Thomas Gallatin / Jun. 3, 2020

$14 Trillion in Reparations Will Fix It?

BET founder claims that redistributed money is the solution to racial injustice.

Money can’t buy love, but according to billionaire Black Entertainment Television founder Robert Johnson, it can buy racial harmony. “Now is the time to go big,” Johnson advised this week. “Wealth transfer is what’s needed. 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.”

Around $14 trillion in reparations should do the trick, Johnson contended. “Short answers to long horrific questions about the stain of slavery are not going to solve the inequality problem,” he said. “We need to focus on wealth creation and wealth generation and to do that we must bring the descendants of slaves into equality with this nation, and that’s what I propose in this $14 trillion proposal to provide reparations not only for the sin, or the atonement of, the sin of slavery and Jim Crow-ism and desegregation — both de facto and du jour — but to cause America to live up to the concept and the notion that this nation was born on the idea of American exceptionalism.”

Clarifying that his comments were indeed nothing short of a demand to “show me the money,” Johnson continued, “I’m talking about cash. We are a society based on wealth. That’s the foundation of capitalism. If we take that big leap, I am convinced that the problems that we confront today can be solved. But it takes a big, bold action, and $14 trillion in reparations for damages visited upon the heirs of slaves is an appropriate statement.”

Johnson’s advocacy for reparations is nothing new, but this might be the first time he’s specified a dollar amount. Among the many cogent arguments against reparations is the failed legacy of Lyndon B. Johnson’s “Great Society” and War on Poverty, in which the U.S. government has spent nearly $20 trillion on welfare programs for over 50 years and counting with no change to the nation’s poverty rate — well, other than to keep it from falling.

Furthermore, Americans living today have neither suffered nor perpetuated the injustice of slavery. How exactly is it just to punish those who are not guilty of having committed a crime, and compound that injustice by applying the sentence of guilt based purely upon an individual’s race? Obviously, that is not just.

Of course, Johnson isn’t really advocating for justice; he’s advocating for legalized theft on a massive scale. This idea should be laughed at for the silliness that it is, and yet a growing number of Democrats are taking it seriously and have been singing its praises.

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