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Sins of the Fathers

By slick willie in News
Sat Feb 24, 2001 at 05:00:16 AM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

Fox News has this story on a pending investigation into making reparations for slavery in the U.S.


This idea has been in the works for quite a while now, but is just now gaining momentum in Congress. When we seem to be at a time when racial tensions are on the rise rather than in decline, doesn't this just add fuel to the fire?

I will be the first to admit that slavery is a horrendous, inhuman practice, and should be abolished whervever it is still practiced. To me, seeking payments for a practice that ended almost 150 years ago smacks of opportunism and greed.

What is to be gained by this action? If we want to heal racial wounds, isn't it best to do so by not pursuing inherently divisive actions?

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Poll
Should African-Americans receive reparations for slaver?
o Of course! 6%
o Yes, but in a non-monetary form. 5%
o No, but the U.S. needs to acknowledge the wrong. 45%
o No, because it doesn't do anything to improve racial relations. 35%
o Too U.S. centric! 6%

Votes: 88
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Sins of the Fathers | 117 comments (112 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
some thoughts (4.22 / 9) (#2)
by Arkady on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 05:57:43 PM EST

Well, since there are no living individuals who were slaves, there's no one to pay a reparation _to_ for one thing. And since there are no living slave owners, there's really no one to pay _out_ either.

There is one major exception to that: corporations. There are actually corporations (and governments, which are legally a form of corporation in the U.S.) active today which _did_ own slaves. These organizations should pay reparations through some general fund to improve race relations and specifically to those slaves' descendants.

This is a minor twitch in American race-relations, though. Non-pink Americans do, in many cases, deserve some form of compensation (in the form of assistance in removing the effects) for society's marginalization of themselves and their fellows, but only in so far as it brings them up to par with other classes in society and only paid for by those who are guilty of their marginalization.

Race isn't the primary divider in the U.S., though. That honor goes to economic class; it's merely coincidence that many (possibly most) non-pink Americans fall in the poorer economic classes.

-robin

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.


class-wars (4.62 / 8) (#4)
by Seumas on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 06:03:20 PM EST

You know what's funny?

My family is not rich. In fact, my parents and grandparents are lower-middle-class to middle-middle-class at best. This is the family I grew up in.

Until about 13 months ago, I was middle-middle-class. For the last 13 months, I have been upper-middle-class to wealthy.

So even though I am the same person, from the same family, I guess my hard work and self-education and determination have turned me from "one of us" into "one of them". Strange, because I don't treat anyone else differently because of their salary's. I wonder why I should be treated any differently.

As far as corporations owning slaves -- what about politicians? Al Gore's ancestor's owned slaves and grew cotton. I guess that must make Al Gore a racist. How much money should he be on the hook for, I wonder. And is he going to be required to pay more money than me, because my family never enslaved anyone and has only been in the country for about a century?
--
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]

on corporations (4.00 / 2) (#6)
by Arkady on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 06:13:58 PM EST

The point with corporations and governments, though, is that they are legally _the same person_ now that they were 150 years ago.

You can make a good argument against restitution by the descendants of slave owners (and I personally don't think there should be any, since these aren't the people who _did_ anything), but that won't wash with corps. They are now the same legal entities they were then.

It makes complete sense to hold them responsible now for their actions then (or at any time). It's not their descendants; it's still them.

-robin

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.


[ Parent ]
Very literally. (4.00 / 2) (#40)
by Seumas on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 08:08:43 PM EST

You're choice of words "legally _the same person_" is pretty accurate, considering that by legal definition, corporations are most often considered "individuals", granted all the rights of the Constitution allowed to living and breathing individuals. In that aspect, they can probably hide away from any targeted attempts at retribution.
--
I just read K5 for the articles.
[ Parent ]
Corporations and liability (4.00 / 1) (#67)
by Miniluv on Sat Feb 24, 2001 at 01:51:37 AM EST

Actually, despite the legal status of corporations as individuals in the US, when suits involving discrimination typically go to court individual members of the management team must be found culpable for the suit to successfully conclude.

Using that standard corporations cannot be held liable for the sins of their former management without attempting revisionist rewriting of our laws. This violates the Constitution, and is something I would violently oppose, even if I agreed with the sentiment.

"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
[ Parent ]

it's not you (4.00 / 2) (#8)
by Wah on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 06:33:34 PM EST

I wonder why I should be treated any differently. It's your children. They are the ones that will feel most the change in economic class. And unless you're making over a mil a year (or vested before the market crashed) you probably wouldn't be considered "wealthy" although I'm not really sure what the exact barriers are.
--
Fail to Obey?
[ Parent ]
No opinion on reparations, but (2.00 / 1) (#13)
by heighting on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 06:52:34 PM EST

Society is roughly a zero sum game. If someone is doing badly, someone else gains. Eg. if an employer is slightly biased against blacks, then whites would have a better chance of getting a job there. Add up tiny slights like this and you get a measurable socioeconomic effect.

This is the point people often miss, and say things like,'my ancestors were never slaveowners, why should I have to pay' etc.

Second, reparations are about righting a historical wrong in a tangible way, not handouts. As for the poor in general, there are systems in place to help them, welfare benefits etc., although whether enough has been done for them is debatable.

An obvious remark, but worth a mention, about such emotional issues, not specifically directed towards you, Arkady: realize that you may already have subconsciously decided on the end result beforehand because of who you are and how you were brought up, with the end result that you may be disinclined to think as hard or deeply about reasons for the opposing side.

[ Parent ]
society is not zero sum (4.33 / 3) (#26)
by Arkady on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 07:28:54 PM EST

Though there are social relations that could be reasonably called zero sum (specifically, those which involve what social scientists call a "limited good", a resource of which there is a definied finite quantity), society itself isn't by any means.

Trite though they may be, it is obvious that the basic social values aren't zero sum. To take an obvious example, if you love your girlfriend, do you therefore have less love for your parents? If you treat one person fairly, must you therefore treat others less fairly?

The example you use isn't even completely zero sum, in that there are many other "races" involved though in that it is a limited good case (positing a limited number of jubs with that employer) is could be considered zero sum for the participants.

As for righting historical wrongs, let the entities which still exist who were involved in those wrongs right them. The rest of us had nothing to do with it. Let the rest of us focus on righting the wrongs that exist today. Otherwise, most of us would be on a boat headed for Europe and elsewhere. ;-)

And anyone may have "subconsciously decided on the end result beforehand". The question of how much rational choice is involved in decision making is completely open, and varies from person to person and issue to issue. It hardly even merits mention, unless you think the others' arguments are too weak to support their conclusion, forcing you to consider that other factors are guiding their decision.

-robin

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.


[ Parent ]
pedantry (none / 0) (#37)
by heighting on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 08:00:19 PM EST

Perhaps I didn't phrase things precisely, but I think my point is clear:

*You* may not be the cause of an injustice, but you have benefited from it indirectly. And on a large scale, the effects are *real*. And 'you' does not refer to you specifically, robin.

As for 'righting the wrongs that exist today', the effects of slavery persist to this day, as I'm sure you are well aware.

I'm glad I brought it up the last point in my previous post, obvious though it may be, since it's quite clear that more than a few posters are susceptible to it.

[ Parent ]
it's most certainly not (none / 0) (#42)
by Arkady on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 08:20:23 PM EST

"*You* may not be the cause of an injustice, but you have benefited from it indirectly."

That may be, though I can't think of any real examples. The cops probably give me a bit more slack because of my pink skin, if that's what you mean (I do live in Oakland, after all), but that can't be measured and I certainly can't be said to be responsible for their behavior.

That's really the point here. Regardless of whether I may have been advantaged by some event, since I wasn't involved, it's not my responsibility. I may choose to act on it anyway, of course, but that's my choice. I have no _obligation_ to do anything about anything that's not a result of my own actions.

And there are fewer effects of slavery around today than you might think. The hatred of difference that gave slavery its place predates the arrival of Europeans here in North America by thousands of years. In many ways, it's more a matter of historical slavery and modern descrimination having a common root than it is a case of one being caused by the other.

That's the issue that those of us who weren't involved in slavery need to address, not slavery itself (which is dead and gone for those of us who weren't there to be involved). The corporations and other legal fictions who were there and did participate, of course, should not be let off the hook. They're still legally the same; the rest of us weren't involved and should instead focus on the issues that are here today.

"And 'you' does not refer to you specifically, robin."

I figured as much, but thanks for keeping it clear. ;-)

-robin

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.


[ Parent ]
various comments (none / 0) (#50)
by heighting on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 09:26:47 PM EST

>The cops probably give me a bit more slack because of my

The little things add up: can you imagine how emotionally draining it can be to have to be slighted on a daily basis just because you are black?

>Regardless of whether I may have been advantaged by some

This is an interesting one: I'm sure many people who feel this way feel differently when the situation is translated up the economic ladder: they are pissed at people who are born into wealth but accept as a given the advantages that arise from the misfortunes of others (which they did not directly cause). Illogical, but unsurprising.

>I have no _obligation_ to do anything about anything that's not a result of my own actions.

This is why we have governments: to make decisions that globally maximize some utility function, but would not have been reached by local maximizations.

What we are discussing here is how the government should act, not what we would do individually. The latter is clear enough: act selfishly.

>And there are fewer effects of slavery around today than you might think.

How about the fact that blacks as a group are less successful economically? Slavery handicapped them as a group initially, and discrimination perpetuates the inequities.

I'm not convinced that reparations is the solution, though.

[ Parent ]
maybe I'm not understanding... (4.50 / 2) (#44)
by tetsuo on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 08:36:23 PM EST

... but doesn't the door go both ways? Affirmative action, quotas, hate crime laws ... the list goes on.

Society, at least american, already has it's own socioeconomic reparations in the form of law.

These things that have been put in place are there to counteract the type of behavior you've mentioned.

Or am I missing something?
---

[ Parent ]
yes, you are. (none / 0) (#52)
by heighting on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 09:36:15 PM EST

as I noted in my previous comment, with regards to reparations, I'm on the fence.

My intention was to refute the apparently very common argument (as you can see from the many posts making the same point): "but my ancestors were not slaveowners..." ad nauseum.

[ Parent ]
uuuuh. yeah.. right... sure (4.77 / 9) (#3)
by Seumas on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 05:59:09 PM EST

Okay. So, how does this reperation thing work?

Do you have to pay for American slavery if you are only a first or second generation American?

Do you have to pay if you are another traditionally mistreated minority? For example, will asians be exempt?

How about other black Americans? Will they have to pay to make up for other black American's who's ancestor's were enslaved?

How about black Americans recently from Africa? Will they have to pay, since they were involved in selling their own people into slavery?
--
I just read K5 for the articles.

Or further (3.00 / 2) (#57)
by a humble lich on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 10:49:08 PM EST

What if my ancestors were abolitionists? What if one of my ancestors once owned slaves and then became strongly anti-slavery. What if I had an ancestor who was a slave, became free, and then bought slaves himself (although I don't know of the legality of that). What if ...


[ Parent ]
Reparations will worsen the US's race problems (4.71 / 7) (#7)
by jrh on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 06:19:50 PM EST

It's safe to say reparations have no chance of actually getting passed. I doubt this would get the uniform support of Democrats, much less the Republicans who control congress and the White House. However, if there were a strong push from the NAACP, Jesse Jackson, the Congressional Black Caucus, etc. for reparations for slavery it would get a lot of media attention.

Unfortunately, the effect of a push for monetary payments would be to undermine the very points these activists are trying to make: Racism still exists in America, and is still very harmful to African-Americans and other minorities. Affirmative action is still necessary for this reason. Vigorous enforcement of civil rights laws is also vital.

These are all arguments some question--for various reasons, but in particular on the grounds that the playing field is now relatively level. After all, it's been decades since the Civil Rights Act. Much of the US's population was born after the push for civil rights in the 50's and 60's. The 60's aren't ancient history, but in a time with so many prominent African-American celeberties, it's easy to dismiss racism as a thing of the past, or at least present only in the South or white trash. Certainly not present in New York or San Francisco, or among people with college degrees.

If civil rights activists start demanding monetary compensation for being enslaved 140 years ago, they'll only reinforce the impression among non-blacks that their eyes are closed to the real world, that they're living in the past. Instead of the healing that the activist in the last paragraph of the article argues would result, they would exacerbate the already huge divide in perceptions among different races in the US. Are they trying to render themselves politically irrelevant?

Stupid brown-nosing to get elected! (4.42 / 7) (#9)
by MeanGene on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 06:41:04 PM EST

The idea would be almost hillarious, if not for watching C-SPAN or PBS and observing black "community leaders" insisting on "paying back the debt to the Black America."

The world is grossly unfair, but how far would one go to redress any given unfairness?

First of all, black slavery in America is a fault of no one, but the genetics of American indigenous population (that is God's fault if you're a creationist!). A certain influential Catholic missionary observed (1500s?) that Indians die too much from forced labor, and thus "stronger slaves" need to be imported to prevent the genocide.

Second, we have certain black tribes selling their slaves to white merchants. Go, collect that from the people of Angola or Senegal!

Next we move on to Adam Smith and Karl Marx to say that American plantation-owners extracted more from the slaves than they paid for slaves' living expenses. Also, go and figure in that plantations' soil produces its own profit due to the nutritional elements contained in it. Also, note that paying workers less than the value of their labor is the basis of capitalism - invoke the spirit of Markovitz and risk-adjust that if you can.

In the past, they only way people could address these entangled knots was by violence. I couldn't care less if the "black community" resorts to civil disobedience or violence - just don't take it from my taxes! Oh, by the way, I am not even a U.S. citizen and I plan to go back to the Old World when I figure out the details... :-)

this must be a joke (3.83 / 6) (#10)
by mattc on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 06:41:55 PM EST

This is one of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard. I have not and will not ever own slaves (and neither did any of my ancestors.. in fact they fought on the side of the Union in the Civil War) and I do not think my tax money should be handed out to these people.

Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich. has called for a commission to examine slavery's legacy and possible compensation during each of the last 12 congressional sessions.

I hope Michigan voters take careful note of this buffoon's name and vote him out of office next election.

