The California Reparations Task Force has recommended that the state provide $1.2 million to every black resident in California. In addition to the immoral government overreach founded on a historical sham, reparations for slavery produces a psychological injury to all black Americans by reinforcing a sick triad of characterologic toxicity: victimization, envy, and entitlement.

Larry Elder has spoken and written extensively on the lies used to defend the legitimacy of this sham. Today there are no Americans alive who were once enslaved, and there are no Americans alive who enslaved others. So, the premise of the argument that there is anyone available today to punish or reward for slavery is false. It is true that blacks, as a group, are less well off financially than other ethnic groups, but this is not a consequence of slavery. It is due to the damage done to the black family by the welfare state created, sustained, and expanded by the Democrat party. Before its creation in 1935, black Americans had a lower unemployment rate and a higher percentage of intact two-parent families than did whites. Then the state stepped in and began rewarding women for marrying the government by offering incentives to men to abandon their parental and marital responsibilities. Today, more than 70% of all black children are born to single mothers, far higher than any other minority group. Young black males commit a staggeringly disproportionate amount of all violent crime in the US, largely due to absence of fathers in the home. The contemporary suffering of blacks has its roots not in slavery but in their having being used as political pawns by Democrats—the party of slavery and the Ku Klux Klan--for nearly 100 years.

The struggles of black Americans today have nothing to do with race, either. True African Americans, those who immigrated from the African continent to the US, are doing quite well. Nigerians top all US immigrant groups in academic and financial achievement. If racism were the cause of black Americans’ misery, Africans would be held back from advancing in education and employment. They aren’t. They are model citizens.

It is immoral to take by force the possessions of one man and give them to another when no crime has been committed. For the same reason, affirmative action is immoral—it offers privileges to one group that hasn’t earned them at the expense of another. Whether it’s legalized theft or legalized discrimination, a new victim is always produced. The role of a moral government is not to create victims but to prevent them from being created. Protecting the rights of citizens, not inventing artificial ones to maintain political power, should be the focus of those elected to government.

As a clinical psychiatrist, I see another ugly consequence of the pursuit of reparations for slavery—the psychological damage done do those it promises to “make whole.” Black Americans are the luckiest group of people of African descent of all time. They drew the winning card in the lottery of life to have been born in the United States, the most free, ethnically diverse, and successful—not to mention least racist—nation in human history. When government endorses a movement indicting the United States as fundamentally racist due to a history of slavery, it tells blacks they are victims. It tells them to envy the successes of white Americans. It tells them they are entitled to the earnings of non-blacks by virtue of being black. And it denies them the possibility of feeling gratitude for the blessing of having been born American. This is destructive and evil.

I know from having treated patients for over a decade that it is not possible to be mentally healthy when you see yourself as a victim. Identifying as a victim feeds envy, entitlement, and ingratitude. Happiness cannot flourish in ingratitude—I have never met a happy ingrate. What reparations for slavery leads to, then, is more mental illness. It deprives blacks of their happiness. As Dennis Prager famously titled one of his first books: Happiness is a serious problem. We have a responsibility to ourselves and to our communities to pursue happiness. When our government denies us the pursuit of that responsibility, that inalienable right as proclaimed in the United States Declaration of Independence, it damages we the people. Americans, especially black Americans, deserve better from their government.