Make Gavin Newsom own his reparations committee report
Any document that begins with the premise that “racist” laws and policies “cumulatively created this nation” is bound to be a divisive incoherent mess. But Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) has been the key cheerleader of the California Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans, and he should be held politically accountable for every terrible idea in the commission’s final report.
It is tempting to look for a top-line number in a report on reparations and then stop reading. In this case, the California reparations task force settled on a $1.2 million upfront payment for each descendant of enslaved persons.
But that million would just be a down payment. Descendants would also be eligible for guaranteed income for life as well as subsidized housing down payments and discounted mortgages. Newsom’s task force recommends nothing less than a never-ending gravy train of free money — but only for one group of people, forever.
Taken by itself, even a one-time payment to people who have never been enslaved is immensely and justifiably unpopular. A poll taken just last month by the University of Massachusetts found that 65% of adults opposed reparations compared to just 35% who supported them. That poll didn’t even include additional lifetime free money.
The task force payment plan is insane, and California has no way to afford such an immense financial equipment. But the report also includes over 100 separate policy proposals that are almost all as harmful.
Some by themselves would be good policy if they weren’t applied on racial lines. For example, the task force calls for expanded access to career and technical education. This is a good idea. Not everybody should go to a four-year college. But being the racists they are, the task force members limit the program to descendants of slaves only.
Many of the policies recommended by the task force are just plain terrible even if they were to be applied not on a segregated basis. These include the repeal of California’s death penalty, an end to cash bail, repeal of crime-free housing policies, and decriminalization of public transit fare evasion, illegal camping, public drunkenness, disorderly conduct, and trespass. To the extent that San Francisco and Los Angeles are already crime-ridden, homeless encampment hell holes covered in human excrement, the task force would ensure the rest of the state was just as inhospitable.
The reality is that California used to be one of the best places in the country for black families to live. Between 1940 and 1980, the black population of California grew from just 2% to almost 8%. This is even more impressive considering that at the time California’s entire population more than doubled.
But then something happened in the Golden State, and it is not that California’s laws and policies suddenly got more racist. In the past three decades, the black population of California has shrunk, and the emigration to other states has been worst in the bluest of Democratic cities. Black neighborhoods in Compton fell by 45%, in San Francisco by 43%, and in Oakland by 40%.
If white supremacy isn’t causing the mass exodus of black families from California, what is? One hint may be found in the state’s recent “Scoping Plan for Achieving Carbon Neutrality” report, which found that proposed climate policies would cause black households “to experience reduced income.”
From environmental regulations and carbon taxes to stringent labor laws, California’s ruling Democratic Party has for decades been making the state a very expensive place to live. Maybe instead of proposing hugely unpopular guaranteed income for life on a racist basis, Democrats would be better served by making the state an affordable place to live for everyone.