I'm even more radical than that. (3.20 / 5) (#11)
by elenchos on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 06:46:15 PM EST

I think that the institution of inheritance, and of allowing rich parents to spend a fortune on their children's education, and shower them with gifts (or loans with no interest that never have to be repaid, or sweet business opportunities), just perpetuates inequality in the US. The rich of today are often beneficiaries of dynasties that go back to slavery, and thus the children of these dynasties are getting something that they don't really deserve. They continue to enjoy the fruits of slave labor. While reparations are an attempt to give back what was taken, and level the playing field, how can it be done fairly? Who can say what a slave would have left for his descendents had his labor not been stolen? The question is impossible to answer.

If you grew up in a rich family, it is safe to assume that you got a good education and were exposed to values that should give you a fair chance to succeed. Do you really deserve anything more? You should be able to make your way in the world without an inheritance, the same as the descendents of slaves, or poor whites, can get by without an inheritence, or the other benefits of a rich old family. Think of all the taxation we could eliminate if inheritance were taxed at 100%, and large gifts to children were carefully restricted, allowing only those gifts of inconsequential monetary value. Wealthy people would spend their fortunes before they died, boosting the economy, or they would donate it to chosen charities, since they couldn't give it to their kids, and might not want the government to take it. Such a scheme would allow all of us to begin our adult lives from an equal basis, and the descendents of slaves would have little reason to complain that they were being denied something that the white elites enjoy.

Adequacy.org

heh, in that case... (4.00 / 2) (#14)
by xriso on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 06:53:57 PM EST

Just give your estate to your kids before you die, and you don't have to mess with that silly inheritance stuff.

<sarcasm>To fix this, maybe we should have children raised by special children-raisers, totally sealed off from the biological parents, so that everybody starts on a level playing field. Oh, but wait, some people have advantageous genes, so we should ban reproduction and only use clones instead. We really need everybody to start on the same level, right?</sarcasm>

;-)
--
*** Quits: xriso:#kuro5hin (Forever)
[ Parent ]

GWB, for instance? (2.00 / 2) (#19)
by elenchos on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 07:11:11 PM EST

What better proof do you need that the rich have no genetic advantage at all? It's in the money and the connections and the special favors. Take that away and the world would look much different.

Adequacy.org
[ Parent ]

oh, so then (3.00 / 1) (#41)
by xriso on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 08:17:25 PM EST

in that case, the bad genes just counteract for the huge inheritance. No extra laws needed :)

BTW: I never said rich people are genetically superior. I dunno where you got that from.
--
*** Quits: xriso:#kuro5hin (Forever)
[ Parent ]

It was somewhere in the sarcasm part. (3.66 / 3) (#53)
by elenchos on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 10:09:29 PM EST

    Just give your estate to your kids before you die, and you don't have to mess with that silly inheritance stuff.

    <sarcasm>To fix this, maybe we should have children raised by special children-raisers, totally sealed off from the biological parents, so that everybody starts on a level playing field. Oh, but wait, some people have advantageous genes, so we should ban reproduction and only use clones instead. We really need everybody to start on the same level, right?</sarcasm>

    ;-)

See? Now of course, we have to wonder exactly which parts of this are sarcasm, and which coincide with the meaning intended by being sarcastic. Was all of it sarcastic, or just some? I don't know. The implied meaning (I think) is that my goal is to remove all unfair advantages, and that if I really wanted to accomplish that, bizzare forms of child rearing and reproduction would be required. By taking this as your literal meaning, (who knows how much you were kidding?) I responded that by removing the advantage of money, you would basically remove all of the advantage, since the genetic one is non-existent, to say the least.

Now I could respond to your humor in kind, but as anyone can see, I have chosen to make all of my posts in this story 100% serious, and so have only posted my actual beliefs, literally with no trace whatsoever of sarcasm or irony, because it would be deceptive to take an extreme position in order to reduce the opposite position to absurdity. We all know that elenchos never does that.

Adequacy.org
[ Parent ]

Hmmm... (none / 0) (#15)
by heighting on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 07:06:17 PM EST

I recommend the following article, if you have not already read it: Lottery of Success

[ Parent ]
Re: I'm even more radical than that. (4.00 / 2) (#17)
by MeanGene on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 07:08:05 PM EST

Wealthy people would spend their fortunes before they died, boosting the economy, or they would donate it to chosen charities, since they couldn't give it to their kids, and might not want the government to take it.

If I have a fortune and good accountants that go with it, I do the following:

  • Have my fortune owned by some company in one of the offshore zones
  • Have my children on the board of directors of this company
  • Set up a "charity" where my company controls the beneficiaries
The number of ways the rich can control their wealth is truly ridiculous. Rupert Murdoch (of FoxTV and SkyTV and many other things) is presently the most visible (ab)user of the tax laws. At some point, his corporate empire managed to pay zero taxes in the UK. When Nelson(?) Rockefeller ran for VP of the USA in the 1970s, there was a scandal that he paid zero income taxes.

Tax laws are written by the (representatives of) the rich people for the rich people.

[ Parent ]

Well then let's just give up. (2.50 / 2) (#20)
by elenchos on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 07:15:05 PM EST

Why have any tax laws at all? Why bother regulating insider trading, or outlawing bribes to politicians? Why make murder illegal if OJ got away with it?

People already set up offshore accounts or fake charities. Sometimes they get away with it. As they continue inventing new ways to hack the system, new countermeasures are invented.

Come on. I can make a better criticism of me than that.

Adequacy.org
[ Parent ]

Re: Well then let's just give up. (4.00 / 1) (#28)
by MeanGene on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 07:30:38 PM EST

Nobody said that the people should give up. What I am suggesting is that truly radical reforms are needed.

Salon, the tyrant of Athens (6th century BC), started his reforms by abolishing all debts - including the people who sold themselves into slavery.

My personal idea is to shift all income taxes into VAT. One could exclude, say, food from this VAT and instead tax luxury items heavily. My point is that as long as tax laws take thousands of pages, the stakes are agains the majority of the taxpayers.

[ Parent ]
Salon == lefty web chick magazine , often good. (none / 0) (#31)
by elenchos on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 07:38:44 PM EST

Solon == "the lawgiver", Athenian reformer.

The need for tax reform is like body odor, it never really goes away, as I meant with my analogy to hacking the system and the need for countermeasures. A healthy society is one that constantly returns to the task of cleaning up, as one does with one's Odd Smells.

Adequacy.org
[ Parent ]

Re: Salon == lefty web chick magazine, often good. (4.00 / 1) (#62)
by MeanGene on Sat Feb 24, 2001 at 12:27:34 AM EST

Siggy, stop this childish bullshit! Be a man and stick to one pseudonym!


[ Parent ]
This is, like, the proudest moment of my life. (5.00 / 1) (#71)
by elenchos on Sat Feb 24, 2001 at 03:09:57 AM EST

I am actually in the target of a real K5 witch hunt! I am, right? Someone is accusing me of being someone else, and now, like, all kinds of elaborate conspiracy theories will be constructed, and there will be accusations and counter-accusations, charges, counter-charges. Recriminations and repercussions, denials and I-told-you-so's. Diaries will be posted, Meta articles will be earnestly written and earnestly debated. Polls will ask, "Is this the end of K5?" And then I will finally be a real K5er, though of course no one will be able to agree on who I really am. But whoever that is, he or she belongs here. Or he or she should be banished before he or she ruins the K5 forever. The debate will never really end, will it?

Please say it's true! You really think I'm Signal 11? It wasn't just your way of saying you think my posts are boring, right?

Adequacy.org
[ Parent ]

Re: This is, like, the proudest moment of my life. (none / 0) (#74)
by MeanGene on Sat Feb 24, 2001 at 09:58:52 AM EST

Please, don't kid yourself! :-)

Call your and my comments above "Escapades in moderation psychology."

Could it be that the purpose of your life is to serve as a warning for others?
--Despair.com



[ Parent ]

I question your history (none / 0) (#18)
by weirdling on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 07:10:55 PM EST

Many of the old money people owned slaves; but they did not make money from them. They owned them as household servants. Southern gentlemen, those who did make money off of slaves almost to a man lost their fortunes during the civil war and immediately after.
Now, taxing inheretence is monkeying with evolution, which I won't stand for...

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
Don't pretend... (2.00 / 2) (#24)
by elenchos on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 07:24:14 PM EST

...that Social Darwinist psuedo-science is the same as evolution. The science behind evolution does not say that inheritence is "right" or "good" or even that the miniscule timespan of a dynasty that lasts only a dozen generations or less has anything to do with the course of human evolution. Even if it did, that does not mean that the "natural" direction of evolution, whatever that might turn out to be, is "good." We have to decide what is good, science can't tell us that. Psuedo-science can't tell us anything.

Oh, and the economic value of having household servants who are slaves instead of wage-earners is money that can and was invested elsewhere. And plenty of the clever ones made off with most or all of their wealth intact.

Go back to school. I recommend some biology classes to start with, and maybe History 101.

Adequacy.org
[ Parent ]

I'm afraid I must plead Social Darwinism's case. (4.00 / 1) (#32)
by weirdling on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 07:42:01 PM EST

First of all, the concepts of 'right' and 'wrong' are irrelevant to social darwinism or indeed, any positive thinker. They belong in the realm of religion, not science. What you have said is correct; science cannot tell right from wrong; these are projections we make onto our society, as a result, oddly enough, from inherited patterns, whether by genes or environment, that are a part of the theory of social darwinism.
Social darwinism is, indeed, a theory, but it is an effective theory, which is to say it fits the facts once objectively observed. In other words, the average person's grasp of morality is to him a blinder that does not let him see the actual reality of the situation.
Don't get me wrong; it is not my intention to attack morality; it is merely my intention to point out that morality, as you have said, is a construct created by humans, not one inherent in nature.
As to inheritance, if a given person makes money and wishes to see his kids receive the money, that is no business of ours. The darwinist ideal says that if he makes money, his children will be given a better than even chance for starters. This may strike you as wrong, but I think your need to control how this person spends his own money is wrong, so we are at loggerheads morally.
Anyway, that aside, the cost of keeping a slave was not so cheap as to allow anyone to own one. One of the odd things about slavery is that the emancipation movement was gaining its strength largely at a time when it was getting ever more economically unfeasible to own slaves. The average person still does struggle under the illusion that slavery was destroyed during its heyday, just like big tobacco, nevermind that smoking has been decreasing and that is how political support could be gained to so manifestly increase the cost of smoking.
Now, my point was that the major wealth of old money, those to whom wealth is still ascribed from those days, was gained on the backs of immigrants, not slaves. That slaves were economically practical at the moment is not in doubt, but the slaves are not those who generated the wealth, and were not horribly cheaper than personal servants.
As to Southern Gentlemen who retained money, some did, and they did it largely by cooperating with carpetbaggers. Most Southern Gentlemen, or at least those worthy of the title, bankrupted themselves fighting the war, because it was not, as is often supposed, really about slavery.
In defense of that statement, witness: the emancipation proclamation was not signed until well into the war when Lincoln recognized it would keep England out of the war. The stated reason Lincoln had was that he was only trying to *save the union*, not free slaves. The war started at Ft. Sumpter. Why? Because there were lots of slaves there? Or because this was a port often used by runners trying to get around prohibitive tarrifs imposed by the North?
Southern Gentlemen were fighting for their way of life, not a way of making money, or they would not have taken up their own rifles, offered their slaves their freedom, and sank every dime they had into winning that war. That many did not is true, but the average Southern Gentleman lost his shirt.
That being said, I am not a rebel nor a yankee, so I have no bias. I was born overseas and spent time in both Northern and Southern schools, so have seen the story from both points, and both sides are often woefully misinformed, but that's ok because that's the way it always is.
Any historian will tell you that most of what is taught in high-school history classes is either bunk or serious propaganda, but that's ok, because high-school science classes aren't much better. Going back to school will not help you learn the truth; studying will.
As to biology classes, I fail to understand what, exactly, it pertains to. My statements so far have been in the realm of history and philosophy, not biology.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
Would you mind, like, um... (1.33 / 3) (#59)
by elenchos on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 11:12:37 PM EST

...putting "Internet crank" in your .sig? Or "wacko?" Just to warn people away so they don't accidentally get you started. Or you could use links. For example, there was this dude Cryon who used to post around here. He always had a link to one of those creepy cryogenics scams, y'know, where rich wackos have their heads frozen so they can come back to life in the future? Everyone could just see, you know, "cryogenics nut job" in every post, so that they didn't waste time trying to reason with him, or tell him a joke or anything. They just *stayed away* so as not to get him riled up. Something like that would work really good for you, too, and we could all enjoy the site more.

(I know, I know, I'm supposed to reply to a person's "argument" instead of mocking them, but fuck, when they are a NUT you can't do that. Can you? Fine, then you try to reason with him or her, I'm not a psychiatrist, I know that much.)

Adequacy.org
[ Parent ]

Close-mindedness has found your soul fertile. (none / 0) (#98)
by weirdling on Mon Feb 26, 2001 at 01:01:25 PM EST


I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
Yeah, that must be it. You and Galileo. (none / 0) (#100)
by elenchos on Mon Feb 26, 2001 at 07:32:50 PM EST

I don't waste a lot of time trying to disprove psuedo-science. By the same token, I don't debate "Creation Science." Social Darwinism is a crackpot, and essential racist, notion that appeared in the 19th century in the fevered brains of those who couln't understand Darwin but liked the possibility of putting their self-serving plans on a "scientific" basis. It has been so thoroughly de-bunked that it would simply be a silly exercise for me or anyone you are not paying tuition to to set you straight. Your education has failed you, and it is not my responsibility to repair the damage. At no time did I ever promise you that I would give your flim-flam beliefs a "fair hearing," or any hearing at all. If you want me to pay any attention to you, start making sense. Sorry.

