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Reparations for Slave Descendants Are a Very Bad Idea

Reparations for Slave Descendants Are a Very Bad Idea

The old idea of reparations for the descendants of slaves are popping up again.  It is a very bad idea in every way.  It is merely another Democrat left-wing scheme to use taxpayer money to gain votes.  It lacks any moral, legal, or rational justification.

Yes, the United States bears the scar of slavery – and always will.  It was common in the earliest colonial days – first brought to what is now the Carolinas by the Spanish in the mid-1500s.  It gained a foothold in the English and French colonies.  The first colony to legalize slavery was Massachusetts.

At the time of the Declaration of Independence … the Articles of Confederation… and the United States Constitution … slavery was found in every colony – but not without a growing opposition in the North. 

Eventually, slavery divided the nation politically and geographically.  The evil institution ended with the Emancipation Proclamation, the Civil War, and several amendments to the Constitution. 

That was 158 years ago.  Unfortunately, it did not end institutional racial prejudice against freed slaves and their descendants – most notably in the old solid Democrat Southland.

But that was long ago.  If there were a statute of limitation of reparations, it would have expired more than 100 years ago.

Reparations may be justifiably imposed on those who owned slaves – or the politicians who maintained institutional slavery by legislation, policy, and culture.  Payments would be made to those who were subjected to slavery.  But those folks are no longer alive – nor are their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and even great-great-grandchildren.  There are no former slaves to compensate – or slaveholders to pay.

In fact, the vast majority of Americans have no ancestral history as slaves or slave owners.  Millions of Blacks are the descendants of people who came to America after the end of slavery.  Most White Americans are also descendants of folks who arrived here long after slavery ended – or descendants of northern abolitionists. Hundreds of thousands of White men died to end slavery in the Civil War.  Should their descendants get reparations?

One argument raised in support of reparations is that today’s descendants of slaves or still experiencing the Draconian effects of slavery.  That is not necessarily true.  If there is any case to be made for the current suffering of Black Americans, it is not from the slavery of their ancestors more than 150 years ago – but rather the more than 100 years of institutional racism in the former Confederate states and the still segregated big cities.

If there is any justification for reparations – and I do not believe there is – it should come from those who imposed institutional racism, Jim Crow legislation, and violent terrorism at the hands of para-military vigilante groups.  

When President Clinton raised the prospect of paying reparations for the descendants of slavery, I suggested that the only appropriate payee should be the Democratic Party.  Slavery and the 100 years of institutional racism – Jim Crow and Bull Connor – were the sad legacy of the Democratic Party. 

If you are going to absolve the Democratic Party because it has changed, then you surely need to absolve the American public in general because it has changed.

Apart from a lack of rationale for reparations, there is the impossible task of determining who would pay whom.  Would it be the general taxpayers of the nation or of a state – such as California, where Democrats are pushing for state-funded reparations? 

(Consider the irony.  California was never a slave state.  In fact, it was not even a state in the days of slavery.  It was never one of the Jim Crow states.  And yet, Governor Gavin Newsom thinks the people of his state should pay reparations.)

Supposedly, the money would go only to the descends of slaves.  And how do we determine who they are?  Most of the folks who descended from slaves have no records to prove it.  Are we supposed to accept every claim without documentation?

Even worse, the proponents of reparations are setting up a scheme to create potentially false documentation.  They want to place a question on the ten-year census – asking folks if they are descendants of slaves.  With the prospect of getting money from Uncle Sam, I have no doubt that many people would make that claim as long as they did not have to document it.  It is just human nature.

Would the bogus census question then be the “documentation” to establish slave ancestors?   That would make reparations nothing but a grand con game with the American taxpayers – Black and White — as victims.

I recently watched a television program about Jesse James.  They interviewed several of his descendants.  Should we be asking them to pay reparations to the victims of the James gang robberies?  That makes about as much sense as reparations for slavery.

We can all agree that slavery was an evil and immoral institution.  We can also agree that the 100-plus years of institutional racism was evil and immoral.  We can also agree that there is a lot to be done to wipe out the residual of institutional racism where it remains.  I have spent a lifetime in that battle.  But reparations are not the answer.  They are a cynical politically-based distraction.

