Instead of reparations as an addition to our current affirmative-action regime, then, maybe they should be considered as an alternative — one that directly addresses a unique government-sanctioned crime against part of the American people, without requiring a preference regime that makes lower-class white Americans feel like victims of a multicultural version of The Man.
So, this week’s immodest proposal: Abolish racial preferences in college admissions, phase out preferences in government hiring and contracting, eliminate the disparate-impact standard in the private sector, and allow state-sanctioned discrimination only on the basis of socioeconomic status, if at all. Then at the same time, create a reparations program — the Frederick Douglass Fund, let’s call it — that pays out exclusively, directly and one time only to the proven descendants of American slaves.
What would it pay out? Reparations advocates talk in trillions, which would take this already-unrealistic proposal into the realm of the utopian. But right now, giving every single African-American $10,000, perhaps in a specially-designed annuity, would cost about $370 billion, modest relative to supply-side tax plans and single-payer schemes alike. The wealth of the median black household in the United States was $11,200 as of 2013; a $10,000 per-person annuity would more than double it.