Retired California professor Fresno backs reparations for blacks
What makes the current rage against the racial injustices exposed by the pandemic as well as the death of George Floyd different from the previous ones is a call from all walks of life and ethnicity for systemic, structural and transformative police reform. and social inequalities. So as not to fall back to where it was, this time everyone would like to see a fundamental change. It means we should bite the bullet.
Reparation for the descendants of former black American slaves is one example. The idea has been discussed, debated and stirred up a number of times, as it still is. Racial injustice and inequality in America underlie the economy: poverty and all of its consequences. So how about discussing redress for our black citizens in the spirit of universal basic income?
Do they deserve it? Absolutely. American capitalism grew and developed on the back of slavery. Compensating for their misery and its impact is terribly wrong? Let’s say, a la Andrew Yang, that we pay every black citizen $ 1,000 or more every month, no questions asked, for the next two generations. Didn’t we do it in the form of welfare checks?
Universal basic income is different from well-being. No bureaucratic hassle, no meager handouts, no means test, but a substantial amount of money. It gives the recipients dignity, economic security and freedom. Let us bet on the apparently obvious theorem of economists that the higher the income, the higher the savings rate. With all the resulting socio-economic benefits! Or will we fail to do it for conventional woes? What if it promotes social slackers and social ills? Wouldn’t that lead to discouraging the search for work and a free ride as a way of life? And how do we pay it?
During the 1960s and 1970s we had the experience of maintaining basic income in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Iowa, North Carolina, Gary, Indiana, Seattle and Denver. A group of citizens eligible for public assistance received the Basic Income, and it was withheld from another, to see what differences in behavior this might cause. There was no appreciable difference between the two groups in the pace at which they looked for work. The most notable change among people receiving Basic Income has been the improvement in their housing standards and home ownership.
During the pandemic, local jurisdictions in South Korea implemented local basic income programs. They see a peak among young people on a basic income looking for a job. The reason: The stress of worrying about paying rent and other basics is removed. They are motivated to seek employment with vigor.
As to how to pay it, an additional tax burden on the part of recipients of past slave labor may probably be inevitable. See it as a reward and a moral act. For many reasons like corruption, politics, lack of oversight, unintended consequences, mostly unwanted, follow the implementation of social policy. Moreover, it is about any application policy. It is a social cost. Unless the effect of social costs outweighs the expected benefits, the program should continue and improve as it evolves.
Reparation is large-scale compensation whose justification is based on our moral precept. The effect of the repair will change the system.
Marn J. Cha is Professor Emeritus of Political Science and Public Administration at Fresno State.