive to the beginning of the summer.

The ant is fined for failing to hire a proportionate number of green bugs and, having; nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, his home is confiscated by the Government Green Czar and given to the grasshopper

The story ends as we see the grasshopper and his free-loading friends finishing up the last bits of the ant’s food while the government house he is in, which, as you recall, just happens to be the ant’s old house, crumbles around them because the grasshopper doesn’t maintain it.

The ant has disappeared in the snow, never to be seen again.

The grasshopper is found dead in a drug related incident, and the house, now abandoned, is taken over by a gang of spiders who terrorize the ramshackle, once prosperous and peaceful, neighborhood.

The entire Nation collapses bringing the rest of the free world with it.

MORAL OF THE STORY:

Be careful how you vote in 2020.

The post Bookworm Beat 4/16/19 — the sanctuary cities edition and a parable appeared first on Watcher of Weasels.

Bookworm Beat 4/10/19 — the flyover country edition

This discursive Bookworm Beat wanders from American black culture, to evil Leftists, to the wonders of Wal-Mart versus the horrors of socialized medicine.

Everything Leftists hate about America. I’ve been spending some time of late in small town America — in Eastern Tennessee to be specific. Frankly, I can see why coastal blue staters hate this part of America. There are so many things here that give offense: good suburban infrastructure, happy people, friendly interactions between the races, staggeringly beautiful nature with lots of open space, Wal-Marts, lawns that homeowners tend every weekend, and lots of pro-Trump and pro-Second Amendment bumper stickers on cars. This kind of well-managed, all-American environment is enough to give any Leftist chronic heartburn and a desire to destroy.

Speaking of those lawns, even though today is not a weekend day, I worked with a friend to get rid of ivy that had overtaken a corner of his property.

Ivy looks so pretty, doesn’t it? It’s not. There’s nothing pretty about it. It’s like Kudzu’s younger brother.

I filled seven big black garbage bags with the stuff and only cleared out 2/3 of it. I am exhausted. I also feel pretty darn self-righteous, though, which helps offset some of the fatigue.

But enough about living the good life in flyover country America. Let me get down to the brass tacks of today’s stories.

For American blacks, the problem isn’t race, it’s culture; more specifically, welfare culture. I’m going to assume that all of you saw Candace Owen’s testimony before a Democrat-run House Committee anxious to find a white nationalism problem where none exists. Owens was obviously nervous, but she was also rocking and rolling, talking about pathologies within the African American community that have nothing to do with white nationalism.

No wonder that the utterly vile Ted Lieu tried to smear Owens as a Hitler lover while the brain dead (Go)Nadler wrongly chastised her for calling Lieu stupid. The Democrats should be deeply embarrassed that these two moronic, immoral people represent them.

Shame, though, isn’t part of a Democrat lexicon unless the Democrat is trying to shame someone else. In fact, what the Leftist media did to try to offset the damage that Owens imposed on the Leftist brand was to repeat Lieu’s smear that a black woman is a Hitler lover. Even worse, those Democrats I follow on Facebook, rather than asking, as Owens did, “How dumb do you think we are?” gleefully passed on those same offensive and nonsensical smears.

A friend of mine keeps saying, “I don’t see any way that we’re going to avoid a Second Civil War.” I always come back at him saying, “We’re already in the Second Civil War. There just haven’t been any shots fired; only hats attacked.” (One of the more insane attacks involved a white woman attacking a Hispanic woman for being a racist because the Hispanic woman were a MAGA hat. As (Go)Nadler demonstrated, white Leftists aren’t even pretending to use their brains anymore.)

What I want to address here briefly is Candace’s point about self-inflicted pathologies within the black community. She’s right, of course, as I’ve blogged here before.

I’ll just add two things. First, while those pathologies were present in black communities through the early 1960s thanks to systemic racial discrimination in the form of slavery, Jim Crow in the South, and open racism in the North, the reality is that by the early 1960s, blacks were making huge social and economic gains by following the universal rules for success in a free market economy: education, job, marriage, children, in that order.

What brought all this to a screeching halt was Johnson’s “Great Society,” which was intended, as Johnson himself admitted to a friend, to keep “n*****s voting for Democratic for 200 years.”  (Some say this quotation is apocryphal, but it’s certainly held up to reality for almost 60 years.) Suddenly, education, jobs, and marriages went out the window. All that remained was children: half of which have been aborted and, of those not aborted, over of 70% of whom have been raised in poverty-stricken homes with single mothers getting some form of welfare.

This ongoing African-American tragedy has nothing to do with skin color and nothing to do with America’s history of either slavery or Jim Crow. Instead, it has everything to do with culture — a culture brought down thanks to what was effectively a pact with the Devil, with the Devil in this case being a welfare state that made education, men, work, and nuclear families redundant and, indeed, offensive. No wonder that, as blacks are finally recognizing the soul-stealing agreement the Left foisted on them, the Democrats are trying to distract them by calling a black woman . . . Hitler.

Looked at in this way, the reparations that all of the Democrat party candidate for president insist must be imposed on a generation of Americans who had nothing to do with slavery is just a reaffirmation of the original welfare contract with the Devil. Reparations won’t make things better. Instead, they will buy another 60 years of Democrat votes built on the ruined bodies and souls of American blacks.

The second thing I’ll add is a point that Scott Adams made, and he’s the first I’ve heard make it: Regarding reparations, he says that someone is going to ask, if we’re giving reparations, by what standard should we measure black lives in America, at least economically? Do we measure them against all whites? Inner city whites? Appalachian whites? Vietnamese who came here 40 years ago with nothing and now are middle class?

Or — and this is the kicker — do we ask how these blacks would be doing if they hadn’t been brought to America in the first place? The answer, of course, is not well. No matter how badly blacks are doing in America, they’re doing worse in Africa.

