Dean Clough

April 17, 2023

Portico Darwin: Black Reparations


4 Minute Read
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The subject of reparations is not new, it is again at the fore and this time, it's a right-wing talking point.  That's because The Psycho Woke here in SF are wasting time and money on a reparations plan that's beyond fantasy.  $5 million per black resident of SF and forgiveness of all debt?  Unlikely!

But that doesn't mean the subject itself doesn't warrant further discussion.  In fact, it merits a whole bunch of further discussion if we ever - ever - hope to begin putting race behind us and consider it more like . . . hair color.

Some background.  When we're talking reparations, let's be honest and call it what it is:  compensation.  Compensation to the descendants of the black Americans that largely built our country:  either for free under direct chattel enslavement, or at a deep discount under white supremacist terrorism.

The concept dates to the factual promise made by the US Government to each freed black male slave of 40 acres and a mule as the Civil War was concluding.  Which our black citizens did not receive.  In fact, they got little apart from the ongoing rejection of the concept - in the north as well as the south - that they are equal citizens of our country.

Many of you, whatever your political ilk, may agree that much or all of this is true, but are just tired of the whole thing.  After all, you didn't own slaves and don't belong to the KKK, nor did your own parents or even grandparents.  Can't we just move on?

No.  Black people can't move on, and nor should they.  At least until the grave wrong America committed is at a minimum formally acknowledged and perhaps even rectified.

But how?  My awareness of the entire subject began, like many, with an article that appeared in the June 2014 edition of The Atlantic.  It was written by Ta-Nehisi Coates and it was entitled simply "The Case for Reparations".  If you've never read this seminal work, the PDF is here.

From there, I read a number of magazine articles and books on the subject, including the unjustifiably vilified 1619 Project.  There's a bibliography at the end - a first for this blog - and I hope you'll read one or more of the books.

But what is the point of all of this?  More virtue signaling by yours truly? 

No - not at all.  In fact, let me be clear:

I am completely opposed to paying reparations to the descendants of black American slaves.

My reasoning is simple and consistent with a recent post:  we're all in this together as Americans.  I believe we'd be better served, on the whole, if the money that would be spent on a comprehensive reparations package for American blacks (estimated at $14 trillion in From Here to Equality - see below) instead be spent on all Americans.  

Given how egregious and horrific black history was (is) in America, this in some ways is continuing the wrong.  But paying real reparations to our black citizens would further divide us, and I fear we don't have enough left in the tank as a nation.  As unfair as that may be, it is a fact:  black reparations are not going to happen in the US, ever.

So I advocate this program instead:

  1. A Truth & Reconciliation Commission Regarding Black African Enslavement in America
  2. Fundamental Mental & Physical Healthcare for All
  3. Public Child Care for All
  4. A Higher and Indexed National Minimum Wage

Fantasy, probably like reparations themselves?  Maybe.  But there's nothing unreasonable or unusual about my proposals, at least when compared to what's available in other westernized democracies.

And tell me your plan for permanently repairing the damage of America's Original Sin with anything less?  My friends, Black History Month ain't getting it done.  With this program, the entire country would be improved, and probably drastically so.

A Truth & Reconciliation Commission Regarding Black African Enslavement in America
This has to lead the whole thing, and it has to be real.  We need to study others that have been undertaken, and then have our own.  Here are some of the examples.

Name names.  Reveal numbers, including of those killed.  Show photos.  Allow families to tell their stories.  Challenge the world's economists to estimate the cost of slavery, in both human and financial terms.  Talk about today and the future, and about what is working and not working within the black community.  Set measurable goals for Federal agencies in terms of black poverty, black home ownership, black education levels, black incarceration, etc.

Maybe watch the movie interpretation of The Nürnberg Trials at this point if you need visuals?

But wouldn't a commission like this create a litigation frenzy?  Yes, and if it's going to be transparent and real, everyone testifying or named will have to have complete indemnity, which lessens the commission's impact drastically.  Because total indemnity for past wrongs means there can be no reparations.

But that's why there are 3 more components to redressing slavery in America.

Fundamental Mental & Physical Healthcare for All
I think most understand by now that we're the only OECD nation that doesn't guarantee basic healthcare for its citizens.  I will acknowledge the major problems currently in the UK with their National Health Service (NHS), and that public healthcare is probably not perfect anywhere. 

That doesn't mean basic health care paid for by the government can't work and be good here.  And what we have now is objectively not working:  we pay more per capita and have worse outcomes.   

I feel there is nothing we can realistically do that could benefit black Americans more than providing them and everyone with a baseline of physical and mental healthcare.   A sick adult or child is not productive, but one mentally and physically strong (in any color) is capable of anything.

Public Child Care for All
This one is easy.  I'll let a chart - from and about the OECD - do the talking.  This is a comparison of what modern western economies, as a % of GDP, spend on childcare.
Screenshot 2023-04-12 062336.png
Yeah, there's the United States.  See us?  Way down there to the right, just after Columbia and Romania.

What would it do for black and all American families if we had childcare here like that what is assumed elsewhere?

A Higher & Indexed National Minimum Wage
It is estimated that the minimum wage would be in the ballpark of $25/hour by now if it had kept up with productivity gains.
Screenshot 2023-04-12 063620.png

That is patently unfair, fuels wealth inequality and mires people in poverty.

I believe strongly the minimum wage should be indexed to the cost of living in a given region.  But there's no doubt it needs to go up everywhere.  All individuals and families just scraping by in America would benefit from this inequity being addressed. 

But black families would likely benefit the most.

Paying For This?
I bet some of you are asking from where the money for this utopia would come?  It's easier than you think and the answer is right here.  For good measure, we should also expand the FICA withholding tax to all income, not just up to the current $147,000 cap - that would make Social Security solvent for decades.  For everyone.
Selected Bibliography
Darity, William A., and A. Kirsten Mullen. From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty-First Century. The University of North Carolina Press, 2022.

McGhee, Heather. The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together. One World, 2021.

Wilkerson, Isabel. Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents. Random House, 2020.

Gillon, Steven M. Separate and Unequal: The Kerner Commission and the Unraveling of American Liberalism. Basic Books, 2018.

King Jr., Martin Luther. Radical King. Beacon Press, 2016.


Maybe those so quick to trash SF as the global center of bad were shocked to learn that tech exec Bob Lee's killer was an acquaintance?  And not another random act of awful here in Radical Far Left Land?

People that dump on my beloved San Francisco without knowing all of its dimensions today should never visit.  Ever.  Seriously:  you won't like it and it's super nasty, even worse than Commander Tucker Carlson says. 

So stay far, far away.   No, really:  please don't come to San Francisco.  It is very expensive and bad here. 

Very, very bad.

Thank you to any one that is reading this newsletter.  Unless you're hating on SF without knowing what you are talking about.


Damn, I'm good - this ticks every box, including it being a first time play on KLUFHere, on an album with some crazy-town guitar riffs and lyrical power, is Living Colour and Time's Up.

Fun Fact:  Our wedding anniversary was this past Thursday.  LOL "Love Rears Its Ugly Head"!

About Dean Clough