So, there ‘tis.

About The Author

Larry Horist

So,there‘tis… The opinions, perspectives and analyses of Larry Horist Larry Horist is a businessman, conservative writer and political strategist with an extensive background in economics and public policy. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman. He has served as a consultant to the Nixon White House and travelled the country as a spokesman for President Reagan’s economic reforms. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress. Horist has lectured and taught courses at numerous colleges and universities, including Harvard, Northwestern, DePaul universities, Hope College and his alma mater, Knox College. He has been a guest on hundreds of public affairs talk shows, and hosted his own program, “Chicago In Sight,” on WIND radio. Horist was a one-time candidate for mayor of Chicago and served as Executive Director of the City Club of Chicago, where he led a successful two-year campaign to save the historic Chicago Theatre from the wrecking ball. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He is praised by readers for his style, substance and sense of humor. According to one reader, Horist is the “new Charles Krauthammer.” He is actively semi-retired in Boca Raton, Florida where he devotes his time to writing. So, there ‘tis is Horist’s signature sign off.


  1. Dan tyree

    Show me someone who lived thru slavery prior to the American civil war or any person alive who was a slave owner or precipitated in slavery and I’ll give my life savings to the cause. So help me God!!!

    • James Tihanyi

      There were also African Americans-Blacks, who owned Black slaves! In the vanguard of Slave Ownership were also the Jews! On the Island of Barbados in the Dutch West Indies, Dutch Sephardim Jews owned the Sugar Cane Plantations. First in the early 1600 hundreds they used Irish Slaves, but by the second half, of the century, around 1650 the Jews switched to African Slaves who were more docile, easier to keep in line under control. Zionist Israel, home of the Jews should pay reparations to the descendants of those Irish and African Slaves!

      • frank stetson

        Sure James, that makes a lot of sense?

        I mean if this article was about America doing reparations, aren’t those folks included in the income tax pool that creates the funding?

        And IF, and of course that will never happen, America decides to pay reparations, of course we would want other countries participating in the practice to do the same. No duh.

        OR the other way, and I am betting the one your are alluding to is: IF Barbados does not pay, why should we? Great logic on that one……

  2. frank stetson

    Oh my, I saw the header and thought here’s a Dumpster or Allass low hanging pos, but no —- It’s Larry. Didn’t think he’d touch this with a ten foot pole.

    Bottom line: think a massive report of recommendations came out a year ago and there tis.

    There’s a couple of pretty funny things though: “the more than 100 years of institutional racism in the former Confederate states and the still segregated big cities.” Is there a map for this? Can we call it “racism world” with the map including South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas, Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina. And then the hundreds of cities strewn across America. What’s left we will call Larry Land :>) That’s some map.

    Or after 100 years are the States, all Republican now, been redeemed and it’s just the metro’s? And California. Even better map.

    “We can also agree that there is a lot to be done to wipe out the residual of institutional racism where it remains. I have spent a lifetime in that battle.” Personally, I believe one needs to accurately define the enemy before any war should be waged.

    • Tom

      Yeah I was going to ask you Frank since you traveled so much in your employment, are there any examples of racism in the Midwest, or up in the northern states?

      I do remember racism in PA. When I was about six years old, my mom and I got on a public bus to go to the city. It was early evening in February, and cold as a witch’es boobie. I went to the back of the bus, this was about 1960 or so. My mother saw me going to the back of the bus and called me back to the front where she was sitting. She told me white people are not supposed to sit back there. We sit in the front. I did not understand why. All I understood was that in a big public bus, the engine was in the back of the bus and that back bench row seat was the warmest place on the bus!!! LOL

      I do agree with Larry, such a program would be hard to implement. But I also think that we need to do a better job of ridding our society of institutional racism that (as Larry writes) has existed in many forms in and through at least the 1970’s, and some still today!

