The calls for reparations by most 2020 democrats seem to be extremely unpopular with the majority of the American electorate according to polling, yet the ideas driving these policy proposals are pushed in just about every institution in America.
The fundamental flaw with reparations proposals is that the claims used by advocates to justify this idea, are historically inaccurate.
Slavery is Not Unique to America, and The Arab Slave Trade Was the Biggest
The biggest slave trade in the history of the world was what historians call the ‘arab slave trade.’ During this slave trade, which unfortunately is still happening today Arabs enslaved, castrated, and killed tens of millions of Africans.
During the Barbary slave trade, people of European descent were still being bought and sold as slaves in the Ottoman Empire, decades after Africans were freed in America.
Slavery was a central feature of life in the Mediterranean world, especially in Mesopotamia, ancient Egypt, Greece, Imperial Rome and the Islamic societies of the Middle East and North Africa.
During the Transatlantic slave trade, Brazil received millions more slaves than North America did. Well over 90 percent of enslaved Africans were imported into the Caribbean, Brazil, and the rest of South America. Only about 6 percent of African captives were sent directly to British North America
Slavery was not exclusive to America and invading countries is not exclusive to Europeans, but today so many children are presented with the history without this important context. Because of this, children end up looking at American history through a modern lens, instead of the lens of the past.
Europeans Were the First to End Slavery by Law, and Hundreds of Thousands of White Men Died to Free Them:
You can go all the way back to 590 when Pope Gregory banned Jews from owning Christian slaves or even the Joseon Dyansty, but more modern history shows us that western civilization and English common law led to the first formal abolition of slavery. In 1787, the Society for the Abolition of the Slave Trade was founded in Britain by Granville Sharp and Thomas Clarkson. In 1792, Denmark banned the importation of slaves to its West Indies colonies. By 1890, after the Brussels Conference Act, and after the 13th Amendment was ratified in 1866, essentially every Western country completely banned the practice by law.
Around 300,000 men of European descent who fought for the Union died in America’s most deadly war to free the slaves.
Slavery is Not What Made America the Rich Country That it is Today:
Many imply that America is the rich country it is today because of slavery. This is not true, and many analyses like this analysis from economist Martin Feldstein elaborates on the wealth growth of the country.
Only a small percentage of the south actually owned slaves, and their dependence on slavery actually held their economy back in a lot of ways in comparison to the north. This was especially apparent following the industrial revolution.
If slavery was the sole driver of economic prosperity of countries, then places like Brazil and regions of the middle east would be far better off than America. Slaves had to be raised and fed from birth, whereas automation of the production and processing of crops was a far more economical alternative. After the civil war, many freed slaves fled to the north for better economic opportunities.
Slave labor, in fact, prevented the country from becoming more efficient more quickly.
Slavery Did Not ‘Build’ America:
The South was an agrarian economy, while the North was an industrial economy. After the War of 1812, the South became dependent on manufacturing and trade in the north.
According to statistics from ‘Warfare in the Western World,‘ the North had over 100,000 manufacturing facilities, and produced 94% of the country’s iron and 97% of its coal. By this time, the north already had 22,000 miles of railroad. Northerners held 75% of the country’s farm acreage, produced the vast majority of the country’s livestock, 70% of it’s corn, and 80% of its wheat. The north had 75 percent of the nation’s total wealth.
Using the consensus from historians, statistics from AEI, and using data from the UEN, the Irish technically built most of America. The vast majority of the canals, bridges, roads, sky-skrapers, and the transcontinental railroad was carved out by Irish and Italian immigrants as well as contributions from Chinese workers. The vast majority of America’s original infrastructure was constructed by frontiersmen, western settlers, and the founding stock of the country.
Reparations Have Been Paid Over and Over Again:
Federal welfare spending breaks records every single year, and welfare is the biggest portion of the annual federal budget. There are over 80 different welfare programs according to the CRS.
As far as reparations are concerned, if we look at which ethnic groups in America are paying more into the system than they’re using and which are more likely to pay for it, and then compare this to the individual and household income by race, a much clearer picture is painted as to who is actually paying for social safety nets.
From widely available income and welfare data, we can see that on average, White and Asian Americans are paying more into the system than they use. White Americans largely foot the bill for welfare and public services.
Who is most likely to receive welfare, use public education and public transportation vs who is most likely to pay for it but not receive: