Michael Tanner‘s latest National Review Online column delves into the debate over reparations linked to slavery.

[E]ven if one could make a legitimate moral case for reparations, implementation would pose extraordinary problems to which none of the Democratic candidates appear to have given any thought. In fact, the gaps are obvious enough to suggest that the sudden support for reparations actually amounts to little more than pandering.

For example, the taxes necessary to pay the billions and even trillions of dollars being casually discussed would totally wreck the economy. (Recall that reparations taxes would be on top of the taxes already announced by Democratic contenders and the additional taxes needed to finance their grandiose spending plans.) In what way would African Americans gain from higher unemployment, slower wage growth, and less entrepreneurship? The goal should be to move the poor and people of color into the mainstream of a growing economy, not to make economic growth harder to come by.

Nor have the candidates wrestled with the thorny issue of culpability and victimhood. Who should pay and who should be eligible for benefits? How should we even define “African American,” given the widespread history of rape during slavery and intermarriage since? Modern research suggests that at least a third of African Americans have at least one white ancestor. Do we want to return to the “one drop” rule?