Dr. Pynchon, call your office

There’s now a group (apparently sincerely) demanding £32T from Great Britain as reparations for all the evil Britain has done in the world.

When I thought this was a joke, I thought it wasn’t funny.

But now that I see it isn’t a joke, I think it’s hilarious.

INTERNATIONAL COALITION FOR BRITISH REPARATIONS

“People of the World, It’s Time to Get Paid”

The Petition

We, the undersigned citizens of the world, demand reparations payments of £31,960,000,000,000 from the British Monarchy and government of the United Kingdom. This money will compensate us for the profound injuries we have suffered over the last 500 years from British brutality, negligence, malevolence, crimes against humanity, and other heinous and atrocious forms of misrule. It is far from enough to make us whole, but a necessary first step in the long process of British coming to terms with its historical guilty and reconciling itself with global opinion and international law.

They’ve even got a website, which links to (could I possibly make this up?) the the homepage of the British Monarchy. (Sample: “THE HONOURS SYSTEM: Test your knowledge in this month’s Quiz.”)

So who’s paying for this (complete with PR agent)? My first guess is was Lyndon LaRouche, but that doesn’t seem to be right. It looks completely, insanely genuine. They’ve even figured out that it would be hard to pay reparations of £32T out of a GDP of under £2T, but don’t worry: they’re willing to take it “over 50 to 75 years,” apparently without interest. I call that magnanimous.

Oh, and here’s the kicker: of the total, about a third is a “refund” of Germany’s WWI reparations, which were “unfair and punitive.” Can’t have that, can we?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com