I’ll offer two links to support that last statement. The first is Kim du Toit’s post saying Let Africa Sink. The second is Keith Richburg’s masterpiece, Out of America : A Black Man Confronts Africa, in which he explains how a stint in Africa while working for the Washington Post made him grateful that his long-ago ancestors had suffered the horrors of being transported to and enslaved in America.

Some of today’s most storied Democrats are either very stupid or very evil. When it comes to the openly anti-Semitic, anti-American Ilhan Omar, I’m inclined to go with the latter choice, although I won’t deny her a strong dollop of the former. I don’t think she’s the brightest bulb on the block, but she has down pat the rap of victimhood, nicely wrapped around her adherence to sharia.

Anyway, the Democrat Omar tale today is a story told in three tweets.

Tweet 1 came when Dan Crenshaw heard how Omar described 9/11:

Tweet 2 is Omar’s response, which does not address the substance of Rep. Crenshaw’s tweet. Instead, she immediately heads straight to victimhood. No surprise there, because it’s worked so well for her up until now:

Tweet 3 explains why I said “up until now.” Dan Crenshaw, a former Navy SEAL, won’t let her get away with her victimhood ploy. No doesn’t grovel. Instead, he just calls her out on her mindless victimhood calumnies:

I like the cut of Rep. Crenshaw’s jib.

Be sure to whip this out when a Leftist praises socialized medicine. One of my conservative Facebook friend is begging everyone to spread this link far and wide. I’m doing my best right here:

The fraying edges of universal health care : Britain’s version of ‘Medicare for All,’ delivers rationing and even blindness

If you’re wondering what Democrats have in mind when they tout “Medicare For All,” look no further than England. There are more reports of the U.K.’s National Health System’s collapse, this time featuring horror stories of rationing care for the elderly. Doctors are now sounding alarms bells that seniors with cataracts are going blind as they wait for surgical approval.

The Guardian reported, “Patients who are losing their sight are being forced to wait for months before having eye cataracts removed because of NHS cost-cutting. … The NHShas imposed restrictions on patients’ access to cataract surgery in more than half of England. … The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) condemned the rationing as shocking. It warned that not treating people with cloudy vision risks them falling and breaking bones, thus costing the NHS more.”

Last year, The New York Times reported some people in England were waiting for 12 hours to be seen in emergency rooms.

There’s more in the article, much, much more. Once again, let me spell it out: Europe’s post-WWII fling with socialism, or at least its decision to socialize its welfare services, worked for one reason and one reason only: America paid for it. For 70 years, we absorbed most of Europe’s military costs. We worked so that they got free cradle to grave care.

In the unwinding of the world since the Soviet Union’s collapse, Europe’s had to pay for its own socialized welfare system, and it’s had to do that at the same time that its citizens decided once and for all that having children is time-consuming, exhausting, and expensive, so why bother? Without American money and without a rising class of young people to foot the bill for old people’s care . . . older Europeans are in deep doo-doo.

Remember: this is what the Democrats want for you.

The free market is always the best answer. Turn your eyes away from Europe and look at the 1 gig flash drive you got for free at a trade show or a craft fair. When those things first came on the market around the year 2000, you paid several hundred dollars for a 512 MB flash drive. Capitalism drove prices down. People finding needs and filling them, and building better mousetraps is the best way to deliver the greatest amount and quality of services and products to the largest number of people.

Don’t believe me? Go to Wal-Mart. If you’re a Lefty, stop sneering at Wal-Mart’s shoppers and start looking at the dazzling array of products, all at affordable prices. Maybe Wal-Mart shoppers aren’t dressed as expensively as the Kardashians (although most look a darn sight classier), but at Wal-Mart, these shoppers have something akin to the same buying power as the Kardashians do when they’re wasting their money on weird clothes sold on Paris catwalks.

My brain function feels as if it’s entangled with ivy. I’d better stop. Your comments are always welcome.

The post Bookworm Beat 4/10/19 — the flyover country edition appeared first on Watcher of Weasels.

Reparations: The Holy Grail of Identity Politics (Part III)

Reparations for the unpaid labor of blacks held in slavery in America are speculative at best and cannot be fairly distributed or imposed.

[Note:  The picture to the left, which shows Democrat Robert Byrd in a KKK outfit. is a Photoshop, but I use it because, to use the phrase coined by the New York Times, it is “fake but accurate. “]

2020 Democrat presidential candidates immersed in race-obsessed identity politics (as a substitute for the class-based politics of pure Marxism) are pushing for the Holy Grail of victimhood: Reparations for slavery.  They are undeterred by the fact that reparations are wholly impractical, utterly immoral, and counterproductive in that they do not address the problems plaguing the lower socio-economic half of the black community.

This will be the third of several posts dealing with the issue of reparations:

Part I – Constitutional Considerations: Bills of Attainder, Corruption of Blood, & Ex Post Facto Laws.

Part II – History of Slavery & Equities

Part III – Practical Impediments to Reparations

Part IV – Need for Reparations?

Part V – Marxism versus Melting Pots

Part III – Practical Impediments to Reparations

The New York Times, in a recent article, observed that “2020 Democrats Embrace Race-Conscious Policies, Including Reparations.”  Leaving aside the legal, historical, ethical, and equitable considerations of slandering all white Americans with the “original sin” of slavery and establishing at law that black Americans in the present day are permanent victims of evil whites, there are a host of practical problems with the concept of reparations for slavery (only) in America (and only as to American slaves).  Those practical problems include calculating the amount of reparations, identifying who should be eligible for the reparations and in what degree, and determining who should be liable for funding the reparations.  Do note that none of the race hustlers mentioned in the Times article linked above address any of these questions.

