JACK MCCORMICK’S HOLIDAY TRAINING TIPS

Simple squat solutions

Squatting is one of the fundamental movement patterns the human body should be able to complete. The interesting thing is that this pattern often deteriorates over time due to a loss of stability and mobility in the proper joints.

If you ever want to see a perfect squat, just drop a toy in front of a toddler and have him or her pick it up. Babies are born with perfect mobility and earn their stability over time. If we think about the major milestones that we are excited for babies to accomplish, this makes sense: first they learn to control their neck and look around, then roll over, then creep and crawl, then standup, and finally walk.

Once they are walking, we are often treated to perfect demonstrations of squatting and deadlifting because they possess the proper mobility in the appropriate joints (ankles, hips, thoracic spine) and have earned their stability through natural motor learning.

As we get older and begin to spend more time sitting and typing and doing other sedentary activities, we tend to lose our mobility and our body begins to alter its functional movement patterns like squatting and deadlifting that we once knew without any coaching. All that said, helping clients achieve a good squatting pattern is something I try to focus on.

Goblet squat technique:

1. Initiate the movement by sitting tight into your hips.
2. Try to keep your torso upright as you squat down.
3. Try to keep your knees aligned over the middle of your toes (i.e., do not let _ them cave in as you squat down)
4. When standing on the ground, keep your heels flat and do not let them come up and shift your weight to your toes
5. Try to squat to achieve thighs parallel to the floor as long as this does not cause pain or joint discomfort
6. Use a heel lift or counterbalance help technique if necessary

Anti-rotation for a stronger core

Core training is a topic that many people are typically very interested in learning about. The “core” is a bit of an ambiguous term, but for practical purposes we can think of it as the groups of muscles that connect our extremities (i.e., from “pits” to “hips”). One way that we can think about effective core training is to think of our core musculature as force transmitters (i.e., transfer force from our lower body through a stable trunk to our arms).

Picking up a toddler and carrying grocery bags at our sides are a couple of examples of how our core muscles need to be able to activate and stabilize our spine both to accomplish a task and to avoid injury. Core exercises that focus on resisting motion through the different patterns our spine can move are a great way to train our core for long-term health, limit exposure to injury, and also enhance performance.

The major patterns that help train our core through the resisting of motion are: anti-extension (resist bending backwards), anti-flexion (resist bending forward), anti-rotation (resisting rotations of the spine) and anti-lateral flexion (resist side-bending of the spine). The exercise demonstration in this blog tip shows a way for us to train anti-rotation of the spine.

Technique pointers for the tall-kneeling anti-rotation pressout

1. Adjust the cable column so that, when you are kneeling down, it is aligned with your chest muscles.
2. Position yourself so that the cable/pulley is lined up to your side.
3. Begin with a fairly light weight.
4. In a kneeling position, “make yourself tall” by staying tight in your glutes, abdominals, and “reaching your head for the ceiling.”
5. Bring the handle of the able to your chest with some tension on the cable, and then press straight out in front of you, then return to your chest.
6. Press out and back while keeping your core engaged as if you are stiffening your core for a “punch.”
7. Perform 8-10 repetitions, and then turn around and repeat to resist rotation to both your right and left sides.

A simple relaxation technique to help with sleep

It’s no secret that sleep is important. The full benefits of sleep could fill an entire book and far surpass the scope of a weekly training tip. However, sleep is commonly one of the most overlooked recovery tools available, and it also one of the most powerful. We also can’t forget that it’s free! Sleep loss can result in an increase in cortisol, a stress hormone, with one study showing as much as a 45% increase the day after subjects slept for only 4 hours. In addition, sleep can impact focus and performance in physical skills.

A research study at Stanford University found that when players on the men’s basketball team extended their sleep to 10 hours per night, they improved their sprint times significantly and improved their free throw and 3-point shooting percentages by 9% each. The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults sleep for 7-9 hours each night. With busy work schedules, making time for the gym, and other personal commitments, it can be a challenge to get the amount of sleep we need for recovery.

One challenge can be when we have a difficult time falling asleep. A tool that can help shift our bodies into a state of relaxation and parasympathetic dominance in our nervous system (the state encouraging “rest and digest”) is slow breathing. This could be a helpful took in feeling relaxed and having an easier time falling asleep.

Slow relaxed breathing

1. Lie on your back with your knees bent, your feet on the floor. Your neck and spine should be neutral and comfortable.
2. Place one hand on your chest and one hand on your lower abdomen.
3. Take three seconds to slowly breathe through your nose.
4. Try to make the hand on your lower abdomen rise up with your inhalation minimize the rising of the hand on your chest.
5. Allow for a brief pause.
6. Exhale slowly through your mouth for two to three seconds.
7. Pause again for 2-3 seconds.
8. Begin next breath cycle.
9. Aim for 5 full breath cycles.

