All citizens today benefited from slavery

Regarding the recent letter, “African Americans misled by Dems on reparations”:

I am glad the writer believes in the intelligence of African American voters. I part company with him in his next sentence where he makes two claims. First, that he had nothing to do with slavery (likely true) and that he has not benefited personally from slavery. I disagree with that.

Slavery was a fact of life here since the people were British subjects colonizing a new land in the 1600s. Even today, the 13th Amendment to the Constitution carves out a big exception in the case of its being a punishment for a crime of which one has been duly convicted. (In the U.S. judicial system, it has not been hard to duly convict black men.)

There is some evidence that in the post-Civil War years, arrests and convictions rose and fell with the needs of local employers. Peonage and sharecropping could have outcomes similar to enslavement. Until the early 1900s, there was only a constitutional amendment prohibiting slavery. So while it was illegal, there were no penalties against the practice.

I think slavery lasted a lot longer than is generally acknowledged. Convict leasing, peonage and sharecropping were practiced up to about 1940. I think it was thanks to slavery that the beginnings of the infrastructure we depend on was constructed. Chain gangs working on roads and railroads, crops providing food and clothing, the forests cleared and the lumber created, all laid the foundation for what we have today.

I don’t know if reparations are right or wrong, but I do believe that there is a debt to be acknowledged and paid. To deny that a debt exists is to deny the role slavery played in U.S. history and getting us to where we are today. Benefiting from slavery is a part of, and comes with, being a citizen.

Robert Post

Absecon

Solar overrated, costly

It’s time to expose the solar scam. What’s that? For some, it’s paying for something that they get nothing in return for. Solar power can supplement some power needs, but it can’t power any home or industry alone for the simple reasons of unreliability and storage. Yet some are cashing in, selling us energy at inflated rates that we are forced to buy.

The solar myth has been aggrandized by the media and normalized by targeting municipal buildings, churches, schools and lately, conservative talk show hosts. It seems so good, but if followed to its logical conclusion of everyone getting in, then who would be paying for the fossil fuel plants that would still be supplying the bulk of our energy? Sunshine is limited and energy storage isn’t feasible.

Electric companies aren’t threatened by solar, they’re making money off of it. I know electric company employees who have solar power. If their jobs or pensions were threatened by solar power, they would fight it, not cash in. They may even be encouraged to do so.

I’m all for solar power for those who want off the grid, but paying subsidies for extra power that cannot be stored and others don’t want is unacceptable. The Northeast is the worst place for solar power, but it is here that institutionalized theft flows freely.

James M. Spickard

Little Egg Harbor Township

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