Our western neighbors are about to undertake a gigantic political and socioeconomic experiment to fund the movement that launched the 2020 summer protests.
California is now one of 12 states looking to mass-transfer wealth to black communities, aimed at addressing historical wrongs against African-Americans.
Momentum for reparations drew strength from the gale caused by the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. connected to
Reparations have always been a slow sell, but the Black Lives Matter movement is giving it new impetus, and social justice Democrats say the time is now.
They are walking on unstable ground.
Reparations could cost California billions
The political struggle they seek in one of our bluest states may not yield the results they expect. In fact, it’s hard to see how they could do with the level of compensation they currently envision.
A reparations loss in the country’s most populous and diverse state could deal a severe blow to the movement nationwide and strike death knell on the identity politics Democrats have practiced for decades. .
In 2020, the Golden State’s push for reparations took off anew when progressive Governor Gavin Newsom created the Reparations Task Force.
The nine-member panel is collecting data statewide and plans to submit a report next year to the California legislature with recommendations for action.
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Last week, the task force released estimates of compensation owed to Black Californians for housing discrimination practices from 1933 to 1977. That potential price tag is $569 billion for him or $223,200 per person, reports The New York Times.
high. And on first impression, massive overreach.
But housing discrimination is just the price. The task force is considering four other areas of cash compensation: mass incarceration, unjustified property seizures, devaluation of black businesses, and health care, reports The New York Times.
Before we know these additional price tags, The Times called the California reparations project “the most ambitious effort yet to reparate the economic legacy of slavery and racism.”
Its diversity can be a major obstacle
California seems like the ideal political environment to try out such a proposal. Democrats have ruled the state for decades and the Republican Party is losing power.
Additionally, California is the most diverse state in the country, with no racial or ethnic group making up the majority, according to the California Institute of Public Policy. According to the U.S. Census, California’s population is 40.2% Latino, 35.2% White, 16.4% Asian American or Pacific Islander, 6.5% Black, and 1.7% Native American or Alaska Native.
Asians, not Latinos, are now the fastest growing ethnic group in the state, according to the US Census.
But the figures suggest that California could pose a serious obstacle to the notion that the government pays marginalized groups for historical wrongs.
Reparations are very unpopular in America, according to a 2021 Pew Research Center study. He was opposed by 68% of all Americans and only 30% supported it.
A Pew survey found that African Americans support reparations between 77% and 17%. But other groups, including whites (18% to 80%), Hispanics (39% to 58%), and Asian Americans (33% to 65%), strongly disagree.
States lack cash to fight today’s problems
Due to such opposition from other large ethnic groups, and the underrepresentation of blacks in the state (13.6% nationally compared to 6.5% of the California population), Blue State California has sought compensation and It can be a bulwark against identity politics that informs it.
In fact, just two years ago, Californians overwhelmingly defeated Proposition 16, which would allow state and local governments to use race and gender as factors in public college admissions, government jobs, and contracts. I was.
The results were not so great. The so-called affirmative action proposal fell by a margin of 57% to 43%, even though its supporters outnumbered his opponents by 14 to 1. .
The problem is not that Americans do not recognize the historical evils of slavery and Jim Crow. Represents a part. Humanity must never forget the possibility of atrocities and oppression, especially on a large scale.
The problem is that we live in an era of limited resources when we cannot afford to deal with all the problems of the present, let alone the past.
California is currently facing a $25 billion budget deficit. “Tax revenues have fallen below projections every month this fiscal year, and layoffs at high-profile tech companies like Lyft, Meta and Twitter have fueled economic pessimism across the state,” he reports Politico. .
Many economists predict a recession in 2023. That, combined with today’s inflation, could pose a major challenge for the Treasury.
What happens when identity politics collide
As the 2020 summer protests grew larger, sometimes escalating into riots in major cities across the country, many Americans wanted to understand the political philosophies driving them. That move can be confusing. It is multifaceted and amorphous. No central leadership.
It goes by various names such as “Awakening,” “Social Justice,” and “Black Lives Matter,” and its critics call it a “successor ideology.” It existed before the death of George Floyd and began to develop a clearer outline of the cause with its aspirations and demands.
Because it is built on liberal identity politics and informed by “intersectionality,” an analytical framework that examines how identities based on discrimination and oppression overlap, gay black women They face more obstacles in society than straight white men.
In a recent podcast titled “The Woke Reformation,” Stanford and Harvard economist and historian Neil Ferguson said he believes Wakeism is doomed to collapse.
“I feel part of the problem with the wake project is that it’s inherently divisive,” says Ferguson. “Intersectionality ultimately pits different minority groups against each other. victim hierarchy“
Ferguson’s observations are more than theory. You can see it in readers’ reactions to the New York Times article on California reparations. The Democratic Party and its competing interests in identity politics are clashing in a Times story chat.
See how readers react
Note that 91% of The New York Times readership is “Democrat or Democrat,” according to a 2019 study by the Pew Research Center. Few people spoke positively about the effort.
Here are some of the comments:
“You forgot to mention…Do the Latinos who owned Cali before America privatized have to pay?”
“What about compensation for Native Americans who lost so much land and were exposed to genocide?”
“I hope that California will compensate the hundreds of thousands of Asians and their American-born descendants (mainly Chinese, Japanese and Filipinos) who will come to California to work and live a better life. but have been defrauded of their property, good schooling, jobs, and in some cases their lives.
“Let’s make amends to women who are not paid for the same work that men do, regardless of color, religion or age.”
“My brothers and sisters are third generation Americans born here long after the Civil War. Our great grandparents came here from Europe and Imperial Russia in the late 1800s. They Came here penniless and didn’t own slaves, now you’re saying that our children and grandchildren must make amends for the wrongs of slavery and the Jim Crow laws of the South. It’s as wrong as slavery, it’s terrible.
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“This kind of wake-up nonsense disgusts me. FYI, I’m not a Republican.”
“We are pursuing policies like this to help the Democrats lose the election. We need Democrats in Congress (outside of California) to make bold statements against this reparations effort. Of course, we also have consideration for the black community.”
“And now, Republicans, Fox News, and the right-wing Internet ecosystem have the latest and greatest culture war wedge problem. It prevents working- and middle-class voters from focusing on the economic dominance of the Democratic Party.”
For Democrats, the gist is:
Pursue this enormous transfer of wealth and use it to right the wrongs of the past at the expense of today’s underfunded schools, roads and health care, and California will be compensated. It may soon prove to be not the promised land of identity politics.
That’s where they go to die.
Phil Boas is an editorial columnist. You can contact him at his email@example.com.