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OPINION

San Francisco’s Ludicrous Reparations Plan Will Beget More Government Dependence

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
AP Photo/Eric Risberg

The San Francisco African American Reparations Advisory Committee has completed its Reparations Plan, which seeks to redress the “institution of chattel slavery” and “combat the ongoing, explicit, anti-Black discrimination that Black citizens in San Francisco continue to experience” by issuing $5 million lump-sum payments to San Francisco residents over the age of 18-years-old who have “identified as ‘Black/African American’ on public documents for at least 10 years.”

The plan also includes provisions to “Supplement African-American income of lower income households to reflect the Area Median Income (AMI) annually for at least 250 years ($97,000 in 2022),” “Finance a comprehensive debt forgiveness program that clears all educational, personal, credit card, payday loans, etc.,” and “Convert public housing units into condominiums with a $1 buy-in for qualifying residents,” among a laundry list of other hand-outs.

Conveniently, the committee did not include an estimated total cost if the plan were to go into effect. To date, San Francisco has roughly 45,000 black residents. If only 10,000 San Franciscans were to be approved for the plan, it would cost the city at least $50 billion. Of course, that is $50 billion that San Francisco cannot currently afford considering the city is facing a $728 million budget shortfall over the next two years.

The very idea that San Francisco should shell out at least $50 billion in compensation for the sins of chattel slavery even though California was a free state and fought on the side of the Union Army during the Civil War is absolutely absurd on its face.

However, as the report notes, the argument for reparations is not limited to slavery alone anymore. Per the report, “the purpose of reparations” should address the “atrocities committed by this country during the era of chattel slavery,” and the “role of government in creating and perpetuating poverty by codifying racist practices in housing policy, particularly during the postwar era of urban history in the 1950s through 1970s known as urban renewal.”

So, cities throughout the United States, in places where slavery did not exist, are now on the hook for slavery reparations even though slavery has been outlawed for more than 150 years and they must pay through the nose for dubious policies put into place nearly seven decades ago.

Isn’t it unfair to make today’s generation pay for the sins of past generations? Perhaps that is the point.

Aside from the affordability and moral issues associated with this half-baked plan, it also should be clear that this will likely do little to improve the plight of San Francisco’s 45,000 black residents.

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, San Francisco, which not that long ago was a pristine and prosperous city, has turned into a crime-ridden hellscape in recent years.

The public school system is failing to educate the city’s black students. The city’s police force is unable to protect the city’s black residents. And the city’s uber-generous welfare programs and social safety net has made poverty among black families worse, not better.

Suffice to say, despite its very progressive municipal government that has a long track record of championing leftwing redistributionist policies, San Francisco’s black residents are still wallowing in poverty.

Perhaps this is because giving people welfare payments, whether in the form of food stamps, a universal basic income, housing vouchers, or stimulus checks, does not address the root causes of poverty.

While it may sound crass, it is actually better to put policies in place that breed self-reliance, not government dependence.

Since the advent of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty, the federal government alone has spent close to $25 trillion on countless redistributionist programs, however, over that same period the rate of poverty remains unchanged.

The 15-member team of “experts” who authored the San Francisco Reparations Plan are most likely well aware that giving poor people other people’s money does not solve the underlying reasons that poverty is so prevalent among San Francisco’s black population. Yet they are more than happy to push these unproductive plans time and time again. It makes me wonder, are these “experts” hopelessly out of touch or could they have more sinister motives at hand, such as perpetuating the cycle of poverty with ever more government hand-outs, therefore increasing government dependency and their own power at the same time?

Chris Talgo (ctalgo@heartland.org) is editorial director at The Heartland Institute.

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