The founder of Black Entertainment Television (BET), Robert Johnson says the recent riots prove that the U.S. needs to “go big” with a “$14 trillion” expenditure for slavery reparations as a way to address racial inequality in America.
Appearing on CNBC’s Squawk Box on Monday, Robert Johnson insisted, “Now is the time to go big” with a really big plan.
“Wealth transfer is what’s needed,” he exclaimed. “Think about this. Since 200-plus-years or so of slavery, labor taken with no compensation, is a wealth transfer. Denial of access to education, which is a primary driver of accumulation of income and wealth, is a wealth transfer.”
Johnson insisted that reparations for an institution of slavery that ended more than 150 years ago would be the “affirmative action program of all time” because “damages are owed” to black Americans for the “wealth transfer to white Americans away from African Americans.”
“Damages is a normal factor in a capitalist society for when you have been deprived for certain rights,” Johnson insisted. “If this money goes into pockets like the [coronavirus] stimulus checks … that money is going to return back to the economy.”
The billionaire media mogul also thinks more black-owned businesses would start with such a massive reparations plan. But he pointed out that he does not want programs and policies. He wants outright cash to be handed to black people.
“I’m talking about cash. We are a society based on wealth. That’s the foundation of capitalism,” Johnson said, not explaining where all that “cash” would come from.
Johnson also did not explain how the logistics of disputing $14 trillion in “cash” would work. Currently there is only $1.5 trillion in physical cash in the U.S. economy. Indeed, there is only $36.8 trillion in every kind of currency in the whole world. So, Johnson’s reparations plan would require taking nearly half of all the world’s currencies to fulfill.
As Breitbart News entertainment editor Jerome Hudson notes, cash reparations for slavery may be a politically popular idea but executing a program of that magnitude would be close to impossible:
A paper published by Social Science Quarterly estimated cash reparations payments could cost between $5.9 trillion and $14.2 trillion.Who exactly would be on the hook, 150 years later, to pay a $14 trillion debt? Would ancestors of the more than 642,000 Union soldiers who died to abolish slavery be exempt? What about the 2 million men who risked their lives during the war?
The United States became home to more immigrants in the three decades after the Civil War than during the previous three centuries combined. They and their ancestors had nothing to do with slavery. By 1907 1.3 million people had entered the country through Ellis Island alone. Again, they and their ancestors had nothing to do with slavery. More than 50 million more people immigrated here over the next four decades. They and their ancestors had nothing to do with slavery. Would we exclude these innocents from paying reparations?
What about the more than 8 million Americans who in the 2010 census identified as two or more races. There are 3.1 million African-Americans who identify themselves as mixed race. Another 1.8 million people self-identified as white and black.
With all that being said, it does not seem feasible that the U.S. could come up with Johnson’s $14 trillion for anything, much less for the politically fraught idea of slave reparations.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Facebook at: facebook.com/Warner.Todd.Huston.