Duke University economist William Darity Jr. and his wife Kirsten Mullen have co-authored a report proposing $12 trillion in reparations for Americans whose ancestors were enslaved.
The plan, written for The Roosevelt Institute, calls for between $10 trillion and $12 trillion — approximately $800,000 per African-American household — to be paid.
“[The] US government—the culpable party—must pay the debt,” the report proclaims. “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 proposal has been dismissed by conservative and libertarian-leaning experts, who say it would greatly hinder economic growth.
“Our national debt is already now up to around $26-27 trillion given the money we’re spending on Covid,” said Cato Institute fellow Michael Tanner. “And we’re losing more money because we’re not picking up the revenue because economic growth is so slow right now. This hardly seems the time to burden the economy with more debt, more taxes. Essentially what you want to do is stimulate economic growth for all our benefits.”
The economics aside, leading African-American political figures, including Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson, have cast doubt over the feasibility of reparations.
“What I would say about reparations is, you know, show me a mechanism that works,” Carson challenged interviewer Jericka Duncan when asked about the concept in December 2019. “You know, I did my DNA analysis. OK. I’m 77% sub-Saharan African, 20% European, 3% Asian. So how do you proportion that out to everybody?”
“Proportionately, you’re not going to be able to figure it out. And where do you stop it? It’s unworkable,” he added. “I would much rather concentrate on how do we provide the opportunities for people to get into a better economic situation now.”
Nonetheless, the Burlington City Council voted unanimously on Monday to launch a task force to study reparations for residents. Last month, a “racial equity” task force commissioned by the city of Durham, North Carolina, issued a report recommending the creation of a reparations fund to address “systemic racism.”