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The most important government body in America right now isn’t Congress. It’s not the January 6 Committee. It might not even be the Supreme Court.
In terms of shaping the future of America, and the fate of its people, the most important body in the country is a little-noticed group dubbed the “Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans, with a Special Consideration for African Americans Who are Descendants of Persons Enslaved in the United States.” For people who aren’t nominative masochists, it is better known as the California Reparations Task Force.
And this task force is dreaming big.
California might seem like an odd place to start looking for race-based reparations. California was a free state from the moment that it entered the Union in 1850. It desegregated schools years before Brown v. Board and it repealed Jim Crow laws well before many other states.
Nevertheless, a state that never had slaves is moving as quickly as it can to take money from people who never owned slaves to give it away to people who never were slaves. And the price tag is going to be steep.
The clock is ticking for the California Reparations Task Force, which has six months until it must submit its final, groundbreaking report to lawmakers and has already tallied a partial estimate of nearly half a million dollars that Black descendants of slaves could be owed.
Professors acting as economic consultants for the body have calculated dollar amounts for three of the five main harms to Black people that the task force is zeroing in on: $223,239 for housing discrimination and redlining; $124,678 for mass incarceration; $127,226 per year of life expectancy for health harms, for a total of $475,123. The other two harms for which a calculation is not yet available are devaluation of Black businesses and unjust property taking.
$475,000 for every black Californian! For those wondering, with 2.25 million black Californians, that’s a total of at least $1.069 trillion. And they haven’t finished tallying yet! The number is going to get higher!
In six months, an official government body in California is going to officially recommend remaking the state’s entire governing apparatus in order to confiscate trillions of dollars from some residents of the state, in order to redistribute it to other residents, based on an ad-hoc calculation of long-ago harms.
When this final report is delivered, plenty of conservative news outlets will have a field day. They will bash it for the ratings and ridicule it as the latest excess of those crazy libs.
We want to emphasize something very important: Reparations are not throwaway cable news fodder. This isn’t a case of a few left-wingers coming up with a funny idea that the rest of the country can laugh at. Reparations are coming. Methodically, gradually, with stalls and setbacks. But still they come. And if patriots and conservatives don’t start thinking — right now — about how to stop them instead of just mocking them, it will be too late.
The idea of reparations for the descendants of American slaves has been cropping up for decades. In 2014, a few months before Michael Brown’s death, Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote a “Case for Reparations” in The Atlantic that went viral; NYU’s journalism school later named it the “Top Work of Journalism of the Decade.”
But since a certain counterfeiter’s fentanyl-fueled death on a Minneapolis street in 2020, reparations fever has broken out all over the country. Every day, the momentum builds.
In the well-off Chicago suburb of Evanston, reparations have been on the menu since 2020. The Evanston “Restorative Housing Program” seeks to compensate anyone deemed a victim of housing policies the city had from 1919 through 1969. Anyone who can prove him or herself to be the direct descendant of a black person who lived in Evanston during those years may apply to receive $25,000 from the city to spend on a mortgage, down payment, or improvements for a home in the city of Evanston.
In Asheville, North Carolina, the city council approved reparations for black residents in 2020, though implementation has been a challenge. Some consultant managed to pocket about $400,000 advising the city on how to spend. Nevertheless, the city (and surrounding Buncombe County) are forging ahead. The long-term plan isn’t to settle on a one-off reparations payout either, but instead to have an ongoing annual reparations bill in perpetuity.
On December 14, Boston’s City Council voted to create its own task force to investigate reparations for the city’s role in slavery, even though Massachusetts abolished slavery prior to the ratification of the U.S. Constitution. That same day, the town of Greenbelt, Maryland announced its own 21-member reparations commission.
But it is in California that reparations fever is most advanced and most dangerous. Assembly Bill 3121’s task force is the one putting in the work to lend a fig leaf of ideological legitimacy to one of the largest wealth plunders in history.
The four economic consultants calculated that each Black Californian who lived in the state between 1933 and 1977 experienced a “housing wealth gap” of $223,239, or $5,074 for each year in the period. The experts said that number — which is the difference between the average value of all homes in California and the value of Black-owned homes — could be considered for reparations.