So, first off, let’s define “reparations.”  According to Prof. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., perhaps our nation’s most well-known victim studies professor, writing in the NYT in 2010, reparations are “the idea that the descendants of American slaves should receive compensation for their ancestors’ unpaid labor and bondage.”  But that is certainly not all.  As Gates states, there is more to this than just compensation in monetary terms.  The push for reparations primarily has a moral purpose:

There are many thorny issues to resolve before we can arrive at a judicious (if symbolic) gesture to match such a sustained, heinous crime. Perhaps the most vexing is how to parcel out blame to those directly involved in the capture and sale of human beings for immense economic gain. [Emphasis added]

So the moral dimension is that all American whites and those slavers in Africa are to be tarred with the sin of slavery, though not a one alive today has ever committed slavery.  And every black alive today is to be given unearned status as a victim, though not a one of them has ever been a slave.  Again, you will never find the people who push for reparations mentioning either the Christian abolition movement or our Civil War.  It is as if they never happened.  But let’s leave the moral question aside.  For the purpose of this post, let’s assume, arguendo, that all reparations for slavery should be paid.

Newsweek published an article in 2015 , using research from Prof. Thomas Craemer, that attempted to value reparations for American slavery:

Craemer . . . has come up with what he says is the most economically sound estimate to date of what reparations could cost: between $5.9 trillion and $14.2 trillion.

Craemer came up with those figures by tabulating how many hours all slaves—men, women and children—worked in the United States from when the country was officially established in 1776 until 1865, when slavery was officially abolished. He multiplied the amount of time they worked by average wage prices at the time, and then a compounding interest rate of 3 percent per year (more than making up for inflation). There is a range because the amount of time worked isn’t a hard figure.

Previous estimates of reparations have ranged from around $36 billion to $10 trillion (in 2009 dollars), Craemer says. Those calculations mostly looked at wealth created by slaves as opposed to services provided, resulting in underestimates. Craemer believes that “the economic assumptions underlying [his method] are more sound” than those used in previous papers.

So, in other words, any attempt at putting a number to reparations — a spread of $36 billion to almost a year’s worth of the Gross Domestic Product of the U.S. at $14.2 trillion — is going to be an incredibly speculative guess from the outset.

Determining Reparations:  Offsets by the costs of life

The numbers that the race hustlers typically throw around do not include any offsets.  The initial round of offsets would include the costs of living during the slave’s lifetime.  Owning a slave meant that the owner was responsible for day-to-day feeding, clothing, housing, and medical care for the slave throughout his lifetime, during the slave’s productive and non-productive years.

Those costs could be significant, and indeed, by the late 1700’s, prohibitory.  George Washington’s life is instructive.

Washington found slavery economically inefficient. In the last decades of his life, the profits from his farmland did not cover the cost of feeding and clothing the estate’s enslaved people. By the 1770s, Washington began to realize that slavery was not an efficient labor system for Mount Vernon. After switching his plantation’s focus from tobacco to less labor-intensive grains, Washington had far more enslaved workers than he needed. He was losing money. By 1799, he lamented, “I have more working Negros by a full moiety [half], than can be employed to any advantage in the farming System.”

If you wonder why Washington did not simply sell his slaves at that point, it was because he refused to break up enslaved families.  In the end, when he died, Washington did not merely free all of the 123 slaves that he owned outright, but also provided a trust to educate the slaves and to house and care for those of his slaves that were too old or infirm to make a living in free society.

Determining Reparations:  Offsets by the economic and human costs of the Civil War

Slaves in America are unique in world history.  They are the only group of people for whom a nation engaged in a Civil War to determine their fate as free men or slaves.  That was the costliest and most brutal war in American history.  If the question is how much economic benefit the nation received from the institution of slavery, then would it not be only fair to deduct the economic costs to the nation from ending the institution of slavery?  And if we are going to put an economic value on enslaved blacks during their lifetime, should we not offset that against the economic value of the hundreds of thousands of non-black, non-Confederate lives snuffed out during a Civil War to free the slaves?  “Based on 1860 census figures, 8 percent of all white men aged 13 to 43 died in the war, including 6 percent in the North . . .”  The race hustlers never mention those issues.

I don’t think anyone has ever attempted to valuate the long-term economic costs of both the Civil War itself and the non-black lives lost during the war.  We can get a sense of the scope, though, because we have a lot of numbers available. Thus, we know the numbers for the war itself (numbers below not inflated to current value).

In dollars and cents, the U.S. government estimated Jan. 1863 that the war was costing $2.5 million daily. A final official estimate in 1879 totaled $6,190,000,000. The Confederacy spent perhaps $2,099,808,707. By 1906 another $3.3 billion already had been spent by the U.S. government on Northerners’ pensions and other veterans’ benefits for former Federal soldiers. Southern states and private philanthropy provided benefits to the Confederate veterans. The amount spent on benefits eventually well exceeded the war’s original cost.

Inflation affected both Northern and Southern assets but hit those of the Confederacy harder. Northern currency fluctuated in value, and at its lowest point $2.59 in Federal paper money equaled $1 in gold. The Confederate currency so declined in purchasing power that eventually $60-$70 equaled a gold dollar.

The physical devastation, almost all of it in the South, was enormous: burned or plundered homes, pillaged countryside, untold losses in crops and farm animals, ruined buildings and bridges, devastated college campuses, and neglected roads all left the South in ruin

We also know what happened to the South’s wealth:

The wealth amassed in slaves and slavery for the Confederacy’s 3.5 million blacks effectively ended when Union armies arrived; they were nearly all freed by the Emancipation Proclamation. Slaves in the border states and those located in some former Confederate territory occupied before the Emancipation Proclamation were freed by state action or (on December 6, 1865) by the Thirteenth Amendment.

The war destroyed much of the wealth that had existed in the South. All accumulated investment Confederate bonds was forfeit; most banks and railroads were bankrupt. Income per person in the South dropped to less than 40 percent of that of the North, a condition that lasted until well into the 20th century.