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GATEWAY TO A NATION

It has been over 130 years since sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi gave form to one of the world’s greatest symbols of freedom.

The Statue of Liberty stands today as an inspiration to all. She is at once a reminder of our nation’s history and of our enduring vision of freedom, hope, and opportunity for the future.

But before she towered over New York Harbor, welcoming voyagers with the embrace of possibility and sharing her legacy with over four million visitors a year, she was, simply, an idea…

…a vision of a powerful way to motivate the world over, not just with the story of liberty in the United States, but also with its hope and possibility around the globe.

Today, an exciting new vision to build on this great legacy and share the message of liberty with millions more people stands before us the Statue of Liberty Museum.

With the museum now open, it is the most monumental addition to Liberty Island since the Statue herself arrived. More than that, it allows millions more visitors to enjoy the Statue of Liberty experience and be inspired by her legacy and message of freedom and opportunity.

From Idea to Icon: Building the Statue of Liberty

You already know that the Statue of Liberty was a gift from France to the United States. But did you know that her construction was made possible, in large part, by people like you and me?

Indeed, her construction was a remarkable feat of engineering in its time, but also a triumph of generosity on the part of ordinary citizens, each giving to their own ability, to realize the dream of the Statue.

From the time Bertholdi imagined “Liberty Enlightening the World,” it took ten years for French and American citizens to bring Lady Liberty to life. Finally, in 1885, the last pennies and nickels needed to complete the pedestal in the United States poured in. And on October 28, 1886, in a dedication ceremony presided over by President Grover Cleveland, the Statue was unveiled to the world.

The museum shows the massive negative molds necessary to create the Statue’s final form. Artifacts from her development and exhibits on her message in the context of world events will further illuminate her story.

An Inspiration Gallery. Finally, in this awe-inspiring space, people are invited to document their visit by adding their names and photos to an ever-growing Liberty Mosaic. The tour culminates with an up-close view of Liberty’s most iconic symbol—her original torch—which Lady Liberty held high for nearly 100 years. Rescued from the elements and replaced in 1986, the torch is the most powerful artifact visitors encounter as they reach the end of their museum experience, a touchstone of the light she continues to shine from generation to generation.

The Statue of Liberty Museum is a world-class museum to engage visitors in the history and future of liberty through thought-provoking experiences including:

An Immersive Theater. Weaving through this soaring theater space, museum-goers learn the rich story of the Statue’s origins. Progressing through this visual presentation, they are captivated by a virtual experience of ascending the Statue, recreating the views and sounds from within her interior. Visitors are also be invited to contemplate liberty today and its measures around the world, such as access to education, free elections, and free press.

An Engagement Gallery. Here, visitors are able to explore what took place in the warehouse where Bartholdi built the Statue. In a series of interactive, multimedia displays evoking the feeling of being in the sculptor’s studio, they see the step-by-step process of her construction, from small plaster model to the pounding of copper sheets on the new colossus.

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, with conquering limbs astride from land to land, here at our sea-washed, sunset gates stand a mighty woman with a torch, whose flame is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand glows worldwide welcome; her mild eyes command the air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep ancient lands, your stoned pomp!” cries she with silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

In 1883, New York native Emma Lazarus wrote “The New Colossus” for an auction to raise funds for construction of the pedestal. In 1903, words from this iconic poem were engraved on the Statue’s base so that all visitors can read the words that celebrate Lady Liberty’s promise to the disenfranchised people of the world.

My father and mother both immigrated to the U.S. through Ellis Island. I have visited the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island twice and it is a very touching memory for me. There is a large plaque with my parents’ names on it.

If you would like to join me in making a donation to this gateway to America, you can write to Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island Foundation, 17 Battery Place, New York, NY 10004.

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THIS N’ THAT

I was tired of the whole fantasy impeachment folly by the second day so, let’s turn to more important things.

Follow Up to a Blog

A few blogs ago, in September, I posted a piece on the “Epidemic of Adult Children Divorcing Their Parents.” As a member of that diverse group, I was interested in writing the blog, but a little disappointed in not finding any answers on how to resolve my dilemma.

A week or so following that blog, I had lunch with a good friend who has a wealth of experience dealing with life’s vicissitudes as a college basketball coach, as a personal trainer, and as a life coach.

In the course of our discussion, she told me “If you can make a connection with a lost child, the contact is to try to find out what the problem was,” but that’s a mistake.

