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Muda69

The Problem with "Reparations"

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https://mises.org/wire/problem-reparations

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As the issue of reparations for victims of slavery rages within the Democratic party, and on cable news stations, we encounter a common problem: virtually no one is addressing the specifics of how such a reparations effort would be administered. Who would receive these reparations payments? Who would pay them? How would guilt and victimhood be determined? As is usually the case with American policy debates, this "debate" offers little more than an opportunity for pundits and activists to grandstand on related issues such as poverty and race — while avoiding the central topic at hand Support or opposition then becomes nothing more than a matter of affirming one's political loyalties. The actual issue of reparations — and how they'll be paid out — is mostly ignored.

It is important to remember, however, that there is nothing necessarily problematic about the idea of paying reparations to the victims of a crime. In fact, the idea is essentially pro-private-property because it attempts to repay a victim for property stolen from him or her by another party.

After all, any decent legal system would provide for a victim of kidnapping and forced labor to obtain repayment for the time and labor stolen from him by the kidnaper. As Walter Block writes:

Justified reparations are nothing more and nothing less than the forced return of stolen property — even after a significant amount of time has passed. For example, if my grandfather stole a ring from your grandfather, and then bequeathed it to me through the intermediation of my father, then I am, presently, the illegitimate owner of that piece of jewelry. To take the position that reparations are always and forever unjustified is to give an imprimatur to theft, provided a sufficient time period has elapsed. In the just society, your father would have inherited the ring from his own parent, and then given it to you. It is thus not a violation of property rights, but a logical implication of them, to force me to give over this ill-gotten gain to you.

But here's the rub: in order to do this with an eye toward justice, one must identify specific victims and specific perpetrators. Potentially, as Block suggests, one could envision a legal case in which the heirs of victims would be paid reparations by the heirs of perpetrators. But again, we still encounter the problem of identifying specific persons (and heirs) involved. Reparations cannot be paid in the abstract, since, as Chris Calton has noted:

[L]ibertarian ethics are not based on abstract moral claims; they’re based on concretely identifiable property rights. When a violation of a person’s property rights takes place, restitution is the logical means of compensating the victim ...

But in the real world [on matters of slavery] such a claim is incredibly difficult to prove. And failure to prove a legitimate property claim means that the currently recognized property title holds. Anything else would be committing a new injustice to give the illusion of correcting an old one.

In light of this, we can see that many of the currently proposed methods of paying out "reparations" are imprecise, vague, and consequently unjust. A program, for example, that forces all taxpayers (whether guilty or not of any relevant crimes) to pay reparations to a specific group of people raises several key problems that must be addressed:

1. What if a taxpayer is descended from people who didn't even arrive in the country until after emancipation? That is, should a Japanese-American, whose immigrant ancestors arrived in the United States in 1910, be forced to pay reparations? How about descendants of Mexicans who arrived in the US in 1925?

2. What if the taxpayer has some ancestors who lived in the US before emancipation and some who arrived here afterward? Would that person's "reparation tax bill" be pro-rated to match the fraction of his ancestry that shared antebellum guilt?

3. What if a taxpayer's ancestors were abolitionists who opposed slavery?

4. What if a taxpayer has no ancestors who owned slaves?

The (Bad) Economics of Collective Guilt

In all of these cases, it's hard to see how the person paying reparations is in any way actually responsible for the kidnapping, theft, assault, and other crimes perpetrated against actual slaves. Yes, many activists may claim that "everyone" is  — in the vague abstract — "guilty" of slavery because one's ancestor once bought cheap cotton dungarees in 1858, or once (even unwittingly) worked for a company that sold timbers to ship builders who built slaving ships. These arguments rely on the same twisted logic which would have us believe that people who buy gasoline are somehow morally responsible for the brutality of the Saudi Arabian dictators, or that a teenager who smokes a joint is responsible for terrorism like that perpetrated on 9-11. (Yes, the US government created an ad campaign saying exactly this.)

This everyone-is-guilty claim, in fact, is one invented by the slavedrivers themselves in an attempt to claim that all white Americans — including Northerners — somehow directly benefited from slavery, and thus all abolitionists were hypocrites. It was always a desperate and unconvincing argument, but by putting these claims forward, the slavedrivers of old helped pave the way for the modern-day reparations advocates.

