BY JOE CONCHA, The Hill
Economists estimate the state owes Black residents at least $800 billion for harms in policing, housing and health.
“Reparations: the act of making amends, offering expiation, or giving satisfaction for a wrong or injury.”
That’s the official definition of reparations in the Merriam Webster Dictionary. And in California, officially a “free state” during the era of slavery, a reparations task force just approved recommendations that could give each Black resident $1.2 million as compensation for slavery and other injustices. If this becomes law, it will cost the state of California an estimated $800 billion.
The reparations debate tends to fall along ideological and racial lines. According to Pew Research Center, reparations are supported by nearly half of Democrats but just 8 percent of Republicans. Overall, more than two-thirds (68 percent) of Americans oppose reparations. But that isn’t preventing San Francisco from attempting to forge ahead with its budget-busting plan.
Given the amount of money being discussed, surely the city’s African American Reparations Advisory Committee put a lot of time and energy into devising and applying some kind of mathematical formula to land at $1.2 million-per-person, right?
“There wasn’t a math formula,” confessed the committee’s chairman, Eric McDonnell.
“It was a journey for the committee towards what could represent a significant enough investment in families to put them on this path to economic well-being, growth and vitality that chattel slavery, and all the policies that flowed from it destroyed.”
So… just throw a seven-digit number out there and see if it sticks. Got it.
Easy question here: Where exactly is all this money going to come from? Because at last check, San Francisco is facing a $728 million budget shortfall over the next two fiscal years.
As is always the case, the Democratic solution is simply to impose another tax on the rich. “The rich must pay their fair share” is the mantra when it comes to justifying more spending. But the top 1 percent of income earners made nearly 21 percent of all income but paid 40 percent of all federal income taxes. So, it appears they’re already paying more than their fair share.
But with high-income earners fleeing the Golden State, tax revenue continues to be depleted. Per Bloomberg News:
“San Francisco, suffering from some of the nation’s weakest office occupancies and stubbornly low transit ridership, is now expecting business taxes over the next two years to decline by $179.3 million from previous estimates. Significantly, property taxes — usually a stable revenue source in downturns — are now projected over the same period to drop by $261 million from the earlier forecast.”
To complicate matters further, San Francisco is seeing the largest exodus of citizens of any city in the country. In other words, there’s no tax revenue to save the day. Which brings us back to our original question: Where is $800 billion coming from to pay for this?
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) surely knows the math doesn’t remotely work. of course, Newsom established the reparation task force in 2020. But he now seems to be rejecting their recommendation for $1.2 million per person.
“Dealing with the legacy of slavery is about much more than cash payments,” Newsom said in his statement.
In other words, California simply doesn’t have the money.
In addition, according to the Wall Street Journal, “The California Legislative Office estimates tax revenue during this fiscal year and the next will likely be $10 billion lower, and the budget gap will likely be about $7 billion larger than the Governor forecasted last month, assuming Democrats restrain spending.”
America’s first Black president once weighed in on reparations. In 2004, he said, “I fear that reparations would be an excuse for some to say, ‘We’ve paid our debt,’ and to avoid the much harder work.”
And in 2008, he said: “I have said in the past — and I’ll repeat again — that the best reparations we can provide are good schools in the inner city and jobs for people who are unemployed. These challenges will not go away with reparations. So, while I applaud and agree with the underlying sentiment of recognizing the continued legacy of slavery, I would prefer to focus on the issues that will directly address these problems — and building a consensus to do just that.”
Hard to argue with that perspective. But somewhere along the way, Obama changed his tune.
“Are reparations justified? The answer is yes,” Obama said in 2021. Tellingly, however, Obama didn’t attempt to explain the math behind it.
This is where we are in 2023: Student loans are being forgiven for well-off college graduates, but there’s no loan forgiveness for those working hard and struggling to pay off a mortgage or car payment.
Same goes for reparations, where the thinking seems to be to hand out cash rather than, as Obama once recommended, do the “much harder work” of investing in the institutions that could actually help more Black Americans succeed.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of Citizens Journal
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It’s interesting how all the supposed hurt,all the supposed anger, all the supposed pain can be solved with the same thing they’re always demanding. Your money.
The same dynamics are also at play in a typical hustle. This is the slurpee machine slip n slide at scale.
I would say they give it to them so they can watch them come back with their hands out for more in a few months,maybe they’ll learn something, but they won’t learn.
We already pretend like the billions in free housing and free food didn’t happen. They’ll pretend the $800 billion in reparations didn’t happen either and keep giving them money until they’re broke and then demand that we all give them all of our money too.
The only people who will escape it are government officials with militarized police at their disposal and their billionaire friends while everyone else gets squeezed for every last dime paying “slavery reparations” to people who were never slaves on behalf of people who probably never owned slaves to service a bizarre theory that imaginary harm is floating around in the air and sticking to black people because 200 years ago something bad happened to them.