Adequacy.org
[ Parent ]

I would appreciate being debunked (none / 0) (#106)
by weirdling on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 06:08:17 PM EST

Social Darwinism has hidden a lot of evils when people chose to live their lives using Social Darwinism as an excuse to commit atrocities and perpetuate racism, but those who insist the theory is bunk do so largely on the basis of some sort of moral problem, most of which come from the same reliable source as creation science, which you deplore.
See, Social Darwinistic theories cannot be considered racist due to the fact that the fundamental assumption of any Darwinistic idea is that success determines those who survive or improve on their position so any idea of one race being superior to another simply due to its color is ridiculous. It's kind of annoying to me these days, how people continuously insist that people are all equal. That people are different is manifest.
My education has betrayed me? I was educated to strongly disagree with Social Darwinism, as it tends to reduce the possibility of Christians calling each other evil.
It is my experience that people who insist that they cannot spend the time to educate me have a doctrinal disagreement and do not have the knowledge, lucidity, or intelligence to do ought but bluster and call me names.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
I'm sure you would, but it ain't my job. (none / 0) (#107)
by elenchos on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 07:53:55 PM EST

It is a misconception that it was the job of your education to teach you to believe that Social Darwinism is true or not true. That is trivial. Where they failed was in teaching you to think critically, leaving you susceptible to fringe theories that lack evidence to support them. It is much like the way a religious education can leave a person really screwed up. Not because of what they teach, but because of the theory of knowledge that they use is based on authritiarian principles and the exclusiveness of Truth. So when a product of such a system realizes that what they were taught was not exactly The Truth, they often simply go and adopt the opposite dogma. This is why someone raised say, Pentecostal or Southern Baptist mightl reject that religion, but then just go join a cult.

But if you want to believe that it is all juse me and my closed mind, that's fine with me.

Adequacy.org
[ Parent ]

OK, I dare you (none / 0) (#112)
by weirdling on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 12:47:41 PM EST

Back up all your rhetoric, man, this is a discussion site! I'm sure others would like to know what problem you have with social darwinism, and it would be nice to get it out in the open for discussion.
I can understand if you don't want to; social darwinism as a theory is really hard to debunk on purely scientific grounds, but easily assailed based on morals, most of which come from the flawed religious education everyone seems to get.
As a matter of fact, social darwinism is almost frighteningly obvious, once you realise that the result is the definition: fittest survive. The fittest are those who survive, so it isn't any surprise that they do...
So, until you are willing to tell me the reasons you disagree with social darwinism instead of insisting I am an idiot, a crank, an ignoramous, or whatever, I shall find your posts increasingly useless. It is amazing to me that one who would disagree with darwinism on moral principle would refuse to accept the responsibility of correcting a fellow human being, choosing, instead, to judge him for his views. Anyway, good luck with that...

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
No. (none / 0) (#115)
by elenchos on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 07:24:40 PM EST

Why don't you go submit an article extolling the truth of Social Darwinism? You can play around with whoever posts comments to it and you won't need me then. You are seriously confused if you think I am the one person you need to hash this out with. This is indeed a discussion site and as such there is no shortage of people who will discuss whatever you like. So go discuss it with them.

Adequacy.org
[ Parent ]

Ironic (4.50 / 2) (#77)
by Nyarlathotep on Sat Feb 24, 2001 at 12:20:46 PM EST

Actually, Social Darwinism should not _necissarily_ support or oppose ultra-high inheretance tax. There is no scientific evidence that inheritance help or hinders the evolution of social status. Specifically, our current system of inheretance allows one lucky or clever individual to "set up" his family for many generations, but these memes this individual passes on are not necissarily as importent as the money. OTOH, if you have ultra-high inheretance tax then rich parents are forced to spend their money on instilling the propper memes in their children. Example: If I have 10 billion/million dollars then I will feal free to spend a several billion/million dollars on bioengenering, implant, and education for my child. Hell, I'll just fund all the research of the world leading developmental psychologists with the stipulation that they must do everything they can to help my child, i.e. they will select the people who will raise my children. Anyway, I just wanted to point out that social darwinism says nothing about inheritance tax.
Campus Crusade for Cthulhu -- it found me!
[ Parent ]
True enough (none / 0) (#99)
by weirdling on Mon Feb 26, 2001 at 01:03:26 PM EST

Social Darwinism, technically, can't support any concept of restriction or modification to evolution due to the fact that evolution itself is so complex as to be pretty much un-analyzable, which is why I don't support such taxes, because the results cannot be analyzed, so I'd rather leave evolution alone...

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
Radical? Maybe egotistical.... (3.40 / 5) (#29)
by dice on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 07:30:43 PM EST

I'm interested in how you believe you have a right to judge what people do with their money?

*Their money*

Once more, *their money*.

It's not yours. They earned it. Why should they not be able to give it to their children?


[ Parent ]
Whose money, again? (3.00 / 2) (#34)
by Osama Bin Laden on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 07:50:09 PM EST

Why should they not be able to give it to their children?

Hmm, maybe because it would be a fairer, more just world?

As you say, it's *their money*, they earned it. Which emphasizes the point: their children didn't earn it.

The idea that everyone should have to earn his or her own fortune is pretty appealing, don't you think? Perhaps the concept is a little puritanical, but it's no more offensive than the idea that a person is somehow entitled to inherit his parents' labors.

ObL

[ Parent ]

Entitled? (none / 0) (#82)
by pete on Sat Feb 24, 2001 at 05:01:23 PM EST

A person is not entitled to inherit their parents' money. Ever hear of a thing called a will? You can leave your money to charity, your dog, the government, or your children. But you get to decide. There's no entitlement here.


--pete


[ Parent ]
Oh yes, Transfer of money is baaaaad ! (none / 0) (#83)
by UnPlusUnEgalDeux on Sat Feb 24, 2001 at 07:55:54 PM EST

The idea that everyone should have to earn his or her own fortune is pretty appealing, don't you think?

You're right, we should definitely outlaw any transfer of money (or goods) between individuals. The world would be so much better.

I know it will make my life easier, I won't have to feel guilty for not giving anything to the homeless man who begs me for money on the street corner in the middle of winter. He would be asking me to break the law!

[ Parent ]
Well, (3.50 / 2) (#35)
by elenchos on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 07:51:26 PM EST

...if we put an end to civil society and the rule of law, who has more to lose, a guy living under a bridge or Bill Gates? Who are the ones who gain the most from the existence of police to protect private property and intellectual property? Who has the most to lose if our society begins to crumble due to unrest and class jealousy? The rich have all sorts of reasons to want a just and stable society. Not to mention the fact that if the majority say they want to tax inheritence at 100%, that's all the reason needed. The people have spoken, sorry if you are in the minority. I know that many people worship their money and think it is a sacrilige to tell them what to do with their holy pile of wealth. Too bad for them, I guess, 'cause I don't think wealth is a religion and I don't mind supporting laws that limit the freedom of wealth. Most people agree because they belive that other things are more sacred than money.

And of course there is that little nagging question of whether it really is *their* money, did they really earn it? Or did they swipe it? Are they just chinless fuckheads who inherited it from ancestors who had their act together? Let's take all their money away and find out. If they really deserve it, they will make their forturne back in no time, as the old saw goes. Right?

Adequacy.org
[ Parent ]

The people have spoken, sorry if you don't like it (5.00 / 2) (#60)
by Sanction on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 11:25:24 PM EST

Not to mention the fact that if the majority say they want to tax inheritence at 100%, that's all the reason needed. The people have spoken, sorry if you are in the minority.

There is a statement that made my blood run cold. Are you honestly advocating that anything that 51% of people support can be imposed on the other 49% against their will? If that were the case, I doubt that you would still have the freedom to engage in a debate like this. It is not at all difficult to find a simple majority to support the removal of some rights that we hold to be important. Do you really think that 51% of people would support unrestricted freedom of speech, especially in the bible belt? How about gay rights, or freedom of religion, or the prohibition against a state religion?

Many atrocities have been committed with the support of a simple majority of the people, but we still condemn them because they violate basic rights. The bill of rights in the constitution was added to state those fundamental rights that, regardless of the current political climate, all people are entitled to. Amendments cannot be passed without overwhelming support, 75% being far harder to achieve.

As to the "money is their religion" rant (which really seemed out of character judging by your previous posts) is a straw man. It does not require holding money as a religion to believe that what is mine belongs to me. Property is property, whether it is money, your home, your car, or your computer. To most, money is just another form of property. We may agree that it is a good idea to sede a small amount of it for the maintenance of society, but that is very different from confiscation of all of it. Property is, in a non-socialist state, a right, not a freedom. It is not the money that is "sacred", it is the right to do what I wish with my own posessions.

As any slave could have observed, when slavery was supported by the majority of the population, the tyranny of the majority is still tyranny. Some rights are too precious to leave to a political whim.



I can either stay in and be annoying or go out and be stupid. The choice is yours.
[ Parent ]
Yer right. (5.00 / 1) (#68)
by elenchos on Sat Feb 24, 2001 at 01:54:28 AM EST

Yeah, what was I thinking? Thanks for helping me realize that it is madness to call something a "law" just because you could convince the majority to support it. Why, if we started making laws like that, who knows what might happen? What kind of government would we get if you started, like, electing whoever got the most votes and shit? Chaos would follow! Atrocities like the world has never seen. *shudder*

Ahem. Private property has become a religion if you start to think it is an absolute right. If you start saying things like "no one has any right to tell me what to do with MY property!" They tell you what to do all the time with your property. They tell you where you can and can't put it, to start with. They tell you that you shall fork over certain percentage to the tax collectors. They tell you in excruciating detail how you may and may not invest it, based on who you are, and what you might be privileged to know, among many other things. You may not invest your capital in a home-based methamphetamine production operation. You may not even purchase LSD or fissionable material with your own hard earned money! Your own money! That's right, they even tell you what you can't buy! The monsters!

This fantasy about absolute private property with little or no taxation or whatever it is supposed to be is an even more improbable pipe-dream than my modest little suggestion that we might do away with inheritance. At least mine has half a snowball's chance in hell.

And it has a certain logic even form the private property is holy point of view. That is usually based on the individualist idea that "it is mine because I earned it." Fine. But your kids didn't earn shit. Suddenly you want to turn the whole individualist thing upside down and subsidize these parasites? If they are worthy, they can make their *own* fortune, and then, once the have something they can say is truly theirs, not a hand out from daddy, then they can wax grandiloquent about their beloved private property.

Oh, and then there is the converse. Lets keep inheritence then. You want it so bad, keep it. But what about the downside? If we can claim to be the owners of wealth that was bequeathed to us by generations long dead, can we also claim that we owe nothing back to the past? We want the assets, sure. But no, not the liabilities? I didn't do it. Not by my hand was any such injustice done. Well, if you can claim to own property that was not made by your hand, why not the debts as well?

Adequacy.org
[ Parent ]

Tyranny of the majority. (none / 0) (#101)
by Sanction on Mon Feb 26, 2001 at 08:07:54 PM EST

The first paragraph of your reply, while it may have been written as sarcasm, does nothing to answer my point. I do not believe that a simple 50% + 1 majority is a sufficient measure to allow the oppression of the 50% - 1 minority. Simple majority may suffice for simple questions of traffic law and commercial codes, but it does not provide enough protection when it comes to modifying basic principles of the "social contract" of a country.

If a vote were held tomorrow, and 51% of the population of some country voted to re-institute slavery and immediately make all non-<insert country's racial majority> people slaves, would you consider that legitimate because the majority supported it? These people in many cases moved to a given country because they expected that certain principles that were a part of its culture and law, and probably had a reasonable expectation that they couldn't be changed on a popular whim. Things such as freedom, equality regardless of color/gender/etc, basic economic system, freedom of speech/religion/assembly/press, and other basic tenants of a society or, as some would argue, basic rights of all people. Can a majority lure a work force to a country with promises of freedom and equality, then vote them into servitude?

Majority support is important for some issues, but issues that alter core rights should require more substantial support, perhaps 2/3 or 75%. Also, some basic freedoms, agreed upon when the country is founded like in the American constitution, should require massive support to be revoked, if they may be revoked at all.

As to the rest of your response, I find myself in agreement with some of it. However, I do not see how it follows that anything that is viewed as an absolute right becomes a religion, it is simply a core principle, and does not deserve the connotation that comes from calling it a religion. As to the other point of disagreement, I fail to see how the possible individualist argument that you make supports doing anything with inheritance other than mandating the destruction of all property owned by someone when they die. If my children can't have earned any of it, even by being obediant, helping me with my business, and simply being my beloved flesh of my flesh, then how can anyone else lay claim to it either? With the view of earning it, how is it any better if I leave the money to a charity that has not earned it, or to a government that has already taxed it at least twice and restricts me at every turn?

Now, winding my way down to the initial issue of this section, I find that I cannot disagree with the logic of your last paragraph. It will take me some time to consider the implications of that to our current system, but you have provided an interesting angle that I have not considered before. Thank you, I have been changing my political positions recently from exposure to articles here, and I will have to reconsider how we should place this sort of "statute of limitations" on money through inheritance, but may file charges against someone who buys stolen goods. But as to paying money back for slavery, how could those who profited from it be responsible? After all, what they did was legal, and had the support of the majority.



I can either stay in and be annoying or go out and be stupid. The choice is yours.
[ Parent ]
It's fairly easy. (none / 0) (#102)
by elenchos on Mon Feb 26, 2001 at 09:53:26 PM EST

If it is constitutional, than by definition it is not that radical a change, and so does not require a super-majority. If it is not, then more than just 51% is required. Since congress has promoted dead Army Lieutenants to Captain and awarded back pay, among other similar acts, I would guess it is legal without major changes to the constitution. Since congress already has the power to set taxes, and to limit the size of gifts, or say that you may not purchase this or that (drugs, nuclear weapons) with your own money, then it seems to be within their powers to say that you may not give your money to your children, but rather, let the little bastards earn it (I think that should be in the wording of the law). Charities are not individuals. They are organizations that use the money they are given to benefit those who (we hope) are deserving because of their circumstances. The circumstance of being born into a rich family does not make you "deserving."

It is not a great revelation that society's values change, and the law changes to reflect those values. Since the nation as a whole can be presumed to still enjoy some of the benefits of slavery, then the nation may have a debt to pay. When we pass a law making it legal to do X, that does not make X "right." It makes X something we have all agreed to abide by and take responsibility for. If X turns out to have been a mistake, then we all (even those who voted against it) share responsibility. Same as if X turned out to be the best thing since The Pill. Even those who voted against it get the benefits, as citizens.

The basic idea is that if you want a statute of limitations, so that we may bury and forget the past, fairness demands that this be a two way street. Either the past is over and done, and we all start anew, or the past lives with us, and we continue to collect the debts of the past, and to pay them as well. To say "I want my inheritance, but not any responsibility for where that inheritance may have come from" is to simply be self-serving.