When it comes to the human costs,  approximately 828,000+ people associated with the Union Army or civilians in Union states lost their lives or were seriously wounded during the conflict. (Indeed, one in thirteen of the survivors were amputees). Moreover, of those Union soldiers who survived the war, our nation had to pay pension costs well into the 20th century, with these costs actually exceeding the cost of the war itself.

All of the above led Prof. Thomas Sowell, America’s greatest living economist, to eyeball the numbers and then write:

Sometimes it is claimed that slavery made a great contribution to the development of the American economy, from which other Americans benefitted, so that reparations would be like back pay. Although slaveowners benefitted from slavery, it is by no means obvious that there were net benefits to the economy as a whole, especially when you subtract the staggering costs of the Civil War.

So if in fact, the value of freedom provided to blacks by the Civil War exceeds the cost of reparations . . . can we get a check from Rev. Al and the Congressional Black Caucus?

To whom should reparations be paid?

As of 2016, there were 40 million people in America who self-identified as black (including, apparently, Talculm X and Rachel Dolezal).  This raises an interesting question: Are all people who merely self-identify as black entitled to reparations, regardless whether they can trace their origins in America back to a slave — or can even trace their origins back to Africa? (Or at least, back to black Africa from the 17th to the beginning of the 19th centuries, for modern anthropology tells us that all of us trace our origins back to Africa.)

Of the 40 million self-identified black people living in the U.S. in 2016, 4.2 million were first generation immigrants to America and clearly had no history of slavery in the American colonies or states.  Barack Obama was himself the son of a black man from Kenya.  Many more of the 40 million have ancestors who came to the U.S. after slavery ended in 1865.  So, are these people entitled to reparations regardless?

If a person’s DNA is not full African, is that person limited to only a portion of reparations in equal proportion? Or does the one-drop rule now apply?

For people who can trace their her origins back to the 18th century, what about if their black ancestors were free people, not slaves?  By 1810, at least 13% of Africans in just in the upper South were free people.  Many more were likely free in the north.

Or how about this scenario: What if a person’s ancestor was black but owned black slavesAfter all, “in 1830 there were 3,775 free black people who owned 12,740 black slaves” in America.  And does it matter that it was a black slave owner in mid-17th century Virginia, Anthony Johnson, who, in a law suit against his black servant John Casor, established the concept of chattel slavery for life in America?

Lastly, what percentage of reparations should be charged against the Africans and Arab Muslims who captured slaves in Africa and sold them into American slavery?

Who should pay reparations?

The simple fact is that, even at the height of slavery in 1860, only 8% of Americans (white and black) owned slaves overall.  Even in the Southern states, that number never rose above 33%.   Moreover, probably half of all Americans (“swag” — scientific wild ass guess) are descended from people who were not even in the U.S. before 1865.  So why should Ms. BWR be responsible for paying reparations to blacks today for slavery during the period 1776 to 1865 when her family did not even come to this country until 1954?   That would amount to requiring people to fund reparations to blacks simply because of their white skin color.  And that would be, dare I say it, racist beyond measure.

If we are to look to history for the wrong, let us look to history for the culprits as well.  As Deroy Murdock writes in the National Review today, slavery and its associated ills are identifiable with a particular group — Democrats:

. . .  As Black History Month draws to a close, it is vital to remember that slavery spread agony across the South under the watchful eyes of Democrats, such as President Andrew Jackson, from the party’s 1828 launch. It was not until 1860’s election of Republican Abraham Lincoln that the final, decisive push toward abolition began. The GOP-led Union Army crushed the Democrat-led Confederacy in 1865. That’s when Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation came into full force, as Republicans freed the slaves.

The Republicans’ Radical Reconstruction empowered newly liberated blacks. Overriding the presidential vetoes of Democrat Andrew Johnson, congressional Republicans pressured southern states to ratify the 14th Amendment, guaranteeing blacks equal protection under law. . . .

After detailing the many sins of Democrats as regards blacks, Murdock concludes:

. . . if Democrats want reparations to atone for their nearly 200 years of anti-black sins, they should finance them. From Barbra Streisand to George Clooney to Tom Steyer to George Soros, the Democratic 1 percenters should shove their billions into a huge pile and then show us the money.

I could live with that.

The post Reparations: The Holy Grail of Identity Politics (Part III) appeared first on Watcher of Weasels.

Reparations: The Holy Grail Of Identity Politics (Part II)

Reparations that economically penalize modern Americans for ancient acts to benefit other modern Americans are not justified by any fair reading of history.

2020 Democrat presidential candidates immersed in race-obsessed identity politics (as a substitute for the class-based politics of pure Marxism) are pushing the for the Holy Grail of victimhood: Reparations for slavery.  They are undeterred by the fact that reparations are wholly impractical, utterly immoral, and counterproductive in that they do not address the problems plaguing the lower socio-economic half of the black community.

This will be the second of several posts dealing with the issue of reparations:

Part I – Constitutional Considerations: Bills of Attainder, Corruption of Blood, & Ex Post Facto Laws.

Part II – History of Slavery & Equities

Part III – Practical Impediments to Reparations

Part IV – Need for Reparations?

Part V – Marxism versus Melting Pots

Part II – History of Slavery & Equities

The end game for those pushing reparations for slavery (who now include the top Democratic presidential candidates among their number) is to paint people with black skin as separate, permanent victims in a modern day America that is itself a hotbed of racism.  That hotbed, they claim, is responsible for all of the problems of blacks.  This is all part and parcel of the effort to destroy Western Civilization, starting with America, then to remake it into a socialist paradise. A necessary step in this endeavor is to delegitimize the Founders of this country, the Constitution, and the Judaeo-Christian religions.

Significantly, those who push for reparations for slavery in America almost invariably paint slavery as a sin unique to white Americans.  No one ever seriously mentions the world-wide history of slavery, the American Civil War, or the unique role that white Americans and Brits — Christians, Jews and capitalists — played in ending slavery as both an American and a world-wide institution. Sadly (and dangerously) very little, if any, of that history comes to the attention of students in America today:

For 11 years, Professor Duke Pesta gave quizzes to his students at the beginning of the school year to test their knowledge on basic facts about American history and Western culture.

