On June 18, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti launched the national MORE campaign — Mayors Organized for Reparations and Equity, a coalition of 11 mayors promoting reparations for the descendants of slaves in America.
Garcetti was joined at a virtual news conference by seven other mayors: Steve Adler of Austin; Melvin Carter of St. Paul, Minnesota; Keisha Currin of Tullahassee, Oklahoma; Jorge Elorza of Providence, Rhode Island; Quinton Lucas of Kansas City, Missouri; Steve Schewel of Durham, North Carolina; and Darrell Steinberg of Sacramento, California.
Also taking part in the campaign are Asheville, North Carolina, Mayor Ester Manheimer, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones.
Garcetti said the MORE campaign has three goals:
- Support and call on Congress to pass House Resolution 40, which would establish a commission to study reparation proposals for African-Americans.
- Form an advisory committee made up of black leaders to advise the coalition on how to approach reparations and identify funding sources.
- Establish pilot reparation programs.
CNBC reported that William Darity, professor of public policy at Duke University, estimated reparations could cost taxpayers up to $12 trillion — almost three times the amount the IRS takes in each year.
The cost for each of the 144 million taxpayers? More than $83,000.
Use of Coercion Tactics?
In his remarks, Garcetti was quick to point out that “cities will never have the funds to pay for reparations on our own.” Rather, he said, the MORE campaign is looking to “inspire national action” — meaning to pressure Congress to bankroll reparations via the American taxpayer.
Austin Mayor Steve Adler said his city has “formally apologized for our participation in the enslavement of black people in the work that our city historically has done, and we have resolved to make good on that debt.”
How the nearly one million residents of Austin owe a debt from more than 150 years ago when the city’s population was under 5,000 isn’t clear.
Where Does It End?
From Native Americans forced to remote reservations, to the Irish fleeing the potato famine only to face “No Irish need apply” signs, to attacks on German-Americans during World Wars I and II and the internment of Japanese-Americans during the latter, people of many ethnicities have experienced racism throughout American history.
Why don’t the descendants of these people deserve reparations as well?
Then there is the problem of who qualifies. Does anyone of African descent make the cut, or do individuals have to trace their ancestry back to the time of slavery, when there were few, if any, records kept?
Reparations Will Further Divide, Not Heal Our Country
The very nature of reparations would draw distinct lines in an already deeply divided country. People excluded from them would feel justly victimized, and the cycle would start all over again.
Even if reparations remained focused on community programs, which communities would receive the funding? The issue would very likely lead to lawsuits that could take years to resolve. Reparation money would essentially be handed over to lawyers.
Our nation’s history has many shameful chapters, but Americans today should not be held liable for injustices that occurred decades or centuries before they were born.
American taxpayers are not responsible for the actions of a 19th-century plantation owner or the legislature that gave him the power to enslave black people.
No one alive today is.
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