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As a resident of Fulton County, GA., I have recently been made aware of our County funding a “Reparations Research” project. I hope the group conducts research thoughtfully and thoroughly, not emotionally and not for a pre-determined outcome. As a product of a 1st generation immigrant, married to a product of a 2nd generation immigrant (all legally naturalized citizens) who faced persecution in their home countries and faced prejudice in America (as many did and still do), I have a story too. As a child of generations of American Veterans stretching back to the Civil War as well as several subsequent wars, I am familiar with generational and even recent impact from tragedies. I’ve witnessed family addictions and struggled with economic challenges as well as enjoyed some prosperity. I’ve worked my entire life and have helped family members when in need. I’ve always paid my taxes. I’ve not taken any public assistance despite qualifying on occasion. I’m not a bigot just because I am not Black. My Black friends many Black public figures who express concerns over reparations and the never-ending drumbeat of racism are not Supremacists of any kind either. We all just have questions and deserve honest answers regarding what best serves real needs and actually helps solve chronic problems, not just perpetuates dependency.
Most of us would like to review the results of the research the reparations committee conducts with the hope that fiscal due diligence, success measures, mindfulness of numerous causes of problems and various successful options to address problems are considered and applied to recommendations. Below are some concerns worthy of consideration. They are taxpayer concerns based on desiring real, lasting change for any hurting people, not more divisiveness.
Every American has a story, a past, an ancestry. Very few had great privilege based on ancestry. Many had hardship based on ancestry. Much hardship was no fault of the individual, albeit some was likely self-inflicted based on life choices made at one point in or throughout their lives.
As we hear more about another program to lift up One group of individuals based on ancestral ethnicity and ignore other groups, it seems important to ask several questions before demanding taxpayers fund yet another initiative for a select group where most of those tax payers will receive no benefit themselves.
- How will recipients of reparations be determined and how will decision makers decide if the recipients were, in fact, directly impacted by slavery that still affects them today? Will decision makers reduce reparations for anyone who already benefitted from the many special consideration programs implemented over decades since the days of slavery?
- How far back will the decision makers look to determine the origin of slavery? Will they consider the privileged Africans who sold other Africans (or any other ethnicity) into slavery in the first place? What will reparations decision makers do with the fact that elite Blacks sold vulnerable Blacks into servitude?
- Will the reparations committee consider the ancestors of Civil War participants who lost their lives or livelihoods as a result of their family members fighting for Emancipation? Will they be included in reparations benefits?
- To extend on the issue of tragic impact of Military Service, has the reparations committee considered that Veteran benefits extend only to spouses. Period. Lives lost, bodies crippled, livelihoods lost, families broken. WWI, WWII, Viet Nam, Korea, Iraq, Afghanistan….the list goes on and continues today. Young men and women serve our COUNTRY and even defend Other countries full of strangers. Yet they pay the ultimate sacrifice, lose limbs, become addicts, live on the streets and drastically affect immediate families but have NO reparations like help to offset their tragedies on future generations.
- Will reparations decision makers look at the measurable results of numerous other Minority directed entitlements and special Minority considerations from affirmative action to Minority preferences or quotas in several arenas (particularly in government jobs from DMV to TSA to federal buildings and courthouses, etc) to subsidies for Minority owned businesses to sub-prime mortgages to lowering of academic standards for employment and college entrance to mentorship programs and current DEI initiatives and requirements in Corporate America and more? We continue to see that the poverty rate among Blacks has Not changed Despite all these programs. These programs were largely funded by tax payers and they often prevented other better qualified candidates from excelling when it was no fault of their own the other candidates were not born into the special consideration group. (note: how would the reparations proponents react if quotas for other groups DESPITE lesser qualifications were applied to sports and entertainment which could prevent qualified Blacks from excelling in those areas?)
- Every American came from somewhere but very few identify as a hyphenated name. Irish-Americans, German-Americans, French-Americans, British-Americans, Cuban-Americans, Iranian-Americans, Turkish-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Armenian-Americans largely don’t identify as anything other than American. A little research would reveal that people emigrated for all kinds of reasons including seeking a better life, running from persecution, came as indentured servants brought by elites, were smuggled or bought their way into America via cartels and numerous other reasons. However, Only African-Americans largely keep the hyphenated identification and perpetuate ethnicity above being American whether born in Africa or not. Why is that? And would reparations actually further cement racial division more than promote community?
