Archive for March, 2023

Why is U.S. college debt still such a problem?

March 30, 2023

I’m old.  I can remember the 1950s, when it was possible for an American from a family of average income to attend college and emerge free of debt.

Tuition was free in the University of California system and at City College (now City University) of New York.  Tuition at other public university systems was usually affordable.

Middle class families could save up for college.  Students from working-class families could earn tuition through a combination of summer jobs and part-time jobs.

That’s not to say college education was open to everyone.  You had to pass an entrance exam, which not everybody could do, and you had to maintain your grades, which not everybody could do.

But that was okay.  A hard-working person of average ability – at least if the person was white and male – could get a job with a livable wage without need of a college degree.  

(I’m not saying discrimination against minorities and women was unimportant.  I’m making the point that affordable higher education is not an impossibility.)

I feel sorry for young people today – and by young, I mean people age 50 and under.  They’ve been told that the only way they can get decent jobs is by earning four-year college degrees.  

But tuition is extremely high, and it is rising.  The only way most applicants can afford college is to borrow money. Usually  their mentors (although this is changing somewhat) tell them not to worry about going into debt because the value of a college degree will be worth it.

They go out into the world not with a clean slate, but with tens of thousands of dollars to pay off.  This limits their options.  They can’t, as I did, start out in a relatively low-wage job because it is something they like, and hope to work their way up.

If they hit some setback, where they can’t make their payments, debt can mushroom into hundreds of thousands of dollars.  And unlike other kinds of debt, it is not dischargeable though bankruptcy.

There is seldom or no attempt to assess credit-worthiness.  It is the sub-prime mortgage crisis all over again.

Colleges can charge sky-high tuition because students can borrow to pay it.   Lenders don’t have to worry about credit-worthiness because the borrowers, in most case, can’t get out of debt.  It’s a racket.

Chart One.

About 45 million Americans, just under one in five adults, owe a total of $1.76 trillion in student loans, according to an information service called NerdWallet.  Those age 35 to 49 are the group with the greatest amount of high debt ($200,000 and more). 

That’s more than 10 times as much as student loan debt in 2009, even though student enrollment has declined 11 percent since 2011.


Minimum wages around the world

March 29, 2023

Click on Visual Capitalist for a larger map.

These look like very big changes

March 28, 2023

These charts are from a Twitter thread by Matt Stoller, who thinks they are causally connected.

[Added 4/3/2023]  My online friend Bill Harvey called my attention to a good discussion of these trends by Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti on Breaking Points.

The ghost in the machine

March 25, 2023

Research into artificial intelligence has created something that is either (1) in some sense, a super intelligent sentient being, or (2) an imitation of a sentient being that is so good that it is impossible to tell the difference.

An AI known as ChatGPT-3 has taught itself to write poetry and computer code even though not specifically programmed to do so.  It expresses emotion and makes moral judgments of users.

I’ve provided samples in previous posts.  So has “Nikolai Vladivostok,” in a post I highly recommend reading.

Is the new AI just a version of auto-correct, with capabilities raised many, many orders of magnitude?  Or is it actually alive, under some definition of “alive”?

Whichever it is, something strange and powerful is being created that we the human race don’t understand and can’t fully control, and yet we are racing to find ways to make it more powerful and embed it in our society.

Some people fear an all-powerful AI awakening and deciding to dispense with the human race.  Others fear the “paperclip apocalypse,” that a super intelligent AI is given a mission, such as making paperclips, and it runs amok and turns the whole world into paperclips.

I don’t have the knowledge to judge the likelihood of these particular threats.  I’m just saying that, as a matter of common sense, it is unwise to entrust key functions of society to entities we don’t understand and to let loose forces we may not be able to control.

A wise society would call a temporary halt to AI development until we can assess what we have got, then proceed cautiously step-by-step, if at all.  Yet there is no mechanism for doing this.

