Tobold's Blog
Thursday, January 19, 2023
Retire as a millionaire! Self-identify now!

Dear Californians!

I would like to direct your attention to a brilliant opportunity to retire as a millionaire, at zero cost to yourself. The only thing you need to do is to self-identify as "black" on any official documents from now on. And in some years, you will receive $5 million. That is the opportunity offered by the San Francisco Reparations Plan, which foresees such a $5 million reparation payment for any citizen who has been self-identifying as black for a number of years. While the wider California reparations plan only comes out in June, and is currently still planning to base reparations on people being able to prove they descend from slaves, that plan has already been widely criticized. Who has documentation of his ancestry dating back over a century and a half? Given the political climate in California, the San Francisco version based on self-identification could very well be adopted state-wide.

So what if you aren't actually black? I have good news for you: You are! Pretty much any human being who would do a self DNA test, available for around a hundred bucks on Amazon, would find some percentage of being descendant from Africans. There is no scientific definition of "being black", so nobody can contradict you. And you are actually allowed to self-identify as something that you biologically aren't, so there really isn't any argument against self-identifying as black. Worried about you self-identifying as black leading to discrimination? Well, you only need to do it on official documents. Any possible employer, landlord, or other person who could possibly discriminate against you isn't going to do so based on such official records, but rather on how you look, or what your first name is.

I would especially recommend self-identifying as black to anybody who is actually a descendant of Chinese immigrants to California in the 19th century. While that might seem strange genetically, I would say that morally you have a much stronger claim at a local level. The State of California harmed a lot more Chinese immigrants than black slaves, which is both a function of geography, and because California was a Union state.

The San Francisco plan foresees a requirement that to qualify for a reparations payment, you must be an "individual who has identified as ‘Black/African American’ on public documents for at least 10 years". So I would advise you to start self-identifying as black now; it is likely that it will take at least 10 years before the plan is actually carried out. And the requirement time might still be reduced. After all, putting a 10-year minimum requirement on other policies based on self-identification would obviously be inacceptable. If you self-identify as black in California now, you have a chance of retiring a millionaire!

I feel like the money directed at projects like this would be better served at expanding existing social services and would largely accomplish the same goals as what's intended by blanket reparations.

But for some reason even some liberals don't like that approach.
I’m a big fan of universal basic income.
The concept of 'reparation' to something that happened to your ancestor does not make sense to me.
One good argument for it :
- the situation of our ancestor has a huge impact on our current situation

Two good argument against it :
- we are not morally responsible for our ancestor situation or action
- There are a myriad of ancestor situation & action that impact our current lives. It does not seems moral to compensate for one and not the other - except if it is demonstrated than this one is the main contributor.

As a more left/center guy, I would prioritize trying to equilibrate current inequality, without consideration of the historical reason than the reverse. To say it differently : I do not care if your distant ancestor were slave or king, but I believe we need to counterbalance the lack of equality related to education, parents revenue, social comforts, heritage, skin color, etc...

Is it April 1st already? I can't believe anything resembling this is being contemplated as actual policy. And I thought CA was supposed to be one of the saner states.
Tobold, I find that you're falling to new lows in your ridiculous attacks to anything which threatens your imagined anti-white bias. You clearly have not even taken the time to read the document you link to (not even a cursory read, like the one I just did).
Shame on you and on all your yesman army which is already replying, also without even bothering to read the actual document.
@Helistar, I find that you're falling to new lows in confusing criticism of the proposed solution with racism. I am not saying that America doesn't have a long history of racism. Nor am I saying that we shouldn't have economic policies that ultimately close the wealth gap based on race.

I am only mocking the idea that a) unrealistically high reparation payments would solve the problem, and b) that you can combine policies that target specific identity groups with the ability to self-identify. Note that this is exactly the same problem where feminists defending single-sex spaces like battered women shelters clash with activists who claim that you should be able to self-identify as any gender you want. The ability to self-identify as "black" or a "woman" ultimately destroys the possibility to grant specific advantages by law to these groups. And while my post was obviously sarcastic and hyperbole, don't you think the current percentage of 5% blacks in California will go way up if you introduce cash payments to self-identified blacks in that state?

