In a new report for the Roosevelt Institute, Duke University professor William Darity Jr, along with his wife Kirsten Muellen law out the case for how much the U.S. government should pay in “systemic reparations” for slavery.
The stunning figure Darity arises at is about $800,000 per black household as sufficient, a number he argues could eliminate the gap in mean net worth between black and white households.
According to DailyMail, the bold proposal is not without its skeptics, however, as fiscal conservatives question whether the federal government could shoulder the cost, which amounts to roughly half of annual U.S. gross domestic product.
In fiscal 2019, the government spent $4.4 trillion, amounting to 21 percent of the nation’s $21 trillion GDP, with about $1 trillion of that federal spending adding to the national debt.
‘Our national debt is already now up to around $26-27 trillion given the money we’re spending on Covid,’ Michael Tanner, senior fellow at the Cato Institute, told CNBC.
‘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,’ he added of reparations proposals.
Darity, however, argues that reparations for slavery are not only feasible, but necessary.
From Darity’s report for the Roosevelt Institute:
The 40-acre land grants themselves afford another route for calculating the size of a
potential black reparations bill. The conventional interpretation has it that the promised
allocations were to have gone to households comprised of those newly emancipated.
If a typical household consisted of four persons, the allocation would have amounted
to 10 acres per person. With 4 million emancipated persons at the close of the Civil War,
the overall distribution of land to the formerly enslaved would have come to at least 40 million acres. With an average value of an acre of land set at $10 in 1865,7
the overall value of the allocation would have been $400 million.
The present value compounded at a 6-percent interest rate (the average rate of return plus an inflation adjustment) amounts to $3.1 trillion. Financial expert John Talbott has suggested computing a present value predicated upon a 9-percent interest rate, consistent with the average return on an investment in the US stock market from 1870 to 2020. This results in an estimated reparations bill of $16.5 trillion.
You can read the full report here.