An Internet Conversation on Reparations and Statues

By Richard John Stapleton and Courtenay Barnett

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Hello Courtenay

Thanks for this well reasoned and presented response. Got to go to town early to get some groceries while it’s fairly early and fewer possible Covid 19 virus carriers in the store. Will get this posted to the article when I get back.


Thank you for your thoughtful reply.

Obviously you have given more than a small amount of attention to the issue at hand.

For purposes of argument, we could just confine ourselves to the situation in the US:-

  • Highly regressive tax system.
  • Many large corporations pay little to sometimes zero taxes relative to their huge earnings.
  • The socio-economic system is highly discriminatory, such as in housing in both the private and public sectors.
  • The justice system is skewed against minorities.

Just a few of the realities the ‘Earthians’ in the US face. So, at least there in the US the prospects of equity are not promising at present, for as you correctly observe: ” But if humans should co-construct decent dependable social, economic, and political systems in the future along the lines of what I outline in my essay.”

My mind focuses on equity, for a quite obvious reason – I am a lawyer who defends people’s rights. However, I do not think along ‘utopian’ lines. By that I mean that I am not wedded to an ideological camp within which I hermetically seal my mind thinking that here resides the true solution. Utilitarianism, although not much in vogue these days in intellectual circles, does have a core appeal – the greatest good for the greatest number. In more concrete terms my mind flashes back to a speech of Dr. Martin Luther King in which he drew a contrast between the US and Norway. He was lamenting the high level of riches in the US with some seriously high levels of poverty such as in Appalachia. In Norway we find a high living standard accompanied by high levels of taxation which serves well to provide for the needs of the populace. Therein is the formula, for albeit it a totally different political order had existed in Libya, they too had achieved the highest standard of living on the continent of Africa ( until bombed away in 2011). In both countries the source of the wealth was from oil. The challenge is a will to structure a system which both generates wealth and ensures a social safety next accompanied by fairness within the social order. You encapsulate what I have just expressed when you say this:  “Capitalism in recent decades has led to the creation of a new aristocracy far richer than ever existed and inequality this has created will exist forever barring changes in tax laws, precluding any chance of Earthian peace.”

To bring things right down to earth, so to speak, the combinations of the unsustainable deficit, over expenditure on the military and the determination to print money in the trillions will be the undoing of America.

You have answered my concern about intergenerational wealth transfer, by permitting a portion to be bequeathed to the next generation. However, as a lawyer, I already have a way around your system for I simply effect an inter vivos transfer and that negates the death tax. 

More to the point is the concerns which I sense we both share of a need for some sanity being visited upon human societies, in the sense of provision for all in a world which actually has wealth in abundance. Just reflect for a moment on the Congo ( which I consider the world’s most resource rich piece of real estate). Name it and the minerals are there and consider the use of cobalt in cell phones and where much of it originates. Then reflect on the appalling living standards in the Congo past and present day. Welcome to the world.

We both can live in hope.



From: Richard Stapleton <>
Sent: Friday, June 26, 2020 9:11 PM
To: Courtenay barnett <>
Subject: Re: In blunt and forceful format – and yes – I challenge. 

