In Accounting for Slavery’s Cost, Figures Vary Widely

Wall Street Journal, October 25, 2013

Fourteen Caribbean nations and a British law firm are trying to find the solution to a puzzle that has eluded many economists, historians and activists: how to put a price tag on the harm wrought by slavery, and then persuade someone to pay.

Members of the Caribbean Community, a regional bloc, have hired London firm Leigh Day to help them prepare a suit for the International Court of Justice. The countries plan to seek reparations from the U.K., France and the Netherlands for the lasting effects of the slave trade, which over four centuries brought millions of people against their will from Africa to European colonies in the Caribbean region.

The legal challenges to seeking reparations are immense: Countries must prove crimes committed by—and against—long-dead people.

But the bigger difficulty may be setting a price tag. Scholars have sought to quantify reparations for as long as activists have sought them—for slavery and, in the U.S., for racial discrimination after the Civil War. There are many approaches, from calculating lost wages over the years to tallying disparities in health that can be tied to slavery. All produce widely varying figures, and the sheer size of many of the numbers has been an impediment to the reparations movement.

Martyn Day, founding partner of Leigh Day, said his clients are working to document the legacy of slavery for today’s Caribbean residents, such as the economic effects of being unable to accumulate wealth over the centuries, and elevated diabetes rates due to the diet imposed on slaves and passed down the generations. “What in the end will all that work out to?” Mr. Day said. “I have no idea.”

French president François Hollande, in rejecting reparations, points to the futility of tallying slavery’s cost. History, he said earlier this year in a speech commemorating slavery’s victims, “cannot be subjected to an accounting process that . . . would be impossible to complete.”

{snip}

In 1974, economists Julian Simon and Larry Neal ran one set of reparation numbers. They tried to estimate the total wages U.S. slaves might have earned on the free market, then account for what was spent on their upkeep, and then calculate how much the difference might have earned in interest in the years since then. The calculations required many assumptions, including that market wages would have prevailed even with an expanded labor force. The most significant assumption was which interest rate to use: A 6% rate produced a total cost 100 times larger than a 3% rate. Both figures were presented. The authors said the larger one was “so astronomical as to be almost meaningless.”

{snip}

Perpetrators of more-recent atrocities have paid victims. The U.K. government agreed to pay about $21 million this year to Kenyans tortured in 1950s colonial detention camps. Germany has paid over $90 billion to victims of Nazi crimes.

{snip}

Topics: , , , , , ,

Share This

We welcome comments that add information or perspective, and we encourage polite debate. If you log in with a social media account, your comment should appear immediately. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you may comment as a guest, using a name and an e-mail address of convenience. Your comment will be moderated.
  • bigone4u

    My ancestors are from Winston County, Alabama, which proclaimed itself the Free State of Winston at the beginning of the Civil War. We owned no slaves and had no interest in defending slavery, but Mr. Lincoln sent his boys to induct us by force into his army or kill us if we resisted. By my accounting, the Federal government owes me $10 billion for the harm it did my ancestors. I’ll take that in 20s, please.

    Also to the point is the question of why those whose ancestors had no part in slavery should see their tax dollars go toward the “reparations racket.” And then, we have the issue of why should we pay the descendants of slaves money when they benefit from white medicine, white religion, white civilization that has allowed them to breed like flies. What do we owe them? NOTHING.

    • Oil Can Harry

      Why are they hiring a white-run law firm from England? Aren’t there any intelligent black attorneys in the Caribbean?

      I thought the races were of equal intelligence!

      • Franklin_Ryckaert

        Agree to pay them reparations in BILLIONS of Zimbabwean dollars.
        (= authentic African money!).

        • Alexandra1973

          I see what you did there….

        • nicholasi

          a chikkin mcnuggit fo ebry po blakk chil dat wuz growd up on a cottin plantayshun!

    • Svigor

      Reparations for slavery are a bit like a man suing for being kidnapped while refusing to leave his kidnappers’ home and eating 3 squares a day in their kitchen.