In real life, the people responsible for slavery are only the people who directly owned, sold, or traded in slaves; and the politicians who pushed to preserve, spread, or defend slavery through legislation and the state's police powers.

Slavery Suppressed Wages for Many Workers

Moreover, many non-slaves can be shown to have been negatively impacted by slavery because it acted to suppress wages. As historian Kerry Leigh Merritt describes in detail in her book Masterless Men: Poor Whites and Slavery in the Antebellum South, wage-earning, non-slaveholding whites in the South — who constituted the overwhelming majority of the population — received far lower wages than they would have had they not been forced to compete with slave labor by a legal system designed to favor the tiny minority of slaveowners. Nor were these effects limited to Southern whites only. The increased profitability of agriculture in the South — thanks to slavery — acted to divert resources from Northern agriculture and industry as well, thus lowering wages for at least some Northern workers. Moreover, capital that poured into the slave plantation could have been used to improve worker productivity through innovation in machinery and other capital. Instead, that investment was diverted away from improving free labor, and devoted to expansion and maintenance of the slave economy. Overall, the presence of slaves suppressed wages nationwide.

The fact that slaveowners and plantation owners indisputably benefited from slavery hardly means that white day laborers benefited as well. Yes, chattel slaves fared far worse than any other group. But that doesn't mean those day laborers were — to use the modern parlance — "privileged" by the existence of the slave economy. In practice, it significantly lowered their income.

So, once again we are left with the problem of determining who is legally and morally responsible for paying out these reparations in any way connected to identifying truly guilty parties. In practice, it's nearly impossible, although government being what it is, advocates for reparations are likely to simply demand that all the taxpayers foot the bill to pay one identifiable interest group, whether or not the taxpayers involved can be shown to have any direct involvement in the perpetuation or spread of slavery.

Ultimately, the issue shouldn't even be regarded as a complicated one. If "reparations" are truly that, then they can only based on handing over stolen property from the thief to the victim (or their heirs). So long as these specific individuals are not identified, then the policy being discussed has nothing to do with reparations. It's just a wealth redistribution scheme.

A logical and concise explanation regarding the problem with paying reparations by Mr. McMaken.    Too bad it will mostly be ignored, overwhelmed by emotional hyperbole.

 

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Posted (edited)

Reparations Are More Likely to Divide the Nation Than Heal It: http://reason.com/archives/2019/04/05/reparations-likely-to-divide-not-heal

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In his interminably long, but moving Atlantic essay documenting our nation's undeniable history of discrimination against African-Americans, author Ta-Nehisi Coates got to the heart of his pro-reparations argument on page 51: "What I'm talking about is more than recompense for past injustices—more than handout, a payoff, hush money, or a reluctant bribe." Instead, he called for a "national reckoning" about this stain on America's history.

I've got nothing against having such a conversation, especially at a time when white nationalists are rearing their ugly heads once again. Americans do need to understand that such discrimination didn't just vanish in the distant past—and that everything wasn't made right by the Civil War and the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Vast inequalities, injustices and prejudices remain, which are easily documented through a variety of economic and other measures.

But approving tens of billions of dollars or more in payouts will indeed be viewed as bribes and far worse, which will only make the national reckoning Coates seeks that much harder to achieve. In fact, his argument reminds me of that old quip: When someone says that something's not about the money, you can be sure it really is about the money. Nothing shuts down a dialogue more than a fight about who gets their share of a large stack of other people's cash.

Coates is wrong for another big reason, too. Reparations are not supposed to be about redemption, reckonings or reconciliation. We can try those things—and address glaring problems, such as inequities in our nation's criminal-justice system—without running up another year's worth of public debt. The only possible rationale for paying reparations is to help African-Americans close the financial gap they have with other Americans. Yet the idea fails on those terms, as well.

Advocates for this proposal are far less persuasive at explaining how reparations would permanently level the playing field than they are at detailing some of the ugliest parts of our nation's history. These folks rarely even tout a specific policy (What type of payment? Who is eligible? How much?). For instance, the New York Times' conservative-leaning columnist David Brooks this month announced that he now embraces Coates' position. Brooks' column is eloquent, but his arguments are ephemeral.