If a researcher holds back from enhancing AI, some other researcher will get ahead of him.  If a business, army, espionage organization, advertising agency, etc., holds back from using AI, a rival business, army, espionage organization, advertising agency, etc. will get ahead of it.  

It is the age-old dilemma of the arms race – bad for all of us collectively, yet dangerous individually to refuse to join in.

Source: U.S. Copyright Office.


The rise of the East and decline of the West

March 24, 2023

The most important things going on in the world today is the rise of China to world leadership.  The second most important thing is the decline of U.S. power.

China historically has been one of the world’s most advanced and powerful civilizations.  Now it is resuming its historic place.

Its Belt and Roads Initiative (aka New Silk Road) is bringing about the economic integration of the interior of Eurasia through construction of oil and gas pipelines, railroads and roads.

China is slowly drawing the rest of the world into its economic and diplomatic orbit by offering benefits and treating other nations with respect.

We US Americans could have kept our leading position longer if our leaders had simply made a good-faith effort to be what we claimed to be – friends of democracy, upholders of international law, impartial trustees of the world’s financial system.

The USA is alienating the rest of the world by threats and brute force. There was a long period when Russia and Iran would have welcomed good relations with the USA.  Instead we have driven them into the arms of China.  Now it is too late to change.

Long-time allies such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia are turning to the China-led bloc, as are neutrals such as India. No nation in Latin America or Africa and only a couple in Asia have been willing to join in the U.S.-led crusade against Russia.

It is not just that the Global South nations are shifting from the perceived losing side to the perceived winning side.  It is that Chinese and Russian leaders treat them with respect and offer them benefits, while US American leaders no longer do.

That’s not to say China, Russia and their allies are examples of democracy and human rights.  They aren’t.  I still would rather live in the dilapidated, dysfunctional U.S. democracy, under what’s left of our Constitution, than in those countries.  But that’s my personal preference.  Not everybody in the world shares it.

The Russian-Chinese alliance does have vulnerabilities.  The integration of Eurasia depends on the ability of China and Russia to pacify the subject and restive Muslim peoples in Xinjiang and the former Soviet republics in Central Asia.  

Also, the whole struggle for power is based on control of oil and gas resources.  Someday the supply of affordable fossil fuels will run out, unless catastrophic climate change wrecks industrial civilization first.  But that is an issue for a later day.

With all their problems and defects, China, Russia and Iran are on the way up.  With all our US American residual strengths, the USA is on the way down.  Our economic system, political system and social system are decaying.  

If we don’t change, we’re going to learn a very painful lesson, and we will find that much of the world thinks it is payback time.


In Moscow, Xi and Putin bury Pax Americana by Pepe Escobar for The Cradle.

How the USSR’s Fall Unleashed a Neocon Goldrush to the Heartland by Simplicius the Thinker. and Association for Human Rights in Central Asia.  Reports on tensions within the Eurasian heartland.

The depopulation of Ukraine

March 23, 2023

The recent history of the Ukrainian people is a history of survival in the face of attempts to wipe them out.

Millions of Ukrainians died in the Holodomor, the terror-famine imposed by Joseph Stalin in 1932-33.  It was a combination of an attempt to wipe out the kulaks, a class of prosperous, independent peasant farmers in Ukraine and other Soviet republics, and a drive to wipe out the distinctive Ukrainian culture.

Millions more died under Nazi rule during World War Two.  Adolf Hitler’s plan for the Ukrainians was for half or more of them to die of starvation and disease and the rest to be a permanent slave class for future German settlers.

That is why Hitler rejected Stepan Bandera’s proposal to set up a Nazi vassal state in Ukraine.  Hitler didn’t want Ukraine to have even a nominal political existence.

After the war, Ukraine’s population recovered.  Official statistics indicate that the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic’s population, including the provinces annexed by the USSR during the war, was 36.9 million in 1950.  It rose to a peak of 52.2 million in 1993, shortly after Ukraine became independent.