    • Franklin_Ryckaert

      Don’t pay for reparation, pay for repatriation.

    • nicholasi

      “Also to the point is the question of why those whose ancestors had no part in slavery should see their tax dollars go toward the “reparations racket.”” : coz yall gotz ta pay yo!

  • Brian

    The assumption behind adding “interest” is that barring slavery, these Africans would have built something worthwhile on their own instead. Everything we see, everything we know about black Africans suggests otherwise.

    • Whitetrashgang

      These people would have done nothing without the white mans brains, they owe us. Bunch of retarded children, we take care of them and they want reparations? What next I have to pay my dog minimum wage?

      • DonReynolds

        (Your DOG is more deserving.)
        …..and one more thing……
        from now on, we will not be called “dogs”
        that is a white racist slave name
        From now on……you will call us Canine-Americans!

        • Katherine McChesney

          A bit of fact, ‘dogs’ is a word in the Bible to refer to sodomites.

          • David Ashton

            British TV must therefore be compared to a dog show.

      • Garrett Brown

        Dogs do much more for people’s well being and happiness than blacks do.

        • David Ashton

          They do not employ dogs as nurses in our hospitals.

          • Garrett Brown

            They do actually. They visit sick children with cancer and other diseases.

          • David Ashton

            I am referring to the National Health Service in the UK where black nurses generally have a good reputation for kindness and competence. There have been a few cases of bullying of patients by white and non-white “care”-workers in our awful “nursing” homes, but that is another matter, as are pets as companions for sick children.

            My late mother was in a Cornish hospital where she was not only misdiagnosed by a consultant in Devon but also badly treated in a ward whose sister actually allowed her dogs to run about with no thought of hygiene; no non-whites were involved, and we had to rescue her and bring her to outer London where she was correctly diagnosed by a “non-white” who was too late to save her.

          • Garrett Brown

            All cases of rape, sexual and physical abuse, verbal abuse and neglecting to do their duties are reported on black “nurses”.

          • David Ashton

            “All” cases in Britain? Can you give me a few references?
            The USA may be different. I am quite prepared to withdraw statements if proved inaccurate.

          • Garrett Brown

            Sorry, the high majority I should have said.

  • D.B. Cooper

    THIS is what happens when you let a little twerp run off his mouth, when it needs to receive a big old fashioned back handed pimp slap.
    So, we are getting scared at the ramblings of Haiti and Jamaica?

  • Spartacus

    “Martyn Day, founding partner of Leigh Day, said his clients are working
    to document the legacy of slavery for today’s Caribbean residents, such
    as the economic effects of being unable to accumulate wealth over the
    centuries,”

    ———————————————————————————————————————

    Yeah, I’m sure that’s why they’ve been unable to “accumulate wealth over the centuries”…. When the Mongolian Empire invaded eastern Europe, more than half of all my people were either wiped off the face of the Earth or enslaved, and some other nations had it even worse. Somehow, we managed not to turn into groids …

    • IstvanIN

      Don’t forget the Muslims hordes who got as far north as Austria!

      • Erasmus

        A lot of that Saudi oil money should be finding its way to Hungary, Bulgaria, Serbia and Romania.

        • Sick of it

          No love for the Greeks?

    • Manaphy

      Don’t forget the Jews who are occupying and controlling the governments of virtually the entire continent of Europe!

      • David Ashton

        The moderator seems to have missed this – shall we say – exaggeration, while deleting two entirely reasonable questions I put to Mr Engelman, in another thread, on Israel. Press the button “Jew” and all kinds of raving drivel seems to spew out, instead of a balanced and accurate, though critical, account of Jewish activities and history. This must please some of their “defense” propagandists rather than upset them.

        • “To learn who rules over you simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.” ~ Voltaire.

          • David Ashton

            I think Spengler said something similar: Follow the direction of deference and you will eventually reach your master.

            The recurrent problem, however, is to avoid being trapped on a jew-jabber roundabout, unable to get off, while the masters of our fate watch safe in the knowledge that there is no intelligent strategy to unseat them, or indeed unseat their opponents from the whirligig of futility.