What you need to communicate is, “I miss you in my life,” “I love you,” and “I’m sorry for whatever happened.” If someone can’t respond to that, they’re really lost in the wilderness of immaturity.

Not Everyone Loves L.A.

Last year, 98,608 people moved out of Los Angeles County than moved in—the most of any of the nation’s big counties.

Understanding Kabbalah – A Beginning

This is not a written text or an official explanation of Kabbalah. These are the observations of your blogger about Kabbalah, what it is not and what it seems to be.

Kabbalah is not a cult, a secret society, nor a restrictive club. It is a community of people trying to understand and deal with the vicissitudes of life.

It has many roots in Jewish heritage, but it is not a separate religion.

The people who attend Kabbalah classes, sermons, services are not more than 50% of Jewish heritage. It is appealing to people of all religious faiths who want to better understand how to change themselves to deal more effectively with the challenges of personal lives, family and the world they live in.

Winston Churchill said: “Diplomacy is the art of telling people to go to hell in such a way that they ask for directions.”

Where L.A. Started

El Pueblo de Los Angeles is often called the birthplace of the city. The much- celebrated historic district in downtown, today, is brought to life by all the Spanish-language music.

The vibrant colors of Olvera Street marketplace assure you: We celebrate our Mexican past.

But La Plaza de Cultura y Artes, the Mexican-American museum and community center nearby, asks its visitors to also interrogate some of the darker aspects of Los Angeles’ story.

The museum’s audience has nearly doubled in the last five years to about 111,000 visitors in 2018, according to a spokesman for La Plaza. He believes recent criticism of people of Mexican descent has given members of the community a sense of urgency to learn more about their history.

Visitors can look at an exhibit that explained the annexation of California by the U.S. in 1846 following the Mexican-American war. The annexation came just decades after Mexico had won independence from Spain in 1821.

The Sanctuary Movement Has Spread Like Wildfire

The following statistics and info has come from the Southeastern Legal Foundation, an activist public legal firm who has decided to take legal action against this movement.

Sanctuary cities are a large—and growing—threat to the safety and integrity of our country. There are nearly 300 state and local governments with laws, rules or policies having some form of sanctuary designed to thwart federal immigration enforcement.

In fact, California passed a law in 2017 declaring that the entire state was a sanctuary jurisdiction!

These sanctuary cities willfully shield dangerous illegal aliens from deportation by interfering with federal immigration efforts targeted at illegal aliens in the custody of local officials for other crimes. By definition, these are the most dangerous and lawbreaking segment of illegal aliens.

The costs of these sanctuary cities have been immense.

• Illegal aliens account for over 30% of the murders in some states, such as California, Texas, Arizona, Florida and New York. And a mind-boggling 21% of the population of federal prisoners are foreign-born, nearly all of whom are illegal aliens.

• Sanctuary cities cost taxpayers billions of dollars in public services for illegal aliens, overwhelming hospitals, schools, and local social services.

• And sanctuary cities have played a key role in the spread of the opioid epidemic that now kills more Americans every year than breast cancer or auto accidents.

Busing May Be Coming Back

Nestled in the scenic hills across the bay from San Francisco, the heavily white enclave of Sausalito is home to a thriving, racially and economically integrated charter school. And about a mile away, in the more diverse community of Marin City, is an overwhelming black and Hispanic public school.

This division within the Sausalito Marin City School District was intentional, the state Justice Department found after a two-year investigation, concluding that the district had “knowingly and intentionally maintained and exacerbated” racial segregation.

In a settlement with the state, Sausalito Marin City agreed last month to desegregate after the Justice Department found that the arrangement violated the equal protection clause of the California Constitution.

What is it About October?

We’re not the biggest believer in seasonal patterns in the stock market. But that doesn’t mean we don’t see the patterns.

May through October has historically lower returns and higher volatility than November to April. The numbers are there, it’s just that this information isn’t usually investable.

While market crashes have been found in disproportionately high numbers in September and October any given year, stocks can, and often do, perform fantastically well during those months. For example, the S&P 500 was up 8.3% in October of 2015.

Well, this isn’t shaping up to be one of those months.

For the second year in a row, October is looking to be rough. I don’t know that the S&P 500 will drop 7% like it did last year. Only time will tell. But it’s obvious that investors are scared. There aren’t a lot of buyers right now.

The potential for a presidential impeachment has people on edge. Whether you like the man or hate him, a lengthy impeachment process isn’t good for anyone. It means the government will grind to a halt for months and no meaningful legislation will be passed.

It also brings added uncertainty to the 2020 election.