Adequacy.org
[ Parent ]

Not after they die (none / 0) (#75)
by zakalwe on Sat Feb 24, 2001 at 10:45:45 AM EST

*Their money*
But it stops becoming their money as soon as they die. Dead people do not own property. So elenchos is really only proposing restricting their ability to say what happens to their money after they no longer own it. Personally I don't really see anything morally objectionable with this, and it works both ways - I don't think its right someone should inherit their parents debts either - why should someone be liable for (for example) their parent's gambling habit, just because of a biological relationship?

Admittedly, the proposal to limit gifts etc before death is restricting what they can do with their money - though in fact this is a limit already enforced by the law, I'm pretty sure that (at least in the UK) 'gifts' coming close to death are held liable for inheritance tax, to prevent 'gifts' of the entire esatate on the parent's deathbed.

[ Parent ]

Wow! (5.00 / 1) (#76)
by Nyarlathotep on Sat Feb 24, 2001 at 12:04:51 PM EST

Wow, that's pretty radical! I don't necissarily agree that inheritance tax should be 100%, but ultra-high inheritance taxes are an interesting idea which it would be nice to see "someone" try. Specifically, you will never see the U.S. try anything like that, but it would be academically interesting to see some country try it.

Actually, you would have the following problem: (step 1) rich parent opens corperation in a diffrent country for their newborn child (very little money is transfered, so the taxes are irrelevent), (step 2) rich parent makes a succession of deals with this company where they loose money and the company gains money, (step 3) rich parent dies and the kid owns everything tax free. Now, this would likely be tax evasion if the parent just transfered money, but they could transfer diffrent things like intelectual property. Hell, they could justoutsource all their research via their childs company and be "forced" to pay for it twice when the initial "short" contract expired. Clearly, there are a million schemes and a million laws to counter them (just like modern tax evasion), but I have made my point that you should not expect any ultra-high inheretance tax system to work "out of the box," i.e. it would need to be debuged just like income tax has been.

Alternativly, it would be really funny if ultra-high inheretance taxes prompted rich people to just spend 1/2 their money educating and improving (implant & bioengenering) their child. If these were the only way to ass things on to your child then people might spend millions or billions on education and improvments, i.e. if your parents are rich then you _will_ be 3 times smarted then poor people, 10 better educated, and know how to use it. (There is a cute sci-fi short story there)

Personally, I have my own theories on how to fix the various social problems resulting from inequal power distribution.



Campus Crusade for Cthulhu -- it found me!
[ Parent ]
Good God! You're right man! (5.00 / 1) (#79)
by elenchos on Sat Feb 24, 2001 at 03:28:59 PM EST

Just think what some bio-engineering and the odd implant here and there could have done for our current patrician's brood of little lords! Some sort of sound-synthesizing device implanted in GWB's larynx that would transform the pronunciation of any word he says into English! And then add a fat, wide data bus straight into his brain stem feeding him 80 gigs of actual facts! It would be just as if he were, like, smart or something.

I don't know about spending millions education alone; they can try I guess. Isn't Yale supposed to be about the best education that money can buy? Doesn't seem to have made a lot of difference.

But I like the other part. If we can't elect our leaders democratically, then at least let them build us a better oligarch.

Adequacy.org
[ Parent ]

millions on education (5.00 / 1) (#90)
by Nyarlathotep on Sat Feb 24, 2001 at 11:02:14 PM EST

The fact that we have no one spending billions on education today means that we are unlikely to see more then a handful spend that much when you change the rules.

Regardless, you can spend as much on education as you want and more money will always be quite helpful. It's just a matter of having more research grants, doing more experements, and learning more about optimizing teaching. If your personally willing to start funding research programs 10 years ahead of your childs development or fund research programs and patent method of teaching to sell to schools 10 years later then you can probable work wonders.. a kind of moon landing for developmental psychology.

BTW> Yale is just a collage so you should not expect Yale to provide a picture of what can be accomplish by actually adjusting a person education over their entire development.

Campus Crusade for Cthulhu -- it found me!
[ Parent ]
reminds me ... (3.00 / 1) (#12)
by xriso on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 06:46:53 PM EST

reminds me of natives complaining about being conquered. Yes, that's right: some were conquered. According to them, some tribes had land taken unfairly. So, for some reason the fact that dead people had their land taken, automatically means that other people (who happen to be genetically related) have some sort of right to take the land from those who worked to conquer it. Well, at least that's the case here in .bc.ca. AFAIK, when countries were taken over by other countries in the past, the conquered ones didn't have some sort of right to get the land back after all the original population died off. This can only happen if the original country fights back.

Anyway, all this stuff is behind us now, and it is still very greedy to demand compensation that should be given to your ancestors. The ancestors are dead, so there's no compensation needed.
--
*** Quits: xriso:#kuro5hin (Forever)

I hope you are kidding (3.66 / 3) (#36)
by tnt on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 07:53:46 PM EST

I'm not sure if you are being sarcastic (and ignorant) or not.

(If you are being sarcastic, I apologize, but if you are not....)

I know they don't teach this in schools -- you actually have to do some research to find out this kind of history for BC -- but the Native's here were never conquered. The were robbed.

Originally the Europeans were given land by the Natives (here in BC), because (1) alot of the Europeans were marrying Native daughters, and (2) to further the fur-trade. (Most of the marriages took place to better the fur trade,... which ended up getting them land too. They were in the family after all... and alot of the Native leaders wanted to better the fur trade.)

Later, at the around the 1800's (I can't remember the exact date), Douglas went to the Native Chiefs and discussed that the Europeans would need land to live on. Douglas made a deal, with the intent (that no matter who else took over latter) that basically said that they -- the Natives -- would not be interfered with. The language of the deal was that Native's would not get less than a certain amount of land per family. Later, when J. Trutch took over, he changed the wording of agreement to say maxium amount. And that's when it started.

-----

You said:

Anyway, all this stuff is behind us now
It obviously is not behind us. We are still arguing about it. Land is still in dispute. Defacto Native land is still being taken.

It hardly seems behind us to me. Unless by us you mean every British Columbian besides the native population.

-----

You said:

...for some reason the fact that dead people had their land taken, automatically means that other people (who happen to be genetically related) have some sort of right to take the land...
Let me ask you a question. Do you believe believe in inheritance or not? (Like getting money, things, or land from parents, gradparents, etc, who die.) If you do then how can you say that the Native's do not inherit their parents property??? If you don't then you won't mind the Natives coming and taking the land,... since you don't own it... since the Europeans wouldn't be able to pass the land down (like the did). Either way, it's their land.

You said:

... the conquered ones didn't have some sort of right to get the land back after all the original population died off. This can only happen if the original country fights back.
Are you trying to say that the Native's should start a war and take the land back? I think most people are trying to avoid this.

-----

The Natives in BC, and in fact all of Canada should probably go straight to the UN (United Nations) to get things happing.



--
     Charles Iliya Krempeaux, B.Sc.
__________________________________________________
  Kuro5hin user #279

[ Parent ]
well (3.00 / 1) (#43)
by xriso on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 08:32:50 PM EST

I'm just basically playing "devil's advocate". I really don't have much of a position on this issue, as long as I don't have to pay for what some invading europeans did. (I have no ancestors connected with this event.)
--
*** Quits: xriso:#kuro5hin (Forever)
[ Parent ]
On the other side (4.00 / 1) (#49)
by tnt on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 09:06:19 PM EST

You said:

I'm just basically playing "devil's advocate".
Well to do a similar type thing, I should say that alot of the Europeans did not really have a choice. The majority of the people that who were of Celtic decent (Scotish, Irish), that came over here, did not have a choice.

Alot of them were here as a result of the Clearings. A piece of British history which is very rarely mentioned in the history books. (History is often written to the benifit of those in power... and in this case it was England. And we have inhereted their version of history.) Most history books do not even mention it, and some will give it one or two (vague) sentences basically just mentioning it.

Basically, what it is, is that the Natives of the British Isles -- the Celts -- had done to them (by the English), something very similar what was done to the natives here. They were forcibly thrown off of their land, thrown in ships, and sent here (to Canada) and other parts of the World. BC even used to be called New Caledonia -- New Scottland. (Canada also has Nova Scotia ... another way of saying New Scottland.)

-----

I should say, though, that this is in no way trying to lesson the wrongness of what was done to the Natives here.



--
     Charles Iliya Krempeaux, B.Sc.
__________________________________________________
  Kuro5hin user #279

[ Parent ]
Where do you draw the line? (5.00 / 2) (#48)
by bigbird on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 09:03:52 PM EST

You are discussing events which largely happened before the birth of anyone currently alive in BC, including your "victims". You call it theft, history calls it conquest.

As other posts have pointed out, if we want to go back far enough for reparations, why stop at the 1800's? I am not going to call anyone a victim who was not personally impacted by an action taken within their lifetime, and who enjoys the following:

  • free health care (including dental)
  • subsistence income with few strings attached
  • free university education
  • freedom from most taxes
  • freedom to poach game (unless you want to argue that natives used rifles and halogen spotlights to shoot deer at night)
  • free housing
  • the same enjoyment of Government revenues from use of the land base as any other citizen (stumpage, mineral rights, crown land sales and leases)
  • the same freedom to access crown land as any other citizen
Sure, life is not perfect. Things like forced relocation, and the policies and actions of entire Dept of Indian Affairs (from the 1800's to today) are reprehensible. But money will not make it better. Look at the richest bands in Canada, including those with oil revenue - their people live in poverty, while the chiefs live in luxury, thanks to the wonders of corruption.

The USA and Canada will not remain nations much longer as long as people are African-American, or Chinese-Canadian. As long as everyone is more concerned with being compensated as a victim, rather than getting on with their lives. As long as we are more concerned about trying to rewrite history than fix the present and plan for the future.

The way it is going, BC is heading towards a semi-feudal system - a privileged class of landowners, who do not have to obey the same laws as regular citizens - oh wait, we already have one.

bigbird

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. Rom 1:16
[ Parent ]

Re: Where do you draw the line? (4.00 / 1) (#51)
by tnt on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 09:34:40 PM EST

You said:

...your "victims".
I did not call them victims, I just said they were robbed.

You said:

Sure, life is not perfect. Things like forced relocation, and the policies and actions of entire Dept of Indian Affairs (from the 1800's to today) are reprehensible. But money will not make it better. Look at the richest bands in Canada, including those with oil revenue - their people live in poverty, while the chiefs live in luxury, thanks to the wonders of corruption.
I agree with you. Simply throwing money around will not fix things. And there is alot of corruption. (It seems to mirror the various levels of Canadian government.)

-----

One of my main points is to not forget history. To not forget what really happened. (Here or anywhere.) That simply acting like it never happened, and just trying to move on, won't fix things.

-----

You also said:

The way it is going, BC is heading towards a semi-feudal system - a privileged class of landowners, who do not have to obey the same laws as regular citizens - oh wait, we already have one.
I agree that making some people more equal than others is wrong. (And this isn't simply pertaining to the Natives here. There are other groups here that are given more equality than others.) But I think that this a compromise (by the government) to keep them in Canada; instead of having them become their own country. Not to say that I agree with it. I think they should have their land, but there are other ways.) They could always just make them their own province. (But maybe that is not the proper fix either.)



--
     Charles Iliya Krempeaux, B.Sc.
__________________________________________________
  Kuro5hin user #279

[ Parent ]
Yes, but (4.66 / 3) (#58)
by bigbird on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 11:03:00 PM EST

Yes, you did not directly say victim, but it was clearly written between the lines. Someone who has been "robbed" is a victim of robbery.
That simply acting like it never happened, and just trying to move on, won't fix things.
I did not say "acting like it never happened". I cannot change the past, and think it is futile to even try to fix things, unless you have a living victim and a living perpetrator. Also, can you suggest a better way of dealing with historical injustices? The current solutions are based on paying money and granting preferential treatment as reparation for past inequities. In 200 years, my great-...-great-grandchildren will be wondering why they are disadvantaged. Two wrongs rarely make a right.

I have said before on k5, it is dangerous to judge the actions of the past by today's standards of conduct. Any reparations for the distant past fall into this category.

There are other groups here that are given more equality than others.
Please be specific. I will only reply if you include links to specific portions of current legislation which mandate inequality by favouring the dreaded white male.

I work for an Affirmative Action Equal Opportunity employer, and refused to fill in the forms outlining which, if any minority class I fell into. Never mind that any narrowly defined group is a minority - I am a Canadian male who is descended from European farmers who emigrated to Canada in the early 1900's. Unfortunately, this is not considered to be a politicallly acceptable minority, although I have relatives who were discriminated against up to the middle of this century. My aunts and other Central European kids had a terrible time in school during WW II, thanks to the kids of English origin. Should they now demand reparations? Am I now eligible for reparations or preferential treatment?

But I think that this a compromise (by the government) to keep them in Canada; instead of having them become their own country.
Compromise sucks. There is no point in paying people to stay - it is caving in to blackmail, and the threat is not defused, it is only delayed.

They basically become their own country, anyways. The current self goverment agreements will either bankrupt native bands or else lead to a long-term reduction in government services. A group of 400 - 2,000 people cannot legislate the range of topics which they are allowed to enact. They also cannot provide an infrastructure with enough expertise to enforce all areas of legislation which they are allowed to enact.

To clarify that point, at present, BC Environment can enforce certain legislation only because they have significant expertise available to them. This expertise is part of a mammoth bureaucracy supported by 3 million taxpayers. There are around five risk assessment experts in the provincial government. How will native bands deal with ecological risk assessment? Pay expensive consultants, I imagine, because they cannot afford to have this type of expertise in-house. Now magnify this problem by 1000 for other areas of legislation, such as health care and education.

While my solution (stated in my previous post - worry about the present, not the past) may be politically incorrect and terribly insensitive, I cannot see any other solution which will lead to long-term equality. I am of the belief that we are better off approaching what people call equality asymptotically from below (we are very close already today - compare UBC or SFU admissions by gender and race to the general population, and you will find a numerical surplus of women and visible minorities when compared to the general population). The current methods involve overcompensating to a situation which is above and beyond equality, with the hope that equality will be achieved more quickly. I believe that the long term costs will be less than desirable by overcompensating.

bigbird

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. Rom 1:16
[ Parent ]

Re: Yes, but (4.00 / 2) (#61)
by tnt on Sat Feb 24, 2001 at 12:00:45 AM EST

You said:

Please be specific. I will only reply if you include links to specific portions of current legislation which mandate inequality by favouring the dreaded white male.
I was trying to avoid naming specific groups, because I was trying to avoid starting anything like a racial argument,... but the example that I was thinking of at the time was the special treatment (in the provincial law) that the people of the Hindu faith get in BC. (But I'm pretty sure there are other examples,... besides just the Natives,... I can't remember them right now though.)