          • stewball

            May I call you the Saint?

          • Could have been Simon Templar.
            Could have been James Bond too.
            Was offered both.
            Turned both down.

          • ralphie44

            I hope all is well
            r

          • Dalek_1963

            Ralphie – AM hasnt commented anywhere for three months. Hope he’s OK.

          • Got roughed bad up by a drunken local “friend” of mine I have been trying to awaken and after that I couldn’t even type with my dominant hand. It’s still messed up.

            Unfortunately I let my discomfort and disappointment rule me for a time. We’ve all seen how angrily and irrationally people respond online sometimes but it was a surprise to see the same sort of willful ignorance and denial coming from someone I counted as a friend. People not yet awake will sometimes go to great lengths to avoid learning the truth.

            Amusingly I wasn’t even talking about racial issues or who runs the Fed at the time, but simply slamming baby formula as being terrible because it’s basically water, corn syrup, and pinch of multivitamin. My white buddy had a Category 4 Chimpout over baby formula. Oh, the irony.

            I should have shown more resilience.

          • BY GOD’S GRACE YOU HAVE RETURNED TO US!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          • Dalek101

            Sorry to hear that mate – but great to see you back online again. We were getting worried.

            The only chimpout I’ve suffered recently was a virtual one at the hands of the Daily Telegraph moderators (I wasnt the only casualty). Hence I’m now Dalek101.

          • nicholasi

            Sue them! Contact Finkelheim, Fiegelbaum, Goldfarb and Lipschitz. You can’t go wrong with a brood of k*** shysters.

          • I haven’t seen Arganath commenting the last week or so. Was he a casualty?

          • Orodreth

            Yup, but already back in the game and already following you.

            This is my new one.

          • nicholasi

            Response to a comment you made (in response to fabian_solutions’ “I don’t care about skin colour”) at a site where I’m banned: “But others do” — yeah, it’s like a blonde blue-eyed White woman tied up by a pack of Negroes who are taking their clothes off: “Listen, guys. I don’t care about skin colour, and I’m asexual, so, uh, how about we just go for coffee now and have a lttle chat about how oppressed you are?”

          • Orodreth

            Rumour has it she’s a phoney, and actually one of the writers at that paper.

            I have however came across self loathing whites that really are that far gone.

          • nicholasi

            Sue him! Contact Finkelheim, Fiegelbaum, Goldfarb and Lipschitz

          • ralphie44

            That is a strange thing go nuts over.
            How long has this “friend” been around?

          • Yes, the ridiculousness of it resounds with me too. Apparently he took it as a critique of his parenting skills which is crazy because I’ve never given him anything but praise for doting on his kids.

            I’ve been friends with him for over a decade. I only put friend in quotes above because in my experience hanging around with friends doesn’t typically necessitate a visit to the E.R.

          • Sasha Soetoro

            Glad to know you’re okay.

            I tossed this image together to commemorate the baby formula incident.

          • nicholasi

            K***s.

        • stewball

          I might be wrong and please correct me if I’m wrong but I seem to be answering more hate mail than anything else.

          • stewball

            My words I might be be wrong reminded me of an old song. I wonder if you remember it.
            I might be right I might be wrong you know you’re going to miss me when I’m gone.

      • Franklin_Ryckaert

        Does the term “debt-slaves” ring a bell in this respect?

      • stewball

        Such B.S. you anti Jews talk.

        • Manaphy

          Care to provide a counter argument then?

          • stewball

            I don’t have to. All you people know is hate just like your mummies and daddies taught you.

          • David Ashton

            Rational discussion among all parties is required, but it is rare when this button is pressed.

          • stewball

            What button David?

          • David Ashton

            The button labelled “the Jews” of course.

          • Alexandra1973

            Jews are not at the top of the pyramid so to speak. This “Jews run it all” thing is a load of crap.

            I would agree that many sell out…but they’re not yanking all the strings. Think of them as willing puppets.