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5 FAMILY COMMUNICATION RULES

This is an article written by Dr. Timothy Habbershon with Fidelity Viewpoints.

Key Takeaways

Financial matters can have a significant influence on every aspect of life, yet families often avoid discussing financial topics—particularly estate planning decisions—for fear they will stir up family conflict.
However, when it comes to financial conversations, it is possible not only to avoid conflict, but also to positively shape future family relationships.
Bill was a family man who could fix anything, and his children grew up counting on that. He wasn’t the most communicative person, but he was a devoted father. His wallet nearly burst at the seams because it held so many family pictures.

When Bill passed away suddenly, the whole family was heartbroken. When his will was read, his daughters experienced a sense of abandonment inconsistent with the feelings they had for him throughout their lives. Their dad was so generous, and always put them first. They could not understand the choices he made for them and their children through his estate plan. This lack of communication and confusion led to family conflict and eventually to no interaction at all. Bill could have fixed this, but he wasn’t there to fix things anymore.

Bill’s family story is not unique. Bill was a kind and loving father, and his family was, by most standards, close. But by excluding his children from financial conversations and decisions on his estate plan, Bill set in motion a series of unintended consequences that were passed down along with his estate.

A Development Arena

Next to health, financial matters may have the most comprehensive influence on every aspect of life. Unfortunately, similar to health matters, families tend to avoid these topics, or put them off for as long as possible. But there is a progression of financial topics through the life of a family.

Each one of life’s events provides opportunities for families to learn and grow together. The developmental goal is to break the silence and move beyond parent-child hierarchs to become peers in discussions about these important and sometimes difficult financial topics, through a lifetime of open conversation.

5 Rules of Thumb for Navigating Money>>Wealth>>Estate Planning

A rule of thumb is a principle that helps frame complex conversations. Rather than defaulting to silence or simplicity, the 5 rules of thumb below provide general guidance to help foster reflective and relationship-building conversation, allowing families to co-create outcomes.

1. Closeness-Distance: Be mindful that every financial decision has the power to create closeness or distance in family relationships. We can all recognize what closeness and distance feel like, and can understand the differences. Close family relationships typically involve open conversations: All views are considered, everyone feels respected and cared for, and there is a sense of fairness. Distant family relationships, on the other hand, often involve a lack of communication: Some family members may feel they have no voice, they may feel judged or controlled, and they may feel unfairly treated. So when it comes to financial conversations and the decisions that surround them, ask yourself, ‘With what I am thinking, saying, or doing, am I creating closeness or distance in my family’s relationships?’

2. Voice-Vote: Giving a voice and input to others does not mean giving up the vote and final decision on outcomes.

When it comes to navigating Money>>Wealth>>Estate Planning, it is often difficult for families to determine who should have a voice and who should have a vote. The default parental practice on financial topics is generally to keep both the voice and the vote. When John found out his parents appointed him the trustee for his special-needs brother, he understood his obligation, but wished he had been given a voice—and maybe even a vote—in the decision.

When Sandra was told how much money she was allowed to spend on her wedding, she felt she should have had a voice. When she was given a prenuptial agreement by her father’s attorney, she was confused about who should have the voice and vote.

At every developmental stage, parents may avoid or fear giving children a voice or relinquishing the vote because it means giving up degrees of control. But as children mature and change their roles in the family, the Voice-Vote engagement between parents and children should also evolve. As children marry and form their own families, and as parents age and consider next-generation planning and age, passing along the vote becomes an important life passage. When these Voice-Vote decisions are made together, they build mature family relationships.

3. Fair-Equal: Fair is not always equal, so explore perceptions of fairness with family members. Siblings do not always have the same lifestyle, capabilities, career choices, health, maturity, marriages, number of children, or life spans, and parents’ circumstances and beliefs can change over time. And yet, the more differences there are within a family, the more parent seem to simply default to “fair IS equal.”

When Jonathan’s mother asked him if he would approve of her helping his brother financially, even though she wasn’t doing the same for him, he did not know how to react at first. This turned out to be a good thing because it gave them the opportunity to talk through the family’s circumstances. This allowed Jonathan to hear his mother’s thinking, and her to hear his.

This scenario illustrates the importance of talking through what is considered fair. Fairness is a matter of personal interpretation, so what each person perceive as fair may differ widely. And the basis for deciding what is fair must also be clarified: Is it based on need, merit, bringing siblings’ circumstances in line, or trying to treat everyone equally? Both the process and the ultimate decision are factors in the perceptions of fairness.