"We're a nation coming apart at the seams," Brooks wrote. "The African-American experience is somehow at the core of this fragmentation—the original sin that hardens the heart, separates Americans from one another and serves as model and fuel for other injustices." He agrees that "reparations are a drastic policy and hard to execute" but argues that "the very act of talking about and designing them heals a wound and opens a new story."

That's as close as Brooks gets to substance. Even his premise—that talking about payouts will help heal this long-festering wound—is way off base. How often do drastic public policies lead to amelioration rather than another round of vicious cultural battles? How naïve can a columnist be to champion such a controversial idea without exploring how it might play out?

Most reparations proposals range from creating new social programs to giving out bonds to newborn African-Americans to providing direct cash handouts to each adult African-American. It's not hard to predict the political battles and ugly social-media flurry that would follow. The first idea would not satisfy those who demand redress—and the other two ideas will tear the nation asunder.

Officials will engage in bean-counting to determine who is eligible for payments. How many drops of blood prove a person's compensable lineage? Suddenly, everyone will unearth some African heritage. Do recent immigrants from Africa qualify? Imagine the lawsuits over DNA, the bitter feelings, the anger that racists will exploit. How likely will this solve anything rather than become a starting point for escalating demands? We know how things work in America.

Other hyphenated Americans will lobby for their share of public money, too, given the demonstrable discrimination against members of their group. White Americans whose families arrived after the segregation era will wonder why they must pay for the sins of other people's ancestors. Instead of solving problems, everyone will fight over money. It will end up only being about the money. This is not how to help a nation reckon with its past.

As National Review's Kevin Williamson noted, reparations are embraced by Democratic presidential campaigns, which means it will instantly become a partisan issue. Forbes columnist Kyle Smith adds that people who receive windfalls (e.g., winning the lottery) have no better long-term financial prospects than those who never hit the jackpot. If the goal is to close a financial gap, then this won't do it.

Sure, let's have a debate, a reckoning or whatever that sparks change in some public policies. But it's hard to believe that smart people such as Coates and Brooks don't understand the tinderbox that their idea would ignite.

Agreed. As one of the comments to this piece states:

"It's just so preposterous, it will never happen. Like the GND it's a distraction from the real existential threat facing the country: our national debt caused by social security and medicare. These are abominations and must be abolished. So why are we creating expensive new problems? Because everyone's scheming to arbitrage the system for personal gain, including Brooks (perhaps he imagines he will be the token white appointed to the reparations board). However here's what you fail to appreciate: there can be only one winner. And it won't be you."

Edited by Muda69
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18 minutes ago, Muda69 said:

Reparations Are More Likely to Divide the Nation Than Heal It: http://reason.com/archives/2019/04/05/reparations-likely-to-divide-not-heal

Agreed. As one of the comments to this piece states:

"It's just so preposterous, it will never happen. Like the GND it's a distraction from the real existential threat facing the country: our national debt caused by social security and medicare. These are abominations and must be abolished. So why are we creating expensive new problems? Because everyone's scheming to arbitrage the system for personal gain, including Brooks (perhaps he imagines he will be the token white appointed to the reparations board). However here's what you fail to appreciate: there can be only one winner. And it won't be you."

The first part of the comment you bolded shows how poorly educated the commenter is.

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5 minutes ago, gonzoron said:

The first part of the comment you bolded shows how poorly educated the commenter is.

Poorly educated?  How so?  You don't believe our ballooning national debt is a critical problem?

Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid are by far the largest components of federal government spending:  https://www.thebalance.com/u-s-federal-budget-breakdown-3305789

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...

The government expects to spend $4.746 trillion. Almost 60% pays for mandated benefits such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. 

....

The budget estimates mandatory spendingwill be $2.841 trillion in FY 2020. Social Security was by far the biggest expense at $1.102 trillion. Medicare was next at $679 billion, followed by Medicaid at $418 billion.

