Compensation for slavery

The Guardian 26 / 7 reports that Caribbean nations intend to push for compensation for slavery from British, French and Dutch governments. “Caricom is creating a reparations commission to press the issue, said Ralph Gonsalves, the prime minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, who has been leading the effort.”

For an overall economic analysis (not specifically on “reparations”) I refer to my book The Political Economy of the Netherlands Antilles and the Future of the Caribbean (2006) and the PDF at that link.

It so happens that the Netherlands Antilles have mostly copied the Dutch system of taxation and social security, which is also common in the OECD, whence they suffer the same causes for unemployment. The positive effect is that the same solution approach applies. The Dutch Antilles could resolve their unemployment and create a veritable paradise on Earth.

The only thing that stops them from doing so is political will and an interest in economic science. It isn’t the legacy of slavery that stops them. They got national independence in 1954. They still remain in the Dutch Kingdom, in a similar way as the British Queen Elizabeth II is the head of state of Canada. One cannot hold that Canada is restrained by this, and the same holds for the Dutch Antilles. Around 1900 many people in the north-eastern provinces in Holland itself lived in a situation similar to slavery, as day-labourers in agriculture. There is indeed a legacy in that region that it still has relatively less industry. But this derives from agriculture and location and such, and not from the 1900 living conditions.

The islands in the Caribbean are island indeed, separated by sea, and in the past they developed island economies indeed. However, modern logistics and transportation by ship and plane is competitive to logistics and transport over land by car and train. Hence Caricom forms a wonderful opportunity for economic and eventually also political integration. The Caribbean shares a common history and should not be distracted by the ties to particular colonizers, i.e. the various countries in Europe and also the USA.

The Guardian cites dr. Ralph Gonsalves:

“The apology is important but that is wholly insufficient,” he said in a phone interview on Wednesday. “We have to have appropriate recompense.”

This gives a visual idea of the problem.

Grote Knip, Curaçao (Source: Wikipedia)

Like Martin Luther King I have a dream too. It is basically the same dream, but mine includes that our children are raised with economic common sense. It is not very convinving to ask “reparations” from Holland for its participation in slavery but it is sensible to start boycotting it for its present-day censorship of science.

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