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The Contender
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Is it Logical for the US federal government to pay reparations to African Americans

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/17/2015 Category: Politics
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 554 times Debate No: 79828
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (1)




I am against reparations for African Americans because it would ruin our economy. If we pay reparations to black Americans, the government would lose money. There is also no target to whom the money would go to or who would pay it.


I will argue in this debate that it is both logical and just for the US Federal Government (aka the American people) to pay reparations to African American. As a people, African Americans have undergone systematic and widespread oppression and exploitation occurring over hundreds of years and many generations. African Americans have been systematically harmed by the dominant US culture. Even as direct attacks against African Americans (in the form of racially targeted laws, such as slavery, Jim Crow laws, etc., as well as organized crime for example KKK, and discrimination) have fallen out of favor, the harm done to these communities persist in high rates of poverty, illiteracy, broken families, and imprisonment.

Con, in your remarks you seems to be conceding that while reparations might be fair, they are impractical because they 1. " would ruin our economy", 2. cause the government to "lose money", 3. that there is no specific recipient to whom the "money would go" and finally 4. it is unclear who "would pay" for these reparations.

To answer these claims, I will first phrase the debate in a fashion that allows for a clear policy objective to be conceived. Reparations can take many forms: such as cash allotments, privileges, or public goods (direct payments, affirmative action, and investment in public works in minority communities).

In this debate I argue that a specific form of reparations, "high quality and free public elementary education" for all African Americans is both logical and feasible. But even if you don"t 100% agree with me on this point, if you believe some reparations are practical and feasible then you must side with my opinion on this matter and reject my opponent"s stance that reparations are impractical and unfeasible.

To make my claim that high quality education is feasible for all African American students, I note that the most expensive town in America has average private school tuition of about $27,000 per year (1), that Black student enrollment is projected to fluctuate between 7.7 million and 7.9 million between 2013 and 2024 (2), and that the federal annual budget spending on defense alone for 2015 is $814 million and total federal government of around $6.2 trillion (3). So, if we improved educational spending so that every black student in the country was going to a school that was as costly as expensive as the most expensive town in the country then the cost of education would be $213 billion per year.

While clearly this is an exaggerated value for the cost of providing a quality education for this population, the total cost to the federal government is only about a quarter the cost of the armed forces or 18% of the total federal budget. This ignores the not insubstantial expenditure already paid for educating this population. So, now that it is clear that such expenditure is feasible. I will address the four points brought up by my opponent.

1. Reparations would ruin the economy
The US economy is huge. The GDP of the US is 18.124 trillion dollars as of 2015 (4). It is hard for me to imagine the degree of reparations necessary that would result in the economy being "ruined". However, my belief is that failing to make reparations to this critically vulnerable segment of the population disproportionately harmed by historic US policies is a primary source of cyclical crime. Currently there are 2.3 million African Americans incarcerated costing about $70 billion per year (5). This cost may be reduced if quality educational opportunities were available and it is not hard to imagine secondary benefits of higher quality educational such as unforeseen technological innovations.

2. Federal Government would Lose Money
One must spend money to make money. If we think that high quality education has the possibility of moving some non-trivial portion of the African American population from the poverty line ($11,770) (6) to the lower bound of middle class ($38,200) (6) there are significant potential benefits. Assuming that rising incomes to middle class from poverty level reflect genuine value to society of labor, the gain for each person who has been raised to middle class is $26 thousand per year and over 20 years $529 thousand. Since I am asking for an investment of $27 thousand per year per student over 12 years this would amount to $324 thousand from first grade to twelfth. Taking the cost to benefit ratio (324/529), if 61% of students who would otherwise be impoverished moved instead to earn middle-class incomes, then the entire cost of the program would be paid for from this reward.

3. Who would the money go to?
It is pretty clear that the vast majority of African Americans are either victims or children of victims of racial violence.

4. Who would pay for it?
There is an enormous federal budget (paid for by the American people) of which some non-trivial portion could be allocated to reparations in the form of improved public education.

In this debate, I argue that reparations in the form of high-quality education for all African American primary school students are both feasible and just. I support the justice of such reparations based on the intuitive notion that if you cause harm to others you should attempt to rectify that harm. This should be true between peoples as well as individuals. I argue that reparations can be provided in the form of high quality education for all African American youth costing no more than a private education in the most expensive town in the US. Thus we need not spend more money on education than an estimated $213 billion or 18% of the total federal budget.

Debate Round No. 1


RightSideRising forfeited this round.


It seems that the Right Side did not rise.
Debate Round No. 2


RightSideRising forfeited this round.


Not much point writing here I suppose.
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by MizzEnigma 2 years ago
Wouldn't imprisonment be their own faults for doing the crime? And illiteracy for dropping out of school/not paying attention? Lack of education leads to the inability to get a well paying job and then to poverty, which many Americans reside in due to dropping out of school and not bothering with it. Granted, even with high degrees of education, people are capable of being unable to hold a job, and even simply making bad decisions. It's undeniable that quite a few, though, are at fault for dropping out.

What do you mean by high quality education? Private school kind of quality or just very up-to-date schooling and technology period.
Posted by italktomyself 2 years ago
We have been paying reparations for years, in the form of welfare. They identify more with their grandparents past(many of which made something of them self) then the opportunity they have now.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by lannan13 1 year ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Forfeiture