4. Transparency-Disclosure: Balance age-appropriate transparency with future disclosures.

One of the most common Money>>Wealth>>Estate Planning questions is ‘When is it appropriate to talk about money or disclose wealth and estate plans to children?’ Ultimately, this rule of thumb highlights that it is not just a question of when to disclose. How to create an appropriate level of transparency at each stage of life is equally important to finding the right balance. ‘Disclosures’ about wealth and estate plans are often prompted by late-in-life angst, illness, or death. Balancing transparency and disclosure encourages parents to have developmentally appropriate Money>>Wealth>>Estate Planning conversations with their children. This creates a sense of shared knowledge and decision-making through time, and still allows parents to hold back certain information until they are comfortable sharing it.

Paul and Jan both came from families that never discussed money, and late-in-life disclosures influenced their personal finances and family relationships. Jan was called upon to be the sole caretaker and financial decision-maker for her parents, which left her with added stress that her siblings were spared from. It also created secrecy and jealousy among Jan and her siblings because she held the financial reins and they felt excluded.

5. Wish-Fear: Seek wishes in your financial decisions and actions rather than defaulting to outcomes based on fear.

Conversations and decisions surrounding Money>>Wealth>>Estate Planning are often laden with wishes and fears. We wish for our children to have an easier life than we did, but we fear that any assistance or knowledge of family wealth will destroy their motivation. We wish for our children to have passionate and fulfilling lives, but fear they will choose careers that cannot support the lifestyle we want for them. We wish our parents would be more forthcoming with their retirement and end-of-life plans, but we fear any conversation about the subject.

When Mark’s uncle received his inheritance, he quit his job and never worked again, and his cousins followed in their father’s footsteps. Mark fears money will likewise demotivate his own children, so to ‘protect’ his family, Mark lives like a miser, never discusses his personal wealth, refuses to help his children financially in any way, and is considering giving all his money to charity.

It is important to ask ‘What are my fears?’ and ‘What are my wishes?’ to uncover the true motivation behind behaviors and decisions. Living like Mark is a missed opportunity for families to involve one another in their wishes about the future. Fears also erode the quality of family relationships and communications.

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THE CASE AGAINST REPARATIONS

Stefan Smith, writing for the Foundation for Economic Education, makes the case against reparations.

“There has been much debate about reparations for slavery. According to its proponents, the federal government should award Americans of African descent financial damages solely because slavery, as an institution, existed in the United States from the founding until almost a century later.

“Three principal arguments are offered: (1) The legacy of slavery has hindered the economic progress of blacks in America; (2) reparations would serve as a damage award that would rectify a historical wrong committed by the United States; and (3) reparations would give poor blacks more disposable income, which would increase their living standards and lift entire black communities.

“On the surface. These arguments seem to have a modicum of legitimacy. However, because of the potential divisiveness that the issue is sure to have, it is important to closely examine the premise on which these arguments are based. To do that effectively, we must first look at the institution of slavery itself from a historical perspective.

“Slavery as an institution existed on every inhabited continent of the earth for at least 4,000 years of recorded history.

“In the West, once the abolitionist momentum was underway, there was no turning back. This was especially the case in the United States, where the ideological underpinnings of a constitutional republic made it increasingly difficult rationally to deny slaves their rights. The abolition of slavery in the United States marked a historically significant moral high point, not only for this country, but also for the entire world.

Has Slavery Hindered the Economic Progress of Blacks?

“Economist Thomas Sowell, in his seminal work Civil Rights: Rhetoric or Reality, concluded after exhaustive statistical research that the vast majority of whites and blacks believe there are a higher percentage of blacks in poverty that there actually are. Indeed, when surveyed, most whites and blacks believe three-quarters of black Americans live below the official poverty line, when in reality only one in four do, according to the 2001 Census.

“Why is there so much confusion? Part of the problem is the perception that ‘black’ and ‘poor’ are synonymous. In the 1960s it was politically expedient to associate the state of being poor, uneducated, and oppressed with being black. The civil rights establishment found this association rhetorically necessary to focus public attention on the plight of southern blacks and to engage the emotions of the white majority against overt southern racism.

“However, this political strategy had an unexpected impact on the emerging black middle class. According to the black-equals-poor logic, when the black middle class achieved more opportunity and became more educated and affluent, it essentially became less “black.” This perhaps explains the black establishment’s attitude toward Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice. Essentially, black identity was hijacked and frozen during the 1960s.

“Unfortunately, the image of poverty-stricken blacks in need of government handouts to get by is still perpetuated by race demagogues like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, who stand to gain politically by fostering that stereotype. It is a truism of politics that charlatans in search of political power will always benefit from having a constituency with a chip on its shoulder.

