Thursday, June 02, 2005

Apologies, Apologies

Maybe it's just that I'm squirrelly today, and Goodness knows I am, but does making companies admit their historical ties to slavery seem like a bit much to you?

It's recent enough that I can see getting pissy with companies that benefited from the Nazis. *Cough* IBM *cough*

But I'm not sure what relevance these 150-year-old sins have.



Paul Wilczynski said...

Personally, I don't see that they have any relevance. Lots of people did lots of bad things lots of years ago. Some of those people might not even have considered the acts as bad as we consider them now. It's very easy for us to say "of course slavery was evil!". And of course it was. But who's to say what was in the mind of someone that long ago?

If we took this to extremes, we'd be spending all of our time getting people to apologize for the acts of their ancestors, over whom, of course, they had no control or influence. Lets start with the ancestors of those who whipped and put to death women accused of being witches in New England.

Anonymous said...

Since we all live on land that was stolen from Native Americans, it is kind of tough to get too hung up on these things.

Chalicechick said...

You may have a point there.


Anonymous said...

You're missing the point; this would allow Jesse Jackson to extort large contributions- that's the real issue.

Joel Monka

Chalicechick said...

Oh, it helps Jesse Jackson!

Why didn't ya say that?

Well then...


Cranky Cindy said...

I think it's really important, just like it was important to find French money looted by the Third Reich. Just like the American, Italian, and other insurance companies had to 'fess up about not paying out life insurance policies after WWII. They'd avoided paying on the policies (and kept the premiums) by saying that since the Third Reich destroyed records, there was no way for Sally Jane Romanovitch to prove that her father, mother, and both sets of grandparents were the dead Romanovitch family listed in the Aushwitz paperwork.

In the case of slavery, slaves were used as collateral on loans. For instance, 2 banks that were later bought out and swallowed up into JP Morgan Chace had 13,000 slaves used as collateral, and ended up owning 1250 of them outright due to default --in Louisiana alone.

In all of these cases, the amount of money those policies and loans created, compounded and interested and invested in the years since makes a tremendous difference in the world today.

So the corporations made lots of money -- capital which strengthened their companies -- contributing to the increase in (white) upper class capitalists.
And European American families were able to plant and build and have boots with which to pull themselves up... they gained an estate worth passing along the generations. This greatly contributed to the creation of a white middle and upper middle landowning class.

And the African Americans who had been slaves and their descendants? No land, no building, no collateral, no boots.

So I think it matters.

Anonymous said...

Those arguments won’t bear close examination. To begin with, what do you suppose happened to the banks that accepted slaves as collateral after the Civil War? The people who had put them up as collateral were the very ones bankrupted by Emancipation, and the banks couldn’t repossess their “collateral”, could they? A great many banks went under, taking their upper class white owners with them. Their middle class white depositors were ruined as well- no FDIC back then, remember.
The vast wealth created by slavery is largely mythical. Yes, in the very early days a few individuals got very rich- very few; even in 1776 the South had a smaller middle class per capita than the North. By 1800, a slave economy could no longer compete, and by the middle 1800’s it was acute; that’s why the South lost the Civil War. Indeed, that’s why it started- men like Watt, Whitney, Howe, Deere, Fulton, etc., had made slavery a liability, not an asset.
A story on NPR’s Morning Edition last week illustrates the point. They were explaining why America was still the World’s cotton king, and interviewed an 80 year old man who still worked his 300 acres all by himself, just he and his trusty John Deere. They said that African cotton took 5 men per acre to grow- a 1,500:1 labor advantage! Of course, back in 1850 it was only a 20:1 advantage, but you get the point. It was only English assistance to the Confederation and the incompetence of Northern generals that dragged the war out as long as it did. That’s not the basis of great wealth. In fact the states of the deep south have consumed more in Federal dollars than they sent in taxes for 140 years. If you include military bases built in the South for non-military reasons- pure pork barrel- the South has been a net drain on the American economy since well before the Civil War- not a good argument for the wealth building power of slavery.
You know, slavery in North America predates the existence of the United States by 152 years; why don’t we all, black and white together, demand reparations from England for the bitter legacy they left us?

Joel Monka

Blue Adept said...

Joel Monka, you're an idiot. If you have any sense, you'll reread what you wrote and realize the mistakes and inconsistencies in it.

If you need some help let me know.

Here's a hint:
a) the south fought for thier 'way of life' and 'states rights' as much as for economics.

b)apportionment of federal funding has zero relation to the economic strengh of a region but speaks to the political clout of it's representatives.

c) read "Cranky Cindy's" comments again. She's right.

Chalicechick said...

Even when responding to very old posts, we should always keep in mind Thumper's mother's rule.