Robert L. Johnson, the founder of Black Entertainment Television, has proposed that the Federal Reserve cut $14 trillion in reparations checks to every African-American in the country, regardless of wealth or economic status. This is pretty rich coming from a man worth as much as he is. Johnson has been widely cited as America’s first Black billionaire. As you might imagine, conservatives are pointing to this as another example of uncontrollable entitlement among liberals.
Critics say that Johnson wants the United States government to pour out its whole wallet for a cause that is not necessary for a man at his income level. Additionally, along with spending $14 trillion, he wants the government to “atone” for sins that nobody alive today committed.
Moreover, he never defined what atonement for slavery is. Does he mean that all White people today, many of which are not even descended from slave owners in the 19th century, should be punished? Ruining the finances of the government will be punishment enough for everyone, including Black citizens who Johnson says he cares about so much.
The Unconstitutionality of Reparations
Along with being a terrible fiscal and economic idea, reparations may be unconstitutional. If some people were to get money for the government, but not others, with the explicit basis being race, lawyers will have a difficult time proving in court that this does not violate the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause. It is unconstitutional for any government to arbitrarily provide anything to some racial groups but not another. Courts may actually see this as discrimination.