San Francisco

This week, the San Francisco African American Reparations Advisory Committee released a report calling on the city to pay every black resident $5 million and absolve all of their outstanding personal debt. Their rationale was broad — as it had to be, since California was founded as a free state: “While neither San Francisco, nor California, formally adopted the institution of chattel slavery, the tenets of segregation, white supremacy and systematic repression and exclusion of Black people were codified through legal and extralegal actions, social codes, and judicial enforcement.”

This rationale serves as the same sort of catchall term as “equity,” widely beloved by the political Left. It conflates specific harms from deliberate policies — which deserve redress — with vague societal ills that indirectly and unverifiably impact the specific life paths of individuals. Thus, every inequality between blacks and whites, for example, becomes an instance of societal failure, to be cured with social engineering.

This is bad ethics, and it is bad social science. It’s bad ethics because the innocent should not be forced to pay people against whom they have not sinned, and because the connection between continued suffering and past discrimination must be measured and clarified rather than merely assumed. It’s bad social science because it ignores the role of individual decision-making in persistent intergenerational inequality, despite the massive intervention of state, local and federal government.

Simply put, the preferred solution of San Francisco’s reparations committee — simply cutting checks — has been a dramatic failure in the United States. In 1965, speaking at Howard University, President Lyndon Baines Johnson explained that he wanted to pursue a program of widespread redistributionism in order to right the racial wrongs of the past: “You do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say, ‘you are free to compete with all the others,’ and still justly believe that you have been completely fair.”

To that end, the federal government has spent in excess of $25 trillion on redistribution programs in the United States. The result has been exceedingly poor: While the income gap ratio between the poorest quintile of Americans and the wealthiest quintile of Americans post-transfer payments and taxes is just 4-to-1, the wealth gap between black and white Americans has skyrocketed from approximately $50,000 pre-1960 to well over $130,000 in 2016. Why? Because it turns out that public policy designed to alleviate inequality can also alleviate the consequences of bad decision-making. If we assume that all inequality is inequity, then solving inequality should alleviate inequity — but if it turns out that a great deal of inequality is the result of bad decision-making, then inequality cannot be solved by simply helicoptering money to those at the bottom end of the economic ladder.

And yet the Left continues to do precisely that. Then they wonder why intergenerational wealth creation has not narrowed the racial gap. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that 70% of black children are born to unwed mothers; nearly 8 out of 100 black males drop out of school; black college students tend to major in subjects that result in worse job prospects (just 12% of black students get a bachelor’s degree in STEM, compared with 33% of Asian students and 18% of white students, for example); one-third of the American prison population is black.

It is possible to blame all of this on systemic evil, but any fixes will have to come at the level of individuals making good and responsible decisions. Cutting checks won’t fix this. But such a policy recommendation makes for excellent demagoguery: It allows those who promote foolish and failed ideas to revel in their own supposed altruism, all while helping no one.

Ben Shapiro, 38, is a graduate of UCLA and Harvard Law School, host of “The Ben Shapiro Show,” and co-founder of Daily Wire+. He is a three-time New York Times bestselling author; his latest book is “The Authoritarian Moment: How The Left Weaponized America’s Institutions Against Dissent.” To find out more about Ben Shapiro and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2023 CREATORS.COM.

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Stephen Russell
6 days ago

How about reparations for:
Crime Victims of repeat crimes in area
Police stress?
Theft during storms, evacuations

Jamey
6 days ago

Such a process not only endorses hard-over socialism, taking wealth from one group of people who earned it, and giving it to another group of people who did NOT, it also reaffirms the old adage that the Negro is still the “White Man’s Burden”, a moniker that was so popular in the middle 1800s. It is, indeed, time to put all American citizens on a level playing field, both economically and legally, and make all these citizens responsible for themselves and their dependents – and NOT some stranger with no economic or familial relationship.

Ell Jay
6 days ago

This will only lead to the next “reparation” handout and spread like a plague over the country!

Roy L Duncan III
6 days ago

This kind of thinking is beyond dumb. Administratively, it would be an absolute can of worms. It’s unaffordable. It solves nothing. And in California, would Gov. Newsome issue reparations to Native Americans who had their lands appropriated and were abused by THE CHURCH?

r m
5 days ago

I would care less if I read in the paper Gov Newsome had a good heart attack or stroke…..

6 days ago

IF ANYONE DESERVES REPARATION ,IT IS THE NATIVE AMERICANS, WHO’S LAND GOT STOLEN AND WORSE. THESE CHILDREN GO HUNGRY EVERY DAY. BUT OUR GOVERNMENT RATHER TELLS MILLIONS OF ILLEGALS TO COME, SUPPORTS THEM, EVEN SO THEY ARE LAW BRAKERS, CRIMINALS , WE DO NOT WANT OR NEED THEM HERE.SO LET US TALK ABOUT HUMITARIAN FEELINGS, GIVE TO THE PEOPLE THIS COUNTRY ABUSED . ALSO BY THE CHURCH.TALK ABOUT REPARATION. THESE PEOPLE DESERVE IT , I THINK THEY ARE FIRST IN LINE TO GET HELP, IT IS LONG OVERDUE.

Nate
6 days ago

Reparations. My family ancestors were slaves and I’ve never received one penny, maybe your family was too? Mine were forced to build pyramids in Egypt, all twelve tribes!

Stan Stanfield
5 days ago

This is extortion. Pure and simple. It is immoral. Plus, it is being pushed as part of a concerted effort by Marxists to create a state of Crisis in the country in order to give them the Opportunity to overthrow the existing order and fasten their totalitarian rule on the citizenry, a la Red China. This push is going to end badly, if it isn’t stopped. Here. And Now.

5 days ago

Why are Asians not included? What about the indentured Irish and other euros? Does this mean that Egypt has to pay Jews for hundreds of years of slavery? What about Italy hav got to pay all Europeans for the slavery of the Roman Empire? How about all the Muslims having to pay their slaves that continue on to this day? Come on idiots, stop the bs

5 days ago

And then racism will be over?