Sunday, January 12, 2014

How Would Reparations Go? Check Nauru

The wish for unearned riches is a sign of a decadent society is a quotation attributed to Gandhi or some other enlightened figure. You still probably hear it from a friend or two. Your friends all have a plan if they received a million or five. Not everyone has a plan. The financially illiterate may not even understand the concept of $1 million for one time only. The people of Nauru received roughly $300,000 per head when the phosphate mines reverted to their control rather than the British. It did not work out for the tiny island. On an island small enough to bike in under two hours with one paved road and a 25 mph speed limit, sports cars were imported. The police chief bought a Lamborghini. They also imported foreign laborers to stop working themselves. The money IQ for the island was low. Even setting up a trust for their money was raft with corruption and theft as it lost 90% of its value from 1991 to 2002. Con men, financial scammers, investment mismanagement and stupid spending have reduced the island to poverty within a generation.

It is not perfect to extrapolate a tiny island (under 10,000 inhabitants) out to 40 million American citizens, but think locally. Look at the census map that had dots for each person in America by race. How fast would a lump sum payment be burnt up not by the middle class black family that lives in your neighborhood or has a daughter in dance classes with your kid but by that section of your metro area that no one goes to at day or night? Con men, investment scams, mismanagement and excessive spending are the reasons (along with divorce + child support) that many black athletes go broke. Would a trust work? Would a trust be seen as patronizing and paternalistic or even racist? I would predict that they would announce reparations one year and within a decade the hot documentary that SWPLs would be raving about on Netflix would be, "Where Did All the Money Go? A Shaking My Head Story".

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