I read something about the ridiculous recommendations forthcoming from California’s “Task Force to Study and Recommend Reparations Proposals for African Americans” a while back, and decided that it was just one more indicator of how the entire state had lost its collective mind, that The Great Stupid knows no bounds, and that some things are even too silly for me to write about. Now I think some attention should be paid. Because…
- The task force reportedly will recommend giving $223,200 each to all descendants of slaves in California, on the theory that it will be a just remedy for housing discrimination against blacks between 1933 and 1977. The cost to California taxpayers would be about $559 billion, which is more than California’s entire annual budget, and that doesn’t include the massive cost of administrating the hand-outs and dealing with all the law suits it is bound to generate. Obviously, the recommendation is absurd for that reason alone, which makes it pure virtue signaling. The task forces is unethical by definition: spending public money to study an issue and issuing a recommendation that is politically and financially impossible to follow is irresponsible in the extreme.
- But wait, there’s more: The task force identified four other areas warranting reparations in the future — mass incarceration, unjust property seizures, devaluation of businesses and health care. Well then, let’s permanently pay all black Californians regular stipends for being black, including those who are already rich. Reparations are essentially damages, and the justice system doesn’t exclude rich people from receiving the same financial awards as poorer plaintiffs for the same wrongs.
- As Hans Bader points out, such a program is almost certainly unconstitutional. In Richmond v. J.A. Croson, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the government cannot provide race-based “remedies that are ageless in their reach into the past.” The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, in Hammon v. Barry, struck down Mayor Marion Barry’s grandstanding affirmative-action plan for his constituency in which the alleged discrimination occurred 18 years earlier. In Brunet v. City of Columbus, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals stated that “conduct that occurred at least 14 years before” an affirmative-action consent decree was “too remote to support a compelling governmental interest to justify the affirmative action plan” before it.
- Coral Construction Co. v. King County (1991) resulted in the federal appeals court in California ruling that race-based remedies can only be used in response to government discrimination, not “societal discrimination” by private landlords or housing providers. Racial preferences are still a violation of the law and the Constitution, no matter how much the current deranged American Left would wish it otherwise.
- Reparations for over-incarceration or mass-incarceration, or “reward a group’s members for the disproportionate number of them who commit crimes” is especially bats, and the task force apparently will be recommending this as the next justification for massive fund transfers. Hey, why not? It’s only money!
It seems clear that all of the reparations demands, as well as this task force’s farcical efforts, are just political theater.