Obama comes out of the woodwork, touts reparations for blacks

Anxious to get himself back in the spotlight, President Obama came out of his lair and, for the first time, touted support for reparations for black people, owing to the U.S. history of slavery.

According to Fox News:

Obama said he believes reparations are "justified" and that "there's not much question that the wealth… the power of this country was built in significant part — not exclusively, maybe not even the majority of it, but a large portion of it — was built on the backs of slaves."

The former president claimed that a reparations proposal didn't make its way through the lawmaking process during his presidency due to "the politics of White resistance and resentment." 

"And what I saw during my presidency was the politics of White resistance and resentment. The talk of 'welfare queens' and the talk of the 'undeserving' poor. And the backlash against affirmative action," Obama said.

"All that made the prospect of actually proposing any kind of coherent, meaningful reparations program struck me as, politically, not only a nonstarter but potentially counterproductive."

This happens to be the wokester signature issue of the day, now that the federal government is turning on the money spigots for every cause under the sun.

Fox pointed out that this wasn't Obama's earlier position on reparations, an idea he opposed during his 2008 election.  But instead of saying he'd changed his mind owing to the need to be "on the cutting edge" of fashionable leftist thought, and therefore still relevant, the vacay-happy ex-president declared that only the resentful bitter clingers of this country were responsible for stopping him in his redistribution-of-the-wealth socialist dream.  In other words, whitey did it.

Naturally, he was supercilious and patronizing, demonstrating clearly enough that he hasn't changed a bit:

Obama went on to say it was "perfectly understandable why working-class White folks, middle-class White folks, folks who are having trouble paying the bills or dealing with student loans, wouldn't be too thrilled" about the prospect of "a massive program that is designed to deal with the past but isn't speaking to their future."

That line above is strikingly similar to his signature: "They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations." 

See, pudknockers, he's got your number.  He knows you better than you know yourself.  And the only reason you think this is a bad idea is that it isn't about "the future."

So many things wrong with this statement that it's hard to unpack.

Number one, very few people in the U.S. bear any responsibility, ancestral or otherwise, for slavery.  The U.S. has some 300,000,000 people, largely owing to the effects of mass immigration as well as natural population growth.

In the South just ahead of the Civil War, about 1.7 million people were in families that owned slaves, or 30.8% of the entire white free Southern population.

According to a leftist researcher at Duke University, whose analysis nevertheless has some merit:

The confederacy's 11 states had 316,632 slave owners out of a free population of 5,582,222. This equals 5.67 percent of the free population of the confederacy were slave owners. "That, however, does not tell us the extent of slave ownership. To better understand the extent of slavery's impact, we need to realize a slave owner was the one person in a family who legally owned slaves. That person was usually the patriarch. There would be a spouse and sons and daughters who directly benefited from the family's slave ownership and who stood to inherit enslaved people," wrote Mackey. So, according to the Census of 1860, 30.8 percent of the free families in the confederacy owned slaves. That means that every third white person in those states had a direct commitment to slavery.

 I am inclined to agree with him on the percentage, because slavery in the South saw most of its growth after 1850, and there had been a cotton commodity boom, with the South holding a near monopoly.

But it remains a mighty small percentage of the current U.S. population responsible for perpetrating slavery.  One area where the professor goes off the rails is that he counts entire families as slave-holders, which would include kids, who would have been the majority in any Victorian-era household, those same kids the open borders lobby say "had no choice" in their parents' decision.  They may have benefited from slave labor, but it wasn't by choice.

What's more, all of that wealth generated by slavery was destroyed.  The cost to the South of the Civil War by the war's end has been estimated at $3 billion.  The "value" assigned to the slaves was $2.7 billion.  And the GDP of the area was $735,000,000 (vs. the North's $3.365 billion) by this estimate.  The Civil War wiped out in one swoop the entire calculated value of the slave population because the people were freed, zeroing out that claimed value, while the infrastructural and other accumulated capital value of the place got wiped out in the war itself.  The South remained poor and dependent on sharecropping and cotton for about a century after the war's end.  The wealth now seen in the South is recent and not built on any of that earlier wealth.

Meanwhile, let's sort out who pays and who gets paid.

What does the guy whose family was slave-holders on one side and slaves on the other get?  What does the illegal alien, who has absolutely nothing to do with America's economic development, pay or get?  What responsibility do the vast majority of Americans descended from immigrants pay?  Does that include African immigrants, whose ancestors may have sold the ancestors of today's black Americans into slavery?  And who's to say all slave-holding families were monoliths?  What's the responsibility of the son of a slaveholder in a border state or some place like Tennessee who decided to fight for the North?  Or the Southern Illinois kid who decided to fight for the South?  In a brother-against-brother war, that kind of thing happened.  And let's talk about Kamala Harris, whose family in Jamaica actually held and sold slaves — do we put her on the reparations list or the cough-it-up list?  And what of the millions of people who don't know who their ancestors were?  Pay?  Or get paid?  What of the people who can show descendence from slaves but appear to be white?  Should they get reparations based on blood percentage, despite experiencing absolutely no cultural or social consequences of appearing to be black?  The reality, is at this point, is that it's impossible to sort out the good guys and bad guys among the ancestral populations without a lot of fraud going on, and that's assuming the idea of descendents paying for the misdeeds of their fathers has merit at all, which it does not in a free society where everyone presumably has individual free will.

What Obama is trying to do is cover up the failings of the Great Society, the vast 1960s-era welfare system associated with failed president Lyndon Baines Johnson, which did more to destroy the black family, which is responsible for the success of any group of people, more than anything.

During Jim Crow and well into the 20th century, the black family, even with discrimination, was stronger and more resilient than the families of whites.  Incomes and education levels rose sharply, in stark contrast to the unintended consequences of the Great Society, which almost literally forced black men from the home and their families.  The horrible program decimated the black family and contributed to a huge host of social problems that come of young men anywhere being forced to grow up without the guidance of their fathers.  That's why black social indicators have fallen and lugubrious liberal and leftist "help" for the black community is effectively poison.

Obama's a big-time supporter of state welfare handouts, in that big love he has for expanded government power.  His yelling for reparations is a means of hiding the fact that Democrat policies have devastated the black family and forced many to need remedies.  The remedies, though, are things he can't handle: intact families, schools that teach with results to show, a fair and evenly applied rule of law, work opportunities based on a business climate that permits job creation, and a knowledgeable celebration of our common American culture.

None of those things happens under a redistributionist society that he's always championed.  As usual, he's a divider, and now he's found himself a fashionable vehicle to express it with his call to reparations.  What Obama should be doing in ascertaining blame for the troubles in the black community is doing what he does best: looking in the mirror.  

Image credit: Ari Levinson via WikipediaCC BY-SA 3.0.  Image filtered with Graphite by BeCasso.