The most surprising result from his 11-year experiment? Students’ overwhelming belief that slavery began in the United States and was almost exclusively an American phenomenon, he said.

“Most of my students could not tell me anything meaningful about slavery outside of America,” Pesta told The College Fix. “They are convinced that slavery was an American problem that more or less ended with the Civil War, and they are very fuzzy about the history of slavery prior to the Colonial era. Their entire education about slavery was confined to America.” . . .

The world history of slavery and its equities.

Slavery didn’t begin in America nor did it begin with the African slave trade. To the contrary, slavery as an accepted practice in the world ended with the African slave trade. Slavery began with the dawn of civilization and it has involved virtually every race (very much including blacks in both Africa and America) at one time or another, alternately as slavers and enslaved. Indeed, slave-based agrarian economies have been the norm throughout much of the world’s history (hyperlinks omitted):

Evidence of slavery predates written records, and has existed in many cultures. . . . The earliest records of slavery can be traced to the Code of Hammurabi . . . and the Bible refers to it as an established institution. Slavery was known to occur in civilizations as old as Sumer, as well as almost every other ancient civilization, including Ancient Egypt, Ancient China, the Akkadian Empire, Assyria, Ancient India, Ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, the Islamic Caliphate, and the pre-Columbian civilizations of the Americas. . . . Records of slavery in Ancient Greece go as far back as Mycenaean Greece. Two-fifths (some authorities say four-fifths) of the population of Classical Athens were slaves.

Slavery is also still practiced across vast swaths of Africa and the Middle East. It also crops up periodically in the West when those who currently practice slavery import it to their new countries.

The record of historic and current day slavery means that, if slavery is an original sin for which all races once slavers are to be held liable for their sins, and all races once slaves are to receive reparations, than the world has a lot of accounting and atoning to do, none of which will advance humanity in the slightest.  Even our most vociferous race-baiters would find it unpalatable.  Nevertheless, if they want to go that route — that is, alternately charging and compensating current generations for slavery hundreds or thousands of years old on the basis that slavery is an original sin that involves the collective responsibility of entire races of people, then who owes what to whom — and on a related note, do the people that ended slavery get a pass on reparations?

The word “slave” itself gives a clue to that institutions non-African foundations. The word “slave” is a derivation of “Slav” — as in the Slavic people who were enslaved in such number by European warlords towards the end of the Dark Ages and for the better half of the following millennium that their very name came to be identified with “slavery.”  So can anyone with some Slavic blood get in on this reparations deal? Do they get to reach into the pockets of the Germans, Italians and Celts?

The Romans regularly took slaves as they marched across Europe and into the Middle East. If Europeans, Britons, and North Africans could trace their lineage back two millennia, probably everyone of European ancestry could find an ancestor enslaved by the Romans. Then there were the Mongols and Tartars who enslaved an estimated 3,000,000 people from Poland, Russia and other parts of Eastern Europe. Unfortunately, I don’t think the Mongols have the economy today to grant large scale reparations. Maybe the Poles and Russians can hit them up for some free yurts?

What of the Jews? The Old Testament makes clear that they owned slaves and made slaves of other tribes in the Middle East. But the Jews may have an out. The Jews themselves were enslaved, during various times, by the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Greeks, and the Romans. So can the Jews just tell whomever they owe to pick up the IOU’s in Cairo, Baghdad, Athens, and Rome, and then call it even?

Now how about this for a question?  If reparations are to be based on race or skin color, what do blacks owe to people of British, Irish, Portuguese, Spanish or Italian ancestry.  Many were enslaved by African and Arab Islamic pirates who for centuries made raids to capture white Europeans as slaves. The Africans would also enslave the crews of any ships they captured — including American ships (and thus two of our earliest wars as a young nation, The First and Second Barbary Wars):

Reports of Barbary raids and kidnappings of those in Italy, Spain, Portugal, England, Ireland, Scotland as far north as Iceland exist from between the 16th to the 19th centuries. It is estimated that between 1 million and 1.25 million Europeans were captured by pirates and sold as slaves during this time period. Famous accounts of Barbary slave raids include a mention in the Diary of Samuel Pepys and a raid on the coastal village of Baltimore, Ireland, during which pirates left with the entire populace of the settlement.

One and a quarter million Western Europeans enslaved by Africans during the time frame slavery in America was also in practice? To put this into perspective, note that only an estimated 645,000 Africans were sold by fellow Africans into slavery, then imported into the United States, and that includes during the colonial era. That means that Africans enslaved nearly two times as many whites as did whites in America import Africans as slaves.

Moreover, those European whites enslaved by the Africans never had the benefit of Africans rising up in a civil war to end their slavery.  Indeed, most of the male European slaves were worked to death and had no opportunity to pass on their genetic lineage to people alive today.  Regardless, does this mean that all people of African origin are morally culpable for enslaving whites? Can people of white European stock get two times the reparations from people of African origin today? Taking the reasoning of those pushing reparations for blacks to its logical conclusion, the answer to both questions should be “Yes.”

When our nation was founded in 1776, slavery was a normal institution throughout the world.  It involved people of every race.  As to North America, a distinct minority of people on the continent owned black slaves, but that distinct minority included not merely white Europeans, but a significant number of free Blacks and American Indians as well.  Moreover, as to the supply side of the African slave trade, the people capturing and selling blacks into slavery were rarely, if ever, white Europeans. Instead, the hunters and traders were almost invariably African blacks and Arab Muslims.

Abolition, America’s Founding and the “sin” of owning slaves

Before 1776, wherever slavery was extinguished, it fell due to changed economic or geopolitical circumstance, not because of morality.  The Romans did not stop enslaving people of other cultures because they recognized that slavery was immoral, but rather because, after 476 A.D., they no longer had the power to conquer other nations. The Vikings did not stop enslaving Northern Europeans because they recognized that slavery was immoral, but because, by circa 1060 A.D., they stopped having the advantage in strength and tactics to conduct seaborne raids against lightly protected coastal European kingdoms.  The Arab Muslims did not stop enslaving African blacks or European whites because of morality, but because . . . well, they have never stopped.

The very first notable moral challenge to slavery came about in 1381 A.D. during the Peasant’s Revolt in England. The Black Death — which landed in England in 1348 and killed roughly a third to a half of the population — had vastly changed England’s economic conditions. With few workers available for a a surfeit of empty, arable land, feudalism no longer made economic sense. The serfs, who were effectively slaves under feudalism, supported by a surprising number of nobles and clerics, rebelled to end their bondage.

The ideological leader of the rebellion was Father John Ball, a priest who preached that slavery was an abomination to Christianity and that all humans, as descendants alike of Adam and Eve, should be treated equally. The revolt, like all of history’s other slave revolts (but for the Haitian Revolution of 1804), was brutally suppressed, though the changed economic conditions in England led to serfdom’s natural extinguishment by 1500 A.D.

It took another three centuries after King Richard II had Father Ball hanged, drawn, and quartered before the world’s first sustained, and ultimately successful, moral challenge to slavery appeared — and it arose out of Christianity during the Enlightenment.  The first person of note making the argument was the physician and philosopher, John Locke.  In his 1689 book Two Treatises of Government, Locke set forth a Judaeo-Christian based philosophy of government that was adopted as the foundation of our Constitutional government.  Locke, in Chapter IV of his 2nd Treatise, applied  his arguments to slavery and concluded that chattel slavery was unsupportable.  All men, after all, are created equal by God, with the same rights to life, liberty and property.  He therefore concluded that no one can take legitimately and permanently take away those rights.

The Mennonites and Quakers in Pennsylvania next picked up the Judaeo-Christian moral argument against slavery. These were the first stirrings of the abolition movement, but the Mennonites and Quakers always a small fraction of the colonists.  The abolition movement picked up steam among other religions in America and Britain with the First Great Awakening, a Protestant religious revival movement of the mid-18th century — though even there, it was only at the end of that movement that the leaders began fully and forcefully to come out against chattel slavery.  George Whitefield, the preacher who began the Great Awakening in the 1730’s, was himself a slave owner.   It remained for Rev. John Wesley, the final great name associated with the First Great Awakening, to unconditionally condemn chattel slavery in his 1774 pamphlet, Thoughts Upon Slavery.

The bottom line is that, at the time of the Revolutionary War, the movement to abolish slavery as immoral was based in the Judaeo-Christian religions, it was nascent and disorganized and, outside of the failed Peasant’s Revolt, it was unprecedented in world history.  Still, by the time the Revolution ended, it had wrought a profound change on some of the people most associated with the Revolution: Ben Franklin had became President of the nation’s first abolitionist organization; George Washington was privately calling for abolition of slavery, though he saw it as a state responsibility; and Thomas Jefferson calls for abolition were legendary, although he never had the courage to undermine his own economic situation which was predicated on an institution he understood was immoral.

Many of the other Founders also agreed that there were severe problems with chattel slavery and that it needed to be gradually abolished in America.  The reason for “gradual” abolition (as found in, for example, legislation Pennsylvania passed in 1780) was to create a window of time within which to educate slaves and their children and to teach them skills and professions that would enable formerly slaves to integrate smoothly into American civil society:

An Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery . . . prescribed an end for slavery in Pennsylvania. It was the first act abolishing slavery in the course of human history to be adopted by a democracy. The Act prohibited further importation of slaves into the state, required Pennsylvania slaveholders to annually register their slaves (with forfeiture for noncompliance, and manumission for the enslaved), and established that all children born in Pennsylvania were free persons regardless of the condition or race of their parents. . . .  Pennsylvania’s “gradual abolition” . . . became a model for freeing slaves in other Northern states.

So it was that, a few years later, in 1787, when our Founders gathered together in Philadelphia to craft our Constitution, what they crafted was a document that did two things.  For all free Americans, they crafted a limited government of checks and balances that would best serve their needs, allowing for the people (not the Courts or the President by fiat) to make changes to the Constitution as need arose.

As to slavery, the Founders crafted a document that set the seeds for its gradual abolition.  Those who supported slavery wanted to see the institution protected against government intervention.  To that end, they wanted to count all slaves in each census to maximize the slave state’s representatives in the House.  They did not get their wishes.

Those Founders opposing slavery limited those items in the Constitution.  They allowed for the federal government to outlaw importation of slaves after a period of twenty years (Art. 1, Sec. 9) and, as to apportionment to the House of Representatives, they limited the power of the slave states by providing that each slave only be counted as 3/5 of a person (Art. 1, Sec. 2).  Moreover, many of the same people involved crafting the Constitution in 1787, including George Washington, also passed the 1787 Northwest Ordinance, then reaffirmed it under the new Congress of the United States in 1789:

[The Ordinance] created the Northwest Territory, the first organized territory of the United States, from lands beyond the Appalachian Mountains, between British North America and the Great Lakes to the north and the Ohio River to the south. The upper Mississippi River formed the territory’s western boundary. . . . [The ordinance prohibited slavery and indentured servitude in the territory, thus having the practical effect of] establishing the Ohio River as the geographic divide between slave states and free states from the Appalachian Mountains to the Mississippi River (an extension of the Mason–Dixon line). It also helped set the stage for later political conflicts over slavery at the federal level in the 19th century until the Civil War.

Among those opposed to slavery before 1794, several years after the Constitution came into being, the general belief was that, just as slavery ended in other parts of the world due to changing economic conditions (see the discussions about Roman and feudal slavery, above), so too would it end in the new American states.  The most famous of those holding such a belief was George Washington, who found that the cost of maintaining slaves was becoming prohibitive by the latter half of the 18th century.  What they could not foresee was that Eli Whitney would invent the cotton gin in 1794, making slavery profitable again in the South.