I believe the taxing away of family wealth (at least some percent of it) is necessary if Earth is to ever have a level playing field where all humans have decent lives. Inheritance taxes in the US for the richest used to be about eighty percent. Thanks to Republicans it’s now about thirty percent as I understand it for the richest.  Capitalism in recent decades has led to the creation of a new aristocracy far richer than ever existed and inequality this has created will exist forever barring changes in tax laws, precluding any chance of Earthian peace. Why should any human be advantaged because of inherited characteristics of any sort, racial, intellectual, physical, or economic merely because of being lucky enough to have been born to certain parents and inheriting genes, messages, and money? The bottom line is that no one should have unfair lifetime advantages due to inheritance if fair and dependable social, economic, and political systems exist, which has never happened. The world has always been a screwed up place, poorly managed, or not managed at all, dog eat dog, every person for her or his self, and yes it’s been much more unfair for some than others, especially enslaved Africans and native aboriginals, and people of all races with physical, emotional, and behavioral disorders, and low intelligence. If humans could somehow co-construct truly fair, efficient, and effective social, economic, and political systems, unlike what we have now, where one’s life is largely a function of the parents they had due to pure luck, there would be no need for inheritances. As an entrepreneurship and small business professor I have done research with a national survey attempting to find out how successful entrepreneurs will their wealth to their children. I assumed that almost all would will their wealth to their children on an equal share basis. Not so. I asked them in the questionnaire in a strongly agree to strongly disagree question whether they agreed with the statement “Anything I will my children will depend on my feelings at the time I make out my last will.” A clear majority agreed with the statement. I documented it in my book Business Voyages.  Not only is life not fair, many parents are not fair to their children and you can build a case that life will never be fair and the same insanity that has always existed will continue until Earth becomes a dead planet. No, I do not think everything you personally have should be taxed away and given to the common good as matters now stand. Given the sorry state of social, religious, economic, and political systems now I believe willing family estates to children is right and proper (at least some percentage of them). Given the fact parents caused their children to be brought into this sorry world it is morally right that parents should do what they can to protect their own children. But if humans should co-construct decent dependable social, economic, and political systems in the future along the lines of what I outline in my essay “The Evolution of Spaceship Earth, Inc.” there will be no need for parents to will wealth to their children because all children will be born rich, just like a few lucky children born to billionaires are now. And then there is the matter of free will. If it does not exist, as I believe, and thousands of others believe, then no one is to blame or praise for anything, including how much or little wealth they have. If you don’t believe me on this just ask Google “Does free will exist?” You will find thousands of references. I believe everything is caused by infinitely-regressive cause-effect chains.

I have not yet shared the Internet Conversation article with my personal mailing list or any social media. Most likely no one but you has read it. Should I delete it? Or delete your name as a co-author? Or should I add what you and I have said here to it?

On Jun 26, 2020, at 6:32 PM, Courtenay barnett <> wrote:

Dear Richard,
I initially went to the religious part of the discussion.
Now I go into the economics of the situation we in the world face:-
You are ultimately  saying  that everything my  father made should be taxed away to be applied to the general good and other people should be allowed to make and enjoy what they are able to during my  lifetime – to hold for their own.  Then any wealth I have accumulated on my own  should be taxed away and when I die then have applied to the general good, but my offspring ( after over 300 years of free planation slavery and Indian ( on my Mom’s side – servitude) should then be allowed to make and enjoy whatever they are able to have on our returns)?   That’s how I read it anyway.  Not to  pass wealth from generation to generation to provide anyone a fair advantage – despite the undisputable fact that Whites have overwhelmingly generated intergenerational wealth to eternity and beyond – and – at whose expense?
Answer if you can.

On Jun 26, 2020, at 1:19 PM, Courtenay barnett <> wrote:Yeah – no problem there Richard – we get on pretty well and the world can learn that it ain’t necessarily all black and white.

From: Richard Stapleton <>
Sent: Friday, June 26, 2020 10:01 AM
To: Courtenay barnett <>
Subject: Re: The USA – cause and effect – REPLY 

Excellent response and article in Danielle’s Garden. I basically agree with you on myths but it still seems to me that religious symbols, pictures, crosses, statues and whatnot will perpetuate historical suspicion, agitations, intolerance, competitions, and hatred among various religious groups.  What do you think of the idea of my publishing this conversation in this thread verbatim in the Effective Learning Report? In an article entitled “An Internet Conversation on Reparations and Statues.” I’m sure it would be interesting and enlightening for a lot of folks, but would it be worth the risk?

On Jun 25, 2020, at 8:29 PM, Courtenay barnett <> wrote:

Dear Richard,

Thank you for your thoughtful reply.

I agree with you in the main  but beg to differ on just – one point. That is ‘religion’.

I am not a religious person. I attended St. Georges College in Jamaica and before I departed at age 16 for further education in England, I came to understand a lot. By the age of 14, I raised questions about this ‘God’ – the white portrayed ‘God’ as Jesus and there my intellectual pursuits commenced from the embryo.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, because my mother was a devout believer and I was not, but she loved me dearly and so did I too of her, we agreed to disagree when at a certain point we debated. Maybe that is what led to me writing this nuanced essay:

Myth – Danielle’s GardenDanielle’s Garden. TOWER HILL EDUCATIONAL FUND A/C 20067 Bank of Nova Scotia 1-3 Knutsford Blvd. kingston 5, Jamaica. E-mail: INFO@ . MYTH AS WORLD INSPIRATION. Each person is faced in life with certain primal existential

Always happy to hear a learned voice in response.
Kind regards.