You also said:

I work for an Affirmative Action Equal Opportunity employer, and refused to fill in the forms outlining which, if any minority class I fell into. Never mind that any narrowly defined group is a minority - I am a Canadian male who is descended from European farmers who emigrated to Canada in the early 1900's. Unfortunately, this is not considered to be a politicallly acceptable minority, although I have relatives who were discriminated against up to the middle of this century. My aunts and other Central European kids had a terrible time in school during WW II, thanks to the kids of English origin. Should they now demand reparations? Am I now eligible for reparations or preferential treatment?
I agree, white males are not treated equally. And it is wrong! I understand the motives behind affirmative action, but the ends do not justify the means.

You said:

The current solutions are based on paying money and granting preferential treatment as reparation for past inequities. ...can you suggest a better way of dealing with historical injustices?
and:
While my solution (stated in my previous post - worry about the present, not the past) may be politically incorrect and terribly insensitive, I cannot see any other solution which will lead to long-term equality.
No I can't suggest a better solution (right now). (But that doesn't mean there isn't one. ....I'm not even the one that has to accept the solution; the Natives do.) But I find it kind of funny that now, after so long, everyone suddenly seems to want the Natives to be equal. When they were never treated like equals before (but as sub-human). (I won't get into examples,... unless you someone asks for them.)

Why should the Native's accept being equal now. Why not wait until they can get things to their advantage first, and then say: now (after we have things the way we like it) we are equal. Because it seems like that is what we (the government, whatever) are trying to do it.



--
     Charles Iliya Krempeaux, B.Sc.
__________________________________________________
  Kuro5hin user #279

[ Parent ]
Money grubbing hypocrits (4.66 / 9) (#16)
by onyxruby on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 07:07:07 PM EST

This is utterly ridiculous. Under the same premise that this is issued under the Black tribes in Africa that sold their prisoners/slaves to the rest of the world should be just as liable. Actually their great, great, great, grand daddy's should be. I might be more sympathetic if there was a single black in this country who had been enslaved in this country who did not die before WWII. Don't forget that American Indian tribes also held slaves, as did most other countries of the time. By this logic, the Romans ought to sue the Germans for the fall of Ancient Rome.

There are countries where slavery was legal well into the twentieth century. There are also reportedly a very large slave population in Africa today. If their are reparations to be made, they ought to be made to people who did something to earn them. The person who is 7 generations descended from slavery is no more deserving of reparations that I am to guilty for my ancestors 7 generations back that might (I don't know) have owned their ancestors.

With WWII slaves, the people who actually suffered are often still alive. If they aren't, than than their children or grand children are. By comparison, my local newspaper has a story about a man that was held as a slave during WWII, and his plight to get compensation. Why am I smypathetic to him? Because he actually suffered something. Slavery was and is a horrible thing. If these people are so concerned about it, they should got to Africa and start buying slaves and setting them free. The cost is about $58 and some gentle persuasion. Until these people have actually done something like this, and start to fight slavery today, I can't think of their actions as anything other than hypocritical money grubbing.

The moon is covered with the results of astronomical odds.

ok (3.00 / 1) (#21)
by heighting on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 07:16:56 PM EST

I have no opinions on reparations, but I have to point out the fallacy (appeal to common practice) here: just because someone else is not making amends doesn't mean you shouldn't either.

Also, read my comments, #13, buried somewhere below, which I think are relevant, in view of your comments.

[ Parent ]
I'm a victim too. Don't leave the me out! (4.86 / 15) (#22)
by AzTex on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 07:17:08 PM EST

Some of my ancestors were Cherokee.  Where's my reparation money from the government for that!?!  I guess I only get 1/16th what the other Cherokee get.  Do I only have to pay 15/16th as much as the rest of you?  This is getting confusing.  sigh...

But wait, there's still hope.  Because some of my ancestors were Irish and Scottish.  I think the English owe me money for a number of items.  But then again some of my ancestors were English.  Darn.  I'll never figure out those fractions.

Oh, I know!  The Anglo-Saxons were conquored by the Normans.  Those Normans really screwed up everything.  If you are looking for a crime against humanity, just look what they did to our language!  I guess the descendants of the Normans owe me big time...  Oh, wait.  The descendants of the Normans and the decendants of the Anglo-Saxons are pretty much the same.  Darn, again.

Maybe this ancestor-victim-reparations idea is not so clear cut.

Hey didn't the Vikings used to sometimes rape and pillage the British Isles?  I think I have a case against anyone living in the Nordic countries.  Now we're talking some money!

And some of my ancesters were French.  The Germans owe me money for the Franco-Prussian war!

What about the Romans way before that?  They owe me for oppressing my Celtic, Germanic, <insert more tribes here> ancestors.

Excuse me while I go call my lawyer.  This victim stuff is pretty lucrative.



solipsism: I'm always here. But you sometimes go away.
** AzTex **

Great link! (5.00 / 2) (#23)
by MeanGene on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 07:21:28 PM EST

Check this out for a concise history of slavery.

300 years of slavery??? (4.40 / 5) (#27)
by AzTex on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 07:29:50 PM EST

The article mentions making reparations for 300 years of slavery.  The U.S. can only be liable for slavery occuring after 1776. For the first 210 years of it, send your bill to Queen Elizabeth.



solipsism: I'm always here. But you sometimes go away.
** AzTex **

The US isn't "liable" (4.50 / 2) (#30)
by Osama Bin Laden on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 07:38:10 PM EST

IANAL, but I suspect that it's questionable whether the US can be held "liable" at all, in the legal sense of the word. An act of the US Congress could provide reparations, but I think it's extremely unlikely that a US court could award damages. Laws that permitted slavery were terrible laws, but they were as "legal" as any laws on the books today. The gov't doesn't tend to hold itself liable for poor legislation.

ObL

[ Parent ]

But should they? (3.33 / 3) (#33)
by rusty on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 07:44:27 PM EST

The gov't doesn't tend to hold itself liable for poor legislation.

Doesn't tend to, no. But maybe it ought to. Maybe a government holding itself liable for actions it did in the past is a god thing, and should be encouraged. Food for thought...

____
Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Maybe they should. (2.66 / 3) (#38)
by Osama Bin Laden on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 08:03:04 PM EST

Maybe a government holding itself liable for actions it did in the past is a good thing, and should be encouraged.

The cynic in me would argue that if the gov't was held liable for every bad law, it would very quickly find itself short of funds.

But I don't disagree: there is a stong moral argument in favor of reparations. The list of wrongs that are worse than America's legacy of slavery is pretty short, so if any legislation is worthy of payback, this legacy is probably the front-runner. Unfortunately the legal and political arguments are substantially weaker the moral ones. The US Congress will never vote for reparations, and without that, the judicial system will never award any.

ObL

[ Parent ]

Revisionism (4.00 / 3) (#47)
by Miniluv on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 09:02:38 PM EST

The problem with that thinking is it leads one down the merry path to disaster by way of revisionism. Moral codes, and ethical ones, evolve at a slightly slower pace than society, and along with that evolution comes the tendency to deplore what came before us. Part of it is because our forefathers made mistakes, and did things we wouldn't do, and part of it is the inherent nature of humans to wish themselves superior to someone else.

It's very easy to feel superior to people who're long dead, to claim that they should've known better because we have the benefit of over 150 years of educated thought to give us insight. The concept of reparation for slavery must be separated from the concept of slavery itself, because they are truly two different issues. The first is whether the US Gov't should pay people who never suffered under the yoke of slavery for the sins committed against their forebears by random white ancestors. The second issue is easily solved, since slavery is illegal and I know of no rational proponent of returning slavery to the United States.

Reparation for ancestors of slaves should, first of all, be limited to those people who are legitimately ancestors of slaves. Because slaves were property there were decent records kept, and many can prove that this is the stock they are descended from. If Congress decides they are entitled to money, I will respectfully request none of my tax dollars be used since neither myself, nor any of my ancestors ever owned a slave, nor profited from the slave trade in any way. My family, on both sides and on all branches, came to the US after slavery was already outlawed, and thus it would be impossible for us to have owned slaves. Why should I be penalized for the folly of some other fools ancestors?

"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
[ Parent ]

One point. (4.50 / 2) (#55)
by elenchos on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 10:31:17 PM EST

Were you or was I responsible for the deaths in the recent Navy submarine/fishing boat wreck? I don't think so. Yet we can expect our tax dollars to be spent on the reparations and damages that will ensue. There are a thousand examples like this. As a citizen, you share in the benefits your country has to offer, even the ones you didn't chip in to create, and when the news is bad, you share in paying the bill. So if it can be shown that he nation as a whole has a responsibilty, then the individual citizens carry part of that responsibility too, regardless of what each one did or did not do.

This kind of parity can be applied to our assets and liabilities that our ancestors leave to us. Did the nation inherit any benefit from slavery? Do we today enjoy something good that came out of it, even though it was not our own doing, or even our biological ancestors doing? The point is that if you feel justified in claiming your inheritence from the past, both literal and figurative, shouldn't that include both the bad and the good?

Wait, that was two points, wasn't it?

Adequacy.org
[ Parent ]

Different circumstances (none / 0) (#65)
by Miniluv on Sat Feb 24, 2001 at 01:47:32 AM EST

I agree with your reasoning to a point, however I'm not sure drawing a parallel between the organized, planned activities of a portion of the populace and an accident with an as yet undetermined cause are really appropriate.

The other difference is, as I stated, my forefathers didn't own slaves, and were not part of the United States when slavery was legal. I am, however, a citizen of this country now when the naval accident took place.

"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
[ Parent ]

You don't like that particuar example? (4.00 / 1) (#70)
by elenchos on Sat Feb 24, 2001 at 02:52:51 AM EST

I guess I can see how Navy submarine operations would not qualify as "organized, planned activities." This is the US military we're talking about, after all. Probably organization and planning would have prevented the accident.

What about the herding of Japanese-Americans into concentration camps? Before I was born, not my fault, it was organized and planned, and a teensy tiny portion of my taxes went into the pocket of the survivors, about 50 years too late. What about say, the Panama Canal Treaty, or any of the 18th & 19th century treaties that were signed between my government and the Native American tribal nations? My taxes still go to fulfill obligations that people who weren't even in my family tree made. Yet I also live on land that found it's way into my possession as a result of some of those treaties. Do I really want to erase the past?

What about the obligation of future generations to do something about the nuclear waste we create? Or to pay any national debt that we might leave for them? Ugh, this list of examples could go on for so long. What about the massacres of civilians alleged to have been done by US troops in Vietnam or in Korea? These happened before I was born too. But as a citizen of the nation that did these things, I take part in the responsibility.

It doesn't mean I feel guilty. I have a pretty disconnected attitude about all these things. Nothing to take personally, just a mess to clean up that I inherited as an American, just like I inherited the benefit of the Grand Coulee Dam that gives me the cheap electricity that I run my poorly configured Linux box on.

I don't know exactly what is the best way to deal with the legacy of slavery, but I don't agree that you can just pretend that we have all started from a clean slate. We each inherit a piece of the past and it is a part of us even if we try to deny it. There are a lot of good things that we inherit, even those of us who aren't members of the Bush clan with a butt-load of dough and political favors coming our way. And we inherit some unfinished business as well.

Adequacy.org
[ Parent ]

Muddy waters (none / 0) (#80)
by Miniluv on Sat Feb 24, 2001 at 04:28:53 PM EST

I understand where you're coming from, and I admit I jumped on a poor parallel as the central aspect of my counterargument. The thing is that you illustrate my viewpoint really clearly with the above post. Nothing is clear cut, most things are so far from clear cut as to seem absurd, but yet we're going to try and make legislation that is black and white regarding the repayment of people for things no one around now did to anyone who is left alive.

Payment for the internment camp fiasco with Japanese-Americans in the 30s and 40s was made to survivors in a large number of cases, people who were alive and in the camps. This is in direct contrast to the proposed slavery repayment, which would be essentially based on the color of a persons skin.

This sounds to me like the root of the repayment issue is one of two things, either it's the "White Man's Burden" or it's a creeping, deniable socialist leaning. I myself cannot agree with either of those, as I think both viewpoints are absurd, but I can respect people for having them out in the open. Clouding the issue by bringing a delicate subject in terms of race relations into the equation is, in my mind, pretty pathetic. If the issue is a desire to turn government into a vehicle for providing equality then be open and say so, or if the issue is that people feel a level of guilt based on the actions of their ancestors and wish to use their affluent status to assuage that guilt, come right out and say so. Sneaking around the issue only makes things worse for those of us who do attempt honesty, in that it provides an easy way to incorrectly brand us as insensitive, or wose yet racist.

"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
[ Parent ]

I had no idea that... (none / 0) (#84)
by elenchos on Sat Feb 24, 2001 at 08:03:53 PM EST

...if I want to use government as an instrument to promote equality I had to be sneaky about it. Seems like a perfectly normal thing to want government to do. Labels like `socialism' don't mean a whole lot to me; they most definitely do not scare me. Ominous images like "creeping socialism" are just nonsense. I'll use whatever tool is in my tool box: screwdriver made in the USSR, pliers from Deutschland, rubber chicken from Great Britian. Others can get married to some ideology if they are that much in love with it, but that is something they have decided to be faithful to. I play the field and never made any promise to anyone not to.

I don't claim that it is easy to make amends. Repaying the Japanese internees would have been much easier in 1950 than in the 80's, that's for sure. Having waited this long to think about the debt of slavery, it is pretty muddy, but that doesn't mean that something that is satisfactory can't be negotiated. Keep in mind that it is not the goal to discover what the objectively true dollar value of the reparations ought to be. It is about finding a solution--any solution--that a sufficient number of the concerned parties can agree on and live with. By understanding that mutual agreeability is the goal, it is actually a much easier and more realisic task.

