Paying reparations for slavery is possible – based on a study of federal compensation to farmers, (Linda J. Bilmes & Cornell William Brooks, 6/19/24, The Conversation)

In 1988, for example, the U.S. government paid reparations to Japanese Americans – and in some cases, their descendants – who were forced into internment camps during World War II.

In another example, starting in the 1990s, Congress passed a series of laws to compensate people in 12 western states and the Marshall Islands who were exposed to dangerous levels of radiation from the government’s nuclear testing program that occurred in the 1940s and 1950s. Since 1990, these programs have compensated some 135,000 victims and paid out US$28 billion to these victims and to some of their heirs.

America has paid compensation to coal miners who have contracted lung diseases, farmers who have endured crop failures and fishermen facing depleted fish stocks.

The federal government has also paid compensation to victims of terrorism, wrongful convictions and natural disasters.

It also has paid partial restitution to thousands of descendants of Native American tribes, whose tribal land earnings were stolen or mismanaged dating back to the 1880s.

Indeed, the federal government has long attempted to compensate individuals – and in certain cases entire communities – through a combination of restitution, financial benefits and rehabilitation.

These programs cost billions of dollars annually and are funded in a variety of ways, including specific excise taxes, the use of government trust funds and subsidized insurance policies.

We have determined that the diversity, scale and complexity of federal programs and beneficiaries show that reparations are administratively feasible. While only a few of these programs address racial injustice, they all demonstrate the government’s capacity to administer large-scale programs of compensation for those directly and indirectly harmed.