Social Security costs are currently covered 100% by payroll taxes and interest on investments. Until 2010, there was more coming into the Social Security Trust Fund than being paid out. Thanks to its investments, the Trust Fund is still running a surplus. But, the Trust Fund’s Board estimates that this surplus will be depleted by 2032. Social Security revenue, from payroll taxes and interest earned, will cover only 77% of the benefits promised to retirees.

Medicare is already underfunded. Medicare taxes don't pay for all benefits, so this program relies on general tax dollars to pay for a portion of it. Medicaid is 100% funded by the general fund

A bomb arming itself to explode.

 

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31 minutes ago, Muda69 said:

Poorly educated?  How so?

Social Security and Medicare do not contribute to the National Debt. 

 

32 minutes ago, Muda69 said:

Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid are by far the largest components of federal government spending:

Goal post moved.

 

33 minutes ago, Muda69 said:

You don't believe our ballooning national debt is a critical problem?

I do believe it's a problem.

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I heard on the radio yesterday a couple of D prez candidates stumping for reparations. Reparations are not a new idea, the idea has been thrown around for many years, but the recurring questions I have are:

1 How do you determine who gets reparations?

2 Who is on the hook for the bill? 

3 What is the price to right this wrong? How is it determined?

4 How do reparations move this country forward? Does it end racism? Does it put enough money in the economy that entire country becomes prosperous?

5 I don't understand how a US citizen of 2019 can be fined for the legal actions of their forefathers 150 years ago.

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Posted (edited)
3 minutes ago, Impartial_Observer said:

I heard on the radio yesterday a couple of D prez candidates stumping for reparations. Reparations are not a new idea, the idea has been thrown around for many years, but the recurring questions I have are:

1 How do you determine who gets reparations?

2 Who is on the hook for the bill? 

3 What is the price to right this wrong? How is it determined?

4 How do reparations move this country forward? Does it end racism? Does it put enough money in the economy that entire country becomes prosperous?

5 I don't understand how a US citizen of 2019 can be fined for the legal actions of their forefathers 150 years ago.

Good points.

I don’t know what percentage are calling for reparations, but I imagine it’s pretty low. 

Most people I know would certainly rather see an end to racism instead.

i doubt that either is likely to happen. Ever.

Edited by gonzoron

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1 hour ago, gonzoron said:

Social Security and Medicare do not contribute to the National Debt. 

I will admit SS is a gray area, at least for now:  https://www.reuters.com/article/us-column-miller-socialsecurity/social-security-and-the-u-s-deficit-separating-fact-from-fiction-idUSKCN1N64GR

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...

You can make a case that rising spending on Medicare and Medicaid contribute to deficits, since both depend partially on federal general revenue. I would counter that the rising cost of these programs reflects a general problem with rising healthcare costs that affects not just government, but employers who insure workers and individuals buying their own insurance.

But it is quite a stretch to argue that Social Security drives deficits.

By law, Social Security cannot contribute to the federal deficit, because it is required to pay benefits only from its trust funds. Those, in turn, are funded through a dedicated payroll tax of 12.4 percent of income, split evenly between employees and employers, levied on income (this year) up to $128,400.

The program’s revenue and expenses are accounted for through two federal trust funds that have operated with large and growing surpluses in recent years, and they finished fiscal 2018 with an estimated $2.89 trillion. By law, Social Security must invest these surplus funds only in special-issue U.S. Treasury notes, which have the same full faith and credit guarantee as any other federal bond.

LONG-RANGE OUTLOOK

Going forward, the trust fund surplus will be drawn down as an aging population claims benefits, and as the U.S. fertility rate continues to decline, which means fewer workers are coming along to pay taxes into the system.

That already is starting to happen. In fiscal 2018, expenditures exceeded revenue (including interest on investments) for the first time since 1982. Social Security took in $912 billion in fiscal 2018 and spent $991 billion. The difference - $79 billion - came from repayment of interest on those Treasury notes. Some conservative policy analysts point to that payment as evidence that Social Security is a cause of deficits, since the $79 billion payment came from general revenue.

“We can call that $79 billion an interest payment on past borrowing - fine,” said Brian Riedl, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank. “Social Security in the past ran annual surpluses and lent that surplus money to the Treasury. In those years, the existence of Social Security reduced the federal budget deficit. Today, it is relying on a cash infusion from the Treasury to pay full benefits.”