Adequacy.org
[ Parent ]

Dodging the point (none / 0) (#85)
by Miniluv on Sat Feb 24, 2001 at 08:35:55 PM EST

Actually, I advocated being honest and calling things what they are. If you want to use government to, as you call it, "promote quality" then call it that. Don't wrap it up in a separate issue in an attempt to set a precedent.

As far as socialism goes, I state regularly that I oppose the basic tenets that a socialist government would follow. I do not believe that governments should enforce equality, because equality is a rather hollow concept. This is not to say the current system is perfect, far from it, but instead to oppose change that I feel is undesirable.

I did not, in fact, use the term creeping socialism, instead I stated that there was probably an unstated reason behind this drive towards paying reparations, and that a socialist political bent might be one of them. To quote myself, since you so obviously refuse to, I said:

This sounds to me like the root of the repayment issue is one of two things, either it's the "White Man's Burden" or it's a creeping, deniable socialist leaning
Creeping here means that it is absorbing more and more of the thought patterns of a particular person, gradually converting them to a more thorough socialist viewpoint. There's nothing wrong with that, it's not a scare tactic phrase, instead it's a linguistic representation of an evolutionary thought pattern.

To illustrate my lack of scare tactic or derogatory commentary, I'll further quote myself as saying:

I myself cannot agree with either of those, as I think both viewpoints are absurd, but I can respect people for having them out in the open. Clouding the issue by bringing a delicate subject in terms of race relations into the equation is, in my mind, pretty pathetic. If the issue is a desire to turn government into a vehicle for providing equality then be open and say so, or if the issue is that people feel a level of guilt based on the actions of their ancestors and wish to use their affluent status to assuage that guilt, come right out and say so. Sneaking around the issue only makes things worse for those of us who do attempt honesty, in that it provides an easy way to incorrectly brand us as insensitive, or wose yet racist.
Please let me know how many more times I need to repeat myself to provide you with opportunities for linguistic embroidery.

As far as paying amends goes, I'm not sure I entirely agree with the concept of paying them at all. In the case of Japanese-American internees there was a fairly quantifiable value that could be placed upon goods that were seized, businesses closed, and so forth. With the slavery issue it's a much more nebulous concept of unpaid work, undocumented quantities thereof, and pain and suffering, again undocumented quantities. What makes it worse is, as we've already both agreed, we're paying this money to people who never endured these conditions. I wonder how much good can honestly come from this line of reasoning, as opposed to attempting to reconcile race relations more effectively than has yet been done in recognizing that not everyone is the same, but everyone has value, for that is my opinion of the ideal way to view people. Ignoring the differences is just as harmful as negatively judging based on them.

"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
[ Parent ]

OK... (none / 0) (#87)
by elenchos on Sat Feb 24, 2001 at 10:09:26 PM EST

...I knew it wasn't the "White Man's Burden" because that refers to the idea that white Europeans have a natural position as leaders and rulers over everyone else; it is a justification of imperialism mostly, though domestic caste systems may also lean on its creaky scaffolding. It is similar in the idea of being a "burden," or a duty that whites must carry. The difference is that the origninal meaning is that it is just a "natural" responsibility because other races are supposedly incapable of taking care of themselves and so the duty falls to whites. The meaning of the slave reparation issue is that the US, then ruled by white men alone, has a duty or responsibility, not because of some supposed "natural order," but because of a specific injustice that the nation chose to commit.

So then if it is not the "White Man's Burden" it must be the other thing, "a creeping, deniable socialist leaning." My socialist leanings never creep. They stride forth boldly, unashamed and, I hope you will join me in visualizing, quite naked. I even began by calling myself "radical," though that is a little too precious, I must admit.

My suggestion that we abolish inheritence is simply to be consistent with the idea that we should forget about the past, instead of dredgeing up old quarrels. Who took what from whom way back when, all that. It was so long ago, for example, that your great grandfather willed your grandfather the farm. Ancient history. Let's start fresh and go forward. Not so fast?

You know perfectly well that people go to court or to congress seeking to get what is coming to them all the time, and it makes no difference if it was a generation ago, or a century or five centuries. If they can dust off an old will that promises their ancient ancestor some land or some treasure, they will track down that property and make a claim to it. This is the point I really want to make. This "forget about ancient history" argument is a canard. No one wants to let all byegones be byegones. It is just white Americans today who want to let the injustice of slavery be a byegone. Not all the other stuff they they get handed down to them from the past. It is too one-sided.

So, in fairness to others who had something taken from them in the past, we must at least be considerate towards the descendents of slaves on this issue, and admit that the idea behind their demand for reparation at least rests on a sound principle. From that point, something that settles things amicably is entirely possible.

But if people want to be shitty about it, and go on about how they will take no responsibility at all for what their country or their ancestors did in the past, then abolish inheritence and make everyone begin their adult lives with nothing but their wits and thier ambition. And, in addition, (this is the part where I don't want you to think I'm hiding my socialist leanings) even if there was never any slavery, I think we would have a better society if no one owned more than what he had earned himself. I really can't figure out why so many people are so happy seeing a lazy, stupid incompotent enjoying wealth that was given to him by his father. Why do you feel sorry for that guy? If he is worth anything, he can go make his own fortune. Giving him the chance to prove it is not a hollow concept, nor is it a hollow concept to take away the power of being wealthy from those who never proved their compotence by earning it. Power would shift away from those born into wealthy families and towards those who have what it takes to succeed. This is not "perfect equality" but it is an improvement, and therefore it is a step worth taking.

I just don't care if it happens to be a step in the direction of socialism. I am willing to support other things that might happen to be steps away from socialism. Whatever. Slippery slope arguments are among the weakest of the weak ploys.

Adequacy.org
[ Parent ]

Shifting gears (none / 0) (#88)
by Miniluv on Sat Feb 24, 2001 at 10:30:43 PM EST

I don't see a parallel between inheritence and reparations myself, something about the difference between applying existing law versus revisionism, which has been my whole point.

Slavery was not illegal at the time slaves were held in the US. If it wasn't illegal, then the slaves were not wrongly denied pay. If they weren't wrongly denied pay it's nothing but revisionism to legally enforce reparations for that pay.

As far as the hidden socialism comment goes, it wasn't directed at you, though I may not have made that clear. I was talking about the elected representatives who made no particularly clear statements about the reasoning behind this suggestion of theirs. Also bear in mind, as you've stated, your theories aren't particularly socialist. You're willing to let people make a fortune, thus disturbing the oh-so-precious economic balance and possibly creating an economic divide. The horror.

"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
[ Parent ]

Yes, existing law has closed the issue. (none / 0) (#89)
by elenchos on Sat Feb 24, 2001 at 10:57:13 PM EST

This is absolutely about revisionism. The law, as it stood then, and stands now, says it is a done deal, end of story. The problem is two things. One, 12% of the US population is not particularly happy, and this issue is one of the complaints of many of them. Two, there is moral law which trumps ordinary law.

So if we can bring some peace by negotiating a settlement and then changing the law to enact it, good enough. And part of the basis for that settlement is that even thought the law at the time said it slavery was allowed, we see now that the law then was immoral. Therefore we seek to make amends for that bad law, in some way.

The moral argument is really a whole other thing. Consider that prior to the invention of the cotton gin, there were more abolitionist societies in the US South than the North, because the Southern economy was not slave-dependent then. Once slaves became indispenable, the Southern opposition to slavery dried up. That alone is a smoking gun of moral culpability: proof that the criminal knew right from wrong, but chose wrong because it was self-serving. Christian moral philosophy generally opposes slavery as well; it requires a lot of special pleading to justify it.

So if there are some `socialists' in congress who want to push this through, I think some good can come of it. There are districts in the US that are well-served by electing a socialist to represent them; that's why we have a pluralistic system. Other districts have interests that lie elsewhere. It's just too bad the system is not more proportionately representative, so fewer people will feel shut out of the dialogue. This too, is the fault of having dynasties of wealth, to a degree.

Adequacy.org
[ Parent ]

Minorities rewriting the Constitution (none / 0) (#92)
by Miniluv on Sun Feb 25, 2001 at 05:57:04 AM EST

One, 12% of the US population is not particularly happy, and this issue is one of the complaints of many of them. Two, there is moral law which trumps ordinary law.
Point number one is addressable by directing that 12% to lobby their fellow citizens to elect people who will make this a priority. I will lobby against it and hope that 88% of the country retains, in my opinion, a sane opinion on the matter. Point number two is addressed by:
Article 1, Section 9: No bill of attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.
That's the US Constitution, highest law of the land. What you propose then legally requires a constitutional amendmant which has the following requirements for passage:
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the Congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the Senate.
Thus, what you propose is either illegal, or will require an extraordinarily ardous process. Moral law might, in your mind, trump man-made law, but remember that Morals are man made as well. If we do not adhere to our own legal system we're not governed at all. That's the rallying cry of every government reformer, they demand the government abide by it's own rules, I'll second that motion.

"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
[ Parent ]
That might make it even better. (none / 0) (#93)
by elenchos on Sun Feb 25, 2001 at 04:29:38 PM EST

The extraordinary effort requried to change the constitution, or make an amendment that creates an exception, might be what it takes to make people happy, because of the very fact that it was not easy. Although I don't quite understand why the constituion says we can't pay some kind of reparations now. Were the payments to Japanese-American internees unconstitutional? The special act of congress that promoted Merriwether Louis (or was it the other one, Clark? Or his brother Orville-- I mean Wilbur. Whatever.) to captian an ex posto facto no-can-do-oh? Maybe you mean to say that we can't retroactively charge someone with a crime. That would be beside the point, since they are dead. What we can do is affirm that morally they were criminals, without violating the constitution at all.

You know, I'm taking this awful Catholicism class, and this book we have just goes on and on about the persection of the early Christians, putting them to death, etc. One of the points they are out to make is that these killings and tortures were immoral, and that the Romans were an unjust society, and basically immoral people. Leaving aside the distorted pro-Church view they try to present, it serves as a parallel. You could defend the Romans by saying that what they did was "legal." Roman law said they could do it, so you can't blame them. Well, can you? I think you can say that injustice and oppression are wrong, no matter if the state in power says it is OK. Even if we do not have a perfect understanding of morality, we do have an approximation, and one hopes that our approximation can become more accurate with time. As it does, we can look back and recognize when errors were made.

It is not at all a about punishing dead people. It is about making a clear statement, as a living person today, of what you think right and wrong are. It's like recognizing that those who thought the planet Earth was the center of the universe were wrong. You have to be able to say they were wrong, even if you think you can excuse some of them for not knowing any better. If you constantly harp about how that's what everybody thought back then, and so it was OK, one questions your motives. When I defend the anceint Romans agianst modern Christian criticism, my motive is to get Christians to admit that their church never was the moral pillar they want to pretend it was.

The part about getting enough political support to pass a law for reparations is pretty obvoius. No one has said African-Americas should like, raid Fort Knox and take reparations. This is about convinicing a majority, or at least a sizable enough political faction, to pass it using our existing legal and legislative system. And that is what it is all about. They have to pursusade Americans to want this, because if they don't, reparations won't really accomplish anything.

Adequacy.org
[ Parent ]

Making a statement (none / 0) (#94)
by Miniluv on Sun Feb 25, 2001 at 11:53:04 PM EST

On the one hand I'm forced to not criticize the statement that paying reparations would make a statement about right and wrong, because the's definitely the capitalist way. The problem is, since when is government in the business of right and wrong instead of legal and illegal? The entire point of why we cannot pay reparations is that reparations are based on something illegal being done and deserving that these penalties be paid. Under law at the time, nothing illegal was done. Morality has nothing to do with the situation from the perspective of government.

From my perspective, without an Amendmant, it all boils down to making exceptions to the law. The Constitution says no law may be applied Ex Post Facto, thus we cannot apply current slavery laws to situations which arose before the laws were passed, so no criminal conduct was committed. Civil law wise I'm not entirely sure if there is any law whatsoever governing this, but even a civil wrong doing suit should have some basis in existing criminal and civil law, and take into account the prevailing legal situation at the time.

I personally believe amending the Constitution to support a one time situation such as this is the wrong thing to do, and that it establishes a dangerous precedent for future situations. I believe that current law makes a strong enough statement regarding the legality of slavery, and that is enough for the government to do. I am against the concept of a government telling me what is wrong or right, and instead support the power of government to merely tell me what is illegal. This may seem like hair splitting, but is in fact a fairly important distinction from my perspective.

"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
[ Parent ]

What I think the US is here to do. (none / 0) (#96)
by elenchos on Mon Feb 26, 2001 at 03:06:37 AM EST

    We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquililty, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States of America.
Well, that could mean all kinds of things, couldn't it? You want government to just stick to the law, and to derive new laws only from the rules for creating laws; laws that do not try to bootstrap themselves into existance without solid foundation in prior law. That is useful in general, but the fact that the constitution can be changed is an admission that it isn't that simple. As is my old friend the 9th Amendment, another admission that there exist truths beyond those established in the law as it is manifested in any given instance. And then we have this very idealistic preamble, that seeks to "establish justice," not just to approximate justice, whatever justice is defined as, but "justice" itself. And to promote the general welfare, which can also mean many things to many people. And then this "securing the blessings of liberty," and to our posterity too! Well, that just opens up the floodgates. To me, our government has always been in the business of right and wrong. You may wish for some other kind of government, but I, and I think many if not most Americans, want a kind of government that manipulates law as a tool in order to pursue higher goals, such as this abstract notion "justice" that philosophers love to bandy about. So your rejection of this kind of goal is not obvious nor is it a widely accepted fact. You may still reject such ideas, but that is only your opinion. Much more activist ideals for what the US should be doing as a nation are at least as valid.

This legality part I just don't know about. I think if they were demanding reparations in court then you would be right. No judge can read that much back into prior law. But congress certainly can. They can simply award money, if they want to, if money is what this is really about. Cash payments have been appropriated before for extraordinary service to the nation, or in compensation for some wrong. Promoting a dead Army Lieutenant to Captian is another such example. So maybe it is not legal, but it sure looks legal to me.