From: Richard Stapleton <>
Sent: Thursday, June 25, 2020 10:16 AM
To: Courtenay barnett <>
Subject: Re: The USA – cause and effect 

Hello Courtenay
I agree serious apologies and reparations to descendants of African slaves and native aboriginals who had lands stolen and were subjected to genocide and inhumane callous and mean exploitation are ethically required and appropriate. Regarding statues being taken down, I think all statues of religious, political, and military figures and characters of any sort should be taken down so as not to glorify past competitive conquests, victories, and losses, of any sort to set the Earthian human race on the march to a truly sustainable and peaceful existence devoid of superstitious tribalisms, which entails abolishing competitive capitalism from the production of the necessities of life around Earth. Competitive capitalism in small business environments can be retained as a form of sport and entertainment provided all booty taken in by winners is taxed away upon their deaths to maintain a level competitive playing field every generation. Plus Earthians must co-construct policies to peacefully reduce the Earthian human population for several generations to eliminate the need for dog eat dog win-lose economic competition around Earth and to put Earthian human production and consumption systems on a sustainable rational footing that will indefinitely protect the Earthian environment and existing species of fauna and flora living aboard Spaceship Earth.
Toward the Co-Constructing of Spaceship Earth, Inc. Cheers, Richard

On Jun 25, 2020, at 7:34 AM, Courtenay barnett <> wrote:


I agree with you that it is well argued and presented. Some years ago I had watched a documentary on Levitz Town which was making similar points. However, this video welds together a lot more ideas which are clearly explained. 
Sorry, I only have the video as forwarded to me by a friend and do not have a link.
Since we are on the topic of race, I note that quite a stir has been caused by the question of whether or not certain statues should be removed. On that topic I share with you some thoughts I sent to another friend.
” I believe that the sentiments expressed( below – Gleaner letter) might not be as clear as one may state the issues:-

  1.  There are potentially different narratives coming from ‘victor’ versus ‘vanquished’ and this is quite evident in how the British have written their history.
  2.   A ‘villain’  such as Nelson Mandela, once labelled a ‘terrorist’ – versus a world renowned statesman well exemplifies the division of perspectives.
  3.  As with the absence of any statue in honour of Adolph Hitler right across Germany – the idea of not honouring any genocidal  maniac or any enslaver is not actually a ridiculous or outlandish idea. 
  4.  It is a meme where there is the honouring of those who committed genocide or enriched themselves through the enslavement and trading in human beings; its alternative is to have the direct acknowledgement of such persons by removing their place of honour in form of effigy – a statue. 
  5.  The issue is not the rewriting of history, since the documentation of historical events is an interpretative process within which the writer in actuality defines who is or is not the ‘villain’, the ‘savage’ , the ‘hero’ etc. By pointing  to the misdeeds of an individual and factually recording that aspect of the person’s conduct ( person in question Cecil Rhodes)  is therefore not at all any denial of nor rewriting of history – it is stating history is a fuller and more accurate and factual manner.
  6.  Many examples of reparations  being paid/allocated do exist – e.g. Germany to Jews; Native American/Canadians  lands grant in America and Canada; Maoris apology and compensation in New Zealand  etc. – so a Caribbean call for reparations does have legal precedent.       “

Then we now have the Shaun King challenge from political iconoclastic to an actual iconoclastic challenge to the portrayal  of Jesus. Another debate for another time.
Cheers, Courtenay  

From: Richard Stapleton <>
Sent: Wednesday, June 24, 2020 10:20 PM
To: Courtenay barnett <>
Subject: Re: The USA – cause and effect 

Best video I have seen about what went wrong with race relations, especially in the US. Agree completely with the analysis here. Jim Crow was bad enough, but the war on drugs was even worse. Well presented information, very relevant information. Yes, we should care. But most of all we should figure out why and how it happened and make it stop.
Do you have a web address for it?  I would like to post it.

On Jun 24, 2020, at 9:43 AM, Courtenay barnett <> wrote: Genocide.


  • RICHARD JOHN STAPLETON is the Editor & Publisher of the Effective Learning Report, a certified transactional analyst, and an octogenarian emeritus professor of management, living and working in the United States
  • COURTENAY BARNETT is a graduate of London University. His areas of study were economics, political science and international law. He has been a practising lawyer for over thirty years, and has argued public interest and human rights cases. He has published several articles in the Effective Learning Report. He lives and works in the Caribbean.