The San Francisco reparations committee proposed in its draft report last month that every eligible black resident should receive a $5 million lump-sum payment along with total debt forgiveness.
According to the Washington Post, the 15-member panel tasked nearly two years ago with calculating how much the pandemic-devastated city should dole out to residents didn't ultimately bother with mathematic formulas or actual calculations when arriving at the seven-figure sum.
Instead, the panelists charged with proposing how to spend other people's money embarked on a "journey" in pursuit of monetary symbolism.
What is the background?
TheBlaze previously reported that the committee is a 15-member panel that was created in May 2021. It is supposed to pitch its recommendations to the city in June.
The proposed $5 million sum, debt forgiveness, and guaranteed incomes ($97,000 as of last year and to be kept in synch with area median income annually for 250 years) are together meant to amend “for the decades of harms" black residents reportedly experienced.
While the proposal concedes that slavery was never legal in San Francisco or in the state of California, it held that “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.”
The lump sum is, therefore, not intended “to remedy enslavement, but to address the public policies explicitly created to subjugate Black people in San Francisco.”
The panel’s proposal stated that eligible applicants must be at least 18 years old and have identified as black or African-American on public documents for at least 10 years.
Additionally, they must satisfy two out of eight other criteria, such as being born or having migrated to the city between 1940 and 1996 with proof of residency for at least 13 years, being a personal or direct descendant of someone “incarcerated by the failed War on Drugs,” or being a personal or direct descendant of someone enslaved before 1865.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, black Californians may be due $569 billion for housing discrimination between 1933 and 1977 alone.
Critics have noted that if even a fraction of the city's nearly 55,000 black residents satisfied the eligibility criteria, the budget might be sapped, granted San Francisco's annual city budget is $14 billion, reported the Washington Post.
A math-free journey to a seven-figure sum
The $5 million figure appeared in the December 2022 draft report without an estimated cost of the reparations or a concrete accounting for the amount. It now appears that at least in the case of the latter, there wasn't one.
Eric McDonnell, chair of the reparations committee, told the Post, "There wasn’t a math formula. ... It was a journey for the committee towards what could represent a significant enough investment in families to put them on this path to economic well-being, growth and vitality that chattel slavery and all the policies that flowed from it destroyed."
John Dennis, chairman of the San Francisco Republican Party, suggested that reparations may indeed be owed certain residents, but in the way of efforts to start a conversation about starting points, this wasn't a serious one.
Dennis told the Post, "This is just a bunch of like-minded people who got in the room and came up with a number."
"You’ll notice in that report, there was no justification for the number, no analysis provided. This was an opportunity to do some serious work and they blew it," Dennis added.
William A. Darity Jr., an economist similarly sympathetic to the underlying endeavor, having long advocated for reparations, suggested that the demand for a $5 million payout "by a local government undercuts the credibility of the reparations effort."
However the figure is arrived at, Darity suggested it should be "somewhat realistic."
American civil rights attorney Leo Terrell told Fox News the proposal was "outrageous, it's unlawful, it's unconstitutional, it's racist, but it's not surprising it came from California."
Members of the same city board of supervisors that first unanimously approved the committee are now uncertain whether the proposal is tenable.
Supervisor Joel Engardio (D) told the Chronicle last month that the direct payments "may not be feasible under current budget restraints."
Another city Democrat, supervisor Hillary Ronen, said, "I wish we had this kind of money in San Francisco’s general fund, but if we want to maintain the services that exist today, we do not."
Supervisor Dean Preston (D) suggested that San Francisco, which ranks 2 out of 100 on Neighborhood Scout's crime index (with 100 being the safest), could slash the police budget to free up money to "fund some of the committee's recommendations."
Supervisor Shamann Walton (D) suggested that it may be worth considering using the city's cannabis business tax as a funding stream for reparations. The Chronicle noted that the tax could raise $10 million annually.
A 2021 Pew Research Center survey found that 68% of respondents opposed reparations. Whereas 77% of black adults said the descendants of persons enslaved in the U.S. should be repaid in some way, 18% of white Americans said the same.
San Francisco ponders reparations for Black residentsyoutu.be
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