Identity politics are the curse of the left in the United States. Handing out money to specific groups not based on their needs, but based on their identity, can never be fair. Student loan forgiveness is a typical case, where you can easily find cases where people who are already quite well off receive free money, while other people who would be a lot more deserving come out empty. Slavery reparations are a lot further away from becoming real, but the underlying principle is already flawed, and extending it to anyone who is "black", even if his ancestors moved to the USA in the 20th century and never suffered slavery, is obviously ridiculous.

Did I read all 60 pages of the linked document? No, why would I? I limited myself to the recommendations chapter 5, and quoted the recommendations verbatim in my post. Given the quite visible direct quote in italics, it is disingenuous and wrong of you to claim that I didn't even cursory read the document.
California ...

When I was with a California company, outside of California I would frequently open my business presentation with "As you may can tell from my accent, I recently immigrated to California from America." Some Californians were confused but few outside California did not get the joke.

The diversity of the US is that Texas (population 30m, area 695000 km2) had renamed Jan 19th's Lee Day to Confederate Heroes Day.
Perkus: "And I thought CA was supposed to be one of the saner states."

You thought what? An old joke is that they tilted the US and all the flakes fell out West. (Probably the same in Ireland so having ended up in Galway I won't judge.)
I think "sane" is as difficult to define as "normal". Is there any part of the USA on which all the other parts agree that this is the "sane" and "normal" version of America? What we have is a bitter divide between two cultures, "urban" vs. "rural", or "left" vs. "right", or whatever you want to call it. And it is not just the country as a whole that is divided, but each state in itself. There are extreme right Californians and extreme left Texans. And the instances of political violence between the divided cultures are increasing.

Note that viewed from Europe, both sides look weird. Although Europe is politically to the left of the USA, the identity policies of the US left are incomprehensible to European lefties. Good news, we understand the US extreme right a lot better, we had our own bunch of those 90 years ago, and they still use the same tactics everywhere.
@Tobold: I didn't treat you as a racist, I don't know from where you imagine it since it clearly isn't in my answer (but that may change, considering that parts of your reply clearly are).

I also don't see where you got that "self-identify" thing from. The texts don't say that you wake up one morning and decide what you put on your papers. The definition is very clear at the beginning of the wikipedia page on "African Americans in California" but it's even more clear in the very same text you link: page 30 "Eligibility for Reparations". Nowhere it says that you "self-identify" as anything and the requirements pinpoint a well defined demographics and a well defined time-period (so also forget all the stuff on ancestors).
@Helistar Read the quote in italics. The requirement is that you are an "individual who has identified as ‘Black/African American’ on public documents for at least 10 years". That is clearly self-identification. No DNA testing or other scientific requirement for "blackness" is given. In the document it is on top of page 30.
I will just point out that no sane non-African America would self-identify as African American on official documents for ten years just to get $5 mil at the end, as the dramatic impact of listing oneself as such over the prior ten years would reduce your overall quality of life just by identifying as such. Which is to say: the real problem is, as always, systemic racism and not reparations for past issues.

No other real comment on the document, other than it won't pass, won't escape legal challenge if it somehow does, and won't fix the systemic racism that brings everyone down with it regardless.

@Tobold I'd be interested in hearing more about why you think a UBI would be a good idea in some future post. I think something equivalent to a UBI has existed before, but we need to go back to a time when serfs were a thing to see how that works. The modern conception of UBI seemed vaguely good for a very brief window a few years back when it looked like the tech industry was actually moving toward a better future for all, but today it appears quite the opposite is true, and a UBI would be tantamount to a killing blow to social and economic mobility for most people who would fit into the modern serf class. So to speak.
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