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The Reparations Movement;
Or how to make Johnnie Cochran a billionaire

The Cynic

cynic@politicalusa.com

1/04/2001

You know, not too long ago I was thinking to myself, "Boy, there just aren't enough things to divide the races in this country," and along comes the new crusade for slavery reparations to fill that void.

It's been well over a hundred years since slavery existed in legal form in this country. Through time and the hard work of several civil rights pioneers, our country is finally reaching a period in which black Americans can reach levels previously un-thought of. There are black business owners, millionaire black athletes, a growing black middle class, and blacks in prominent positions in an incoming President's administration. You may even actually find a black person saying, "Hey, this American dream thing isn't just a kooky, antiquated notion, it's possible." What a great time to reopen some wounds and rehash some century old slavery issues.

One of the odd things about the reparations movement is that it couldn't find it's feet under eight years of Clinton/Gore. Bill Clinton has long been considered the President that had the best relationship with black Americans, so why didn't they call in the favor and ask him to address it? Because reparations is a silly idea that should never see the light of day, that's why. No President would (or should) seriously address this issue, and Clinton knew that.

But now, with an impending Bush administration, it is not only receiving press, it has recruited the nation's most famous lawyer, Johnnie Cochran, to lead the charge. This is just the issue the black establishment types needed to beat up George Bush with. Let's see him try and come off looking good on this issue with black Americans. Bush can nominate all the blacks and minorities for Cabinet posts that he wants, but the poverty pimp trio of Jackson, Sharpton and the NAACP are still going to make black America hate him. There is no better way to paint this new administration as a bunch of hick racists, than to force them to deny American blacks their "40 acres and a mule."

Charles Ogletree, leader of the Reparations Assessment Group stated: "We will be seeking more than just monetary compensation. We want a change in America. We want full recognition, and a remedy, of how slavery stigmatized, raped, murdered and exploited millions of Africans through no fault of their own.”

I doubt that any American (worthy of the term) can deny that slavery was one of the darkest chapters of American History. Remember that civil war thing? (I think Abe Lincoln was involved, I'll double check on that) We all learned in grade school how wrong it was. We are reminded how wrong it was every February during Black History Month. We are pummeled with it in endless detail everytime Jesse Jackson and company feel that a black person was wronged somewhere in this country. I can feel comfortable saying that the wrongs of slavery are fully recognized by the majority of Americans.

In Congress, the reparations movement has been carried by Rep. John Conyers (D-MI). Mr. Conyers has been attempting to introduce legislation in the House on slavery reparations for over 11 years. With the new push Mr. Conyers states: “There is a lot more happening around this issue now than ever, this used to be talked about only in isolated, black nationalist meetings. That is not the case anymore.” (We now know where Mr. Conyers spends his weekends)

So what will be accomplished? It's tough to imagine that a long debate over the perils of slavery will make this country feel good about itself. Average, civil minded, non-racist white people would have a hard time holding their tongue over the taboo discussions of race and reparations. They will have a hard time justifying losing school and infrastructure funding so a certain percentage of the population would receive damages for crimes they were not the victims of.

A national settlement would not prevent any further racism (actually it would probably cause more, a very probable result of entitlement envy). It would not prevent any black person from crying out "Racist!" anytime a white person does something they do not like. I am absolutely sure that Jesse Jackson would not retire as a result of this settlement. It would probably result in the rehashing of many century old wrongs. (can I sue the Roosevelt's for prolonging the depression and keeping my family from regaining the wealth they once had? I may have to wait until 2045 to keep the timeline correct)

So who gains?

If you think American blacks will gain, you would be wrong. A lot of black people may be thinking that, if a settlement was reached, they would see some large amount of money coming their way. There won't be. The lawyers, however, would gain lots.

The total amount that is often bandied about for reparations is one trillion dollars. For arguments sake, let's say that the full amount is granted in a settlement.(I know that's a huge sum of cash, but we are talking about healing wounds here folks, so bear with me.) Since the total money (tax revenues, etc.) the Fed receives each year is almost the same as this settlement, any payout would have to be issued out over, let's say, 20 years. The fine lawyers representing black Americans would get 1/3rd of the settlement. This means they will share about $16 billion per year for these 20 years.

The remainder, if divided among the 35.5 million blacks in America, equals about $9100 per person. This would be $455 per year.

So, Mr. Cochran and associates add to their wealth considerably. Meanwhile, black people will add a measly sum to their yearly income. Broken down that would be an extra $1.25 per day, just enough for (dig the irony here, people) one Diet Coke.

Diet Cokes aside, there are not a whole lot of things one can buy with $455. You can't buy a car. You can't afford a new roof for the house. You can't put your kids through private school. $455 is not enough to do anything really worth while for your future.

It would, however, be enough to purchase one mule.

We'll have to settle up on the 40 acres at later date. Let's say, 100 years from now?

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© The Cynic, 2000

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