Professor Calls for Massive Spending Program to Carry Out Reparations

Duke University public policy professor William Darity recently published a report urging lawmakers to establish a $12 trillion reparations program. The program would reward $800,000 to each eligible African American household.  The Roosevelt Institute sponsored the report, entitled “Resurrecting the Promise of 40 Acres: The Imperative of Reparations for Black Americans.” According to its home page, the Roosevelt Institute is a “think tank and campus network that works to move the country toward a new economy and democracy by the people, for the people.”

Ben Zeisloft of Campus Reform highlighted several aspects of the report.

Darity and co-author Kirsten Mullen alluded to the U.S. government’s failure to fulfill a promise to give 40 acres to every former slave in the report. They assert that this failure is the reason that there exist lingering wealth disparities between Black and White households. In the authors’ view, had this policy been implemented following the Civil War, the authors “speculate that there would be no need to consider the case for black reparations today.”

The authors view the federal government as the “culpable” party in this dilemma, and as a result, it “must pay the debt” of $10 to $12 trillion dollars in 2016 dollars. The authors estimate that a payment of $800,000 to each Black household would close the present wealth gap.

However, the authors asserted that more gradualist reparations measures will not fully address the problem of systemic racism.

“Though piecemeal initiatives are admirable in their acknowledgment of the existence of a debt, these incremental efforts will not fundamentally change the conditions of structural, racial economic inequality,” Darity and Mullen said. “Our nation must be held accountable, and the federal government must meet the debt.”

The authors referenced the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund and federal aid that was sent to Newton, Connecticut after the Sandy Hook Massacre as examples of what this reparations program would look like.

“Ultimately, respect for black Americans as people and as citizens — and acknowledgment, redress, and closure for the history and financial hardship they have endured — requires monetary compensation,” the report concluded. “Moreover, an emphatic message that ‘the murderers cannot inherit’ will be delivered.”

Campus Reform reached out to Darity to find out how the government would be able to fund reparations without raising taxes on American taxpayers who never owned slaves. Darity responded by saying that “nowhere” in the report was there any mention of raising taxes as a way to pay for the reparations program.

“Nowhere [in the report] do we say the reparations plan must be financed by raising anyone’s taxes,” Darity said.

When Campus Reform continued its inquiry on the matter, Darity referenced the government’s response to Wuhan virus.

“In the same way that the federal government just spent somewhere between $2 to 4 trillion without raising taxes in response to the coronavirus crisis,” Darity stated.

He cited The Deficit Myth by Stony Brook University Professor Stephanie Kelton, a former economic policy advisor for Bernie Sanders as another source of inspiration for carrying out this reparations plan.

In review of The Deficit Myth by John Cochrane of the Wall Street Journal, Cochrane noted that the book calls for high levels of money printing to “finance a massive spending agenda, with no concern about debt and deficits.” In her book, Kelton admitted that printing trillions of dollars could potentially lead to high levels of inflation.

In addition, Darity also asserted that the U.S. government is responsible for more than just slavery.

“100 years of legal segregation and waves of white terror campaigns, and ongoing atrocities including mass incarceration, police executions of unarmed blacks, sustained discrimination in credit, employment, and housing markets, and, most significant from an economic standpoint, the staggering racial wealth gap,” he said in his correspondence with Campus Reform.

Given the U.S.’s precarious fiscal situation, a reparations program would only accelerate its descent into a potential sovereign debt crisis. On top that, such a racialist redistribution program will increase resentment between racial groups and further destroy America’s already fragile social fabric.