Riedl’s point is technically correct. But in this sense, Social Security is no more a cause of the deficit than any other holder of U.S. Treasuries, be it Wall Street or the Chinese government. “Government needs to raise a certain amount of money unless it balances its general fund,” said Nancy Altman, president of Social Security Works, an advocacy group.

“If it doesn’t do that, it issues bonds - the only question is, who buys them?” said Altman.

A second argument that Social Security contributes to deficits is related to the longer-run outlook for the program. The trust funds are projected to be exhausted in 2034; at that point, incoming revenue would be sufficient to continue paying only about 75 percent of promised benefits.

We might or might not reach that point - we could eliminate much of this long-range shortfall by gradually increasing payroll taxes and raising the cap on covered income. Or we could reduce benefits by further increasing the full retirement age, or craft some combination of tax increases and benefit cuts.

Other creative options could include permitting the Social Security trustees to invest a modest portion of reserve funds in equities, or to levy a tax on financial services. From where I sit, the smart move is to bolster the program with higher revenue to close the shortfall and expand benefits.

But deficit hawks point to the 2034 exhaustion date to argue that the government would have to make up any shortfall and continue paying full benefits. The argument here is that Congress would never allow a huge cut to Social Security benefits in light of the program’s popularity and the importance of benefits; if the trust fund were to run dry, lawmakers would simply make up the difference out of general revenue.

But the assertion that we will reach the 2034 benefit cuts is speculative. Congress may craft a solution ahead of that date, or it may not.

Even more speculative is the question whether general revenue would be tapped if we do reach the 2034 exhaustion doomsday scenario. The long-range budget forecast by the Congressional Budget Office assumes this would happen - but not because the nonpartisan congressional budget scorekeeper has an opinion one way or the other. Federal law requires the CBO to assume that payments for some mandatory programs would continue to be fully funded in this situation.

What would the Social Security Administration actually do if the trust fund were exhausted? The answer is not clear, according to recent analysis by the Congressional Research Service. It could continue paying benefits on a delayed schedule or cut payments. And beneficiaries might take legal action to claim full benefits, since Social Security is a legal entitlement.

 

1 hour ago, gonzoron said:

Goal post moved.

How is adding another government entitlement to the list moving the goalpost?  Nice attempt at a dodge.

1 hour ago, gonzoron said:

I do believe it's a problem.

What are your solutions for fixing it?

 

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43 minutes ago, Muda69 said:

How is adding another government entitlement to the list moving the goalpost?

Social Security and Medicare are not entitlements. 

 

44 minutes ago, Muda69 said:

What are your solutions for fixing it?

The place to start would be a balanced Federal budget. Only 1 President/Congress combination in my adult lifetime has accomplished this. 

My solution would not include cutting Social Security and Medicare, since they do not contribute to the deficit, or the National Debt. Cutting these programs would have zero effect on the debt. 

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Posted (edited)
7 minutes ago, gonzoron said:

Social Security and Medicare are not entitlements. 

not-this-shit-again.jpg

From the U.S. Senate website itself:  https://www.senate.gov/reference/glossary_term/entitlement.htm

Quote

entitlement - A Federal program or provision of law that requires payments to any person or unit of government that meets the eligibility criteria established by law. Entitlements constitute a binding obligation on the part of the Federal Government, and eligible recipients have legal recourse if the obligation is not fulfilled. Social Security and veterans' compensation and pensions are examples of entitlement programs.

7 minutes ago, gonzoron said:

The place to start would be a balanced Federal budget. Only 1 President/Congress combination in my adult lifetime has accomplished this. 

My solution would not include cutting Social Security and Medicare, since they do not contribute to the deficit, or the National Debt. Cutting these programs would have zero effect on the debt. 

We understand as a Baby Boomer you don't want SS and Medicare cut,  after all it's "I got mine".    But how exactly would you balance the current federal budget?  What spending would you cut or what taxes would you raise?