      • Sick of it

        And North America…

      • jay11

        I personally have nothing against jews or anyone else. I just want fairness. They blame white people for slavery, but jewish financiers were a huge part of that trade, and this fact is hushed over and never allowed to be aired. Anywhere. Then you have the black tribes that used captured black enemies as commodities to be sold. There’s enough blame to go around, but only one group gets blame, and that’s us. Add to that the fact that 99.99 percent of all of our white ancestors had nothing to do with slavery and the reparations game looks more pathetic.

    • Ella

      How will the politically correct handle the reparations from Jewish plantation owners who equally bought and traded slaves in the Caribbean? From various Jewish journals, they claimed to have a moderate role in the West Indies slave trade, including Suriname (S.A.). Will the Jews have to pay their “share” of damages? How about the Indios who purchased and owned slaves? The Africans tribes who captured enemy tribes to sell? How about the “freed” Blacks that bought other slaves? It’s about free money and forced aid. Who is the lawyer behind this scheme?

    • nicholasi

      Stein and Herson are handling the case for Day. You should see the khazar blubberlips on Stein.

  • So CAL Snowman

    “French president François Hollande, in rejecting reparations . . .”

    You KNOW this movement doesn’t have a leg to stand on when an arch Anti-White communist like Francois Hollande is against it.

  • DaveMed

    “In accounting for slavery’s cost…”

    “how to put a price tag on the harm wrought by slavery…”

    The honest question is: from whom was the ultimate cost exacted, and upon whom was the ultimate harm wrought?

  • “In Accounting for Slavery’s Cost”

    For the sake of the almighty CPA, don’t hire Arthur Andersen for that job.

  • We’ve already paid our penalty:

    Channon Christian, Eve Carson, Lauren Burk, Emily Haddock, Julie Love, Kim Kilgore, Colleen Ritz

    It’s time for them to pay us back by going home to Africa where they belong.

    • John Frum

      Pay them with depleted uranium.

  • JohnEngelman

    Fourteen Caribbean nations and a British law firm are trying to find the solution to a puzzle that has eluded many economists, historians and activists: how to put a price tag on the harm wrought by slavery, and then persuade someone to pay.

    – Wall Street Journal, October 25, 2013

    “The harm wrought by slavery” includes the sky high black crime rate and the way blacks ruin every neighborhood they move into.

    If you include what blacks have stolen from me and medical expenses from a mugging, I think the total cost comes to about $6,000. When I get my reparations check I hope they spell my name right. It is “Engelman,” not “Engleman.”

    • DonReynolds

      You got off light, John. Too many others paid with their lives for the high privilege of donating the few dollars from their wallet to a shirtless savage to pay for a lifestyle of vice and crime.

  • David Ashton

    Think of a number, double it, take away the number you first thought of, multiply it by -n, write in on a piece of paper, and then throw it away.

    • DaveMed

      That’s an all-day job for some. 🙂

  • MekongDelta69

    How about a buck forty two eighty eleventy twelveteen?

    • stewball

      Eeew. Who are you standing with?

  • 48224

    I say GIVE THEM REPARATIONS….BUT make them pay US for using the modern inventions which they enjoy every day. I am talking about: The wheel, electricity, indoor plumbing, cars, bikes, motorcycles, central heating, modern medicine including antibiotics, vaccinations against diseases like Polio. Canned food, refrigeration, TV, Internet, radio, telephones, written languages, public education, public transportation, roads, concrete, steel…..the list goes on. All things considered, I think they owe us white Europeans!!!!

    • Whitetrashgang

      Yes Yes Yes,tell them to shove it.

    • stewball

      Excuse me but I think women belong there too.

      • Katherine McChesney

        Exactly WHERE do you think women belong? Are you a member of the ‘he-man woman haters club’?

        • stewball

          No silly woman. In the list of.’men’ who made all those things.

      • 48224

        Women scientist have made contributions. But let’s face it, finding a female Nobel Prize winner in science is like finding a white man in the starting line-up of the NBA. Even Asians do not have the innovation that white males do.

        • stewball

          Search harder. Start with Marie Curie.

