A fight is brewing in Washington, DC, after numerous cities led by Democrats say they may not only enact reparations payments but use federal dollars to make such payments. The debate has been raging for several years, and Congress’ free-wheeling spending during the pandemic with the rise of the social justice movement of 2020 has aided the discussion to move forward.
If taxpayers in local communities or states approve of such measures, that’s the way our system of government works. Whether or not the idea is good is different from the Constitutional question of whether or not Congress intended the money appropriated to communities to be used for reparations.
Some argue that the federal government is obligated to award black Americans financial damages solely based on the horrific, immoral, and evil institution of slavery. They offer three arguments:
- Slavery’s legacy hindered economic progress for black Americans
- Reparations would rectify a historical wrong.
- Reparations would increase the disposable income of low-income black Americans and lift entire communities.
This would seem appropriate and fair on the surface. The atrocities of slavery in America were beyond shameful and disgraceful. There are no words that capture fully the evil perpetrated against an entire group of people. Yet, there is so much more to the story, starting with the institution of slavery and moving our way to the broader legal arguments.
Slavery has existed for thousands of years. Asians, Europeans, and Africans enslaved one another as well as those from other continents. Even Native Americans enslaved one another. Every people of every race and culture has a legitimate grievance.
Still, something was different in the United States. The founding fathers struggled with slavery. Ultimately, they created a Constitution that demanded some tough questions that eventually led to the abolitionist movement. Our founding document made it very hard to rationally deny enslaved people their human or constitutional rights.
The abolition of the institution of slavery marked a historical moment not only in the United States but also across the world. By the early 1900s, it was nonexistent in the West and only in a small pocket of areas of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.
Regarding the economic plight of black Americans, how much of it is perception versus reality? Dating to the 1960s, “black” and “poor” became synonymous terms. The Civil Rights establishment used the words to create public awareness and engage the white majority’s emotions to combat overt racism.
Unfortunately, however well-intentioned, their rhetoric worked so well that the monikers have stuck with us sixty years later. Economist Thomas Sowell wrote in his book “Civil Rights: Rhetoric or Reality” that the majority of Americans believe blacks are more proportionally poor than they really are. Most believe wrongly that 75% of black Americans live below the poverty line. The truth is, it’s approximately 25% who live in poverty.
So, if 75% of black Americans aren’t below the poverty line, is that because of slavery?
The black middle class grows stronger every decade, and more people are educated and affluent than ever. This is wonderful! Why aren’t we celebrating this accomplishment and doing more to lift everyone out of poverty?
Still, reparations fly in the face of reality, as already mentioned. Still, there’s one more question. What caused extreme poverty among whites across much of America? There are thousands of impoverished white communities. Where is their help? Why are they generationally poor? What about Hispanic communities?
The truth is poor people will always exist among us. Poverty isn’t a racial issue in the 21st century. There are many reasons for it, and some things can be done to empower people of all backgrounds. Yet, some people don’t want to move upward. It’s a human condition that exists across the world and isn’t based entirely on race.
Regardless, instead of empowering people to move up in the economic and societal ranks, Democrats are using reparations for political gain. Who wouldn’t want free money? Especially if you’re convinced that you deserve it. If not given, it must be the big bad racist Republicans who want to suppress people.
It couldn’t be farther from the truth in the times in which we live.
Is there still racism? Yes, unfortunately, there is, but it doesn’t know a political party. Does that justify reparations?
As noted earlier, cities are planning to use part of the Democrats partisan American Rescue Act’s $1.9 billion to pay for reparations. Boston’s mayor argues that slavery and 1960s Democratic redline policies denied black Americans a means to create generational wealth, secure stable housing, and live freely. Again, there’s a lot of truth to this historical reality. Still, the question now is, why haven’t Democrats in these large cities they control completely removed the redline laws and encouraged development and financial capital in these depressed communities?
It makes one wonder?
A legal fight is about to ensue. The question is rather simple… Did Congress explicitly authorize cities to use federal dollars to pay people reparations?
Stated plainly. It did not. Not only does the law not provide for the payouts, but Congress also debated reparations in 2022. Why would they do that if they had already passed it? Last year, some Democrats proposed Congress create a federal commission to study reparations but failed to acquire enough votes in both chambers.
So, once again, some far-left Democrats take matters into their own hands and use laws to enact an agenda the law wasn’t meant to address.
These are the types of ongoing actions creating chaos and unrest throughout society.
The Biden administration has been continually slapped down in federal courts appointed by Democratic and Republican presidents for misusing laws to advance equity, climate, and college loan forgiveness without explicit congressional approval.
The executive branch doesn’t get to decide why, where, when, or how much taxpayer dollars it wants to spend. That’s Congress’ job. Its job is to execute the laws, not create them.
Separation of powers doesn’t just exist between the branches of the federal government. It also exists between the states and the federal government. If these cities want reparations, they should convince voters, state lawmakers, and governors to act instead of inappropriately using federal taxpayer dollars to enact their agenda.
It won’t surprise me if the US Supreme Court has to step into the fray to defend the Constitution’s separation of powers rules. It’s an ongoing issue that only seems to be getting worse as Democrats use identity politics to stretch existing laws to achieve a far-left agenda that most of the country wants nothing to do with.
The Conservative Era, Copyright 2023