Posts tagged ‘Democratic Presidential’

A Modest Proposal For US Slavery Reparations

Since most of the Democratic Presidential aspirants have come out in favor of at least studying reparations for slavery, I wanted to offer a common sense proposal.  I propose that slavery reparation be paid for by the single organization that had the most to do with the existence and protection of slavery in this country:  the Democratic Party.

The Democratic Party was unquestionably the party of slavery.  It defended the legality, even the morality, of slavery; it fought for the extension of slavery; and it passed laws like the fugitive slave act to keep slaves in bondage.  Every slaveholder or prominent defender of slavery you can name was a Democrat.  After slavery was banned over the opposition of Democrats, it was Democrats that crafted and ran the Jim Crow system.  As late as the 1960s it was Democrats who blocked the schoolhouse doors to blacks and who filibustered the Civil Rights Act and accounted for most of the no votes on that act.  And since Democrats are proposing these reparations, it is entirely within their control to make this happen without even an act of Congress.

Some might say that the Democratic Party and its members are different today and should not be punished for the past actions of previous generations of Democrats.  I used to naively think something similar -- that it was madness to even discuss reparations for people who are not even grandchildren of slaves paid for by people who are not even grandchildren of slave-holders.  I am certain my proposal makes may more sense than, say, taking the money from someone whose ancestors all lived in Germany until the late 19th century.


When They Finally Do the Study the Right Way

Over the last few years, there has been a lot of arguing back and forth about income mobility.  Typically, folks, particularly on the left, look at changes in median incomes and declare that since median incomes aren't moving much, there is not income mobility.  I have criticized this approach to the problem on a number of occasions.  For example, I have argued that median income numbers are skewed downwards because tens of millions of low-skill new immigrants have entered the job market over the last several decades.  As I wrote here,

If you really want to know what the current median wage is on an apples
to apples basis back to 1970, take the current reported median wage and
count up about 10 million spots, and that should be the number -- and
it will be much higher.

What you really have to do is take the same people, and follow their progress through tax returns or whatever data is available.  What this type study finds, time and again, is that income mobility remains high in this country.  And what happens, time and again, is the media and politicians ignore the study in favor of the more flawed approaches that support their narrative better.

Well, the study has been performed again, and the results are the same:  Income mobility remains high in this country, especially for the poorest 20%.


They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and in one chart 60% of the hot air in the Democratic Presidential debates is refuted.

By the way, it is worth noting the drop in income of the top 1%, because it helps to point out a flaw in the usual income distribution numbers we see.  In 2002, I showed no income on my 1040 (because I was starting a new business).  In the income distribution numbers for 2002, my family and I showed up in the bottom 20%, living on less than a $1 a day.  Of course, that is an absurd characterization.  On the opposite end of the scale, imagine a small business owner plugging along making $80,000 or so a year, comfortably middle class, and then in one year sells his business for $1 million.  In that year's statistics, he is rich.  The next year when his capital gains go away, it looks like he has gotten poorer, when no such thing happened.

Of course, some are still struggling, though my suspicion is that this is less related to structural issues in the economy or availability of opportunity than with cultural issues.