By Rob Roper
In addition to doubling your taxes on home heating fuels ($14 million), forcing you to pay a new payroll tax (over $100 million), covering increased costs brought about by a $15 minimum wage, presumably paying some new tax to cover lake clean up ($50 million?), and picking up host of new fee increases, there’s something else our legislators want you to dig deep into your wallets for: paying reparations for slavery.
Yup. The bill is H.478, and it’s stated purpose is the following: “Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans. … This bill proposes to establish a task force to: (1) study and consider a State apology and proposal for reparations for the institution of slavery; and (2) make recommendations to the General Assembly on appropriate remedies.”
Really? Is this what you elected your state representatives to travel to Montpelier along our crumbling roads each day to do on your behalf?
First of all, it would be impossible to ever truly compensate for the inhumanity of slavery. And how could you ever find a just and fair way to do so today when nobody involved in the transaction has ever owned a slave or ever been a slave?
But, as long as the issue of what to do about this awful part of our history is up for discussion, perhaps Frederick Douglass, a former slave who escaped to become an international figure in the abolitionist movement, had the answer way back in 1865.
Everybody has asked the question, and they learned to ask it early of the abolitionists, ‘What shall we do with the Negro?’ I have had but one answer from the beginning. Do nothing with us! Your doing with us has already played the mischief with us. Do nothing with us! If the apples will not remain on the tree of their own strength, if they are wormeaten at the core, if they are early ripe and disposed to fall, let them fall! I am not for tying or fastening them on the tree in any way, except by nature’s plan, and if they will not stay there, let them fall. And if the Negro cannot stand on his own legs, let him fall also. All I ask is, give him a chance to stand on his own legs! Let him alone! If you see him on his way to school, let him alone, don’t disturb him! If you see him going to the dinner-table at a hotel, let him go! If you see him going to the ballot-box, let him alone, don’t disturb him! If you see him going into a work-shop, just let him alone,—your interference is doing him a positive injury. (What the Black Man Wants, 1865)
Well-meaning politicians in the modern era have presided over the destruction of the African-American family, too many African-American children trapped in failing public schools, and disproportionate unemployment and incarceration rates. These results are not the product of inactive, uncaring government, but rather incompetent government “here to help.” These are the results of affirmative action programs, welfare, the public school system, minimum wage laws, etc. What Douglass said over 150 years ago is just as true today: Your interference is doing a positive injury. So, stop interfering.