      I also wonder how they would determine who pays? Should I be paying when my family only came here thanks to the Kaiser in 1918 so? My family came in the wave of Slovak immigrants who came to Ellis Island, spent two months in detention to ensure against diseases, were sent to work in the coal mines of the Mammoth Vein in Northeast PA. We were very discriminated against, forced to work long hours in very dangerous jobs, and paid very low. Grandpa Tom was a blaster. We were so poor my grandmother gave up my father and two of his brothers to Ambler Catholic Home for Boys (now it is coed) during the Depression of 1929. My family should have had some of the advantages (and maybe some reparations) that those rich had who kept us terribly poor. I think I should be able to file for reparations as well. I can prove I trace back to coal-cracker poverty stricken trapped lineage. Can you send me a check please???

      Quite frankly (no capital F here) I think the whole idea of reparations is crazy. It will be a program similar to Affirmative Action where you discriminate and treat one group unfairly in order to promote and treat another group fairly – and fair is a perception that will change based on the viewer. The only clear course of action is to target institutional racism where and when we find it. I think we all can agree on that!!!

      • Tom

        Truth is, the ones who deserve reparations the most is the American Indians! We stole all of their land in a government approved program called “Manifest Destiny” and they we forced them to live in some of the worst places in the country. Reservations in Nevada still do not have running water! And their political votes take ten days to get to somewhere where they can be counted. Maybe we should all give our houses back to the Indians and learn how to make green efficient teepees!!!

        Just look at poor Cher. She was born in the wagon of a traveling show, her momma used to dance for the money they’d throw, and papa would do what ever he could, preach a little gospel and sell a couple bottles of Doctor Good. She was always being called a gipsy, tramp, and a flea from the white people in town! She deserves reparations!!!

      • Frank stetson

        Systemic racism occurs in all 50 states.

        Overt racism too, just more prevalent in Red States.

        Try “national brotherhood week,” Tom Lehrer, pretty much explains it all.

        OMGoodness, I have travelled the world, racism is the normal human condition. And my FIL who logged millions of miles goin round the world a number of times added: “and no one likes the Muscovites.” See, and Tom Lehrer thought it was the Jews. Australians hate aborigines, northern Italians, hate, southern, Italians, and all of Asia hates Japan.

        Even Canada is racist and let’s not start on those bootiful blondes in the Nordic States because there’s a reason they are so plentiful.

        It’s the human condition to pick yourself up by putting someone else down. That’s the route of it, frustration.

        • Tom

          What is a “FIL”? Is that a Foreign Immigrant Lover? Or Friend In Larry? Please define.

          I agree Frank, it is sad but true that it seems to be the human condition to elevate one’s self at the expense of another. Sadly, every great once and a while, I slip up and call an Italian a WOP, which we know means Without Papers. And being Polish, we are somewhat taught to hate Russians and call them Ruskies, Ivans, etc. And I have heard in many states Mexicans referred to as “beaners”, and American Indians being used in team names such as “Redskins”. Even among us whites, we discriminate in a number of ways like education some are dumb hicks, country people are called red necks, hicks, etc.

          I strive hard not to do these things. But it seems like in the last 20 years or so we are immersed in this racial garbage. :>(

          • frank stetson

            father in law

        • Tom

          I just listened to that “National Brotherhood Weed” song. Funny! And sad in a way.

          • frank stetson

            The man is sick —- and from the 50’s —- and nothing much has changed no matter how much Larry tells you Republicans have made it better :>)

    • K Sny

      I remember riots in Boston, Chicago, Indianapolis (Indiana has the largest Ku Klux Klan Membership)
      when they introduced bussing for integration of schools. ARE THEY IN THE SOUTH? then there is
      the question, exactly where do we get the $14 trillion ($300,000 for each descendant of slaves) from?
      We are already in hock to the tune of $32 trillion as it is. How much has the Black community gotten
      from the Government in direct welfare payments, food stamps, Medicaid, section 8 housing since 1965
      and LBJs war on poverty? I’ll bet it is better than $5 trillion.

      • frank stetson

        K Sny: Red States get more government funding than Blue States.

        Whites get more than Black.

