California’s Reparations Task Force and the Huge Price Tag of Racial Wealth Redress
The racial wealth divide between Black and white Americans has been a major issue for decades. The median African-American household has just 6% of the wealth of the median white-American household, according to the Institute for Policy Studies in 2020. This is a lower percentage than four decades prior.
In response to ancestral slavery and associated injustices, California has become the first U.S. state to create a Task Force to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African Americans. The Task Force has proposed paying out $5 million to every eligible African-American adult living in San Francisco. Two tax planning lawyers have shared their perspectives on how to pay for these reparations.
The rationale for reparations is that past prejudice, and ongoing “systemic” racism, have resulted in Blacks not achieving as much as other Americans. Reparations would help to create a more equitable society by ensuring that Black people in the Golden State have the same average income and wealth as other residents.
However, the proposal carries a huge potential price tag for the city. Giving $5 million to all Black residents of San Francisco would cost the city a total of roughly $232,332,285,000. Additionally, the Hoover Institution, a conservative think tank, estimates that $5 million for every eligible Black adult in the city would amount to $175 billion, significantly more than the city budget of $14 billion yearly.
Apart from the $5 million installments, the plan also recommended debt cancellation. To be eligible for the proposed program, an applicant must be 18 years old and have identified as Black or African American on public documents for at least 10 years.
And while cash payments can and should play an essential role in economic repair for African Americans, Asante-Muhammad has proposed $20,000 a year for 20 years for all African-Americans that meet the requirements for reparations.
In order to maximize the effectiveness of local reparations, it is necessary to also create a national reparations program. The federal government is in a much better position to finance the expansive and courageous measures needed to confront what many have deemed our nation's original wrong, white supremacist racism.
However, there may be a hint of greed seeping into the public perception of California’s first-and-only-in-the-nation slavery Reparations Task Force. Dennis, who reviewed the task force’s report, noted “there was no justification for the number, no analysis provided.
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6. “Elias: California’s slavery reparations plan won’t sell if it lacks credibility” The Mercury News, 21 Feb. 2023, https://www.mercurynews.com/2023/02/21/elias-californias-slavery-reparations-plan-wont-sell-if-it-lacks-credibility
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