[Editor’s note: Make sure to read Daniel Greenfield’s contributions in Jamie Glazov’s new book: Barack Obama’s True Legacy: How He Transformed America.]
When California’s reparations task force released its report recommending $1.2 million in total lifetime payments to every black person, it made headlines around the world.
California was not a slave state so what was the $1.2 million payout even based on? Even though the task force conveniently proposed limiting payments to the descendants of slaves (despite the lack of slaves in the state) it was mostly based on calculating the differences in life expectancy between black people and white people.
The meat of the 1,000 page report isn’t in the endless pages of virtue signaling, including a chapter on cultural appropriation, but the claim that “the difference in life expectancy between African Americans and white non-Hispanics in California can be interpreted as the cumulative effect of unequal treatment”. The report gets the amount of money from multiplying the value of a year of life, $127,226, by the 7.6 difference between the life expectancy of 71 years for black people and 78.6 years for white people to get $966,918 for most of the $1.2 million total.
There are any number of problems with this, but to start with the report has two different black life expectancy numbers. The reparations formula is based on a black life expectancy of 71. The opening of the report however states that “in 2021, the life expectancy of an average African American Californian was 75.1 years” while the reparations formula section describes “an African American Californian at the average life expectancy of 71 years of age”. Which is it?
Black life expectancy in California fell from 74.8 to 71 between 2019 and 2021 by some metrics, but the report uses two different numbers to show just how unreliable and selective it is.
Something else also changed during the pandemic. In 2019, Latinos had a longer life expectancy than white people. That number fell during the pandemic so that white people are now slightly ahead. Asians however are still in first place and far ahead of any other race.
The reparations task force was aware of these numbers, that’s why the report specifies “white non-Hispanics” and refuses to include any broader life expectancy context for other races .
In 2019, white people were in 3rd place in life expectancy behind Latinos and Asians, but ahead of blacks. Those numbers not only demolish the case for racial reparations based on life expectancy, but the entire underlying premise that lower life expectancy is evidence of systemic racism. If we go by the overall life expectancy numbers, before the pandemic skewed them, then white people in California are also an oppressed group alongside black people.
And white people should also receive reparations payments.
The same numbers and racial theories behind the task force’s reparations payments when applied to all the races in the state, not just the black and white ones in the report, appear to show that Asians run everything and oppress other races so severely that they die earlier.
That’s obvious nonsense. But so is the report.
The report points to a current 7 year gap between black and white life expectancy, but there is a nearly 6 year life expectancy gap between white and Asian life expectancy.
Should Asians and Latinos be forced to pay reparations to white people?
Life expectancy does not actually correlate with race, it does however correlate with income. A UCLA study found that “the gap in life expectancies between those living in the highest- and lowest-income census tracts increased, from a difference of about 11.5 years before the pandemic to more than 15 years in 2021.”
The wealthiest areas in California have a life expectancy of 86 years while the poorest have a life expectancy of 71 years. Those 71 years were seized on by the task force as evidence of racism, but the problem is that there are far more whites, Hispanics and even Asians living in the poorest areas than black people. The difference with black people is not that they are the only ones who are poor, but that there are fewer black people in the upper middle and wealthy classes to balance out the averages the way that it works among whites and Asians.
White people were in third place and are now in second place when it comes to life expectancy because there are still many poor white people in California. That’s odd if white people have built some sort of imaginary systemic racism machine to oppress people based solely on race.
According to the reparations task force, black life expectancy was reduced by everything from living near “toxic industries” to “food deserts” but there are plenty of poor white people living in industrial areas like the Inland Empire which is rated as having the worst air in California.
California’s poor population includes 1,176,700 white people, 2,340,600 Latinos, 600,800 Asians and only 379,200 black people. Blacks make up the smallest percentage of the poor of any race, they are also however, as a race, disproportionately likely to be poor. That’s the statistical sleight of hand on which the task force’s reparations numbers depend.
Reparations is a hoax based on bad math and an even worse media that could be counted on not to ask even the most basic questions when a politically correct agenda is on the table.
Not only isn’t California oppressive toward black people, but it has the 11th lowest poverty rate for black people in the country. Compare that to the 14th lowest poverty rate for Latinos and the 22nd highest poverty rate for whites. Black people are not disadvantaged in California.
White people however are.
California’s poverty rate for white people is within 1% of South Carolina, and 2% of Tennessee and Mississippi.
The same metrics as those in the task force report could be used to argue for reparations payments to white people.
California’s proposed reparations have nothing to do with slavery. Even as the task force denies up and down that the proposed payments are welfare, that’s exactly what they are. They’re payments based on social welfare statistics using numbers manipulated to favor one race.
Race-based welfare, like most forms of affirmative action, is illegal. Calling these payments reparations is a tricky way to limit proposed welfare payments to members of one race.
The 1,000 page report spends most of its time trying to distract everyone from what the reparations payments really are and what they’re based on.
The report’s task force members are mostly black, but the writers, editors and contributors are mostly white, Indian, Asian, Jewish, and Latino. The report’s lead editors, Xiyun Yang, a Chinese deputy attorney general, Robin Goldfaden, a Jewish former ACLU lawyer, and Anthony Seferian, an Armenian deputy attorney general, are diverse, but not one of them is black. Most of the actual work on the report was done by lawyers with last names like Chuang, Singh, Kaplan, Ghazzawi, McCarthy and Martinez.
What the media passed off as the work of a black group was actually produced by progressive prosecutors looking for a political leg up in California’s identity politics establishment. The state has been burdened with massive proposed race-based payments that are illegal and would bankrupt the state by a bunch of non-black aspiring politicians looking to boost their resumes.
The task force report is based on a lie about the state of black people in California. It was assembled by the usual political interests who run the state rather than black organizations.
While some black people are anticipating major checks every month, the reparations money is likely to mostly go into the social welfare system in the form of grants to community groups. Slavery will be used as a pretext for diverting even more taxpayer money to leftist political organizations whose real business isn’t social welfare, but ballot harvesting and voter turnout.
That’s why the task force was really convened and why a mostly non-black team put it together. Reparations, like all forms of social welfare, are just leverage for boosting black voter turnout.
It would not be the first time that distorted statistics were used to justify massive social welfare spending that made the problem worse, but provided a political advantage to one party. Most of California’s social crises, including the homeless problem, follow that same pattern. The original party of slavery has just figured out another means of turning out voting labor on its plantation.