I propose substantial financial reparations be made by the U.S. federal government to all the descendants of African-American slaves and Native American tribes (or the tribes’ individual members) whose lands were taken by force or fraud. Most importantly, I propose that the trillions of dollars necessary to pay for reparations be derived from the sale of all federal assets: land, buildings, equipment, infrastructure, gold and silver reserves, oil reserves, off-shore resources, businesses like Amtrak, U.S.P.S., etc.–everything!

The federal government’s ownership of assets constitutes one of the most damaging impositions on individual liberty there ever was. Reparations for the federal government’s key role in slavery, Jim Crow and institutional discrimination, as well as the theft of Native American’s lands, are long past due. To understand why reparations are due, read Ta-Nehesi Coates’ TheĀ Atlantic magazine article, ‘THE CASE FOR REPARATIONS,” which lit up the blogosphere when it was published, and for good reason. Determining who the recipients of reparations should be won’t be easy, but with all of the information resources and advanced technology available today, and the many smart people who could be enlisted to make the determinations, “not easy” is by no mean impossible.

On this basis, no one need be taxed to pay reparations. The funds available from the sale of federal assets would be many trillions of dollars, enough to significantly compensate identified descendants of people enslaved under the authority of the federal government, as well as those Native Americans whose lands were stolen by the federal government. The latter could easily be identified because tribes keep records of their members. All of the resources the federal government requires to continue to operated can be rented or leased on a competitive, transparent basis at a far lower cost than its unproductive ownership.

This way of making reparations would impose no cost on anyone. The government’s assets cannot be said to belong to anyone other than the federal government. Neither U.S. citizens nor taxpayers can lay claim to the assets, and they will never otherwise obtain any part of those assets. Nor do taxpayers derive any benefit from the government’s ownership of its assets, which in fact costs them money in higher taxes.

Sale of the assets would substantially reduce the cost to taxpayers of operating the federal government, thereby allowing major reductions in federal taxes. Indeed, the transfer of those assets from frequently corrupt, always relatively unproductive government ownership into the hands of profit-seeking, private citizens and businesses, would hugely increase the overall productivity of the U.S. economy. Reparation funds thus obtained and distributed would set off the most substantial economic boom America has ever known, one to dwarf the California and Alaska gold rushes.

As the recipients of reparations spent the funds they received, the U.S. economy would experience an economic stimulus beyond any previous program of government spending intended to stimulate the economy, with the added benefit of not increasing federal debt. Every American. would be tremendously benefited by paying reparations in this fashion, excepting only the bureaucrats and politicians who would lose control of the assets, which have been enriching them and empowering them to the detriment of all other Americans. I do not believe anyone professing to be a libertarian, conservative, liberal or progressive can fail to support reparations on this basis.

Federal assets should be sold to the highest American bidder. In most cases, whatever the sale price is, regardless of how competitive the bidding for a particular asset may have been, most assets are likely to quickly increase in value under private ownership and management. For this reason, persons who qualify and apply to receive reparations should be precluded from buying or even bidding on the assets. The time to sign up to receive one’s reparations payment will precede the asset auction. Undoubtedly, some folks who would qualify as recipients will decline to receive the reparations payment in order to be eligible to participate in the bidding, or for other reasons. All such details can be worked out by people much smarter than me. A commission to carry this plan out ought to exclude anyone who is employed directly or indirectly (viz., outside contractors) by Uncle Sam.