Saturday, September 14, 2019

What the Left Doesn't Get About Reparations

By Robert Wenzel

The topic of reparations being paid to descendants of black slaves in America continues to be a topic that hovers over the Democratic debates.

In the debate that occurred on Thursday, for example, when asked about a problem of racism in the country, presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke said racism was "endemic" and "foundational." He said the true founding of the country was in August 1619, when the first enslaved African was taken to America against his will.

O'Rourke said he would sign a bill into law to instate reparations for descendants of slaves if he were president.

O'Rourke's reference to 1619 was, of course, triggered by the nutty New York Times series on the topic.

The idea that reparations should be paid to black slaves is generally promoted as a way for blacks to "catch up" to whites in financial standing in America.

But for lefties to think this means, and I will say it, that they have an "endemic" and "foundational" misunderstanding of how the capitalist system works.

Handing people money, who lack entrepreneurial understanding and have no appreciation for why savings can help in the long run, is not going to help people of any group in the long run. The money will be spent on consumer goods and be back into the hands of capitalists in no time (less than a year).

Lefty politicians just don't understand this or don't care, because they are just buying votes (with taxpayer money) in the next election.

If lefty politicians really wanted to help black ancestors of slaves, they would:

1. Eliminate compulsory public schools which do nothing but turn many inner-city youths into urban primitives.

2. Eliminate minimum wage laws so that inner-city low-productivity mostly inner-city youths get that all-important first job.

This is what will allow them to "catch-up" to whites.  Not handout programs that only teach blacks that the solution to their problems is lefty politicians taking money from capitalists and giving it to them. That is always a scam and top black leaders such as Malcolm X have always understood this. Learning about capitalism is the way out of poverty for blacks.

The white lefty proclamation to "help" blacks has always been a hustle. Malcolm X again:


There is no chance that reparations will do anything for blacks but give them a short-term consumer boost. The money will rapidly end up back in the hands of businessmen, that will mean mostly whites and Asians.

Most blacks will remain in poverty because of crushing government policies such as evil public schools and minimum wage laws, reparations or not, but hey they will probably get new Nikes and have a couple of well-stocked parties with reparation money.

As Israel Kirzner has explained, you don't need your own capital to be an entrepreneur, you need vision, something that the government aggressively tries to smother out of the black personality and replace with dependence on the state.


 A great example of black entrepreneurial vision (no government handouts required) here: The Cleverness of an Entrepreneur Seeking Capital.

Robert Wenzel is Editor & Publisher of EconomicPolicyJournal.comand Target Liberty. He also writes EPJ Daily Alert and is author of The Fed Flunks: My Speech at the New York Federal Reserve Bankand most recently Foundations of Private Property Society Theory: Anarchism for the Civilized Person Follow him on twitter:@wenzeleconomics and on LinkedIn. His youtube series is here: Robert Wenzel Talks Economics. More about Wenzel here.


  1. The Left couldn't give a FF about the state if inner city Blacks. This is simply a power and money grabbing scam.

  2. RW,
    I agree with your blog post. I would add one more item to your list of things to eliminate: Occupational Licensing. With no occupational licensing, blacks, as well as other ethnicities, could earn money as barbers, hairstylists, cab drivers, etc. without the time and expense of meeting licensing requirements. Removing this roadblock would contribute greatly to lifting blacks out of poverty.

  3. Need to steal those votes any way you can!

  4. This about two things, pitting people against each other and buying votes with other people's money while taking a cut off the top.

    The democrats and the left, those at the top anyway, know full well it will do nothing for the underlying conditions. If they thought it would they wouldn't even allow the subject to be brought up. It was the democrats that worked to derail and destroy the entrepreneurial efforts of former slaves in decades after the war. Those efforts then morphed into the welfare state. The know full well a reparations program would play out more like the Dave Chappelle sketches than anything that will result in lasting income sources.

    1. Reparations would result in lasting income sources. For the Democrats.

  5. There is no doubt that atrocities have been committed by those that have lived in what is now called the United States of America. There is no doubt that a large portion of those atrocities have been committed by those whose heritage is now considered white European.

    IMO individuals (not groups) affected by these, and all atrocities, deserve compensation. But only if it is proven that they have been affected and who is guilty of the atrocities and therefore are responsible for the compensation. Under these conditions compensation for slavery in America is so complex it is overwhelming to the extent that it will cause more harm than good.

    Anyone that has “white guilt” that has not personally benefited from slavery of blacks in America is, as RW might put it, not a deep thinker. If you have personally benefited and feel guilty, there are ways to transfer those benefits without the need to involve government and those that are not guilty. If you have benefited and do not feel the need to compensate, maybe you really do need to “check your privilege”.

    As for how to help blacks Milton Freidman, like Malcolm X before him, saw through shallow thinkers and power hungry politicians: