U.S.

California’s Illogical Reparations Bill

(rschlie/Getty Images)
Newsom and lawmakers virtue-signal while failing utterly to address the state’s current crises.

California’s state legislature just passed, and Governor Gavin Newsom signed, Assembly Bill 3121 to explore providing reparations to California’s African-American population — 155 years after the abolition of slavery.

Apparently, when California’s one-party government cannot find solutions to current existential crises, it turns to divisive issues that have little to do with the safety and well-being of its 40 million citizens.

California has the highest gas taxes in the nation, even as its ossified state highways remain clogged and dangerous. Why, then, does Sacramento kept pouring billions of dollars into the now-calcified high-speed-rail project?

When fires raged, killed dozens, polluted the air for months, consumed thousands of structures, and scorched 4 million acres of forest, the governor reacted by thundering about global warming. But Newsom was mostly mute about state and federal green policies that discouraged the removal of millions of dead and drought-stricken trees, which provided the kindling for the infernos.

When gasoline, sales, and income taxes rose, and yet state schools became even worse, infrastructure remained decrepit, and deficits grew, California demanded that federal COVID-19 money bail out its own financial mismanagement.

In a time of pandemic, mass quarantine, self-induced recession, riot, arson, and looting, the California way is to borrow money to spend on something that will not address why residents can’t find a job, can’t rely on their power grid, can’t drive safely, can’t breathe the air, can’t ensure a high-quality education for their children, and can’t walk the streets of the state’s major cities without fear of being assaulted or stepping in excrement.

So it is a poor time to discuss reparations, even if there were good reasons to borrow to pay out such compensation. But in fact there are none.

Four points:

One, California was admitted to the Union in 1850 as a free state. Its moral insistence 170 years ago that slavery be outlawed precipitated a crisis — and almost sparked the Civil War ten years before it actually began. Despite the efforts of some slave-owning arrivals into California, there was never legal slavery in the state.

Two, about 27 percent of California residents were not born in the United States. Most of the naturalized citizens and undocumented immigrants arrived in the state after the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964. How, then, do California residents from Asia, Latin America, or Europe owe reparations to the current 6.5 percent of the state’s population that is African American?

Are we to establish a precedent that those who never owned slaves in a society that has no memory of slavery are to redistribute billions of their dollars to those whose grandparents were never slaves?

Three, in a multiethnic, multiracial California — where those identifying as white are a minority, and those of mixed ancestries number in the millions — how does the state adjudicate who owes what to whom?

Is an arriving Mexican immigrant a victim of institutionalized racism in Mexico, or was he part of a Mexican establishment notorious for its racism? In a multiracial state, will we adopt ancient “one drop” Confederate race laws to determine whose DNA qualifies someone for state money?

Should the state pay reparations to the descendants of Jews who fled the Holocaust, of Cambodians who fled Pol Pot’s reign of death, of Armenians who escaped Ottoman barbarity, or of Irish and Chinese who were worked to death on the Transcontinental Railroad?

Four, how will borrowing money to pay some 2 million to 3 million of the state’s 40 million residents make things easier for the African-American population? And are multimillionaire state residents such as LeBron James, Oprah Winfrey, Kanye West, Jay-Z and Beyoncé eligible?

Did it mean nothing that trillions of dollars have been spent over the last half-century on anti-poverty programs, state entitlements, and diversity and inclusion programs?

If per capita economic parity for the black population is truly the state’s concern, then why not allow more charter schools in California’s inner cities? Or deregulate the state’s cumbersome bureaucracy to give small businesses more opportunity and reduce resistance to building low-income housing?

It is said that California fails because its wealthy elites virtue-signal their caring to square the circle of their own impotence to solve the problems in their midst. Californians who live in gated homes often damn walls on the border. Those who depend on imported water damn water transference for agriculture. Those who put their children in private academies damn public charter schools. And those who raise taxes on the middle class have tax experts to find ways of avoiding taxes.

In that context, Assembly Bill 3121 can be understood — as a loud virtue signal to make up for failed responses to concrete crises.

© 2020 Tribune Content Agency, LLC

 

Most Popular

Searching for a Sign

I’ve been waiting for almost six months to see a Biden-Harris yard sign in my neighborhood. Finally one -- just one -- appeared about two weeks ago. It is large and proud. The homeowners even equipped it with a spotlight, so that it is visible at night. I’m surprised, because liberal political yard signs ... Read More

Searching for a Sign

I’ve been waiting for almost six months to see a Biden-Harris yard sign in my neighborhood. Finally one -- just one -- appeared about two weeks ago. It is large and proud. The homeowners even equipped it with a spotlight, so that it is visible at night. I’m surprised, because liberal political yard signs ... Read More
White House

Hell, Yes

Editor’s Note: If you would like to read more pros and cons on voting for President Trump, further essays on the subject, each from a different perspective, can be found here, here, here, here, and here. These articles, and the one below, reflect the views of the individual authors, not of the National ... Read More
White House

Hell, Yes

Editor’s Note: If you would like to read more pros and cons on voting for President Trump, further essays on the subject, each from a different perspective, can be found here, here, here, here, and here. These articles, and the one below, reflect the views of the individual authors, not of the National ... Read More
Media

About That ‘Uncoverable’ Biden Story

Journalists claim they can’t cover the New York Post’s Hunter Biden email scoop because the underlying evidence has yet to been verified. Also, they won’t look for any verifying evidence because there isn’t enough evidence. It’s quite the conundrum. Because other than the now-corroborated emails, ... Read More
Media

About That ‘Uncoverable’ Biden Story

Journalists claim they can’t cover the New York Post’s Hunter Biden email scoop because the underlying evidence has yet to been verified. Also, they won’t look for any verifying evidence because there isn’t enough evidence. It’s quite the conundrum. Because other than the now-corroborated emails, ... Read More

Another Pollster Sees a Trump Win

The Trafalgar Group’s Robert Cahaly is an outlier among pollsters in that he thinks President Trump will carry Michigan, Pennsylvania, or both, and hence be reelected with roughly 280 electoral votes. (I explained his thinking here.) Last week another pollster, Jim Lee of Susquehanna Polling and Research, ... Read More

Another Pollster Sees a Trump Win

The Trafalgar Group’s Robert Cahaly is an outlier among pollsters in that he thinks President Trump will carry Michigan, Pennsylvania, or both, and hence be reelected with roughly 280 electoral votes. (I explained his thinking here.) Last week another pollster, Jim Lee of Susquehanna Polling and Research, ... Read More
Economics

Dire Rates: The Biden Tax Plan

Despite the whopping 33.1 percent increase in third-quarter GDP, the economy is on extremely thin ice. GDP is currently about 3.5 percent below where it started in January, a drop that, if it happened all of a sudden, would signal the terrifying start of a deep recession. To be sure, policymakers should be ... Read More
Economics

Dire Rates: The Biden Tax Plan

Despite the whopping 33.1 percent increase in third-quarter GDP, the economy is on extremely thin ice. GDP is currently about 3.5 percent below where it started in January, a drop that, if it happened all of a sudden, would signal the terrifying start of a deep recession. To be sure, policymakers should be ... Read More