MASSACHUSETTS STATE SenatornWilliam Owens, who represents anninner-city Boston district, has filed legislationnto require the Commonwealthnto pay reparations for slavery.nSenate Bill 1621 mandates paymentnto “people of African descent born innthe United States … for malfeasancenand culpable nonfeasance of the Commonwealth,nits agents, employees andncitizens with regard to the institution ofnAfrican slavery, the African slave tradenand invidious discrimination againstndescendants of Africans. . . .” Thenamount of said compensation is to bennegotiated with “legitimate representationnof African descendants,” which isnto say ghetto hustlers of the JessenJackson/Steve Cokely/Al Sharptonnstripe.nThe proposal has its prominent supporters,nincluding Professor DavidnHall, chairman of the MassachusettsnChapter of the National Conference ofnBlack Lawyers, who decries oppositionnto the bill as “strong evidence of howndeeply racism still flows within thenveins of this society.”nOver one thousand delegates to thenAfrican-American Summit, convenednin New Orleans in late April, endorsednthe reparations concept, and includednit in their preliminary agenda.nThat such a lunatic measure couldnbe adopted even in progressive Massachusettsnis beyond the realm of imagining.nYet the proposal merits consideration,nif only for the light it sheds on thenessential character of the racial numbersngame.nOwens argues that the state benefitednfrom the institution of slavery becausenthe wealth of Yankee merchantsnwas tied to the triangle trade — andnsince white residents of the Commonwealthnsomehow shared in these advantages,nfairness necessitates recompensento the descendants of slaves. Hencites reparations paid to JapanesenAmericans placed in internmentncamps during the Second World Warnand the West German government’snindemnifies to Holocaust survivors asnprecedents for the program.nHowever it’s rationalized, the measurenis based on a presumpfion ofncollective guilt. The overwhelmingn6/CHRONICLESnCULTURAL REVOLUTIONSnmajority of Massachusetts taxpayers arenCaucasian. None were alive during thenperiod of the slave trade. Many didn’tneven have ancestors living in the statenor nation at the fime. They are to benpunished solely for the sin of havingnthe same skin pigmentation as plantationnowners, slavers, or those whondiscriminated against blacks in the precivilnrights era. In the course of antelevised debate on Boston’s Channeln25, the senator informed me that,namong other infamies, my progenitorsnhad “raped our women.” I replied thatnthis was a physical impossibility since,nduring the era in question, my relafionsnwere in Eastern Europe being chasednby Cossacks.nThe precedents the senator cites arenin fact inapplicable. In both instances,npayment was made to individual victimsnor their immediate families, not tonpersoris several generations removednfrom the offenses. Even so, the equitynof the measures is debatable; not thenguilty parties but those who sharedntheir nationality were penalized. In thencase of Japanese Americans, justicenwould require sequestering the estatesnof Franklin Delano Roosevelt and EarlnWarren — those pillars of Americannliberalism who, as President and governornof California respectively, werenresponsible for the internment of thenJapanese — instead of placing the burdennon US taxpayers.nAttempting to rectify historicnwrongs is a process that easily couldncontinue until the millennium. Whynstop with the descendants of the slaves?nWhat of compensation for the victimsnof anti-Semitism, or their heirs? OctogenariannBostonians can recall seeingnemployment notices in the windows ofnbusinesses proclaiming: “Irish NeednNot Apply.” The grandchildren ofnBoston’s African traders were hardlynhospitable to the Irish, Italians, Jews,nand Slavs who arrived here via steeragenat the turn of the century.nMore germane to the case at hand,nwhy not seek restitution from the posteritynof the African chiefs who soldntheir own people into bondage? Unlikenthe public treasury, they are not readilynavailable for plunder. But sums couldnbe deducted from foreign aid to Zairennnor the Ivory Coast.nWorld history is a sad saga of nationalnwrongs, of conquests, subjugations,npillage, exploitation, and mass murdern— of Chinese slaughtered by Mongols,nArmenians massacred by Turks, Polesnmartyred by Russians, Britons harriednby Norsemen, and Jews brutalized bynjust about everyone. (I anxiously awaitnmy payoff for the Babylonian captivity.)nOne could not even begin toncalculate the extent of damages, letnalone devise a system of compensationnfor these myriad atrocities. To complicatenmatters even further, in someninstances the oppressed of one era werenoppressors of another.nOwens’ bill may be loony, but itsnethos was long ago actualized. Fornwhat is affirmative action — quotas inneducation, hiring, and promotions — ifnnot a species of reparations? Whitesn(usually middle or lower middle class)nare to be economically disadvantagednbecause they share the racial identity ofnthe massah and the redneck bigot of angeneration ago. Blacks, often from relativelyncomfortable backgrounds, arenrewarded on the same nonsensical basis.nSociologist Thomas Sowell contendsnthe whites penalized are leastnable to bear the burden, the blacks whonbenefit need it the least. Instead of thisnselective system of rewards and punishments,nOwens’ bill would diffuse bothnthe pain and the pleasure. For advocatesnof the irrational (racial guilt), it isnthe next logical step.n— Don FedernAMERICANS COMPLAIN endlesslynabout income taxes. And yet wenhardly ever reflect on the heart of thenmatter: that even if every tax dollarnwere wisely spent, the very principle ofnthe income tax is unfair.nThe purpose of taxes is to pay forngovernment. In exchange for taxes wenget highways, soldiers, and diplomats.nHowever, tax payments are unlike anynother kind of payment. We can choosenwhether to buy an apple or an automobile,nbut as Americans we are forced tonbuy highways in Hawaii and soldiers innGermany whether we want them ornnot. Taxes are the obligatory cost ofn