A professor from Duke University suggested the United States government should pay $14 trillion in reparations, citing COVID-19 spending as evidence the federal government is capable of doing so.
William Darity, a public policy professor at Duke, along with author Kirsten Mullen, appeared in a sponsored segment on CNBC to say that due to slavery and segregation, the U.S. is now financially responsible for restitution.
Mullen says that the federal government was party to both the "suppressing of the black vote and turning a blind eye to destruction of black people's property."
“The federal government is also the only entity that has the capacity to pay the debt," Mullen added.
Darity, who teaches economics, said raising taxes might not be necessary to covers the costs, pointing to COVID-19 spending that totaled $4.6 trillion, according to a government entity that tracks spending.
“You don’t necessarily have to raise taxes to undertake these massive expenditure projects,” Darity said, adding that "you do have to be concerned about the inflationary effects of those types of projects."
Darity then explained how spreading the reparations payments over "several years" but "no more than 10 years" could reduce the amount of annual costs and lower the risk of inflation from the payments. The professor also suggested the payments could be made through assets or a trust fund, where only certain amounts were available to each recipient on a yearly basis.
However, the use of the funds should not be limited in his opinion. "The discretion for the use of the funds must reside with the recipient,” Darity stated.
The CNBC segment on segregation was sponsored by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, founded by the namesake of the Kellogg's cereal company.
The topic of the segment appears to be outside the stated purview of the foundation, which lists the following as its mission: "The W.K. Kellogg Foundation supports children, families and communities as they strengthen and create conditions that propel vulnerable children to achieve success as individuals and as contributors to the larger community and society."
The foundation's vision states that it "envision[s] a nation that marshals its resources to assure that all children have an equitable and promising future — a nation in which all children thrive."
Professor Darity has participated in many discussions on the topic, including Ted Talk sessions titled "How do we span the racial wealth gap?" and "A blueprint for reparations in the US."
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