Thursday, August 29, 2019

Who benefited from slavery?

The Democrats, NY Times, and other leftists want to raise the issue of who benefited from slavery, and how much.

Sailer points out that it is doubtful that whites benefited from slavery, before the Civil War.

The Civil War surely wiped out any benefits. And the costs of the slave trade continue to be paid by Whites.

On the other hand, African-Americans were surely the biggest beneficiaries. American blacks are the richest blacks in the world. Being a slave in America was surely better than being a slave in Africa.

I am not trying to justify slavery, as I don't think that it was even a net benefit for White people. The whole thing was a big mistake. But if someone wants to go back and revisit the issue of who benefited economically, you would have to conclude that the African-Americans were the beneficiaries.

Maybe I am wrong, and some commission on slavery reparations will calculate all the costs and benefits of the slave trade. I hope that they look at what would have happened if the Africans had been left in Africa.


MikeAdamson said...

The obvious winners under slavery were those able to extract and accumulate capital from slave labour and particularly those who parlayed that wealth into dynastic political and economic influence. It's not rocket science.

Roger said...

Perhaps the plantation owners benefited, but it is not obvious. They might have been better off under a different system, with no slavery. The North did fine without slavery. And even if they did benefit, it was probably just temporary.

MikeAdamson said...

We can agree to disagree. This article is interesting: I don't buy it but at least it approaches the issue honestly.

Roger said...

That article assumes that slavery has been costly to blacks, but how is that? Without slavery, they would still be in Africa, with a lower standard of living that typical American blacks today.

Cowen also assumes that discrimination is costly, which is an odd argument coming from a market economist.

If slavery produced wealth, then the South would be wealthier than the North. It is not.