The California Task Force On Reparations’ Proposal

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.

16 thoughts on “The California Task Force On Reparations’ Proposal

  1. To say nothing of how handing over huge sums to people who may not have the ability to utilize it properly will not solve the problem. Once the money-hungry friends & relatives, criminals, con men and the recipients’ own poor judgment spending sprees are done, these folks will be right back where they started.

    How are California’s schools funded? Why not start there? Why not use extra money to better fund inner city schools with quality teachers and learning resources?

    At least, that’s a more reasonable use of the money and they can legitimately say they tried something they hoped would work.

    • I’m not sure more money going to theacher’s unions will do anything about the ill-behaved, unmotivated students disrupting inner city classrooms.

      • Or the Athletic Department.

        But, at least, there’s the appearance of trying to fund something more substantive than just giving so-called free money to people that only encourages demands for more.

  2. The task force reportedly will recommend giving $223,200 each to all descendants of slaves in California

    all descendants of slaves.

    Since California never had slavery, they must mean anyone descended from anyone descended from anyone who was enslaved in any jurisdiction.

    Right off the bat, we know that people of British or French or Latino descent have ancestors who were enslaved by the Romans. Do they get reparations?

    There are Slavidccommunities in Los Angeles. Their ancestors were sold into sl;avery by other Slavs (sound familiar?) to the Romans, Persians, Greeks, Arabs, Germans, and Scandinavians. Where are their reparations?

    What about Jews? their ancestors were enslaved in Egypt during the Bronze Age.

    • Exactly. Haven’t they learned anything about migration from their “homeless” problem? I guess not. This will make the Gold Rush look like a parking lot emptying out after church.

  3. Would the reparations program require people to have lived in California for a minimum duration to qualify? If not, it would cost a lot more than $559 billion. And where would they find housing for millions of new people, even if they only stick around long enough to get paid?

  4. As someone observed –

    “A State that never permitted slavery is forcing people who never owned slaves to give money to people who never were slaves”

    I get the temptation here – it sucks that the current African American population is relatively set back by the sins of our ancestors generations ago. They were grossly set back at the time.

    But as the century since emancipation and half century since the civil rights movement – the African American community has been *rapidly* catching up to where they “ought” to be compared to the greater population. And in that greater population there are plenty of whites and hispanics that are not as well off as the greater population also. Many of whom individually could point to the conditions of their ancestors for why they are there.

    But even with the still clear disparity between ethnic groups largely because of problems of the past – there is *NO* ethical argument that can show the massive theft of property from one group and transfer to another can possibly repair the “problem” (there isn’t one anymore) and will actually only do more harm.

  5. This isn’t a plan to rectify historical wrongs. They absolutely know that’s not going to happen: There is no way that California is going to double its state budget to hand off huge sums to some of its residents.

    This is a scheme to inflame race-based resentment and identification with particular racial groups. “They OWE us because our ancestors were oppressed, but THOSE OTHER PEOPLE don’t want to give us what we deserve!”

    They know it won’t work as described, but they also know that it can help ensure a whole generation of poorly-educated fools wallows in impotent frustration, which these manipulators can use as a political weapon.

    • James M. wrote,

      “This is a scheme to inflame race-based resentment and identification with particular racial groups. ‘They OWE us because our ancestors were oppressed, but THOSE OTHER PEOPLE don’t want to give us what we deserve!’”

      I am not sure I completely agree. The idea is some sort of societal atonement for past social sins associated with slavery. It is good-intentioned but, as we all know, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. The motivation behind it seems to be that if we atone for society’s sins of slavery, we will move forward to that Great Society. The problem, though, is the result you properly and correctly state – it foments current racial animosity and perpetual victimhood and entitlement mentality, further destroying any racial harmony.


        • Why should they stop there? They can compensate me for the time when the Sassenachs killed off my ancestors’ herds and stole their land, driving them to leave their beautiful home in the Scottish highlands and make a new life in America. That has about a much sense to it as their stupid slavery reparation plan. To further recommend the idea, all these generations later, my family still has detailed histories of how many head of stock were killed and what other wrongs were done. (We have “keeping a grudge” down to a science…)

  6. Human history is so full of injustices perpetrated by groups of humans against each other that almost any plan to improve the present by accounting for and reversing an injustice from the past is a fool’s errand. Unless it involves fulfilling a broken contract with a nation (e.g. Native American nations), any attempt to improve the lives of individuals in the present by simply doing the opposite of what was done to their ancestors will only introduce more injustices in the present.

    As others here have pointed out, those who do not realize this are some combination of foolish and/or trying to get payment and acclaim for doing something they will constantly fail at but never be blamed for.

    If individuals need help, we don’t need a reason beyond that to help them. Conversely, regardless of what happened with a person’s ancestors, that person will need to take responsibility for benefitting from the help they receive. If they don’t change, then they’ll be back where they started when the help expires.

    Humans haven’t developed a good system to help people and hold them accountable for stepping up to take advantage of that help, though. That’s why they argue over which people “deserve” help based on the degree to which human history put them in that position: opponents don’t want to offer help they think will be wasted, so they hold everyone accountable for their own situations regardless of the forces keeping them there. Proponents use the excuse of rectifying historical injustices to avoid admitting that they don’t know how to systematically achieve sustainable results.

    Furthermore, we may want to help cultural groups, in addition to helping humans as individuals. That’s something we might arrange by allowing them to identify their cultural leaders and working with the leaders to figure out what forms the help may take and how it is administered, and to whom.

    What makes these conversations about helping individuals and cultures difficult is that for this help to be effective, it will require more than just throwing money at problems. It will require setting goals, brainstorming methods and new paradigms, and establishing criteria for how the results are evaluated. Humans aren’t used to such sophisticated problem-solving techniques–not as a society, anyway. That’s what the Visionary Vocabularies toolbox of foundational concepts is here to help with.

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