 

Edited by Muda69
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42 minutes ago, Muda69 said:

not-this-shit-again.jpg

From the U.S. Senate website itself:  https://www.senate.gov/reference/glossary_term/entitlement.htm

We understand as a Baby Boomer you don't want SS and Medicare cut,  after all it's "I got mine".    But how exactly would you balance the current federal budget?  What spending would you cut or what taxes would you raise?

 

Step 1: Don’t approve reparations 

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49 minutes ago, Muda69 said:

not-this-shit-again.jpg

From the U.S. Senate website itself:  https://www.senate.gov/reference/glossary_term/entitlement.htm

We understand as a Baby Boomer you don't want SS and Medicare cut,  after all it's "I got mine".    But how exactly would you balance the current federal budget?  What spending would you cut or what taxes would you raise?

 

Step 2: Educate those who mistakenly believe that Social Security and Medicare increase the Federal Deficit or the National Debt

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13 minutes ago, gonzoron said:

Step 2: Educate those who mistakenly believe that Social Security and Medicare increase the Federal Deficit or the National Debt

lol,  talk about who is "moving the goalposts" now.

 

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2 hours ago, swordfish said:

Image may contain: 1 person, meme and text

Since it's repeat day, I'll oblige.

image.png.88923415a79c7552fcb77822b1852b8b.png

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Posted (edited)

Do I get a per head deduction for any relatives that died fighting for the Union side when my Reparation’s bill shows up?

Since it’s tax season and all.....just trying to figure this out.

Edited by Lysander
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I am a little puzzled why this "But I personally didn't do anything wrong!!!" whining wasn't raised when the U.S. under President Reagan paid reparations to Japanese-Americans placed in detention during WW II, or the multiple times in the last 100 years when the U.S. has paid billions in reprations to various Native American tribes for dirty deeds it had done long ago to their ancestors. 

I am reminded of the line from the movie "Diner" where the guy tells the creepy guy who is getting in his face, "I'll hit you so hard it'll kill your whole family."

Isn't this another case, ala the Native American tribes,  where the U.S. government would just be acknowledging that it did wrong in the past to a group of people in a manner that was so eggregious that it literally is still causing harm to those people's ancestors generations later?

The United States as a nation frequently takes current tax dollars to pay for obligations it incurred in some past time, when many current tax payers may not have even been alive, and had nothing to do with the events that created that obligation  -- the reparations paid out in 1988 to Japanese-Americans interred in WW II being just one example.  I think it would have struck people as odd to have heard some 35 year old white taxpayer back in 1988 complain about those reparations because he personally had no beef with Japanese-Americans, and his parents told him that they were against the internment when it happened.  

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https://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/27/books/review/Lau-t.html

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Don Jordan and Michael Walsh, both of whom have made documentaries and both of whom live in London, retell that familiar tale — although the victims here are not Africans but English, Irish and Scottish people, sent to the colonies largely against their will in the 17th and 18th centuries.

“White Cargo” begins with the discovery of a 17th-century skeleton in Maryland in 2003; it turned out to be that of a boy, about 16 years old, who had suffered from tuberculosis and injuries consistent with hard labor. Presumably he had been a slave, since his body had not been properly buried, but thrown into the basement of a home near Annapolis, “in a hole under a pile of household waste.” He was northern European, probably British, one of tens of thousands of victims of a century-long practice, stretching from Boston to Barbados, that treated whites as slaves and that largely predated both the black slave trade and American independence.

Mainstream histories refer to these laborers as indentured servants, not slaves, because many agreed to work for a set period of time in exchange for land and rights. The authors argue, however, that slavery applies to any person who is bought and sold, chained and abused, whether for a decade or a lifetime. Many early settlers died long before their indenture ended or found that no court would back them when their owners failed to deliver on promises. And many never achieved freedom or the American dream they were seeking.

This vividly written book tells the tale from both sides of the Atlantic. Its condemnation is aimed at both American planters and the English elite, who were blinded by greed, arrogance and a desire to get rid of their “society’s sweepings.” Horribly, one of the first groups sent to America was made up of street children, ages 8 to 16, who arrived in 1619. This slave trade, which the authors say was often “dressed up in bright humanitarian clothes” for the public, later extended to beggars, Gypsies, prostitutes, dissidents, convicts and anyone else who displeased the upper classes. Founders like George Washington do not fare particularly well, but Sir John Popham and Oliver Cromwell come off worse. Benjamin Franklin is one of the few good guys.

