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Misguided payouts based on ancestry, not actions

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign event at the William "Hicks" Anderson Community Center in Wilmington, Del., Tuesday, July 28, 2020.(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The current anguish over “racial justice” has been punctuated by intensifying demands for monetary reparations to the descendants of enslaved Americans. The prospect of arranging appropriate compensation for uncompensated labor that ended 155 years ago remains wildly impractical, but it also goes against the nation’s highest ideals.

America has always been the land of fresh starts and new life, where you’re not judged by who your grandparents were or where they came from. To the greatest extent possible, your progress in life should reflect your own efforts, and not your family’s past. Slavery reparations emphasize the opposite idea: assigning tax-funded payouts based not on who you are, but on who your great-great-grandparents were.

Joe Biden has already expressed support for a commission to evaluate slavery reparations. If this ill-advised effort becomes a major issue in the campaign, the American people will rightly reject a program designed to accentuate, not narrow, racial differences.

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