In his recent post, Leif Wenar explains why he thinks I have misunderstood his proposal. In particular, he contests my view that the trust is designed to clean our dirty hands. He writes,
the point of the trust is to prevent American consumers’ hands from becoming dirty, not to wash the stains out thereafter. With the tariffs and trust in place consumers can buy with assurance that they are neither benefitting from nor incentivizing the theft of natural resources from poor countries.
As long as we are buying stolen products, however, it seems to me that our hands must be dirty — no matter how much we put in a trust. If I buy from Jill a bicycle that I know she stole from Jack, then it strikes me that my hands are dirty. If this is correct, then it seems equally true that my hands would be dirty if I buy oil (or products made with the oil) a dictator has stolen from her constituents. To counter this, it appears that Wenar must defend at least one of three claims: (1) buying a bicycle from Jill, which she has stolen from Jack, does not dirty one’s hands, (2) one can buy a stolen bicycle without soiling one’s hands, as long as one also pays the rightful owner of the bicycle the fair value of this bike, or (3) there is some morally relevant difference between a person’s bicycle and a people’s natural resources which explains why one cannot purchase a stolen bicycle without dirtying one’s hands, but one can buy the stolen resources without ever getting dirty hands. None of these three options seems plausible to me.