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California's reparations scam: Michael Jackson's kids would get payouts

By Horace Cooper
web posted May 22, 2023

In 2020 the California legislature passed AB 3121 which created a 9-person task force to study California's "complicity in slavery." The task force would also be authorized to make recommendations to the state legislature about payments – also known as reparations.

Even if one could prove the dubious theory that the economic state of Blacks today is a result of America's legacy of slavery, the state of California wouldn't be the first place or even the second place to focus on this slavery.  Since 1850 when California became a state its Constitution expressly forbid slavery, and it never supported the Confederacy during the Civil War.

It turns out that though California didn't promote slavery, today it is one of the places willing to entertain bad ideas, however.

Rather than focus on how California's poor public schools have failed poor Blacks and white alike? Or how its anti-business regulatory climate has eroded the ability of its poorer residents to climb out of poverty and into the middle class, elites in the state have moved to distract disadvantaged voters with the reparations con.

This high-stakes con game will prove no more beneficial to Blacks in California than the typical recipients of the Nigerian Prince email scam.

The Reparations Task Force has already pledged that nearly 80 percent of California's 2.6 million Black residents will be granted reparations. The task force cannot achieve this goal – even if it was legal, which it is not.

First, the math simply doesn't work. Consider: if all of the 'eligible' Blacks in California were merely given $1000 in reparations the cost to California would exceed $2 billion.  But that compensation would in no way equal the staggering claims made by the racial alarmists that push for reparations. $1,000 would be a pittance of the injuries that they claim that blacks have faced in California.

Using questionable calculations that wouldn't get a passing grade in junior high, the task force has estimated that the "compounded" injury to Blacks that have lived their entire lives in California would equal 100k for every year of their residency in the state.  Consider, for just one year of reparations using this measure, the state would be on the hook for $200 billion – out of a 300 billion state budget as of 2022.  The median age of Blacks in California is 36.5.  When you factor in that median age payouts equal nearly a trillion.  There is no scenario where this will occur.

Second, who should receive payments? Per the decision of the task force, only Blacks who are descendants of slavery are eligible. Persons born outside of the U.S. aren't eligible.

But should all others be eligible? What about Michael Jackson's kids? Should his oldest son Michael "Prince" Joseph Jackson, Jr. receive a payment? Using the online calculator set up by the reparations task force he'd be eligible for a half a million payout. This despite there being no evidence that he has ever faced discrimination because he is the son of a black man. And the same is true for his siblings. Yet the task force would also award the three more than a cool million. In fact, the task force hasn't set up any criteria other than race for eligibility. Has in fact every black descendant of slavery suffered injury? The task force says yes, but they present no evidence to prove their claims.

Merely being black is a sufficient basis for getting a payment per the task force.  But who is Black? Do recipients self-select and declare themselves black? Will California restore the odious "one drop rule" and decide that any black descendant is sufficient to make someone black? Alternatively, will the state of California use visual inspectors a la Plessy v Ferguson to sort out who is who? Or must recipients submit DNA samples to show their heritage?

Whatever method California adopts is fraught with danger. As a melting pot nation, black Americans have intermarried at higher and higher rates over the last 100 years and not every one of those children born of such unions identify as black.  Increasingly Americans of all stripes identify as other proving that forcing people to choose being only black is completely unworkable.

Finally, the task forces objectives are illegal. Courts are highly skeptical of any public policy effort that relies primarily on race to provide a benefit or detriment.  There was a time when "separate but equal" was the law of the land. But that ruling was overturned and today after a long line of rulings starting with Brown v. Board of Education, even modest raced-based policies are highly scrutinized.

In order to succeed, claimants must do two things – show evidence that they have specifically been injured and to what extent.  And they must identify a specific party that has injured them. Courts won't allow claimants to identify an amorphous "they" as the source of their harm nor can a claimant argue that their poverty is proof of injury. All of this must occur in a Court. When and if these elements exist, nothing stops any Black American today from pursuing those claims.

It is precisely because these requirements can't be met that the reparations scam is so attractive.

The reparations plan in California will never be implemented. But its purpose, like the Nigerian prince email, isn't to actually enrich anyone except its proponents, but instead the scheme relies on greed, division and fear to ensure that Black voters ignore their own agency and blindly follow the efforts of those pushing the scam.  There's no Nigerian prince and there will be no million-dollar payout. ESR

Horace Cooper is Chairman of Project 21 and a senior fellow with the National Center for Public Policy Research. This was first published at FoxNews.com and reprinted with the kind permission of Project 21.

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