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A Georgetown University professor believes that white Americans should atone for the nation’s past racial sins by maintaining “individual reparations accounts” and paying minority businesses more for goods and services than they would white businesses.
Professor Mike Dyson, an MSNBC contributor and author of the forthcoming book “Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America,” believes that U.S. whites who are “woke” should be willing to factor reparation payments into their household budgets in the same way they save for college expenses and retirement.
In an interview with The New York Times Magazine, Dyson makes the case that even the most racially sensitive whites are doing little to help minority causes unless they’re engaging in activity that directly affects their bottom line.
“Look, if it doesn’t cost you anything, you’re not really engaging in change; you’re engaging in convenience. You’re engaged in the overflow,” he said. “I’m asking you to do stuff you wouldn’t ordinarily do. I’m asking you to think more seriously and strategically about why you possess what you possess.”
Dyson is an adherent to the growing idea among social justice warriors that all white success in the U.S. is built upon a foundation of racial abuse and systematic efforts to keep minority populations at a disadvantage.
The only way to begin correcting the wrongs, he contends, is for whites to take steps individually to repay debts to minority America.
With an individual reparations account, Dyson says: “You ain’t got to ask the government, you don’t have to ask your local politician — this is what you, an individual, conscientious, ‘woke’ citizen can do.”
While thousands of American whites would argue that Dyson’s suggestion that white Americans should feel compelled to make reparations payments is totally wrongheaded, the mechanism by which he suggests the payments should be made actually makes sense.
Past proponents of reparations have called on a federal mandate that would require whites to make reparation payments via the government.
Prominent liberals often make the case for this sort of government-forced reparation system, arguing that the process should start with the passage of a bill Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.) has introduced every year for the past 25 years that would create a government commission to study lingering effects from slavery and come up with “appropriate remedies.”
Such a study would likely lead to more questions than it could answer— it would also leave open the possibility of more government mandates and more opportunities for federal officials to mismanage money they shouldn’t have received in the first place.
That’s why Dyson’s suggestion is a little refreshing.
There are plenty of white Americans who firmly believe that reparations are a good idea and who would be perfectly happy with the government making such payments mandatory. On the other hand, there are those of us who not only find the idea of reparations ridiculous but who also have zero faith in the government’s ability to allocate funding appropriately.
Dyson’s proposal leaves the choice up to the individual. It’s voluntarism.
And it’s an idea that we ought to apply to every other national problem before handing any power to bureaucrats and government moneychangers.
Today, officials at all levels ask Americans to make the very dumb decision to accept that government always knows best. As a result, we hand over tax dollars to local, state and federal collectors and our money is applied to the public good.
Many wealthy Americans have already figured this out. That’s why some of the nation’s top income earners would much rather lower their tax liabilities by making charitable donations than pay more to the federal government at the end of each year.
Dyson’s idea of allowing individual Americans to make improvements where they see fit in the country without asking permission from politicians should be made a matter of policy, it simply needn’t deal specifically with racial reparations. Instead, Americans should advocate for a tax system that allocates only the least amount of money required for national defense and basic government operations to Washington, while providing the option to personally spend their remaining tax obligation on projects and causes they support. In time, such a policy would even provide an answer to the bureaucrats’ favorite riddle: Who will build the roads?