“Is there a legacy from slavery that has hindered the economic progress of blacks today? Let’s consider the numbers. Major marketers have long constructed a black “gross national product” (GNP) from government statistics to gauge the financial power of black Americans. This is actually a misnomer since it tries to measure the total products and services consumed, not produced, by the black community. This statistic is often cited by black political leaders to persuade corporate America to produce more goods suited to the preferences of blacks. It turns out that if black Americans constituted their own country, they would have the 11th largest economy in the world.

“In addition to being a wealthy demographic group (richer than 90 percent of the people in the world), blacks in America have a longer life expectancy than African and Caribbean blacks, as well as whites in many parts of Eastern Europe and Latin America. Black Americans have higher rates of literacy and achieve more postsecondary degrees as a percentage of the population than blacks in Africa.

Who Gets What?

“If the proponents of reparations take to the courts, it will be interesting to see their principle for determining who is entitled to what. For many reasons that will be a Herculean task.

“Because of centuries of migration, conquests, and intermixing, racial purity is more of a social construct than a biological fact. Intermarriage between whites and blacks in America over the past two centuries has produced a large population of individuals who defy the stark dichotomy.

“With so much racial intermixture, will those who dole out the potential reparations demand certificates of racial purity? The thought is preposterous. Another quagmire in paying reparations is that a small percentage of blacks were free before slavery ended, having bought their freedom or having had it bequeathed to them by sympathetic slave owners. Are their descendants eligible for reparations?

“In antebellum New Orleans it wasn’t uncommon for freemen of color to own slaves. That blacks owned slaves has been a hotly debated point. It is true that a vast majority of blacks who bought slaves did so to emancipate relatives and friends. However, there are several well-documented cases of black slave owners in Louisiana who kept their slaves in servitude for life.

“Black slave ownership poses a serious conundrum in the equitable distribution of reparations. Few Americans, white or black, are familiar enough with their genealogies to know, with any certainty, significant details about what their ancestors were doing almost two centuries ago.

“Then there is the case of African and Caribbean emigres from the post-Civil ware era. It is estimated that this subgroup of the black community comprises between 3 to 5 percent of the total black population in the United States. Will they pay or receive reparations?

More Reparations?

“In some respects one could argue that reparations for slavery have already been paid. These implicit reparations, the argument goes, have taken the form of direct monetary transfers such as welfare payments or nonmonetary benefits such as hiring and admission quotas. Indeed, policies based on racial preferences such as affirmative action have allowed hundreds of thousands of blacks to enter universities and obtain employment based on criteria different from those applied to other groups of people.

“It should not be overlooked that the greatest irony of American slavery is that the descendants of those brought across the Atlantic from Africa are demonstrably better off than the descendants of those who remained. Sub-Saharan Africa is home to some of the poorest countries with some of the most appalling living conditions in the world. Disease, war, and famine are commonplace, and corrupt governments led by military dictators and kleptocrats ensure that economic growth and development for the masses is a low priority. In this book Out of America: A Black Man Confronts Africa, American reporter Keith Richburg concludes that black Americans should consider themselves lucky to have escaped the squalor of what is contemporary Africa.

Are Current Taxpayers Culpable?

“Of the three primary arguments for reparations, the argument for damages is the most irrational. Though slavery was widespread in the southern United States, slave ownership was not. It is estimated that less than 10 percent of whites owned slaves. The vast majority did not; thy had neither financial nor agricultural resources to warrant slave labor. Slave ownership was restricted to a highly concentrated group of wealthy southern elites—the landed aristocracy.

“Today we live in a country with a population of 285 million people. Because of immigration, it is safe to argue that the majority of white people in this country are descended from post-Civil War immigrants who had nothing to do with slavery.

“Many ethnic groups that arrived on American shores in the early twentieth century, including the Irish, European Jews, and Chinese, were subject to severe discrimination. However, with every passing generation, ethnic groups developed the occupational skills, knowledge, and cultural norms necessary to fully assimilate and rise to higher socioeconomic levels within the mainstream American culture.

“Our Constitution provided the framework for legal equality for all individuals, and later legislation eliminated remaining race-based government barriers to freedom, assuring that blacks, like whites, can be beneficiaries of this great system.”

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THE CASE FOR SLAVERY REPARATIONS

Why the U.S. government should pay slave reparations, according to Michael Austin, Ph.D., a professor at Eastern Kentucky University.

Background

“If you ask any fair-minded person about the greatest injustices perpetrated in and by the United States, slavery would surely be at or near the top of the list. Many arguments have been given in support of the claim that there should be reparations for slavery, and some of them are better than others. Here, I will give one sound argument—The Compensation Argument—for the claim that the U.S. government is morally obligated to pay reparations for slavery. This argument is based upon facts that are not in dispute and on assumptions that all reasonable people share. That is, the argument depends on principles and data accepted by liberals and conservatives, by advocates of and opponents to reparations, and as such it should be acceptable to all who give it a fair hearing.

