$5 million per-black-San Franciscan reparations scheme is just a start

San Francisco Bridge. Photo/Britannica

If you consider San Francisco mighty generous for proposing to pay black residents $5 million each in slavery reparations, then you are a cold-hearted, skin-flinted cheap skate. In fact, one local leader dismisses this hefty sum as “very minuscule.”

“I don’t think you can put a figure to taking someone from their country, raping and pillaging their communities, not allowing them the chance to reproduce, not allowing them the chance to raise a family and grow wealth, making them work for free,” said Shamann Walton, a member and immediate past president of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors.

Walton told National Review’s Brittany Bernstein that “most certainly the 5 million is a very minuscule number compared to a lot of research that has been done over the past couple of decades, quite frankly.”

Shamann Walton is right: If people exist who were brought to America in chains, raped, and forced to labor without wages, they should sue their owners and make them pay until they bleed.

The bad — but incredibly good — news is that America has lacked both slaves and slave owners since the Civil War ended in April 1865.

Any child born into slavery that month would be 157 today or, more likely, dead.

Ditto any slave holder who would be older — or even deader.

Since the parties directly affected by slavery are long gone, the questions of who would collect and who would pay reparations quickly become self-entangling.

  • • Who is black enough to get paid? Any black San Franciscan or only those with ancestors in the slave-owning South?
  • • Should wealthy and successful San Franciscans — e.g. Vice President Kamala Harris — receive reparations? How about her ex-lover, Willie Brown, San Francisco’s former two-term mayor? Can anyone seriously argue that slavery hindered them as they occupied America’s commanding heights?
  • • What about San Franciscans of mixed race? Harris is half-Jamaican and half east Indian. Do her Caribbean roots disqualify her from a program designed to address the evils of the old South? Should she still collect if, despite no ties to Dixie, she routinely bolts upright after nightmares about being oppressed on a plantation?
  • • Stanford University emeritus professor Donald Harris, Kamala’s father, wrote that his family descended from Irish-born Hamilton Brown, who owned at least 121 Jamaican slaves. Should the vice-president get penalized for this, perhaps scoring only $1.25 million or half of the $2.5 million that she could earn as a half-black woman?
  • • As for payment, does the great, great, great, great granddaughter of a slave owner or Confederate general pay more than her “fair share” into the reparations fund?
  • • Conversely, does a San Franciscan whose forebears fell at Antietam or Shiloh deserve a “We gave at the office” discount?
  • • What about someone who fled the carnage of Ukraine and took refuge in America only last August? Must someone who reached this country six month ago pay reparations for something that ended 157 years ago?
  • • Who, exactly, would make all of these excruciating and potentially explosive decisions rooted as much in genetics as justice?

Local officials are weighing other concepts including “a comprehensive debt forgiveness program” for blacks and a plan to boost poor blacks’ earnings to match the $97,000 Area Median Income — “for at least 250 years.”

Would shoveling out this kind of cash until 2273 A.D. bankrupt this town?

No way, Walton said reassuringly. “I would say that we’re a very fiscally responsible city.”

Finally, assume that $5 million turned out to be a fair and equitable reparations payout. What if San Francisco’s model were applied nationwide?

To give $5 million to each of America’s 42 million black citizens would cost $210 trillion. This equals 667% of the $31.5 trillion U.S. national debt. These $210 trillion could fund the Pentagon’s $740 billion FY 2022 budget until 2307 A.D. — 284 years hence.

If you think egg prices are high now, just wait until Joe Biden hears about San Francisco’s big idea.

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor.

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News Contributor, a contributing editor with National Review Online, and a senior fellow with the London Center for Policy Research.

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  3. I think they should give their reparations and to make it even better, return all of them back to the country they were taken from!

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  5. some UNTAUGHT Black History…

    “Slaves” worked for Room and Board, as well as full medical care and retirement.

    Regardless of ‘job’ assignments..

    Poorly fed Slaves resulted in poor workmanship, while well fed Slaves produced more on a daily basis.
    Sick Slaves also performed poorly, while Healthy Slaves performed much better.

    Pairing and families were encouraged because babies were free Slaves.

    They were a Cradle to Grave system.

    When slaves became too old or infirm to work, they were retired to live out their lives.

    to do otherwise would have caused strife in the Slaves and result in poor performance.


    After the Emancipation Proclamation, the Slaves were Cast Adrift with ZERO KNOWLEDGE of money for labor or the actual monetary value of their own Skills and knowledge.

    Few knew how to read or write.

    Many took the Last Name of their Owners, because that was all they knew.
    The North did not know, or care.

    The South did not know, or care.

    Find me former Slaves and I will teach them to Read and Write, as well as the value of services offered for wages expected.

    Everybody else can stop feeling sorry for themselves because they were raised to feel sorry for themselves over stuff that did not happen to any of their ancestors in the last 157 years.

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  7. By now I’m convinced that the persistent subliminal seismic shock waves from the San Andreas Fault have warped or destroyed the gray matter of these poor SF administrators.


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