“White Cargo” is meticulously sourced and footnoted — which is wise, given its contentious material — but it is never dry or academic. Quotations from 17th- and 18th-century letters, diaries and newspapers lend authenticity as well as color. Excerpts from wills, stating how white servants should be passed down along with livestock and furniture, say more than any textbook explanation could. 

....

If anything, Jordan and Walsh offer an explanation of how the structures of slavery — black or white — were entwined in the roots of American society. They refrain from drawing links to today, except to remind readers that there are probably tens of millions of Americans who are descended from white slaves without even knowing it.

 

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_Johnson_(colonist)

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Anthony Johnson (b. c. 1600 – d. 1670) was a black Angolan who achieved freedom in the early 17th-century Colony of Virginia after serving his term of indenture. He was one of the first Negro property owners and had his right to legally own a slave recognized by the Virginia courts. Held as an indentured servant in 1621, he earned his freedom after several years, and was granted land by the colony.[1]

He later became a successful tobacco farmer in Maryland. He attained great wealth after having been an indentured servant and has been referred to as "'the black patriarch' of the first community of Negro property owners in America".[1]

...

When Anthony Johnson was released from servitude, he was legally recognized as a "free Negro." He developed a successful farm. In 1651 he owned 250 acres (100 ha), and the services of five indentured servants (four white and one black). In 1653, John Casor, a black indentured servant whose contract Johnson appeared to have bought in the early 1640s, approached Captain Goldsmith, claiming his indenture had expired seven years earlier and that he was being held illegally by Johnson. A neighbor, Robert Parker, intervened and persuaded Johnson to free Casor.

Parker offered Casor work, and he signed a term of indenture to the planter. Johnson sued Parker in the Northampton Court in 1654 for the return of Casor. The court initially found in favor of Parker, but Johnson appealed. In 1655, the court reversed its ruling.[10] Finding that Anthony Johnson still "owned" John Casor, the court ordered that he be returned with the court dues paid by Robert Parker.[11]

This was the first instance of a judicial determination in the Thirteen Colonies holding that a person who had committed no crime could be held in servitude for life.[12][13][14][15][16]

Though Casor was the first person declared a slave in a civil case, there were both black and white indentured servants sentenced to lifetime servitude before him. Many historians describe indentured servant John Punch as the first documented slave in America, as he was sentenced to life in servitude as punishment for escaping in 1640.[17][18] The Punch case was significant because it established the disparity between his sentence as a negro and that of the two European indentured servants who escaped with him (one described as Dutch and one as a Scotchman). It is the first documented case in Virginia of an African sentenced to lifetime servitude. It is considered one of the first legal cases to make a racial distinction between black and white indentured servants.[19][20]

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And by the end of his life Johnson's land was returned to the Crown and racial slavery was firmly entrenched in the American colonies

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3 minutes ago, BARRYOSAMA said:

And by the end of his life Johnson's land was returned to the Crown and racial slavery was firmly entrenched in the American colonies

Do you have a citation for this?  I don't see this mentioned in the Wikipedia entry, and one of it's sources has this:  http://mdroots.thinkport.org/library/anthonyjohnson.asp

Quote

The Johnsons brought 14 head of cattle and 8 sheep with them when they moved to a less settled area on Wicomico Creek. In 1666 Anthony Johnson signed a lease renting a 300 acre plot of land called "Tonies Vinyard" from a white man named Stephen Horsey. 

When Anthony Johnson died in 1670, the lease passed to his wife Mary and then to their sons. The Johnsons's ability to acquire wealth and land were somewhat unusual in seventeenth-century Maryland, but they show that not all Africans were slaves and that in this early society, whites and blacks were more integrated in the community than in later years.

 

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7 minutes ago, BARRYOSAMA said:

And by the end of his life Johnson's land was returned to the Crown and racial slavery was firmly entrenched in the American colonies

I also find it quite odd that there's an attempt to definitively equate indentured servants and slaves.

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