Fast forward to today and you have the Left relentlessly portraying our Founding Fathers as uniquely sinful for having practiced slavery, even though they were no more sinful in that respect than anyone else in the history of the world, including blacks themselves.  Moreover, you have people who wish to destroy our society relentlessly trashing America and the Constitution on the grounds that these white slave owners wrote the Constitution.

It requires incredible historic ignorance to condemn our Founding Fathers for owning slaves in the 18th century.  To the contrary, while by today’s standards we see their ownership of slaves as an atrocity, those are today’s standards and not applicable to other historical periods — unless you are a neomarxist proggie who wants to claim faux victimhood status.  The truth is that it was the colonists alive at our Founding who, for the first time in all of human history, began to battle successfully against the institution of slavery as immoral and incompatible with the Jewish and Christian religions.

Post-1800 history of slavery and modern perceptions of the institution

The abolition movement that grew during the 19th century in the American colonies was, in many ways, part and parcel of the abolitionist movement then growing “across the pond” in the era’s great superpower, Britain.  By 1810, both Britain and America had declared it unlawful to import slaves and began policing the high seas to end the international slave trade.  Britain did the lion’s share in forcing both African nations and nations within Britain’s trading ambit that employed slave labor to end their practices while the U.S. fought two wars to end the scourge of Muslim piracy on the high seas.

Although modern Britons like to take the high ground about the lack of slavery in Britain as compared to America (forgetting that they brought it to America), it wasn’t until 1833 that Britain finally and fully ended slavery within its existing colonies — a decision again made easy, not just because of the changed moral climate in the Western world, but also by the fact that, in non-cotton growing regions, slavery was no longer an economically viable system. Only thirty-two years later, America decided against slavery by the bloodiest and costliest combat ever seen in this country. That war destroyed the wealth of the slave-owning South for over 100 years and was so costly to the North that, as economist Thomas Sowell has pointed out:

Sometimes it is claimed that slavery made a great contribution to the development of the American economy, from which other Americans benefitted, so that reparations would be like back pay. Although slaveowners benefitted from slavery, it is by no means obvious that there were net benefits to the economy as a whole, especially when you subtract the staggering costs of the Civil War.

A few final comments on the history of slavery and the people — white Europeans of Britain and America — who decided that it must end once and for all and then put that decision into effect. If one listens to the race hustlers pushing for reparations today, it is as if the end of slavery, African or other, came about by magic and at no cost.  No credit is given those who ended slavery, nor is any mention made of the “staggering costs” they incurred in both blood and gold.  To the contrary, in many cases, members of our modern progressive left do their utmost to downplay any credit due white Europeans of Britain and America for their role in ending African slavery. Moreover, having coopted for the Democrats the “civil rights” moniker, although the Democrats fought civil rights tooth-and-nail, they’ve successfully muddled history to the point that many believe that “Abraham Lincoln was a Democrat fighting slave-owning Republicans in the South.”

Critically, the progressive left has successfully written out of history Christianity’s and Judaeo-Christian theology’s utterly central role in creating and driving the abolitionist movement that ended slavery in the West. The only Christian voices that today’s progressives cite continuously are those in the pre-civil war Deep South who tried to raise competing theological arguments to counter the Christian-based abolition movement.  For instance, last year, when then Attorney General cited Romans 13 for the proposition that the Trump administration was dutifully executing its responsibilities in enforcing immigration law, WaPo found some progressive donkey’s ass to point out that Romans 13 was one of the Biblical passages people in the pre-Civil War South used to defend slavery.  That statement, standing alone and without all of the applicable context, is so false and defamatory as to be beyond obscene.  It not only ignores Christianity’s role in creating and driving the abolitionist movement, it gives the impression that the Christian religion uniquely supported African slavery.  Truly, screw these people.

So successful has the left been in its all-encompassing slander against Christianity that many associate the Christian religion with the institution of slavery itself rather than with the first and only moral rejection of slavery in world history.  Thus, for the past fifty years, we’ve seen American blacks increasingly reject Christianity in favor of either secularism or Islam.  Both are galling, but it is the latter that is galling beyond measure.

Why, you might ask?

Well, the Islamic faith explicitly embraces slavery as an approved practice.  Mohammed was a slave owner and the Koran permits enslaving any and all non-MuslimsNo race of people suffered more enslavement than black Africans at the hands of Arab Muslims.  And while white Europeans and Americans ended slavery in their lands well over a century ago, instances of Muslim enslavement of non-Muslims still occur in the modern day, from the sex slaves of ISIS to the slave markets of Libya to the al Qaeda controlled territories in Mali.

Summary

The people pushing for reparations for slavery focus solely on African slaves in the West. By doing so, they take slavery wholly out of context for both American and world history.  They further ignore the fact that white Americans of European ancestry fought and died in the bloodiest and costliest war (both in terms of lives and money) in our nation’s history in order to free blacks on American soil. I, personally, having never enslaved anyone — and being aware of history — feel no guilt for the slavery that occurred in America, nor do I look upon blacks in America today as victims because some of them have progenitors who were slaves in this country at some point in the distant past, well beyond living memory.

The post Reparations: The Holy Grail Of Identity Politics (Part II) appeared first on Watcher of Weasels.

Reparations: The Holy Grail Of Identity Politics (Part I) (by Wolf Howling)

The Constitution prohibits reparations that would economically penalize modern Americans for centuries’ old sins for the benefit of other modern Americans.

2020 Democrat presidential candidates immersed in race-obsessed identity politics (as a substitute for the class-based politics of pure Marxism) are pushing the for the Holy Grail of victimhood: Reparations for slavery.  They are undeterred by the fact that reparations are wholly impractical, utterly immoral, and counterproductive in that they do not address the problems plaguing the lower socio-economic half of the black community.