- Has the reparations committee considered root causes of vulnerability and lack of success for those they claim to want to help. What are they trying to accomplish with reparations? How about looking at the causes of limited success such as horrific education results due to terrible education options based on bad education policies and practices? How about promoting community based trade schools to help residents learn employable skills? How about honestly addressing explosive crime currently destroying communities and causing businesses to abandon those communities? How about addressing the vast number of single parent households dependent upon government assistance? How about holding fathers accountable to their responsibility as providers for their children? The answer cannot continue to be tax payer funded government dependence and handouts. We need programs that Work to stop generational dependence and enable vibrant communities.
- Will the reparations committee consider today’s hardworking people who suffer from prejudices right now but still take on jobs others, especially those who currently receive government assistance, will not take on? How does prejudice for or against any group serve the greater good? How does assisting only some poor farmers based on identity group, over other poor farmers, serve society when readily available food is important to everyone in our society?
- Today we have greater “modern day slavery” than we have ever had and it disproportionately affects Blacks (although the open southern border has rapidly increased other populations being exploited for sex and labor). Has the reparations group spent Any effort on preventing and eliminating TODAY’s slavery issues? If so, what are they doing right here to protect vulnerable individuals and groups from harm Right Now?
- Has/Will the reparations committee research what actually WORKS in providing a hand up (not hand out) and resources to stop the chronic, often generational, struggles affecting the most vulnerable? Organizations that often depend on donations and, therefore, must prove effectiveness or donations would dry up (unlike government tax payer funded programs) are making real, sustainable, life changing differences. They have the data to prove their effectiveness, unlike so many government funded and run programs. Look at Georgia Works, City of Refuge, Wellspring Living, Streetgrace, Year Up and numerous other longstanding difference makers. Perhaps fueling THOSE and other effective programs would do more than giving reparations to people based on skin color with an assumption that long ago slavery of ancestors hurts them today.
- Would reparations funds have requirements/limitations around how they must be used and, if so, how are they different from existing entitlements noted above? (note: has anyone looked at how covid money was spent by recipients? Anecdotally, Gucci sales at Lenox/Phipps went up dramatically. Open ended handouts rarely work at changing behavior.)
- How will any reparations committee address other groups who have suffered tragedies from long ago including Native Americans, Jews, Asians, etc.…or even groups affected by government directed policies that may have put Americans in harm’s way? Covid policies? Open borders? Medical mandates? When does it stop? Government programs tend to be ubiquitous and forever…..like taxes. And tax payers fund ALL OF IT. Fiscal responsibility is paramount or ongoing government financial decisions by the country, state, county and communities will doom future generations to perpetual debt based poverty.
Sadly, decades of programs and initiatives focused entirely on ethnic groups and individuals actually resulted in a targeted group poverty rate that has not changed at all. Meanwhile, those programs reduced the opportunities for other qualified individuals who had No part in slavery of anyone and may have been victims of ancestral persecution themselves. (It would be helpful to see the successes of existing minority focused programs and any that failed what taxpayers were sold should be eliminated, not perpetuated)
This entire reparations initiative begs better discipline, review of root causes for what the committee HOPES to improve and risks and rewards to the entire State and County must be considered in light of the greater good for everyone. If, in fact, reparations has identified success measures justifying the fiscal discipline you all must consider to properly represent all of your constituents, let the public know Exactly what those measures are and allow the public to participate in the conversation. Perhaps there will be great support, perhaps not. But the public deserves to know because they have repeatedly funded countless special interest initiatives and have often seen negligible or even damaging results.
All of the above must be considered seriously or reparations will be just another failed experiment costing your constituents more unjustified expense in very difficult economic times.
The beauty of America is its willingness to change, to grow, to provide opportunity and exercise freedoms cemented in our Constitution and America has made incredible progress as a very young country. We improve toward that end, not by treating one group better than another and, thereby, diminishing opportunities for others. This is the best country in the world for anyone who chooses to work hard, be law abiding and contribute to their communities.
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