Such calculations are far from final, the consultants said, and there is no total estimate, though it is based on all 2.5 million Black California residents today, they said. The consultants said they haven’t calculated how many people would qualify for each type of reparation.
The consultants are William Darity, an economics professor, and A. Kirsten Mullen, a researcher, both at Duke University in Durham, N.C.; Kaycea Campbell, an economics professor at Pierce College in Los Angeles; and William Spriggs, chief economist for the AFL-CIO and a Howard University professor.
For another example of injustice, mass incarceration, the consultants calculated potential income lost by incarcerated Black Californians from 1971, the beginning of then-President Richard Nixon’s announced “War on Drugs,” until today. The economists pointed to many studies showing Black people were incarcerated far beyond their numbers in the general population.
Without discussing guilt or innocence, the economic consultants estimated that incarcerated Black residents were out $124,678, or $2,494 a year, for unpaid prison labor and years of lost income.
In case you’re wondering, yes, all four of those economic consultants are black as well. And naturally, there are unlimited ways ones could nitpick their calculations. For instance, given that actual crime rates are not equal between races even today, why should extra incarceration for blacks be treated as a basis of reparations? But to try and make nitpicks like this is to lose the game before it starts. We cannot attempt to be factual and logical about what is ultimately an emotional project, else we concede legitimacy to what is just a naked smash and grab.
Through sheer repetition, and with the moral cudgel of 2020’s “racial reckoning” and its aftermath, reparations have gone from unimaginable to very, very imagined. Slowly, inexorably, support for racial reparations has become a majority position in the Democratic Party:
Watch the #overtonwindow shift:
Democrat support for paying reparations:
2018 – 32%
2019 – 37%
2021 – 47%
2022 – 60%
— Rasmussen Reports (@Rasmussen_Poll) December 8, 2022
This shift among Democrats hasn’t happened in a vacuum. As Democrats have lurched in favor of reparations, they have dragged Independents with them. Just four years ago, reparations were about as popular with independents as pancreatic cancer. Now, more than a third of independents support them:
Independent support for paying reparations:
2018 – 8%
2019 – 14%
2021 – 20%
2022 – 35% https://t.co/Ku6MCWefUn
— Rasmussen Reports (@Rasmussen_Poll) December 8, 2022
Even Republicans, predictably, have let themselves be dragged as well, with nearly one-in-five now backing reparations.
Even Republicans aren't immune:
Republican voter support for reparations:
2018 – 9%
2019 – 8%
2022 – 18% https://t.co/QrpYrSBGeD
— Rasmussen Reports (@Rasmussen_Poll) December 8, 2022
Anyone who has been around the block of U.S. politics can now feel the knot in his stomach, the pit of dread as he realizes what is already inevitable. Having reached majority support among Democrats, it is just a matter of time before reparations support is mandatory for party members, as has already been the case with gay marriage, or transvestite mania, or de facto open borders with Mexico. And once that has happened, independents and conservatives will be dragged along. They will be menaced with threats of cancellation, or mollified with takes like “The Conservative Case for Reparations.” Hey, wait, that already exists!
You can already imagine the seductive lies that will be told: “Why not just accept reparations and get it over with? With reparations, we can finally bury the hatchet and stop obsessing about the past.”
Anybody who falls for this kind of lie will deserve what happens to them. Reparations is emphatically not going to end as a single one-off payment to settle all historical debts. Reparations will end up as a permanent regime, with some groups perpetually benefiting, and other perpetually paying up, to compensate for some long-ago evil whose harm has been declared effectively (or literally) infinite. It is not about creating equality, but mandating permanent inequality — a caste system defined by one’s descent from supposed historical victims and supposed historical evildoers.
It doesn’t take much thought to realize why this is so. Does anybody for one moment believe that a grant of $223,000, or $500,000, or even $1 million to every black American would solve the dysfunctions that afflict American blacks?
Just look at the trillions of dollars spent on the Great Society since the 1960s, which might themselves be considered a mode of “reparations.” Despite all that spending and effort by millions of well-intentioned teachers and social workers and philanthropists and urban planners, the dysfunction remains. In many places, it is worse than it was half a century ago. Would another few trillion in lump-sum do anything different?
