Reparations Sticker Shock
The enormity of the Left's latest reparations bill is a mind-numbing $6.2 quadrillion.
Quick: Picture in your mind a quadrillion of anything. Having trouble? Here’s some help: The Great Lakes have a volume of about six quadrillion gallons, and it takes 210 years or so for a quadrillion gallons to cascade over Niagara Falls. Or, if entomology is your thing, we have around 10 quadrillion ants here on planet Earth at any one time.
We mention all this by way of preparing you for some sticker shock — namely, the price tag of a study on slavery reparations recently conducted by three college professors: $6.2 quadrillion. That’s a six and a two followed by 14 zeroes. Or, to put it in a way that drives home the fiscal enormity of that number, if we were to divide 6,200,000,000,000,000 one-dollar bills into 16 even stacks, each of those stacks would reach the moon. (If you don’t believe us, this graphic will help you check the math.)
We know what you’re thinking: Not even Jeff Bezos has a spare six quad lying around, so what’s the point? Well, one of our nation’s two major political parties is currently dancing with this reparations devil, and Democrats are likely to keep dancing until Election Day — or at least until they think they’ve got 90% of the black vote sewn up for the cognitive calamity called Joe Biden.
And we shouldn’t be surprised that the topic of reparations seems to reappear every four years. After all, that’s when the Democrats are desperate to mobilize their most loyal constituency. So here we go again.
As Paul Bedard reports in the Washington Examiner, “The nation’s mayors on Monday backed a national call for reparations to 41 million black people, a program that could cost taxpayers $6.2 quadrillion. The U.S. Conference of Mayors released a letter backing a Democratic plan to form a reparations commission to come up with a payment for slavery.”
This is how far left the Democrats have lurched. What had long been a fringe issue beset by all manner of legal and logical conundrums is now spoken of freely and opportunistically among mainstream Democrats. As Bedard notes, “The study suggests a payment of $151 million [for each of 41 million black American recipients], and the cost to every person would be $18.96 million. The calculation is somewhat complicated, but it essentially studies the unpaid hours slaves worked, calculates a price for massacres and discrimination, and adds in interest.”
We suspect the average eighth-grader will need to bump up his lawn-mowing price if he’s on the hook for $19 million.
In a column he penned last year, Jeff Jacoby pulled together the commonsense case against reparations. “Slavery was a toxic evil,” he began, “and its bitter impact didn’t end with emancipation. But any attempt to discharge the moral crimes of the 18th and 19th centuries with monetary payments in the 21st century is doomed to fail. The logistical and definitional obstacles alone would be a nightmare. The majority of white Americans have no ancestral link to antebellum slavery — they are descendants of the millions of immigrants who came to the United States after slavery had been abolished. Of the remainder, few had any slaveholding forbears [sic]: Slavery was abolished in most Northeastern states within 15 years of the American Revolution, while in most of the West it never existed at all. Even in the South at the peak of its ‘slaveocracy,’ at least 75 percent of whites never owned slaves.”
Jacoby then addressed some of the complications: “To whom would reparations be owed? Millions of black Americans are recent immigrants or the children of those immigrants, and have no family link to slavery. Are they entitled to compensation for what slaves endured? How about whites whose ancestors were slaves? Or blacks descended from slaveholders? What of the 1.8 million biracial people who identified themselves in the last Census as both black and white? Should they expect to collect reparations, or to pay them?”
Slavery is and always will be the great stain on our nation’s history — indeed, the great stain on all of human history. But no amount of money forcibly transferred from one group of innocent Americans to another group of aggrieved Americans will ever make it right. Nearly $30 trillion in “Great Society” wealth transfers since the mid-1960s have made this all too painfully clear.
Leftists don’t want to hear any of this, of course, because the racial grievance industry is a lucrative one. But the solution to our nation’s original sin will only arrive when all of us — black, brown, and white — commit to judging each other just as Dr. Martin Luther King dreamed it: not by the color of our skin, but by the content of our character.