Ross Douthat offers a racial bargain in the latest installment of his unrealistic ideas series:
“LAST week I promised a series of columns making deliberately unrealistic policy proposals, on the theory that the Trump era has overturned a lot of basic political assumptions (my own included), making it a reasonable time to entertain unusual ideas. …
Instead of reparations as an addition to our current affirmative-action regime, then, maybe they should be considered as an alternative — one that directly addresses a unique government-sanctioned crime against part of the American people, without requiring a preference regime that makes lower-class white Americans feel like victims of a multicultural version of The Man.
So, this week’s immodest proposal: Abolish racial preferences in college admissions, phase out preferences in government hiring and contracting, eliminate the disparate-impact standard in the private sector, and allow state-sanctioned discrimination only on the basis of socioeconomic status, if at all. Then at the same time, create a reparations program — the Frederick Douglass Fund, let’s call it — that pays out exclusively, directly and one time only to the proven descendants of American slaves. …
But right now, giving every single African-American $10,000, perhaps in a specially-designed annuity, would cost about $370 billion, modest relative to supply-side tax plans and single-payer schemes alike. …”
1.) First, the average African-American has already received $10,000 in transfer benefits from White taxpayers many times over since the Civil Rights Movement. The system we have in place now works to their advantage. The tax burden falls on Whites while spending disproportionately benefits blacks.
2.) Second, if blacks have already received $10,000 in transfer benefits many times over, it follows that a “Frederick Douglass Fund” would be ineffective and change nothing. The money would be squandered in a few years and we would be back to where we started with black grievance politics.
3.) Third, as we move further away from slavery and segregation, it seems like blacks have become even angrier about these issues. It has been 157 years since the demise of slavery. It has been 52 years since the end of Jim Crow. The anger is really due to the unrealistic notion that blacks are capable of creating and sustaining a European-style civilization and reaching parity with Whites.
4.) Fourth, dismantling the affirmative action regime in government and the private sector would inflict a devastating blow on the black middle class. The illusion of racial progress we have today is itself a creation of the way blacks have been favored in government and the private sector.
5.) Finally, the racial bargain would lead us back to the same unrest that got us affirmative action in the first place, nothing would be solved and we would be stuck with the same festering problem.