        And deplorable Trumplicants get the most: why do you think they are so pissed off?


  3. Steven Dickerson

    I understand the constant demands from certain portians of society that they deserve special treatment, however, Back in the day, a group of wealthy Americans bought up what is now known as Liberia, South Africa, and offered free land!

    • AC

      We have an answer to the question standing in plain sight. One that has no relation to monetary cost, for it does not get paid from our national coffers. But, it demands something from each and every one of us. That something is a change in heart and mind. Every individual, regardless of race, ethnicity, religious faith or agnostic to faith, will need to dig deep into the soul of their opinions. Opinions are where perspectives lodge hate, prejudice, animus, greed, all manner of rational for perpetrating inequality’s perversions toward fellow human beings and fellow citizens.
      That answer is in plain sight, yet talk, columns of opinion commentary , responses to such commentary, and general consideration of reparation centers on cash payments. Which, really solves nothing, potentially creates even more of the same badly blood, and frees no one from the bondage of heart that entraps.
      Much talk, but scarce is resolve for systemic change in individual person’s perspective toward others.
      Change in the degree that erases systemic injustices comes at high person cost, no one likes admitting to being wrong and a part of a problem and not participating in the multitude of solutions in everyone’s daily life. For you, Larry, and the whole of us all are guilty and perpetuate that division preventing ‘“ justice for all”.

    • frank stetson

      Not even close.



  4. Huapakechi

    I believe the whole intent of the “reparations” movement is to incite yet another schism within our national society. Those who are promised free money for the supposition that some ancestor was once a slave will be angered when it is blocked by EEeevil republicans/conservatives. Que the rioting.

  5. Aldreamer

    There are MILLIONS of black people who are the descendants of slaves!!! You don’t have to know them personally Larry, but I can almost bet you do, IF you associate yourself with black people. If you beg to differ that there aren’t any descendants of slaves Larry.. How do you explain the MILLIONS on top of MILLIONS of black people who carry the very last name of Slave Owners?? The fact that the majority of Blacks in this world will NEVER be able to trace back to their true ancestral history because every single time their ancestors were sold to a new Slave Master, their identity was stolen as well and their last names were changed to the Slave Masters last name. You, Larry Horists come from a lifelong of Horists and folks who look like you don’t have to look too far to trace back your roots of Horists… Blacks on the other hand can only trace back so far.. So when a White person who is a descendant of Slave owners, want to voice their opinions on what Black people do or does not deserve, in the manner of reparations, you definitely need to stay silent when your “OPINIONS” do not state facts!!!! You don’t have to look too far to find descendants of slaves Larry, the last name of a black person will tell you all you need to know!!!! Signing off… Ms SMITH !

    • larry Horist

      Aldreamer …. You must be dreaming. I never said … implied … or suggested that there are not millions of Black Americans who descended from slaves. And as a guy who spend a lot of time in the inner city, I know a lot of them. My point was that there are also millions of Black Americans who are NOT descendants of slaves. So … how do you distinguish between the two groups for the purpose of reparations. I did not mention it in the commentary, but there are a lot of White folks who are descendants from slaves. The descendants of Thomas Jefferson’s slave lover Sally Hemmings are divided between White and Black descendants. And while you referred to my Horist lineage, you failed to mention that my DNA shows some Nigerian ancestry. Do I get reparations?

    • Tom

      I agree. I think LArry’s opinion may be a bit myopic but I think his intent was to discuss how many black people in this country are immigrants and how do you tell the difference between an immigrant after the American Civil War, who wishes to commit fraud and a legitimate descendant of slaves. Perhaps a way of determining this might be that they can trace their roots back to at least some date, like maybe 1890 or so. And we should also means test these winners before awarding them reparations, since reparations are based on institutional racism that caused these folks loss of income. There is a court case about this right now that involves Aunt Jamima pancake syrup.

      • Frank stetson

        It’s all a moot point; this won’t pass

    • KawikaFiveSix

      There are many millions of African Blacks who got off the boat, AFTER the Civil War until today, and they produced many millions of children! How are any of them owed Slavery reparations?