Even reparations advocates have openly said this. In his “Case for Reparations” article in 2014, Ta-Nehisi Coates suggested that American might realize it can “never fully repay” blacks for what happened. A 2020 academic paper, meanwhile, suggested that the “value of lost freedom” combined with a 6% annual interest rate led to a reparations figure of $16 quadrillion dollars, roughly $151 million per slavery descendant and, notably, more than 13 times greater than all the wealth on planet Earth.
This reality has also been hinted at by at least one member of the California reparations task force itself:
The Reparations Task Force is also calling for the creation of a Bureau of African American affairs, similar to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Leaving a warehouse-sized door opened on the bottom line, Reparations task force member Jovan Scott Lewis said: “Spoiler-alert: We don’t yet know the racial wealth gap in the state of California. This is the preliminary conversation to figure out what we know and what we don’t know.”
By framing reparations in terms of the “racial wealth gap,” Lewis is teeing up what is, essentially, permanent reparations. The standard is the racial wealth gap: Reparations must be enough to wipe this gap out, and it follows that if said gap re-emerged, then more reparations are necessary.
Even if one doesn’t describe reparations as literally infinite, it’s very unlikely that any government can afford a single one-off transfer payment to “pay off” the supposed debt. So instead, any form of reparations implemented is likely to come in the form of an annual payout, made again and again until the supposed debt is “paid off.”
And that will be the trick: Because once these reparations begin, they will never stop. America will instead be entrenched into a permanent legal caste arrangement: Some people will receive payments, and others will pay out, based on skin color, forever.
Such an amount could never actually be paid, and in a sense, that’s the idea. The natural response to such a figure, for those who take reparations seriously, is that black Americans (and perhaps even the foreign-born) should simply be paid money every year, forever and ever, simply for being black.
In a sense, then, California already has a reparations regime. At this very moment, the state is expanding a welfare program that is available for black women and only black women.
A guaranteed income program that provides monthly checks to Black pregnant women in San Francisco will expand to other counties in California.
The Abundant Birth Project began in June 2021 to serve pregnant women with $1,000 monthly payments over 12 months to 150 people. The program is intended to “reduce the racial birth disparities by easing economic stress.”
“This guaranteed income program helps ease some of the financial burdens that all too often keep mothers from being able to prioritize their own health and ultimately impact the health of their babies and family,” San Francisco Mayor London Breed said in a statement. “We hope the Abundant Birth Project serves as a model to address racial birth disparities throughout the region and state, and across the country.”
The Abundant Birth Project isn’t the only blacks-only or blacks-first program currently being operated in California. The Black Economic Equity Movement offers $500/month payments that are available only to “Black young adults,” all financed by taxpayers through the National Institutes of Health. Creating permanent reparations in California will just be a matter of expanding systems that already exist, not creating them from scratch.
And that is what is going to happen, unless all of this is scuttled right now. So, what can patriots actually do? We certainly don’t control California, or Asheville or Boston or Evanston, Illinois.
But what Republicans do have is judges. Most importantly, for the time being Republican appointees hold a majority on the Supreme Court. That same court might be on the brink of striking down racially discriminatory college admissions nationwide.
But conservatives on the Supreme Court are rarely bold leaders or innovators, whether it’s in policy, constitutional law, or anywhere else. The chances that the Supreme Court will deliver a decisive ruling crushing reparations and all their spin-offs, now and for the foreseeable future, are low — unless the ideological momentum for such a rulings starts to be built now.
That means writing articles — like this one. That means openly calling out reparations as the unconstitutional cash grab that it is. But most important of all, that means filing lawsuits where reparations are starting to gain traction.The Abundant Birth Program mentioned above has been operating for some time. Both it and the Black Economic Equity Movement are using public funds for what is, explicitly, racially discriminatory purposes. Yet no legal challenge has been brought against them yet.
The time to do that is now. Reparations must be turned into a smoldering crater by the courts now. Because in just a few years, they will be too “mainstream” to stop. The “conservative case for reparations” will have won. And patriotic Americans will have to meekly accept their spot at the bottom of a new racial caste system.