Reparations, or compensation in different forms, mainly monetarily, are often used in our society to appease a certain entity. Whether it be one nation to another such as Germany to the Allies after World War I, forcing them to pay a total of 132 billion marks in war reparations or The Reparations Agreement between Israel and West Germany, forcing Germany to pay out a total of three billion marks to Israel over 14 years. Or even one nation to an individual or group of people such as Germany and German corporations being made responsible for paying out reparations to Jewish individuals in other countries via certain programs, which some sources say will have reached roughly 50 billion dollars by the year 2020. In 1988 the U.S. government approved the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 which provided reparations to Japanese-Americans held in interment camps during World War II of which totaled $1.6 billion, roughly 20,000 per person. Reparations date as far back as Rome, and remain a popular trend of compensation for many.
In Christopher Phillips Six Questions of Socrates he delves into the subject of reparations on a more present event. The September 11th attacks and the way the donation funds were divvied up to the families of the survivors. One of the participants in his dialogue goes on to say
“It said that they’re calculating who gets how much based on how much their future earnings would have been. That means the family of a man or woman who died, and who’d been making lots of money, is going to get a lot more from the funds than families of poor people who were victims.”
Phillips further points out that The New Yorker reported “High end families-those who stand to get the most from the fund-were particularly ‘infuriated’ by the formula, because it limits how much they could get from the fund.” At what point did these families have the right to complain about the donations they were receiving? Did they have the right at all?
Descendents of slaves have also been asking for reparations for some time to compensate for the free and forced labor during those times, in which many argue has helped make America what it is today. A powerful argument indeed, and a just one at that. Should this generation be forced to pay for another’s mistakes? Especially seeing how far society has come since those times?
Does war reparations imposed on countries hurt them in the long run? Take Iraq for example, after 1991 a total of $53 billion in war reparations was to be paid out to various countries and individuals. The website, VCNC.org brings up an interesting point, “The war reparations being paid are for damage inflicted by Suddam Hussein’s regime, which no longer exists.” Which will ultimately “prevent the Iraqi people from rebuilding their country,” and ultimately increasing (as we have witnessed) the presence of coalition forces and entities in helping to rebuild Iraq. At what point should a simple forgiveness be issued in order to give a nation the chance to right its wrongs and rebuild?
How do you feel about reparations? Should Germany or other countries/organizations continue to pay out these reparations? Should people be given money or other forms of reparation?