      “Four million black people have emigrated to the United States since the 1960s — and tens of millions more would if they could. Are they all fools? Why would anyone move to a country that is systemically bigoted against them? Did any Jews emigrate to Germany in the 1930s?”
      —Dennis Prager

  6. MikefromTexas

    Why should my taxes pay for someone who wasn’t even a slave? My grandparents were not born in the states.

  7. don crosby

    I think reparations could go the other way. Do the descendants of slaves owe the descendants of slave owners. Because if they were never slaves they would most likely still be uncivilized in Africa . They have it so good now a days.

    • Tom

      WOW! Now there’s a case of perverted logic. Maybe I should chop off your limbs and sue you on the basis that you owe me for making your condition such that you will never be involved in driving a car and having a life threatening accident! And maybe I should sue because now you qualify for a handicap space up front while I have to park in the general admission parking lot! Think of what you just said. I disable you, and then I charge you for the perceived future benefits of the disability! How stupid is that!!!

  8. Bubbelove

    My Ancestors were slaves in Egypt – I think all of us Jews should be paid reparations for this!
    And this is as stupid a statement as people wanting, and those paying, reparations for their ancestors. No one gets a free ride, so get a job and work as the rest of us do.
    Do Holocaust survivors receive reparations? How about the Irish? – when they came to this country looking for jobs they were greeting with signs “no Irish need apply.” What about the Chinese? They were treating and abused in this very country, also. I could go on and on, but I think you may have got the message.

    • frank stetson

      pppppst, Bubbalove — yeah, you got reparations —- it’s called Israel numnuts….. :>)

      • Theodore

        Yea right, they fight and claw every day to keep their country that they have fought and bled for and some pissant like you comes along to belittle them? The only “Numnuts” here would be you, as usual.

        • frank stetson

          wtf are you even talking bout teddy? how did I belittle them? by stating that Jewish reparations included creating the State of Israel? Heck, they got $$$billions$$$ too I think. Claw??? I think the Israeli’s do better than that. Seems like every time they get into a dust-up they end up with a larger country. Sure, it’s tough. Gun’s everywhere, schoolkids being shot, murdering people just because of their heritage, mass shootings, mass murders, political shootings, and that’s just Marjorie Taylor Greene’s neighborhood…. Israel has it tough too.

          While Israel was not created directly from German reparations, there would be no Israel without the holocaust driving a lot of immigration and the German monetary reparations which helped Israel blossom.

          FYI — I did not belittle Israel or the Jews; I zinged Bubbalove for his astonishing grasp of Jewish history, as you — numnuts.

          • Tom

            First, Exodus 12: 35-36, the Israelis did what Moses asked and God favored them. They received much gold and jewelry and clothes from the Egyptians. So their reparations are actually documented in your Torah, you must be an uneducated Jew or a fake Jew.

            And if you read the US State Dept. “Just Act Report” From 1945 to 2018, the German government paid approximately $86.8 billion in restitution and compensation to Holocaust victims and their heirs. And as you have also stated, land was made into the Israeli State.

            This Independent Court has determined you, Frank Stetson, are correct in your free speech comment regarding the state of Bubbalove’s dormant testicles.

          • Frank stetson

            That took me a moment.


          • Frank stetson

            Tom, YouTube Bowie-my way.

            Best bowie memorial ever.

            And try Bowie live concert
            Montreux 2018

            One one the best “mature” bowie shows post thin white duke period.

    • Tom

      First, Exodus 12: 35-36, the Israelis did what Moses asked and God favored them. They received much gold and jewelry and clothes from the Egyptians. So their reparations are actually documented in your Torah, you must be an uneducated Jew or a fake Jew.

      And if you read the US State Dept. “Just Act Report” From 1945 to 2018, the German government paid approximately $86.8 billion in restitution and compensation to Holocaust victims and their heirs. So they got their reparations, google the report if you are really interested in knowing the truth.