But then it fell to 41.2 million in 2021.  That’s because of a fall in women’s average fertility rates below the replacement rate, which was happening in all European countries.  But it also is due to a rise in the death rate.  A blogger named Noah Carl said this is due to deaths to alcohol abuse and other “deaths of despair” among Ukrainian men.

Since the war broke out, Carl reported more than 8 million Ukrainians have left for other countries – including 3 million to Russia, 5 million to European Union countries, 250,000 to the USA  That’s one-fifth of Ukraine’s pre-war population.  Many of them might not be coming back because they’ve settled in countries with labor shortages where wages are higher than in Ukraine.

Moreover, as Carl pointed out, the refugee population is skewed toward women, children and the elderly.  Ukraine is not allowing military-age men to leave.

Moreover, the refugee population is better-educated and more employable than the Ukrainian average, and more culturally compatible with Europeans than refugees from Africa and the Middle East.

So it’s likely that many refugees will want to stay where they are.  If so, Ukrainian men will have a choice between leaving to join their women, or stay in Ukraine where chances of finding a mate are less.  Either way, that’s a big loss for the Ukrainian nation.


Is there any possibility that Ukraine could win?

March 22, 2023

I’m not an expert on military matters. I don’t speak Russian or Ukrainian. I’m not in touch with anybody in Russia or Ukraine or the higher circles in Washington, D.C.

I’m a retiree with time on his hands, an Internet connection and a willingness to go outside official sources and consensus opinion in order to figure out what’s going on.

I’ve explained why I think Russia is winning its proxy war against the U.S.-led Western alliance.  I haven’t changed my mind, but that’s not to deny that Russia has weaknesses.

A Russian dissident pointed out that Vladimir Putin’s announced objectives in launching the war are not being achieved.

Putin wanted to push back NATO from its borders, but Sweden and Finland are de facto members of NATO.  He wanted to demilitarize Ukraine, but Ukraine is a heavily-armed military dictatorship.  He wanted to denazify Ukraine, but the neo-Nazi Banderite nationalists, previously a fringe group, are more powerful and popular than they have ever been.

Public opinion polls say Putin is more popular in Russia than Joe Biden is in the USA. But a strong minority opposes the war despite the risk of 15-year prison sentences.

The actual fighting in Ukraine is being done disproportionately by Russian-speaking militias raised in Ukraine itself, the Wagner Group private mercenary company and Chechens recruited by Putin’s warlord friend Ramzan Kadyrov.  The Russian government has tried to keep Russian draftees out of the fighting.

Russians as a group don’t seem to have anything against Ukrainians or any desire to go fight in Ukraine.  Large number of what you could call the professional-managerial class have left Russia to avoid the draft.

Also, while the cutoff of Russian oil and gas supplies has hurt the Western alliance, Europeans and we Americans have got through the winter better than I thought they would.

But taking all these things into account, I don’t think any of these things change the big picture.  Ukrainians, according to the military analysts I trust, are suffering much greater casualty rates than the Russian forces, and they are a smaller country to begin with.  Germans, French, Britons and Americans have even less desire to join. the fighting themselves than Russians do.

Although there doesn’t seem to be any great anti-war sentiment in the USA or Europe, there do seem to be rising protests against the economic hardships that are a byproduct of the sanctions war.  Cutting ourselves off from cheap Russian oil, gas and other raw materials has hurt us much more than it has hurt them.

Victory in a war of attrition is a product of two things – the degree of hardship suffered and the degree of will to endure the hardship.  If it is to be a war of attrition, Russia is in a better position to endure than the Western allies.  The Russians have more at stake, more of the resources needed to survive and the backing of China, the world’s leading industrial power.


Book note: Water for Elephants

March 21, 2023

WATER FOR ELEPHANTS by Sara Gruen (2006)

Water for Elephants is another good novel I happened to come across in a neighborhood free book exchange.  I got a lot of pleasure out of reading it.

