Paying the Social Debt: What White America Owes Black by Richard F. America

By Richard F. America

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That is where common sense suggests real policies can lead to real differences in peoples' lives. Harvard's Robert Nozick has neatly rebuffed most objections to restitution theory. 7 He defines what he calls a distribution by legitimate means and claims that "justice in holdings" is historical. Not all current holdings, however, are produced in accordance with the two principles of justice in holdings: justice in acquisition and justice in transfer. In other Viewing Social Policy 31 words, some wealth was improperly acquired and bequeathed, that is, unjustly held.

During recessions in particular, blacks tend to be first fired and last hired. During upswings throughout most of our history, unemployed whites have tended to be the first rehired. The total employment rate is the rate whites would experience if there were no employment discrimination in their favor. The difference between white employment rates and total employment rates gives us the resulting estimate of how much this kind of discrimination benefits the favored groups. Then we estimate the income that whites would have lost if they were unemployed at the same rate as the total population, as well as the income lost by whites who were actually unemployed.

Such investment would end at some point, say, in forty years, and if delivered in a disciplined way, combined with requirements to work and study, would make most have nots selfsufficient. High-quality law enforcement, crime prevention, rehabilitation, and corrections would also serve as remedial investment. It would strengthen communities and help individuals lead disciplined lives. CUT WELFARE ABUSE AND DEPENDENCY Paying the debt by helping the have nots in this way would improve their discipline, which is needed throughout society to have a smoothworking, competitive economy.

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