      Chinese workers on the Transcontinental Railroad who were killed were all single men, they have no survivors. While they lived in poor conditions, shanty shacks in low lying ground often exposed to flooding, most deaths were due to avalanches and other issues, not abuse. Some died of disease. Survivors have since submitted pictures of their loved ones that were never given credit for building the Pacific RR part of it – and these pictures are now in the Pacific RR museum. So they got their reparations.

      Irish were not slaves, this is a misinterpretation. They were actually what is called “Indentured Servants”. Some were treated horribly and were able to sue through their government. The big difference is that the Irish and any indentured servant by international law is to be considered and treated as a human being. A slave according to international law is property, and not required to be treated like a human. This mostly happened in the Caribbean Islands, and the Irish indentured servants all had a contract with their employer for a given amount of free labor in exchange for their passage to the country. It was basically a barter deal. Slaves did not have any such contracts. You insult many black people when you with your whataboutism regarding the Irish. This is often a slur often associated with Neo-Confederates and white nationalists.

      The message I get from you is that you do not research your comments this showing your ignorance of human history. Sad. Very sad.

  9. mojo

    Didn’t the pious people and yankee government of the north commit worse atrocities on the South when they sent the racist governors to rule over the Southern States and encourage carpet baggars to steal kill and plumage Southern properties and wealth.
    Does this qualify Southerners for reparations for their losses and how long did it take for those that took over the South to lose it, after all most of those appointed to govern the South were blacks.

    biden and his democrat regime are forcing the America People into revolution.

    • frank stetson

      Mojo — report was done by California —- what’s Biden got to do with it? His name does not even appear in the story?

      Tell me, when you hear something bad, how fast does it take for you to knee-jerk to Biden?

  10. Darren

    Just wondering, between the U S Supreme Court and the Biden Administration, can I identify as a Black
    descendent of a slave and collect reparation’s.

    • Tom

      Yes possibly if you are white but a blood mix and have a genetic report.

  11. andy

    WHERE are the calls for reparations for the Indians we stole the land from? They were here before any of us, we just came along and took what we wanted, in some cases forcibly moving or removing them. They should get reparations LONG before the blacks.

  12. Americafirst

    Hold on people. This may hurt. A quick trip to Wikipedia will give you the history of slaves. It will tell you about a man by the name of Anthony Johnson. Johnson was a black man. He was the man who started the Black slave trade in America. He also owned slaves. Reparations should be given to the non-Black people over the Blacks that started the slavery business, not the other way around. However this is all nonsense and should not be done in any case for any reason. It is sheer stupidity to go ahead with it. I also believe the reparations are just a game for Newsome and the Democrats to launder more money into their own pockets. So…there it is!

    • frank stetson

      Another dude learning history from comic books. PEOPLE — if it sounds improbable, look it up. IF it sounds impossible, look harder.

      AmericaFirst needs to know that WIKI is user-edited and, OMG, has been known to had incorrect edits, go figure. You can always tell, for example, which hollywood stars or public figures hire internet PR teams to “spruce up” their WIKI pages and other internet data troves.

      Here’s a more accurate picture of the topic that AmericaFirst seems last to know, although I would say this one is a trickier one to spot. Usually the fake news folks are not so sophisticated in their inputs, so we give AF a Mulligan.

      Try this AF, love to hear if it changes your mind:

      FYI: On The Curse of Oak Island there’s a curious story of a Revolutionary War Type freed slave who became a freeman cabbage farmer on Oak Island and subsequently the richest man in Nova Scotia. Guess we know who found some of that treasure. But rich black former slave does not mean he did it with welfare or that some Blacks did not strike it rich as freemen.

  13. kunling

    Everyone who was born in the US and who has a connection to slavery should go down on their knees and thank the Lord our God they were born in this country instead of the crap hole from which their ancestors were captured and enslaved, probably by other blacks. If you want reparations, get your reparations in the form of a job and obey the law. Stop the looting, burning and other lawlessness.

    • frank stetson

      Only if you stop the racism, unequal treatment, and hatred.

      You’re up first.

  14. Octavia

    I identify as a black, trans, victim descendant of a slave I don’t have documentation to prove it but where do I sign up?