Adequacy.org
[ Parent ]

Conditional agreement (none / 0) (#103)
by Miniluv on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 12:32:08 AM EST

Well, I will certainly agree that some segments of the population are seeking a government willing to blatantly disregard the law in pursuit of some abstract concept. Perhaps this segment is even a majority, though I do certainly hope not. I do not believe that the Constitution was intended to grant these sorts of freedoms, and to further point out the potential illegality consider that the Constitution states that any power not explicitly granted to Government is reserved for the people and the several states.

I think the problem is that "most Americans" don't know what they want, and rather than think about it they expect Government to magically know and just take care of things, making new laws if necessary with a blatant lack of regard for any old laws that might prevent such actions. The Constitution has come to mean virtually nothing in the US, as just about everyone knows but everyone is afraid to admit. I don't want to go off on that thread, but I did think it might be valid to put those thoughts down to explain why I'm taking the perspective I am on the issue.

"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
[ Parent ]

What part is illegal? (none / 0) (#104)
by elenchos on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 01:31:58 PM EST

Someone is proposing a bill in Congress. If they like it, they will pass it, and if the President's handlers tell him to sign it, he will, and it will become law. No doubt someone will challenge the constitutionality (if your legal opinion is correct here) and the Supreme Court will decide. So who is "willing to blatantly disregard the law"? If they wanted to break the law, they would be planning a coup or a heist or something.

I think you mean that your interpretation of the constitution is "right" and anyone who wants to use the power for other goals is "wrong." Many people do interpret the constitution this way, but many do not. Many Supreme Court Justices believe that the pursuit of higher moral goals is the intent of the constitution. You sound like you are postitive that your vision is a fact, and that it is the only valid opinion to have about this. I don't know what to tell you. This is not like deciding the atomic number of carbon, or even like deciding if a defendant is guilty of a crime. It is just deciding what kind of country we want, and the contitiution allows us to decide that during any given age, and then change it later. If they wanted it to be unchangable, they could have written the constitution differently. They weren't stupid, you know. Passing a new law to change an old law is not a "blatant lack of regard for any old laws that might prevent such actions." It is just the legislative process. We make new laws, we repeal old laws. Why do you think we have a legislative branch? Maybe you feel it is too easy to change things without running up aginst the constitution and needing an amendment, but as we see, if enough other people agreed that is the case, they would pass an amendment making it that way.

So we'll see. My guess is that this bascially fundamentalist way of reading the text is much like the fundamentalist way of reading the Bible. Something restricted to the sparsely populated regions of the US, and only of consequence because of the terrible error of overrepresenting this minority in the electoral college and in the Senate.

Adequacy.org
[ Parent ]

Unfortunately... (none / 0) (#105)
by beergut on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 05:04:41 PM EST

So who is "willing to blatantly disregard the law"?

"Congress shall make no law regarding ..."

If a law is passed that restricts liberties enumerated in the Bill of Rights, then Congress itself is acting illegally. Anyone who proposes such legislation, and anyone who votes in favor of such legislation, should certainly be punished.

I think you mean that your interpretation of the constitution is "right" and anyone who wants to use the power for other goals is "wrong."

The Constitution is there to limit the power of government. The founders' writings state as much, and much of the language of the document itself, especially in regards to the Bill of Rights, make it plain that government should have limited power. That government today has the "power" to affect society in the way that it does is a shameful, disgraceful failing on our part, and on the part of our ancestors who allowed it to happen.

Many Supreme Court Justices believe that the pursuit of higher moral goals is the intent of the constitution.

Then, these Supreme Court justices are wrong. The intent of the Constitution, as it plainly states in its own language, and in the writings of its authors, is to limit the power of government.

It is just deciding what kind of country we want, and the contitiution allows us to decide that during any given age, and then change it later.

I, for one, want a free country, like the founders wanted for themselves and their progeny (us). In point of fact, I have no problem with altering the Constitution, provided we do it by the means and methods laid out in said document. Or, we could hold a Constitutional Convention to draft a new Constitution for our self-governance. If we follow such a course of action, however, and the resulting document is one which fails to safeguard my liberty as well as, or better than, the current Constitution, I will fight it - with arms, if necessary.

Passing a new law to change an old law is not a "blatant lack of regard for any old laws that might prevent such actions."

But it is. Repealing old laws, and passing new ones in their stead would be the way to properly legislate. The situation created by simply passing new law after new law results in most people being in violation of some law, somewhere, without any knowledge of the fact. While "ignorance of the law is no excuse", contradictory laws creating a situation in which you cannot help but be criminal is insane. When is the last time you heard of a law being repealed?

One huge problem facing us as a society today is the power of the President to rule the country by fiat. The "executive order" is a travesty, and every executive order, from the first to the last, should be repealed. If some are actually good, legislate them via the correct processes. The methods are all laid out - why don't we use them?

So we'll see. My guess is that this bascially fundamentalist way of reading the text is much like the fundamentalist way of reading the Bible. Something restricted to the sparsely populated regions of the US, and only of consequence because of the terrible error of overrepresenting this minority in the electoral college and in the Senate.

I'll assume, by this statement, that you are in favor of a liberal interpretation of the powers of government laid out by the Constitution? I'd support you, except that the intent of those who wrote the document is clearly otherwise.

The real litmus test should be: does this new law in any way restrict my liberties as plainly (but not exclusively) enumerated in the Constitution? If so, then the law is invalid. Prior restraint on free speech, gun control, no-knock searches, wiretaps... all of these things are fundamentally illegal when the light of the Constitution is shone upon them.


i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

Beergut? (none / 0) (#108)
by elenchos on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 07:56:48 PM EST

Hi. Nice to meetcha. I guess.

Adequacy.org
[ Parent ]

You misread my statements (none / 0) (#109)
by Miniluv on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 08:36:45 PM EST

Someone is proposing a bill in Congress. If they like it, they will pass it, and if the President's handlers tell him to sign it, he will, and it will become law.
So far we're talking vanilla legislative procedure, which is fine. Hundreds of laws have been passed that way in recent memory, and the system works well. These laws are not the same as the current situation however.

So who is "willing to blatantly disregard the law"? If they wanted to break the law, they would be planning a coup or a heist or something.
Congress has been known to blatantly disregard the law, i.e. the Constitution, from time to time when making laws. People forget that the Constitution is technically a law, not just a blueprint for Government in America, and by it's own dictates supercedes any federal, state or local statute. Congress is not granted, within the Constitution or it's subsequent amendmants, the power to do what is being proposed. The Constitution also explicitly states that if Congress is not granted a power it is denied that power.

I think you mean that your interpretation of the constitution is "right" and anyone who wants to use the power for other goals is "wrong."
Not at all, I would be highly arrogant and presumptous to claim such as I am not a Constitutional scholar. Instead I am citing often written interpretations of the document, as well as attempting to exercise simple reasoning in regards to it's rather clearly stated guidelines.

Passing a new law to change an old law is not a "blatant lack of regard for any old laws that might prevent such actions." It is just the legislative process. We make new laws, we repeal old laws. Why do you think we have a legislative branch?
No, passing a new law to change an old law isn't, but that's also not what's at issue now is it? If you want to make a law retroactive, amend the Constitution and remove the words "ex post facto". Do not attempt to pass a law in Congress that will supposedly supercede the Constitution and expect it to stick, as that's merely an end-run around the clearly delineated guidelines for our legislative process.

Maybe you feel it is too easy to change things without running up aginst the constitution and needing an amendment, but as we see, if enough other people agreed that is the case, they would pass an amendment making it that way
Excuse me...but is that exactly the process I proposed just a comment or two ago? I myself don't think it's too easy, I am quite content with our system of checks and balances, and I believe that the US lgislative system is one of the best models in existence. Many people would content that democracy is a poor model for government, to which I would reply with Robert Heinlein's quote from Stranger in a Strange Land that it is "8 times better than any other system out there and people need government."

My guess is that this bascially fundamentalist way of reading the text is much like the fundamentalist way of reading the Bible. Something restricted to the sparsely populated regions of the US, and only of consequence because of the terrible error of overrepresenting this minority in the electoral college and in the Senate.
Apparently fundamentalist has become synonymous with not reading "between the lines" of any given document. I'm just fine with being labelled fundamentalist if that means that I insist a document say what it means, and if it doesn't apply any more that it be amended. I feel the amendmant process is not used often enough, and that citizens should be more involved in government continually evolving it's role in their lives to whatever extent they want it involved. I do not know if this is appropriate at the Federal level, but that's something that must, most likely, be learned through trial and error rather than endless speculation. However, I would not call it unreasonable to say that the Constitution provides sufficient cause for concern with a law such as is proposed to feel it necessary to begin the Amendmant process rather than attempting to merely annotate the United States Code with something that would instantly be challenged and suspended pending judicial review.

"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
[ Parent ]
Misinterpretation is what I do. Charming, no? (none / 0) (#110)
by elenchos on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 10:28:36 PM EST

So you object to Congress passing a law that is unconstitutional? While it is kind of a time waster, the constitution allows them to do just that. It isn't like they all go to jail when something they passed is struck down by the court. We agree that that is how it is supposed to work. Again, what is ex post facto about giving say, $3 each to a group of people because congress feels they are heirs to the money? Could be a civil rights violation to favor a racial group, but what about giving money only to those who could prove they were the descendents of slaves? I don't know, you would think that there was some precedent for it. You would think that if it were as blatantly unconstitutional as you say that the critics of this idea would be saying so, rather than arguing instead against the fairness of it and against the idea that the descendents of slaves deserve anything.

I really think you need to admit more strongly that the school of constitutional interpretation that you follow, while valid (yes your point of view on this is valid!!!), is not the only valid school, because the constitution is just not that tightly written. The 9th Amendment, as I like to mention, makes the idea of recognizing rights that aren't explicitly listed a possibility, although it may be hard to accept. Words like "promote the general welfare" can be construed to mean: give everyone a fair chance in life. If the excess of wealth that some are handed by the dead means that others aren't getting a fair chance, then an attempt to do something about it is possible. This is hardly reading between the lines. There is lots and lots of room to interpret the constitution without having to even begin to make stuff up. You ought to just consider the possibility that the supreme court justices who interpret the constitution this way could just maybe be almost as smart and knowledgeable as you.

I can understand where this comes from, now that you mention Heinlien. The guy always expressed his opinions as if they were these irrefutable natural laws or something. Have you noticed that most of the people who take him seriously are teenagers and a few college kids? Even Ayn Rand gets more respect, at least the non-cult faction of her followers. Is it really some prejudice that keeps these beliefs form being taken seriously, or could it be that the guy was just letting his imagination run away with him? Where are the real-world examples that show his version of politics and economics actually works? I see some mighty socialist countries that seem pretty well off to me, and many that are not especially worse off than the rest. But where are the examples of this rugged individualism and libertarianism actually working well for a country?

Adequacy.org
[ Parent ]

Dismissing confidence (none / 0) (#114)
by Miniluv on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 05:52:11 PM EST

Now I can see what you're driving at, you enjoy playing devils advocate. That's all well and good, but why should I feed into a discussion with someone who just doesn't care about the issue at hand? It's a waste of time to me.

In regards to Heinlein, yes, he does write with a confidence that many find smug and irritating. Perhaps this is because their confidence in their own belief systems is too weak to accept that anyone else could have a valid thought? I believe in many of the same libertarian tracts that Heinlein does, but yet am willing to accept that there are in fact other workable systems. What I will violently oppose is any of those systems being shoved down my throat.

"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
[ Parent ]

See, it's all good then. (none / 0) (#116)
by elenchos on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 07:53:05 PM EST

So we are back to debating this proposed legislation on its merits, and what I see is the main strike against it is the difficulty of being fair, becuase the facts are hard to verify. I really do think that it is disingenous to say that other people should just forget the past unless you also want to forget all of the past, including the stuff that benefits you. Selectively telling those other people that they have to live with the evils done in the past, and forget about balancing the scales, is indefensible, unless you are willing to accept the flip side of it, losing inheritence, etc. See, African-Americans had their heritage stolen from them, and now some are telling them that they while their ancestors were victims, they themselves are not, because it is really not a violence against a person to take their heritage. If that is true, that having no heritage, no past, is nothing to complain about, then prove it. Give up yours and then say that it is no loss. It isn't exactly devils advocate. I think they call it reductio ad absurdum; taking the opposite argument to its logical conclusion to show that it doesn't fly.

I think Heinlien is ok for getting 14-year-olds interested in political philosophy, but he sets a terrible example. I think we are supposed to laugh when the kid in Starship Troopers gets assigned to write a mathematical proof of some Moral Truth (according to RAH), but too many people read into it that Heinlien actually has a proof of this stuff somewhere. If he does, I have never heard of it. You can still support these opinions, but when you see these RAH fans who casually toss of "it is a universal fact that..." or "it is irrefutable that..." or some other such assumption, you see somebody acting like a crank. "Why will the world not listen to me! I have The Truth!" they seem to shout, but for evidence what do they give us? And when you are talking about how the Constitution should be read, this is really subject to debate. It was written to be interpreted in many ways, so that it could prove flexible enough to survive the changes of time. This is a good thing, but it puts the problem back in our own lap. We have to decide, rather than just follow the directions. The directions aren't that clear.

Adequacy.org
[ Parent ]

Re: The US isn't "liable" (4.00 / 1) (#39)
by AzTex on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 08:05:07 PM EST

IANAL either.  But I'd agree.  Perhaps I should have said "accountable".

And I was being sarcastic about the whole thing anyway.  Reparations?  Just a part of the whole litigation craze that is sweeping America.



solipsism: I'm always here. But you sometimes go away.
** AzTex **

[ Parent ]
Not to invoke Gowdin's Law, but... (none / 0) (#63)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sat Feb 24, 2001 at 12:45:48 AM EST

Laws that permitted slavery were terrible laws, but they were as "legal" as any laws on the books today. The gov't doesn't tend to hold itself liable for poor legislation.

The German government has been held liable for many of its actions during WWII, despite the fact that they were legal under its laws at the moment.

--em
[ Parent ]

You reap what you sow (none / 0) (#64)
by dogeye on Sat Feb 24, 2001 at 01:22:22 AM EST

When you start a war with half the world, and lose, you tend to be held liable for a lot of things.

