In an era in which bad ideas abound, reparations must be among the worst. The state of California has nevertheless appointed a “Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans.” The study having been undertaken, reparations, in some form, must inevitably follow. It is inconceivable that the task force would study the matter for a year or two and conclude that the state should forget the whole thing.
The task force held its first public meeting in Oakland on Wednesday. The Daily Mail was there:
Deon Jenkins told the first meeting of the Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans that money given to black people in the California should be in-line with the average price of a home in the state, around $800,000.
Following that appearance at the public hearing in Oakland’s City Hall on Wednesday, Jenkins, who refers to himself as a ‘hip hop organizer’ said in an interview: ‘Either they’re going to comply or it’s going to be a serious backlash.’
I’m sure that last statement is correct. Having held out the prospect of billions or trillions in government money, there likely would be riots if the government failed to come through. But let’s take that figure of $800,000 per slave descendant.
California actually has a rather small black population of around 6.5%. Another 4.2% are mixed race; let’s assume that adds another 1.5% to the black-identifying population for a total of 8%. What percentage of that 8% are descended from at least one slave? I don’t know; most Africans have come here as immigrants, not slaves. But the slaves generally got here first. So let’s assume 70%. If you do the math, on those assumptions 5.6% of Californians would be eligible for reparations. The population of California is around 40 million, so 5.6% would be 2,240,000.
If all of those people got $800,000, it would add up to $1,792,000,000,000, or a little under $1.8 trillion. California’s annual tax revenues run to around $472 billion. So we are talking about an amount that is close to four years of the state’s gross tax revenues.
Others who appeared before the reparations task force suggested various numbers:
Also speaking on Thursday, was Rev. Tony Pierce of the Black Wall Street Project who shouted as his time for speaking ran out: ‘$230,000 is not enough!’
Another speaker, Carol Williams, who said that she lived through homelessness since moving to the state in 1985 from Memphis, stated her belief that all reparations should be tax free.
She said: ‘I consider myself a foundational black American. The reparation should be tax free, so that when we get the money the IRS won’t come after us.
‘And I’m pleading and I’m asking that when we make the decision of lineage, we save those who have been in California since 2000.’
At Wednesday’s hearing, 35-year-old entrepreneur and the first black professional tri-athlete, Max Fennell who said that every person should get $350,000 in compensation to close the racial wealth gap and Black-owned businesses should receive $250,000, which would help them to flourish.
Fennell added: ‘It’s a debt that’s owed, we worked for free,’ he said. ‘We’re not asking; we’re telling you.’
$350,000 would be more like two years of California’s gross revenue. I believe Mr. Fennell when he says that he isn’t asking California’s government, he is telling it. I seriously doubt, however, that Mr. Fennell has ever worked for free.
It is obvious that the would-be beneficiaries of reparations have never been slaves, nor have they suffered any noticeable ill-effects from the slavery of one or more forebears generations ago. It is equally obvious that California can’t possibly pay the kind of money that black activists are demanding, lest there be “a serious backlash.” California is already a grossly overtaxed state, and there is no room to double, triple, quadruple or quintuple its tax rates. If California attempted anything of that order of magnitude, most residents who are not beneficiaries of the reparations scam would sell their homes and move to a different state.
It is hard to imagine how political leaders in any state, even one as benighted as California, could have embarked on such a hopeless path. But this is where they find themselves.