It is about a man named Jacob Jankowski at two stages of his life. The novel alternates between 1931, when he is 23 years old and has run away to join a circus, and the early 2000s, when he is in his 90s and in a nursing home, hoping to be taken to the circus.

Both the circus scenes and the nursing home scenes have a you-are-there quality that shows extensive research and also deep understanding of circus history, the Great Depression and the male psyche.  

But the novel is not just a documentary.  Sara Gruen was highly inventive, although she said the wackier parts were taken from real circus history.  She said Rosie, the lovable but devious elephant, a central character, is based on biographies of real-life elephants. 

Circus life back in the 1930s was a hard life.  The circus companies lived most of their lives on their railroad trains.  They’d stop a location, rapidly set up the big tent, do their acts and move on without delay to the next stop.

Members of the fictional Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth lie and steal, and are cheated and exploited themselves. But they have talent, discipline and esprit de corps.  They stretch the limits of the possible..

The fictional Benzini Brothers Most Spectacular Show on Earth has a rigid class system.  At the top are the Bosses, including the colorful and sociopathic Uncle Al, who is owner and ringmaster, and the charming and vicious August Rosenbluth, equestrian director and superintendent of animals.

Next come the Performers, the clowns, trapeze artists and lion tamers.  They include the beautiful Marlena, an equestrienne who has an act with liberty horses – that is, horses without halters who obey commands given motions of a whip.  Performers work hard for low pay, but they never miss a meal and seldom miss a payday.

Below them are the Workers, who set things up and take them down, feed the animals and clean their cages, and deal with the public.  They, too, have skill and discipline beyond the ordinary.  

The Flying Squadron can raise and take down the Big Top in the same day, travel overnight to the next town, and do it all again the next day.  Patches are skilled at mollifying unhappy customers before they cause trouble.  

They live payday to payday, and pay doesn’t always come.  Gruen wrote that it was customary back then for circuses to hold back part of workers’ pay until the end of the season, so that they wouldn’t quit. Older workers become ticket takers when they are too old to do physical labor.  

If their work is unsatisfactory or they make trouble, they are subject to being thrown off the train when it is in motion – sometimes when the train is passing over a trestle, which makes survival unlikely.  


The empty picture frame in Biden’s office

March 18, 2023

Time for something a little less serious.

Hat tip to Ironic Sans and

Octavia E. Butler’s 21st century

March 10, 2023

PARABLE OF THE SOWER by Octavia E. Butler (1993)

PARABLE OF THE TALENTS by Octavia E. Butler (1998)

Octavia E. Butler, who died in 2006. was one of the outstanding science fiction writers of her time, and the most successful black woman SF writer.  

Two of her 1990s novels are getting renewed attention because because they seem prophetic of what the 21st century USA is becoming. 

The first book in the series, Parable of the Sower, depicts complete social breakdown in the 2020s.  The second, Parable of the Talents, depicts the rise of murderous religious nationalism in the 2030s.

We meet the protagonist, Lauren Oya Olamina, in 2024 at the age of 15 through a journal she keeps.  She has already decided to found a new religion, called Earthseed.  It would be based on the idea that “God is Change,” but that it is possible to shape God.  Its long-range goal would to spread human life throughout the universe.  All the chapter epigraphs are based on excerpts from its sacred book.

Civilization is breaking down, especially in California, due partly to catastrophic climate change.  The new President, Charles Morpeth Donner, has a plan to restore prosperity by privatizing government services, ending environmental and labor regulation, and allowing indentured labor.

Lauren is black, as are most of the central characters.  She suffers from a condition called hyperempathy,  which causes her to literally feel any physical pain she witnesses.

She lives in a walled community in southern California, Robledo, which is led by her father, a Baptist minister, who preaches mutual aid, armed self-defense and self-sufficiency, such as making bread from acorns.

Eventually the community is overrun by insane pyromaniac drug addicts, who are seen by some of the homeless poor as a liberating force.  Most of the community, including Lauren’s father, are killed.  She and two other survivors flee north on foot.  