  • Andy

    What do they think foreign aid is?

  • DonReynolds

    Where are MY reparations?…..money owed me for the loss of property by my ancestors….. taken in violation of the Constitutional guarantee of due process and due compensation for property taken by the Federal government. Where are MY reparations for the loss of a grist mill operated by my family at Decaturville, Tennessee, which was burned by the Union Army? Where are MY reparations for relatives who died in Union prisons in harsh winter conditions without proper food, clothing, or medicine? Where are MY reparations for over a hundred years of degradation, humiliation, enforced poverty, loss of voting franchise, military occupation and government by blacks and carpetbaggers?
    .
    I am perfectly willing to discuss reparations on the same day that everyone admits that Southerners, especially former slave owners and their decendents, have a much stronger claim than those who were already slaves when they arrived on these shores and were bought and paid for with legal tender, with proper receipt, consistent with the laws in place at the time. Until then, OUR reparations will remain…..unpaid.

    • stewball

      Paid for with legal tender! Human beings.

    • Sick of it

      Some of us have valid claims against the British government as well for damage done to our family’s property during several wars.

  • Le Fox

    How about a free trip back to Africa, instead?

    Oh, wait. That’s racist.

    • Sloppo

      I think it’s a wonderful suggestion. Africa is a huge continent with wonderful natural resources and it has many countries controlled exclusively by black people. With all those natural resources and no white people to hold them back, those repatriated Africans would prosper and transform Africa into a success story that would make all of western civilization envious.

      • stewball

        Won’t happen. Israel tried that.

  • odious liberal

    The negroes should be forced to pay the original Indians they displaced.

    • 48224

      How about paying all the white people displaced from Detroit??? I was ran out of my neighborhood 3 times. Finally had to leave the city. My old neighborhood is in ruin. We lost property values in the hundred thousand dollar range. I should be the one getting a check.

    • stewball

      I thought that was the whites.

  • Homo_Occidentalis

    By their own moronic logic the municipality of Rome owes all Englishmen, Frenchmen, Italians, Spaniards, Belgians, Dutchmen, Swiss, Austrians, Algerians, Tunisians, Slovenes, Croats, Romanians, Greeks, etc. billions of dollars in accumulated interest on slavery reparations.

    • ftex

      My ancestors on the Iberian Peninsula were enslaved by invading Romans, and later, Moors. I demand that Rome, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt and Morocco immediately make reparation payments. Taking into account the working wage at the time (~200BC for the Romans, ~700AD for the Moors),let’s say very conservatively $100/yr and a conservative interest rate of 3%/yr compounded yearly, I say $1.75×10^30 is about is about right… That’s 175 with 28 zeros after it.

    • Romulus

      Don’t forget Celtic and GERMANIC tribes.

    • stewball

      How much should the roman catholics pay to the Jews for torturing and burning Jews alive just to convert to their so called religion.

      • Franklin_Ryckaert

        You do not sound very Christian to me. What is your own “so called” religion?

        • Spartacus

          She’s not an Eskimo .

        • stewball

          I’m Jewish.
          You’re right Sparky. I’m not an Eskimo.

          • Franklin_Ryckaert

            There exists a world wide conspiracy of non-Eskimos.

        • Katherine McChesney

          He’s more Christian than the RCC which is Babylonian paganism to the core.

          • Franklin_Ryckaert

            There is absolutely nothing “Babylonian” in Catholicism. That is a curious Protestant myth. Babylonian culture was dead already for ages when Catholicism was formed. Catholicism is Christianity + folklore, quite innocent I think.

      • Whitetrashgang

        5 cents

      • Sick of it

        Not much, considering the few people harmed during the Inquisition.

      • Katherine McChesney

        BILLIONS.

        • stewball

          Damn right.

      • Alexandra1973

        Jews, Bible-believing Christians, and anyone else that wouldn’t kiss the pope’s toe…or derriere.

