CALIFORNIA DEMS SOWED THE REPARATIONS WIND AND ARE REAPING THE WHIRLWIND
One day, America’s black citizens will realize that Democrats always make promises they will not or cannot fulfill. The latest example is the reparations folly currently playing out in California. Black Californians are beginning to realize they were watching Kabuki reparations theater.
In September 2020, right before the big election, the California legislature enacted Assembly Bill 3121, setting up a “Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans”:
“The institution of slavery is inextricably woven into the establishment, history, and prosperity of the United States. Constitutionally and statutorily sanctioned from 1619 to 1865, slavery deprived more than four million Africans and their descendants of life, liberty, citizenship, cultural heritage, and economic opportunity.”
California, of course, was a free state in the lead-up to the Civil War. Therefore, the Task Force was forced to add that,
“Following the abolition of slavery, government entities at the federal, state, and local levels continued to perpetuate, condone, and often profit from practices that brutalized African Americans and excluded them from meaningful participation in society.”
(Note: In terms of non-slavery-based discrimination, myriad other ethnic groups—e.g., Irish, Italians, Asians, Jews, etc.—experienced the same.)
Despite the task force only being advisory, blacks really believed that its recommendations would send money their way. How much money is an interesting question. Last week, the task force approved a comprehensive “reparations” plan. It cited myriad “atrocities” on which it tried to put a price tag.
According to the task force, health harms from racism have cost individual blacks $966,921 in health value; “mass incarceration and over-policing” are calculated at $159,792 lost per year; housing discrimination requires $148,099 in compensation per person; unjust property takings can’t even be reduced to a dollar amount; and the devaluation of African American business comes in at $77,000 per person. The grand total is over $1.3 million per person.
Those were the big “harms and atrocities.” Others include “labor discrimination, segregated education, lack of representation in government, environmental harm, transgenerational harm, and other harms.” Only the first yielded a calculation, coming in at $35,742 per person.
In addition to demanding money, the task force wants to repeal 1996’s Prop. 209, which ended race-based preferential treatment.
Not surprisingly, California’s black residents have been enthusiastic about the proposed plan.
However, it’s estimated that paying out the listed reparations will cost California around $800 billion, which is more than two-and-a-half times its annual budget. This is a problem considering that California has frittered away a sizable surplus and ended up with a $31.5 billion budget deficit.
Knowing that the state was running out of money may explain why Gavin Newsom announced that there would be no reparations money for any blacks. Instead, perhaps tacitly acknowledging the demand to repeal Prop. 209, he wants to switch up institutions such as housing, education, and healthcare to offset “slavery’s legacy.”
Newsom was not the only one backing away from the reparations plan. State Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Los Angeles) also warned blacks to keep their expectations in check:
Bradford told potential recipients not to expect huge payouts when the California government hasn’t figured out where that money would come from.
The state lawmaker from Los Angeles did say that “anything’s possible if the money’s there,” but added he will stay “realistic” about what actual payments may be, according to the Associated Press.
He told residents to have the same outlook, saying, “I don’t want to set folks’ expectations and hopes up that they’re going to be getting, you know, seven-figure checks. That’s just not happening.”
The problem is that, once you’ve raised people’s expectations, you can’t pull an Emily Litella and say to them, “Never mind.” Do that, and people will feel as if you’ve defrauded them, making promises you never intended to keep.
Faced with an angry constituency, Newsom, having first retreated from reparations, is reconsidering them:
Gov. Gavin Newsom’s spokesperson has corrected the “inaccurate” framing of his comments earlier this week in response to approved recommendations by the state’s task force that studied the wrongdoings of slavery and other historical forms of discrimination against Black people.
A spokesperson for Newsom clarified his comments in an email statement to The Sacramento Bee:
“The sensationalized framing in pieces published by outlets like Fox News and others is inaccurate. The Governor looks forward to reviewing the final report — and all recommendations — when complete.”
Newsom’s chief communication advisor, Anthony York said that Newsom is not backing away from cash payments, but wants to wait for the report in its entirety to arrive on his desk before he makes any decision.
York added that the cash payments matter “will be resolved” after Newsom meets with Legislative leaders in the coming months.
Newsom is just buying time. California is broke and, with wealthy people and businesses leaving, will be more broke. The massive cash payouts the state’s black residents dream of are as phony as the Democrats’ claim that people can magically change sexes.
Andrea Widburg is the deputy editor of American Thinker.