Only 18, she emerges as a tough, competent Heinleinesque leader.  She lead a growing band through perils from robbers, rogue police, cannibals and feral dogs.  This part of the novel is a very enjoyable action-adventure survivalist story; it is a real page-turner.

Among those who join her band is a middle-aged physician named Bankhole, who falls in love with Lauren and eventually marries her.  They reach a Bankroll family property in northern California.  They stop and found a new community named Acorn, based on the Earthseed religion.  

Most, however, are only weakly committed to Earthseed.  The community is held together by Lauren’s charisma and leadership, not a doctrine.

Parable of the Talents is set sometime after Lauren’s death and is told through excerpts of Lauren’s journals as framed by the commentary of her estranged daughter, Larkin.  It details the invasion of Acorn by right-wing fundamentalist Christians, Lauren’s fight to survive their religious “re-education,” and the final triumph of Earthseed as a community on its way to a distant planet.


Mikhail Gorbachev and the road not taken

March 7, 2023

I well remember Mikhail Gorbachev and my high hopes for a new era of peace in which Americans and Russians could be friends.

Reagan and Gorbachev

As Antje Vollmers wrote, most empires in decline leave history’s scene in a spasm of violence.  He chose not to do this.  For this alone, he deserves the world’s gratitude.

A great opportunity was lost when the U.S. national security establishment chose to treat Russia as a defeated enemy rather than a new friend.

Now it is true that Gorbachev was naive.  He trusted the assurance of George H.W. Bush, James Baker and others that NATO would not expand to fill the vacuum left by departing Soviet troops.

He might not have been a match for the unholy alliance of the new oligarchs and the remnants of the old Soviet police state.  But the bipartisan policy of the past 20 years, which is to keep Russia down, has failed even in terms of its own goals.

Here in the USA, the heirs of liberalism and progressivism, whose forebears opposed intervention in Vietnam and Iraq, are war hawks.   The likes of Marjorie Taylor Greene and Rand Paul are stronger critics of the war machine than Bernie Sanders or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Lament of a Green pacifist

March 7, 2023

The following article is copied from the Berliner Zeitung and was forwarded to me by my new friend Desdemona.

 .A Bundeswehr soldier in front of Marder armored personnel carriers that have been loaded onto a train for transport.

Antje Vollmers’ legacy of a pacifist:

“What I would still have to say”

The ex-vice president of the Bundestag criticizes the Greens for turning away from pacifism. In the essay, she formulates her political conclusion.

Antje Vollmers

23.02.2023 | updated 26.02.2023

Antje Vollmer was vice president of the German Bundestag and was the first signatory of the peace manifesto of Sahra Wagenknecht and Alice Schwarzer. Vollmer is a pacifist and was an opponent of the wars in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan. As an author, she has worked intensively on the protagonists of July 20, 1944, and the anti-fascist resistance. Antje Vollmer is seriously ill. Her text can be read as a political legacy – it is a great reckoning with the zeitgeist. We publish the guest article in full length. Editorial.

I was standing at the train station in my hometown, waiting for the ICE. Suddenly, a huge convoy approached on the siding, fully loaded with tanks – with martens, cheetahs or leopards. I can’t tell, but I was shocked to read the picture. The transport was going from west to east.

It was not difficult to imagine the opposite image. Somewhere in the east military transports full of Russian battle tanks were rolling from east to west at the same time. They would not meet for a World War I-style tank battle somewhere in Ukraine.

No, this time they would once again mark the arms-locked chasm between two power blocs, where the world might face each other for the last time in a confrontation with a possibly apocalyptic outcome. So we were back in the Cold War and in a spiral of mutual existential threat – with no way out, no perspective. Everything I had fought against politically all my life was present to me at that moment as one huge defeat.


