“Now is the time to go big…Wealth transfer is what’s needed. Think about this. Since 200-plus years or so of slavery, labor taken with no compensation is a wealth transfer. Denial of access to education, which is a primary driver of accumulation of income and wealth, is a wealth transfer.” America’s first black billionaire Robert Johnson said on Squawk Box.
The Black Entertainment Television founder appeared on CNBC, where he is a frequent guest, and called on the U.S. government to provide $14 trillion in reparations to African Americans for slavery and to help reduce racial inequity.
Robert Johnson also said reparations would signal to white Americans that; “damages are owed” to the descendants of enslaved people, who toiled unpaid in this country for centuries.
“Damages is a normal factor in a capitalist society for when you have been deprived for certain rights,” he maintained. “If this money goes into pockets like the [coronavirus] stimulus checks … that money is going to return back to the economy” in the form of consumption.
Robert Johnson On Reparations
He also revealed that reparations to Black Americans would result in the creation of more Black businesses. “I’m talking about cash,” he said. “We are a society based on wealth. That’s the foundation of capitalism.”
However, this is not the first time Johnson has advocated for reparations or a wealth transfer. In 2012, he met with Black conservatives in Congress and presented a five-point policy initiative that would encourage investment in Black businesses, alleviate tax burdens for low and middle-income families and stop abusive payday loan practices.
On the same Squawk Box episode, Ken Frazier, Merck’s chairman and chief executive officer expressed doubt on whether reparations would even be possible. “I don’t believe we’ll be able to get anything like that through our political system,” he said. He rather said, that Business leaders should step up to help solve economic problems.
Robert Johnson became a millionaire when he sold his popular entertainment network (BET) to Viacom in 2001.