Along the Tracks

Friday, December 13, 2002
 

The reparations debate


I’ve come out publicly in favor of considering reparations as part of a conservative agenda to end all race-conscious policies in a generation. My arguments have focused on implementation, rather than the moral imperatives, for a good reason: The moral arguments against reparations are generally weak, and are so intertwined with the questions of “who gets,” “who pays,” and “how much” that until those three issues are satisfactorily addressed (or an attempt is made, at least), the morality of such a program is completely lost in a rhetorical fog.

My proof? Take this detailed legal piece by Professor Peter H. Schuck of Yale Law School. His column at JURIST is full of legal dictionary look-’em-ups and arcane “realist” arguments, but if you trudge through it, you’ll find precisely what I am writing about: A rat’s-nest of objections and exceptions and correlations that refuses to address the moral question because the big three (who gets? who pays? how much?) are just too hard to deal with. I would have expected better from a Yale Law Professor - but I’m at a loss to explain why I would expect better. Maybe I’ve learned my lesson.

Anyway, I was kind of surprised that Glenn Reynolds linked to it with an approving comment. Glenn’s usually a much sharper thinker than that, even if he’s against reparations (Is he? I'll post what I can find out).


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