“…and fight back every day. A Green Diary” (1984) Antje Vollmer was born on May 31, 1943, in Lübbecke, Westphalia. She is a former vice president of the German Bundestag and a Green Party politician. Her awards include the Carl von Ossietzky Medal (1989), the Hannah Arendt Prize (1998) and the 2002 Masaryk Order of the Czech Republic for services to German-Czech reconciliation (awarded by President Vaclav Havel). She has written numerous books, including: “…and Wehret Euch täglich. A Green Diary” (1984), “Hot Peace. On Violence, Power and the Mystery of Civilization” (1995), “Doppelleben. Heinrich and Gottliebe von Lehndorff in the Resistance to Hitler and von Ribbentrop” (2010), “Stauffenberg’s Companions” with Lars Broder-Keil (2013). 

With history it is always important from which beginning you tell it

It has become customary, at the beginning of every mention of the immense tragedy surrounding the Ukraine war, to speak like an oath of the “turning point in time”, of Putin’s brutal war of aggression in violation of international law, with the Russian side clearly being solely to blame, and to humbly confess how much one had been mistaken in trusting in a phase of détente and reconciliation with Russia after the great turning point of 1989/90.

By Antje Vollmers



Where exactly did the defeat begin? Where did the error begin? When and how did this renewed deadly escalation of war, violence and bloc confrontation arise from one of the happiest phases in the history of the Eurasian continent, after the almost non-violent end of the Cold War? Who had an interest in the fact that the then possible peaceful coexistence between East and West did not come about, but fell prey to renewed worldwide antagonism?

And then the question of all questions: Why was it that Europe of all places, this continent with all its historical tragedies and power-political aberrations, did not find the strength to become the center of a peaceful vision for the threatened planet?


How to live the life cycle

March 4, 2023

Hat tip to Gavin Aung Than.

How would reparations actually work?

March 1, 2023

Image via Huffington Post

REPARATION: the making of amends for a wrong one has done, by paying money to or otherwise helping those who have been wronged (

The question of reparations to African-Americans is on the national agenda.  This post is not an argument for or against.  It is an examination of questions as to how reparations might work.  Specifically, these questions—

  1. What are reparations?
  2. What would African-Americans be compensated for?
  3. Who would receive the reparations?
  4. Who would pay the reparations?
  5. How much would the reparations be and what form would they take?

Reparations are payments by a government, corporation or other institutions for harm done by a morally or legally wrong action.  They resemble the legal principle of legal liability to compensate victims for harm done though negligence or wrongdoing, such as Ford Motor Co. compensating victims of the exploding Pinto.  The difference is that reparations are accompanied by an apology and an admission of wrongdoing.

Reparations are compensations for injustice, but they do not, in and of themselves, remove the causes of injustice.  They are not intended to be an anti-poverty program.

Reparations for slavery would not, in principle, be a payment by white American individuals to black American individuals.  

They would be payments by a continuing entity called the United States, or one of its subdivisions, based on what that entity did to protect and promote slavery.  

All citizens, whatever their ancestry, place of origin or time of arrival, are part of that entity and share responsibility for what it did.

The Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Constitution and civil rights laws forbid making legal distinctions based solely on race.  So even if you believe that African-Americans as a whole deserve compensation, you can only pass Constitutional muster by showing a line of cause and effect from specific wrongs to specific individuals. 

One theory of reparations is that they should go to descendants of American slaves because the trauma of slavery is not limited to just one generation.   Slavery is a main reason the descendants of slaves are where they are in American society.

To make that work, you would have to have some method – even a rough one – of identifying those descendants.

Next you would have to determine what form the reparations would take.  If it is tp be a cash payment, you would have to have some way of calculating the amount.  

One proposal is to take the estimated value of the product of U.S. slave labor and divide it by the number of American families who are descendants of enslaved people.  Another is to give each such family the estimated present-day cash value of 40 acres and a mule.

Alternative proposals are for reparations in the form of college scholarships, small-business loans or home financing.

Slavery is not the only wrong for which reparations are called.  Redlining is another.  The U.S. government refused federal housing loans to black families except in all-black areas, in effect mandating racial segregation.