[ Parent ]
Hey, you owe the Queen! (4.00 / 5) (#56)
by SIGFPE on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 10:36:16 PM EST

For the first 210 years of it, send your bill to Queen Elizabeth
What are you talking about? We're still waiting for the reparations for all the land you stole from Britain. Especially the bits with decent weather.
SIGFPE
[ Parent ]
Re: Hey, you owe the Queen! (4.00 / 1) (#73)
by AzTex on Sat Feb 24, 2001 at 09:44:03 AM EST

We're still waiting for the reparations for all the land you stole from Britain.
Are you kidding me!?!  We didn't swipe that land from you British.  We swiped it from the Indians!

But then again, since I am 1/16th Cherokee, I swiped it from myself and I am part English and that means that I have to, uh...my head hurts.



solipsism: I'm always here. But you sometimes go away.
** AzTex **

[ Parent ]
I am absolutly in favor of paying.... (4.90 / 11) (#46)
by daystar on Fri Feb 23, 2001 at 08:37:30 PM EST

.. in fact, I'll even give a dollar amount:

One billion dollars to every living person who was a legal slave in the united states.

Okay? We done now? Let's move on....

--
There is no God, and I am his prophet.

Reparations for slavery or not (3.80 / 5) (#66)
by dogeye on Sat Feb 24, 2001 at 01:51:08 AM EST

This country needs to find a way for blacks, hispanics, and anyone else who grows up in the inner city to achieve a level of education that is at least reasonably close to that of your average middle class suburbinite. I don't have any real evidence to back me up, but I feel strongly that the best way to narrow the racial divide is by educating the people.

Right now most students at public high schools in the ghettos of the US don't have a fundamental understanding of Algebra by the time they graduate from high school. I say take away medicare and social security and put the money into schools. Of course that idea would be met with ridicule, and rightly so. But 50 years down the line, do you think our country would be in a better place for it?

School choice already exists (4.00 / 1) (#69)
by onyxruby on Sat Feb 24, 2001 at 02:47:15 AM EST

I know in Minnesota any student can go to any public school, regardless of where they live. This has existed for many years, and is hardly ever used. If somebody really thinks that a certain public school in a suburb is that much better than the local inner city school, than they can send their kid there. I have heard that other states also have this, but I don't know it for fact. Even with this option, people still like to complain about lack of opportunity for poor inner city kids. Want an opportunity? Make one yourself. This country has proven that anybody who wants to be a success can if they have a strong enough desire. Nobody should hand success out, it should be earned.

The moon is covered with the results of astronomical odds.
[ Parent ]

Whatever (none / 0) (#81)
by dogeye on Sat Feb 24, 2001 at 04:30:39 PM EST

How has this country proven that anybody who wants to be a success can? Given strong enough desire? So you are saying that some kid who grows up in a bad part of Washington, D.C. needs to be born with the level of desire that only 1% of the population has just to reach a moderate level of success? Many states do not allow students to attend public schools outside of their region. Even if they did, that only solves the problem for the few students whose parents care enough to find a better place for them. That still leaves 1000-2000 other kids attending the bad school. They can't all go somewhere else.

Try reading A Hope in the Unseen: An American Odyssey from the Inner City to the Ivy League by Ron Suskind. It is about a kid who goes to Anacostia High School, which is located in Washington, D.C. The author won a Pulitzer Prize for 2 articles he wrote in the Washington Post, which he eventually expanded into this book. After reading this book I guarantee you will believe that people who grow up in this type of environment essentially do not have a chance.

[ Parent ]

You make your own path (none / 0) (#86)
by onyxruby on Sat Feb 24, 2001 at 09:50:13 PM EST

You need to make your own way in life. If you have the will and drive to do so, it is possible. If someone does not have the level of desire, the inspiration to rise above, and tenacity to overcome obstacles, than they shall remain at the status quo. They have said that "what I have is good enough", and for many people in the world, there is nothing wrong with "good enough". If you have settled for "good enough", do not come to me saying "more is better". I never said "some kid who grows up in a bad part of Washington, D.C. needs to be born with the level of desire that only 1% of the population has just to reach a moderate level of success". I put enough words in my mouth, please do not add your own.

If a kid feels that they can benefit by going to another school, they can instigate it. The schools here advertise this to all kids. If it doesn't mean enough to the kid to seek another school, than that is their choice. It's called personal responsibility. You need to be responsible for your own success or failure. I find your comment about a lack of chance growing up in poor environments amusing. I was born in poverty, stayed in poverty until after I graduated high school and have spent many of my years in "bad neighborhoods". Nobody ever handed me anything, I earned what I have. I had the gumption to say that I wanted to become more than the opportunity in front of me allowed. I created my own opportunities, and am now considered a success by my peers.

There is nothing I did that many other people have not, and do not do all the time. I made something of myself and rose above my background. This does not make me special, anybody with the will could do what I have done, you just have to put forth the effort. To excuse someone because of their background is perhaps the worst form of discrimination - it discourages ambition and success in life. As for this country, have you talked to any immigrants that have come here from other countries? I think that you would find that many of them (certainly some of the k5 readership) came here because of the opportunity that is available. Opportunity that is unfortunately often wasted by those who don't know how good they have it.

The moon is covered with the results of astronomical odds.
[ Parent ]

The people your trying help are poor (none / 0) (#113)
by Mitheral on Wed Feb 28, 2001 at 02:14:10 PM EST

The only problem is that the people you are trying to help by letting them go to a more wealthy school are often unable to get there. The students who would most need to take advantage of this opprotunity will not have access to private transportation and even so much as a bus past may be beyond their grasp.

Compounded with the fact that if they could afford it public transit leaves a lot to be desired in most places in Canada and the US. I have no knowledge of Minnesota cities but here in Calgary, Alberta (pop. 900,000+)public transportation can easily take two hours to cross town if your route isn't served by the train.

[ Parent ]

High School (4.00 / 1) (#72)
by Nyarlathotep on Sat Feb 24, 2001 at 04:36:20 AM EST

Actually, there have been experemental programs where inner-city kids showed significant improvement, but there are three major factor preventing us from appling their results to the real world: (a) high school is too late, so you need to start really early, (b) If you stop the "enhanced" educational enviroment the gains are lost, and (c) you really need more influence then school provides (remember their parents and school are very bad influences).

Anyway, if you want to make a program which lasted from preschool to high school and consumed more of students time then you can work wonders with getto kids, but this costs real money. Especially, when you consider that your average teacher/principal will never be qualified to help with such a program.

Actually, I'd really like to see child psychologists set up (very expencive) schools where they used all the current research and proved that psychology has really tough us something.

Campus Crusade for Cthulhu -- it found me!
[ Parent ]
are these valid points? (1.00 / 3) (#91)
by Bridge Troll on Sun Feb 25, 2001 at 12:32:26 AM EST

I don't think they are. At my school, one of the wealthiest, reputed for giving a great education, there are black and hispanic students. Many of them don't care. I can't really think of any that want to learn. Though there may be some in the ghetto who want to learn, I think the problem actually starts at home with these people.


And besides, pounding your meat with a club is a very satisfying thing to do :) -- Sleepy
[ Parent ]
So you're not speaking about race... (none / 0) (#117)
by Sairon on Sun Jun 10, 2001 at 09:10:42 AM EST

you're speaking about location. I grew up in a rural area, then moved to the "city". I wouldn't have believed that ghettos are as bad as they are had I not moved here. I also would have not seen their beauty. I have seen SO MANY people my age growing there in poverty, yet struggle and fight and make their own way in the world... It's truly amazing. In many ways, they are better off, knowing the value of working very hard... It's all about motivation. It's all about the individual. Andrew Carnegie rose from his position in life by ingenuity and hard work, and so can anyone else.

JPM

[ Parent ]

Blaming all X (4.40 / 5) (#78)
by Blarney on Sat Feb 24, 2001 at 01:54:04 PM EST

Consider the case of the murderer Lionel Tate, who happens to have dark skin. Therefore, all dark-skinned people are murderers. Maybe we should lock them up, maybe deport them to Africa, maybe make them pay a special tax for "reparations" to society for their murderous, violent actions.

I was once listening to a Rabbi talk in a University classroom when a dark-skinned student radical entered and started interrupting. He wanted the Rabbi to admit to guilt for the practice of slavery, on the grounds that some Jews had once been involved in the slave trade. Therefore, all Jews are guilty of trading slaves. Maybe they should be locked up, maybe made to pay a special tax for "reparation" to blacks for their unjust, dehumanizing actions.

Jeffrey Dahmer killed and ate a lot of people. Jeffrey Dahmer was a homosexual. Therefore, homosexuals are cannibals. Maybe we should knock out their teeth and wire their jaws shut so that they can't eat solid food, maybe give them psychotherapy to suppress their bizarre sexual urges, maybe make them register with the authorities so that they can't kill and eat our wonderful children.

Adolf Hitler did many horrible things which everybody knows about, so I don't have to mention them here. Hitler had a dog, which he named "Blondie". Therefore, people who own dogs do horrible things. Perhaps we should make dogs a controlled substance, and jail people for owning, breeding, and selling dogs. Only the government should be allowed dogs for official purposes such as law enforcement and research - but nobody else.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Is it too much to ask for a little causality? It doesn't matter if some murderers are black, or own dogs, or are homosexual, or are Jewish. The essential issue here is, does dark skin cause people to commit murders? Did Hitler's dog cause him to set up gas chambers? Did the Jewish religion of those long-ago, unnamed slave traders cause their slave trading?

Were there a cause-and-effect relationship here, whereby it could be shown that, for example, white skin caused somebody to enslave darker skinned people, the idea of punishment for the white skinned people would be valid.

But if there is no cause-and-effect relationship here, then somebody's skin color, religion, sexual orientation, or choice of animal companion has nothing to do with anything and should not be rewarded or punished.

your assumption is insidious (4.00 / 2) (#97)
by streetlawyer on Mon Feb 26, 2001 at 07:13:15 AM EST

Were there a cause-and-effect relationship here, whereby it could be shown that, for example, white skin caused somebody to enslave darker skinned people, the idea of punishment for the white skinned people would be valid.

Read the link. The descendants of African slaves are asking for reparations from the United States of America. You decided to read that as "from white people". How fucked up is that? They are asking for compensation from a specific entity (the USA), which existed during the slave times, and which is the same country (both in itself and as successor state to the CSA) which was responsible for committing a crime against their ancestors. Your characterisation of this as "punishment for white skinned people" has to be marked up as a pretty glaring example of (possibly subconscious) racial prejudice.

--
Just because things have been nonergodic so far, doesn't mean that they'll be nonergodic forever
[ Parent ]

Yes, the government will pay for it. (4.00 / 1) (#111)
by DavidTC on Tue Feb 27, 2001 at 10:32:26 PM EST

They are asking for compensation from a specific entity (the USA), which existed during the slave times, and which is the same country (both in itself and as successor state to the CSA) which was responsible for committing a crime against their ancestors.

We the people of the United States...

I love how people think there is some independent entitie as 'the government'. Now, you can argue all you want how it doesn't represent the will of the people...but it is paid for by the people. Making the government pay for something is making the people pay for it. And, let's check, who is the majority in this country? Why, I do believe it's white people, which is why black people are, in fact, a minority. Because they aren't in the majority, you see. Assuming it is white people who will pay for anything tax supported in this country is a prefectly valid assumption, because, you see, most people in this country are white, or the group of people we have decided to call 'hispanic' for some reason. Ergo, most of the tax burden is on them.

This idea would take away land from either large landowners, which I seriously doubt, or common property all the citizens hold. Now, look around. The common citizen is white, ergo, assuming all government land is owned equally by each citizen, they are owned mostly by white people. Saying it's taking land away from white people is just an exageration.

Frankly, this entire thing is insane. A hell of a lot of people's ancenstors weren't able to participate in the land lotteries.

You know, I happen to be white, and thus get none of the aid aimed at 'disadvantaged' (read black) people. A hell of a lot of us don't have any property we own. I have no idea why my family didn't get land 150 years ago, or maybe we did, and had to sell it during the dust years, or whatever they're called, or maybe it was just inherited by other people instead of my direct ancestors. But I fail to see why people should be given government land because their ancestors weren't able to get any for free 150 years ago.

You know, the entire point of giving away the land wasn't to combat povety anyway. It was to open up the west. Well, the west is open. How about a real land lottery, everyone invited, in Alaska?

-David T. C.
Yes, my email address is real.
[ Parent ]

Homestead Act 1862 (3.00 / 1) (#95)
by mami on Mon Feb 26, 2001 at 02:01:18 AM EST

To me, seeking payments for a practice that ended almost 150 years ago smacks of opportunism and greed.

I don't agree.

Because the Lincoln's Homestead Act was enacted in1862, it didn't extend to Afro-Americans and Native Americans. As the Emancipation Proclamation was issued only in 1863 and the war ended only in 1865, it is quite clear that both groups were denied the opportunity to own title to land and therefore generate capital from the assets of such land.

Also a promise for land for Afro-Americans who enlisted in the military, as mentioned in Special Field Orders, No.15 in 1865 was not kept, it seems.

For these denials of access to register ownership of land the Afro-Americans and Native Americans deserve reparations. The suggested reparations in form of money or free education and such suggested today, I do not support.

I actually would support a true Homestead Act which gives Afro-Americans title and ownership of real estate or land under similar conditions the settlers had to deal with in 1862, like proof that they upgrade and imporve and homestead the properties. I do think that such Homestead Act would do wonder for the ghettoes of the U.S. and to the well being of America's poor.

Money and free education is not the same as land or house ownership.

There is a book being discussed on /. (well it was offered for discussion but most comments reflect that almost noone has read it yet), where the recorded ownership via title to land or houses is analysed as crucial for generating capital. It's a very interesting read and there are a lot of analogies you can draw about property rights, human rights, freedom with regards to the GPL. (Mystery of Capital, Hernando de Soto)

I also do not think that any other ethnic immigrant group which came here unenslaved, but as refugees from Asian or European countries after the civil war, deserve similar "special treatment". Native Amercans and Afro-Americans were Americans of the first hour. Other poor ethnic minorities were poor because they were refugees from countries who denied them property rights in their home countries and not because they were denied access to same property rights as any other American in the U.S. So, I don't see, why those ethnic minorities are all mixed together when discussion reparations, affirmation act etc.

Homestead Act
Special Field Order

Sins of the Fathers | 117 comments (112 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
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