[guest post by JVW]
The California Reparations Task Force, convened by Gelatinous Governor Gavin Gnusom, is finalizing the report it intends to deliver to the state legislature sometime next month. As the task force has been gallivanting up and down the state holding “listening sessions” and essentially trying to gin up support for its mission, some details about what they plan to recommend are beginning to leak. Here is what the CalMatters news site reports:
The California Reparations Task Force published documents Monday indicating it plans to recommend the state apologize for racism and slavery and consider “down payments” of varying amounts to eligible African American residents.
The documents, numbering more than 500 pages, do not contain an overall price tag for reparations, but they do include ways the state could calculate how much money African Americans in California have lost since 1850, when the state was established, through today due to certain government practices.
Those ways of calculation are quite stunning. Here are some of them, as reported in the CalMatters write-up:
* For mass incarceration and the over-policing of Black communities, it estimates a loss per person of $115,260, or $2,352 for each year they lived in California from 1971 to 2020, corresponding to the national War on Drugs.
* For housing discrimination, it offers two methods of loss calculation. One method based on gaps between Black and white “housing wealth” would peg losses at $145,847 per person. The other method, based on governments’ “redlining” history, including discriminatory lending and zoning, would calculate Black residents’ losses at $148,099 per person — or $3,366 for each year they lived in California from 1933 to 1977.
* For injustices and discrimination in health, it estimates $13,619 per person for each year lived in California, or $966,921 total for someone living about 71 years — the average life expectancy of Black residents in California in 2021.
The task force members, understanding that the average non-woke Californian with the slightest modicum of financial awareness would blanche at the idea of sending $350,000 to $1.2 million to each adult black resident who claims some sort of historical discrimination, are quick to insist that the dollar figures aren’t the real issue here. The real issue is that the state recognize its collective guilt and accept “dozens of policy recommendations aimed at preventing further discrimination and harm against Black residents.” These will no doubt be a toxic stew of racial grievance priorities such as race-based affirmative action (currently illegal under state law) with unspoken set-asides and quotas, billions or even trillions of dollars in state “investment” in black communities which will be administered by local politicians and community activists, and left-wing policies regarding policing, environmental justice, legal system reform, welfare policies, and the like.
This puts Greasy Governor Gavin in a sort of bind. The state is currently projected to run a $22.5 billion deficit in the budget year beginning on July 1, a number which will likely trend worse as employment in the tech sector dips and more and more upper-income residents leave the state. California Democrats relied heavily upon the strength of the tech sector and the entertainment industries during the pandemic, and that combined with the Federal Government’s blanketing all of the states with funny money gave progressives an unrealistic expectation of financial health.
Democrats now face the prospect of having to trim back the lavish promises that they so confidently made just last fall. To forestall this, leftist legislators have gone to the old standby of “borrowing” money from reserve funds and raising taxes (on corporations for now, but income tax increases won’t be far behind). The governor, who has ambitions much higher than Sacramento, has thus far rejected raising taxes and is instead courting dissent from his radical flank by going back on a promise to lower health insurance costs and reapportioning that money elsewhere.
So what I’m getting at here is that there is pretty much zero money to play Santa Clause of Reparations, yet progressives such as the grossly irresponsible Newsom have inflated expectations which they will now be called upon to meet. Republicans, a distinct minority in the capitol, can simply sit back and let the super-majority Democrats sort all of this out. If this causes heartburn for Gavin Newsom, Joe Biden, or Kamala Harris, then it is well-deserved.