The Compensation Argument is as follows:

1. If a government wrongfully harms someone as a result of the authorized actions of some of its public officials, then it incurs a moral obligation to compensate its victims for those harms.
2. The U.S. government wrongly harmed previous generations of Africans and African-Americans by supporting slavery and its aftermath.
3. These acts of the U.S. government continue to cause harm to the currently living generation of black Americans.
4. The U.S. government has not yet fully compensated the currently living generation of black Americans for the harms they continue to experience as a result of slavery and its aftermath.

Therefore, the U.S. government is morally obligated to pay reparations for slavery.

Let’s consider each of these steps in turn.

1. If a government wrongfully harms someone as a result of the authorized actions of some of its public officials, then it incurs a moral obligation to compensate its victims for those harms.

This first step is based on the principle that if I wrongfully harm another person, then I incur a moral obligation to compensate my victim. For example, if I vandalize your car, then I am obligated to pay for repairs. Similarly, if a government agent vandalized your car, authorized by the government, then the government would be obligated to compensate you for the damage.

2. The U.S. government wrongly harmed previous generations of Africans and African-Americans by supporting slavery and its aftermath.

Liberals and conservatives, opponents and proponents of reparations all agree that slavery and its aftermath—the subsequent forms of legalized segregation and discrimination—happened, that it was harmful, and that it was wrong. This is a clearly historic claim.

3. These acts of the U.S. government continue to cause harm to the currently living generation of black Americans.

The debt owed to previous generations of black Americans can be transferred to the current generation. The primary reason is that an act that harms members of one generation can have lingering consequences on subsequent generations. Given this fact, the government incurs a moral obligation to make reparations to those future generations. Consider a similar example: if the government dumps toxic waste in your neighborhood, it not only owes the people who got sick right away, but also those who suffer in the future because of this past act.

But is the current generation of black Americans being harmed? The answer is clearly yes. Consider the following data related to some reliable measures of basic human well-being:

• Young white Americans are more likely than young black Americans to:

o Wake up feeling happy in the morning.
o Feel happy about their relationships with parents and friends.
o Be happy about their jobs, grades, and financial status.

• On average, white Americans are doing significantly better financially than black Americans:

o 2004 poverty rate for black Americans was triple that of white Americans (24.7% compared to 8.6%)
o Median income for white families in 2000 was about $56,000. For black families it was roughly $34,000. For white males it was $42,000, compared to about $31,000 for black males. For white females, it was about $31,000 and for black females it was around $26,000.
o Black males who graduate from college get about half of the earnings benefit that white males do.

• Related to health, white Americans are doing significantly better than black Americans on average:

o The infant mortality rate for black Americans is over twice that for white Americans.
o White Americans live 6-7 years longer than black Americans.
o Black Americans are less likely to have health insurance, vaccinations, and a regular source of health care.

• Concerning education, the same disparity exists:

o Schools in which most students are white spend more per student than those in which most students are black.
o Overall, black workers have less education than white workers.
o 15% of black adults have college degrees, compared to 30% for whites.

There is more of this kind of data, and it is basically uncontested. So we must ask, “What is the best explanation for this?”

The answer to this question is that there is a difference in the social environment occupied by white Americans and that occupied by black Americans which makes it more difficult, on average, for black Americans to flourish. The most reasonable conclusion to draw here is that slavery and its aftermath continue to exert a serious negative influence. It is neither genetics nor differences in culture of character. It is the social environment produced by slavery and its aftermath.

As political scientist Andrew Hacker puts it,

…despite more than a century of searching, we have no evidence that any…pools of race-based genes have larger quotient of what we choose to call intelligence or organizational ability or creative capacities. So if more members of some races end up doing better in some spheres, it is because more of them grew up in environments that prepared them for those endeavors.

The social environment created by slavery and its aftermath—which the U.S. government is responsible for—is the most plausible explanation of the differences in average well-being between black and white Americans.

4. The U.S. government has not yet fully compensated the currently living generation of black Americans for the harms they continue to experience as a result of slavery and its aftermath.

Some argue that reparations have already been made by ending slavery, abolishing segregation, securing voting rights, and adopting affirmative action. But if reparations have already been made, then black Americans would be doing roughly as well as white ones. But on average they aren’t, so they haven’t.

In conclusion, the U.S. government is morally obligated to pay reparations for slavery.”