Some say reparations for redlining should take the form of housing grants or low-interest mortgage loans to present-day residents of the redlined area?  If so, should they go to all residents of these areas or just the African-American residents?

Reparations also have been paid to, among others, descendants of black victims of massacres, victims of police abuse and persons involuntarily sterilized as part of eugenics programs.  The latter two groups are not exclusively black.

A last question is whether reparations should be once and for all, or whether they should be continuing and open-ended.


The gathering momentum for reparations

March 1, 2023

This timeline shows the gathering momentum for reparations to black Americans for slavery, Jim Crow and racial discrimination.  It ends in early 2023.

The listings are pulled from Reparations in the United States compiled by Allen J. Davis of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.  I have not included Indian land claims or any reparations other than to black people.

1863: Over four days In July mobs of white New Yorkers terrorized Black people by roaming the streets from City Hall to Gramercy Park to past 40th Street, setting fire to buildings and killing people. The overall death toll is estimated at between over 100 and over 1,000. Immediately after the riots, the white merchants of New York combined forces to raise money to care for the injured, repair the damaged property, and support the legal and employment needs of the community’s Black people. The shopkeepers raised over $40,000, equivalent to $825,000 today.

1865: On January 12, in the midst of the Civil War, General William T. Sherman and U.S. secretary of war Edwin M. Stanton met with 20 Black leaders in Savannah Georgia. Four days later, General Sherman issued Special Field Order No. 15 stating that Black people would receive an army mule and not more than forty acres on coastal plains of South Carolina and Georgia. By June, roughly 40,000 Blacks had settled on four hundred thousand acres of land before Confederate landowners, aided by the new Johnson administration, started taking back “their” land.

1866Southern Homestead Act: “Ex-slaves were given 6 months to purchase land at reasonable rates without competition from white southerners and northern investors. But, owing to their destitution, few ex-slaves were able to take advantage of the program. The largest number that did were located in Florida, numbering little more than 3,000… The program failed.” (Wikipedia)

1878: In 1853, Henrietta Wood was a free black woman living and laboring as a domestic worker in Cincinnati when she was lured across the Ohio River and into the slave state of Kentucky by a white man named Zebulon Ward. Ward sold her to slave traders, who took her to Texas, where she remained enslaved through the Civil War. Wood eventually returned to Cincinnati, and in 1870 sued Ward for $20,000 in damages and lost wages. In 1878, an all-white jury decided in Wood’s favor, with Ward ordered to pay $2,500, perhaps the largest sum ever awarded by a court in the United States in restitution for slavery.

1969The Black Manifesto was launched in Detroit as one of the first calls for reparations in the modern era. Penned by James Forman, former SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) organizer, and released at the National Black Economic Development Conference, the manifesto demanded $500 million in reparations from predominantly White religious institutions for their role in perpetuating slavery. About $215,000 (other sources say $500,000) was raised from the Episcopalian and Methodist churches through rancorous deliberations that ultimately tore the coalition apart. The money was used to establish organizations such as a black-owned band, television networks, and the Black Economic Research Center.
1974: A $10 million out-of-court settlement was reached between the U.S. government and Tuskegee victims, black men who had been unwitting subjects of a study of untreated syphilis, and who did not receive available treatments.
1989: Congressman John Conyers, D-Michigan, introduced bill H.R. 3745, which aimed to create the Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act. The bill was introduced “[to] address the fundamental injustice, cruelty, brutality, and inhumanity of slavery in the United States and the 13 American colonies between 1619 and 1865 and to establish a commission to study and consider a national apology and proposal for reparations for the institution of slavery, its subsequent de jure and de facto racial and economic discrimination against African-Americans, and the impact of these forces on living African-Americans, to make recommendations to the Congress on appropriate remedies, and for other purposes.” (Preamble)
1994: The state of Florida approved $2.1 million for the living survivors of a 1923 racial pogrom that resulted in multiple deaths and the decimation of the Black community in the town of Rosewood.