This will be the first of several posts dealing with the issue of reparations:

Part I – Constitutional Considerations: Bills of Attainder, Corruption of Blood, and Ex Post Facto Laws

Part II – History of Slavery & Equities

Part III – Practical Impediments to Reparations

Part IV – Need for Reparations?

Part IV – Marxism versus Melting Pots

Part I – Constitutional Considerations: Bills of Attainder, Corruption of Blood, and Ex Post Facto Laws

According to the NYT, “2020 Democrats Embrace Race-Conscious Policies, Including Reparations:”

From the very first day of the 2020 presidential race, when Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts blamed “generations of discrimination” for black families earning far less than white households, Democratic hopefuls have broadly emphasized racial justice and closing the wealth gap in their policy platforms.

But in recent weeks, some candidates have started embracing specific goals and overtly race-conscious legislation that even the most left-wing elected officials stayed away from in recent years.

Last week, on the popular radio show “The Breakfast Club,” Senator Kamala Harris of California agreed with a host’s suggestion that government reparations for black Americans were necessary to address the legacies of slavery and discrimination. Ms. Harris later affirmed that support in a statement to The New York Times. . . .

[snip]

The morally driven policy goals of Ms. Harris and Ms. Warren reflect a broader shift in the importance of race and identity issues in the Democratic Party, according to several scholars and political leaders who focus on the intersection of race and politics. While Democrats have long cast themselves as more inclusive than the Republican Party, grass-roots organizers and many liberal voters of all races are now pushing elected officials to go further on policies of racial equality, regardless of any political calculations. . . .

There are multiple problems — legal, moral and equitable — with reparations for slavery as envisioned by the progressive politicians highlighted in this NYT article.  The legal problem is with imposing a transfer of wealth upon a class of people, none of whom who have ever owned slaves, to another class of people, none of whom have ever been slaves, for an act that was not criminal at the time it occurred.

Let us begin with the underlying moral and legal principle that each individual is responsible for his or her actions, and the sins of the father are not visited upon the son.  This is a principle that first appears in the Bible:

. . . The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.

Ezekiel 18:20

Before the Enlightenment, British monarchs often violated this moral and legal principle. These monarchs used Bills of Attainder to extort property and impose “corruption of blood.”  As Wikipedia explains:

Medieval and Renaissance English monarchs used acts of attainder to deprive nobles of their lands and often their lives. Once attainted, the descendants of the noble could no longer inherit his lands or income. Attainder essentially amounted to the legal death of the attainted’s family [“corruption of blood”].

Our Founders thought these acts so repugnant and immoral that they outlawed them — including imposing penalties for infractions only declared criminal by subsequent law (ex post facto laws) in the body of the Constitution itself, both at federal and state law, and for any crime, including treason.

Art. I § 9 of the U.S. Constitution provides, as to Congress:

No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed

Art. I § 10 of the U.S. Constitution provides:, as to States:

No State shall . . . pass any Bill of Attainder [or] ex post facto Law,

Further, the Constitution provides at Art. III § 3:

The Congress shall have power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attained.

Moreover, it is a bedrock foundation of our system of Due Process that we do not hold people collectively liable without proof of individual culpability.   The Fifth Amendment of the Bill of Rights provides that no person shall “be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law . . .”  The Fourteenth Amendment imposes this same Due Process restriction upon states.

As you think about the Constitution’s prohibition against Bills of Attainder, Corruption of the Blood, and ex post facto laws, please keep in mind that Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren are both lawyers. If they don’t know these constitutional principles, they are unqualified to practice law and should long ago have been disbarred. If they do know these principles, they are defrauding the American voters by advancing policies they know are impossible to enact.

Thus holding people collectively liable for an act not criminal at the time it was conducted, and to transfer their property to people, none of whom directly suffered from the act, would violate the fundamental principles of our Constitution.  While there are many precedents for making payments to people and their direct family who were injured by government action, we are multiple generations removed from such a situation.  I am unaware of any precedent in American law that would allow for reparations for slavery, nor would such an act survive Constitutional challenge under any and / or all of the provisions listed above.

The post Reparations: The Holy Grail Of Identity Politics (Part I) (by Wolf Howling) appeared first on Watcher of Weasels.

How many psychiatrists does it take to change a lightbulb?; or black pathology in modern America

How many psychiatrists does it take to change a lightbulb?

One, but the lightbulb really has to want to change.

A friend sent me a link to a site that allows people to make voluntary contributions to a reparations fund for American blacks. Really, it’s that simple. The “About” page describes the site as follows:

Reparations began as a social media experiment on Facebook on July 15, 2016.

What if you actually did something meaningful for someone before the end of the year? 

What if a stranger restored your belief in humanity, if only for a moment, by supporting you and allowing you to claim something you need in a material way?

I invite People of Color to ask for what we need to feel better, be happier, be more productive by posting in this space. These may be both material and immaterial requests.

I invite people who identify as White to offer services or contributions to People of Color in need of time, energy, substantive care, and support.

The website is filled with requests from “People of Color” (apparently, unlike whites, you don’t need to “identify” as a Person of Color; you just are one) making requests. As I write, the requests are for weight loss assistance, career advice, dental implants, crisis intervention, an exterminator, sanctuary, dental work, winter clothing, and so on.  As you can see, other than the request for sanctuary, nothing very extraordinary.

I like the site — I like the free market quality of people asking and people giving, instead of the government using police power to coerce and people forced under threat to give money. That’s especially true given that most Americans are either generations away from wrongdoing or have roots in a different country altogether and that the reparations are for a wrong that officially ended in 1863, long before the current claimants were born.  At a certain point, the statute of limitations needs to expire. Still, for those “identifying” as White who feel the need to repent for sins committed decades and centuries before their birth, how great that this site exists.

To read more, go here.