  • Aren’t they going to sue the west-African nations from which their ancestors were sold into slavery in the first place? Didn’t those countries use the wealth they received from their pro-active role in the slave trade to become modern, peaceful, educated economic powerhouses, proving once and for all that there is no such thing as “race” and that the notion of European cultural superiority was only a silly fantasy?

  • The Bogeyman

    The USA should get reparations from west Africa for the care and feeding of their parasitic descendants.

  • Jesse James

    Our entire welfare system that was built to fight the “War on Poverty” is a never ending pouring of the nations wealth into one reparations scheme after another. The US is like a man who is concerned that the rats in his basement might sneak up stairs one night and eat him alive. In a pathetic and cowardly attempt to avoid confrontation he decides to start feeding the rats, which of course increases the number and strength of the rats. Over the years he cedes the first three floors of his house to the ever more aggressive rats till he finds himself terrified and huddling in one corner of his attic. The rats of course show and feel absolutely no gratitude to the man who has slaved away all his life trying to provide them food because THEY ARE RATS. To them the relationship is obvious: he is a coward and he will give up anything to avoid confrontation with them. They must be his master for if not why does him serve them so well? When he eventually dies or is eaten in his sleep there will be a huge die off of the rats who have bred well out of their meager ability to support themselves and nobody else will be fool enough to feed them. But they aren’t concerned in the least because THEY ARE RATS and nothing exists for them outside of this moment.

  • Jack Burton

    I have no problem with reparations for slavery, if we can also consider the debt they owe Whites for the cost of welfare, affirmative action and black crime. I have no doubt they would end up owing us much more.

  • Whitetrashgang

    I might add both the US and England are run by a certain tribe.

    • stewball

      Daft idjut

      • Whitetrashgang

        Jewden swinehund

        • stewball

          Giggle.

        • stewball

          At least spell it
          properly. Do you. Need help? You obviously didn’t learn your 3 R’s.

  • stewball

    They were mostly Muslims.

  • Franklin_Ryckaert

    Nearly all relations of non-Whites with Whites amount to a form of parasitism.

  • SFLBIB

    Too many lawyers. In 1800, the U.S. Gov’t stopped the importation of slaves. Likewise, we should put a stop to graduating more lawyers until the number gets down to a level where the profession takes only those cases with a reasonable demand, all others being frivolous.

    “It is just not possible to rectify a wrong committed by ‘A’ against ‘B’ by taking from ‘C’ and giving to ‘D’.” – Lino Graglia

  • Katherine McChesney

    Whites even invented the clothing designs they wear today.

    In their home country they wore loincloths, putting rings around their necks to elongate them. Bones, beads and plates to stretch their lips.

    • stewball

      Those are tribes. Nothing to do with the slaves etc

  • Katherine McChesney

    One of my truthful comments about black on white murders was banned from Daily Mail. Brits are brainwashed about blacks and their criminal behavior.

  • Katherine McChesney

    Blacks have made many lying assertions about slavery in the South. There were very few slaveholders in the South. The majority of White farm owners provided their black families a home and a few acres of land to farm. In exchange they were required to give their ‘owners’ a percentage of their yield. They also worked on the main farm for pay. Their ‘owners’ gave them medical care, clothing and in some instances schooled them in ‘Reading, Writing and Arithmetic.”

    • stewball

      The 3 R’s?

      • Alexandra1973

        The 3 R’s nowadays are Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Go figure, huh?

  • jay11

    While they’re at it, the Welsh can ask for reparations from the English and Danes for invading Britain and marginalizing them. The Russians can get reparations from the Mongols. The Arabs can get reparations from the Turks. The Chinese can get reparations from the Japs. The Bolivians can get reparations (and their access to the sea back) from Peru and Chile. The West African blacks can get reparations from the Arabs for repeated incursions. The descendants of Black slaves in the New World can get reparations back from current West African blacks, whose tribal chief ancestors first sold them as slaves to the white men on the coast. I can get reparations from the three bullies who made my life living hell in high school. Heck! Where does it end?

  • Northern American-Nationalist

    I hope they get the money. . .because when they blow it, then it will be much easier to show Whitey the reality of “the truth which may not be spoken.”