Next week we’ll take a look at the other side.

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MERIT-BASED SYSTEMS ARE AMERICA’S OPPORTUNITY

An interesting column by David Brooks, a popular N.Y. Times columnist, who opines that “expanding exclusive deals tears the social fabric of our society.”

“There are at least two kinds of meritocracy in America right now. Exclusive meritocracy exists at the super-elite universities and at the industries that draw the bulk of their employees from them—Wall Street, big law, medicine and tech. And then there is the more open meritocracy that exists almost everywhere else.

“In the exclusive meritocracy, prestige is defined by how many people you can reject. The elite universities reject 85 to 95 percent of their applicants. Those accepted spend much of their lives living in neighborhoods and attending conferences where it is phenomenally expensive or hard to get in. Whether it’s the resort town you vacation in or the private school you send your kids to, exclusivity is the pervasive ethos. The more the exclusivity, the thicker will be the coating of P.C. progressivism to show that we’re all good people.

“People in this caste work phenomenally hard to build their wealth. As Daniel Markovits notes in his powerful new book, “The Meritocracy Trap,” between 1979 and 2006, the percentage of workers in the top quintile of earners who work more than 50 hours a week nearly doubled.

“People in this caste are super-skilled and productive. There are more than 70 law firms, Markovits notes, that generate over $1 million in annual profit per partner. When Instagram was bought by Facebook for $1 billion, it had only 13 full-time employees.

“A few years ago, people in this elite professional caste seized on research by Thomas Piketty, who argued that rising inequality is caused by the shift in income away from labor and toward capital. The investors are to blame! But, Markovits argues, roughly 75 percent of the increase in the top one percent of earnings is caused by shifts in income within labor. These highly educated professionals attract vast earnings while everybody else gets left behind. A cardiologist used to earn four times as much as a nurse; now it’s seven times as much.

“Parents in the exclusive meritocracy raise their kids to be fit fighters within it. Markovits calculates how much affluent parents invest on their kids’ human capital, over and above what middle-class parents can afford to invest. He concludes that affluent parents invest $10 million more per child. The resulting highly honed, high-performing young people are amazing—and endure the stresses you’d expect. At the best law school in the country, Yale, 70 percent of the students say they experience mental health challenges.

“You don’t have to travel far to get outside the exclusive meritocracy. For example, last spring I spent a few days at Arizona State University, which is led by Michael Crow. ASU defines itself not by how many people it can exclude but by how many it can include. The need for higher education is greater than ever, so ASU has rapidly expanded to meet that need. Between 2013 and 2018, undergraduate enrollment rose by 45 percent. Between 2009 and 2018, the number of engineering students grew to 22,400 from about 6,400.

“ASU has done it by increasing its reach into those who are underserved. The number of first-generation students has more than quadrupled since 2002.

“Everything is on a mass scale. ASU’s honors college alone is bigger than Stanford’s entire undergraduate enrollment. It graduates more Jews than Brandeis and more Muslims than Jews.

“The quality has risen along with the size. Research expenditures double every six to eight years, and a number of academic departments are nationally recognized as among the best for the quality of their research.

“The atmosphere is much more democratic and accessible to all. Faculty members are treated less as scholars within rarefied disciplines and more as interdisciplinary intellectual entrepreneurs. The goal is immediate social impact as much as expanding knowledge, so, for example, ASU’s Watts College of Public Service & Community Solutions is enmeshed with local residents to transform a Phoenix neighborhood.

“Starbucks pays for eligible employees to attend ASU online. Many of the graduates I met had dropped out of three or four colleges before finally being able to get a degree at ASU. It’s an open place, where they can move up.

“Similarly, last week I was in Wichita to observe the Kansas Leadership Center. The center teaches people how to create social change and hopes to saturate the state with better leaders. But the center doesn’t focus on traditional “leaders.” Its mantra is: “Leadership is an activity, not a position. Anyone can lead, anytime, anywhere.” The atmosphere is one of radical inclusion. The enrollees I met included business leaders, teachers, line workers and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

“The center equips people at every level of society with organizational skills—for example, to understand when it is necessary to turn up the heat to force change, and when it is necessary to turn down the heat to encourage reconciliation.

“People in both the exclusive and open meritocracies focus intensely on increasing skills. But it’s jarring to move from one culture to the other because the values are so different. The exclusive meritocracy is spinning out of control. If the country doesn’t radically expand its institutions and open access to its bounty, the U.S. will continue to rip apart.”

A perfect example of Brook’s exclusive meritocracy is the Rick Singer’s college admissions scandal, a disgusting series of immoral events to benefit undeserving children.

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