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Partially Address Inequality the Painless Way

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While American mythology lauds fair competition and self-made heroes, the reality is that our system of inheritance creates unfair competition and makes it particularly challenging to be a self-made hero. A key aspect of the inheritance problem is the disparity it has created between white and black Americans. After the end of slavery black Americans owned about .5% of the total worth of the country. This is not surprising: most blacks had been property before this date. They did not have wealth because they were wealth. In 1990 things had had improved for black Americans—they now own about 1% of America’s wealth. This is not surprising—they started with little or nothing, whites received a bounty of governmental gifts, and blacks were systematically denied these gifts and restricted in their opportunities to earn their own way. While most of those in positions to address this matter must be fine with it, if you believe in fair competition and equality of opportunity, then consistency requires that you also believe that this problem needs to be addressed. Condensing history, white people  have enjoyed numerous advantages gifted to them by the state. The Homestead Act of 1862 provided gifts of land that went mostly to white people. This land was taken, in large part, by the 1830 Indian Removal Act. Compensation was also paid to white slave owners after the civil war, but the 40 acres and a mule remains an empty promise to this day.  The 1935 Wagner Act gave unions the ability to engage in collective bargaining, and these unions were a great boon to white workers. But it permitted unions to exclude non-whites, which they generally did to the detriment of black Americans. The Federal Housing Administration’s programs allowed millions of average white Americans to buy homes, while excluding black Americans. The national neighborhood appraisal system tied mortgage eligibility to race. Integrated communities were defined as being financial risk and ineligible for home. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

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