Category Archives: slavery

Of human bondage … liberal style

I was pondering our current economic and political situation and for some reason the term “slaves of the state” popped into my mind.

We know that the term had real meaning to the peasants of ancient China, the pyramid builders in the days of the pharaohs, the serfs of medieval Europe, the subjects of potentates, and even the proletariat of Communist Russia. In fact, it was not until the democratic experiment of the Greeks and Romans did mankind begin to envision of system of governance that was based on the assumed or God-given authority and inalienable rights of the governed. This has led to a growing global era of political, social and economic enlightenment — and freedom. Central to political freedom was economic freedom — to own property and freely distribute the earnings of one’s labor. However, the forces of totalitarianism are an ever present danger.

Under one system, the people derive their rewards and success from the beneficence of the state — be it a regime or an autocrat. You obey the rules of the state, turn over the fruits of your labor to the state for redistribution and accept the paternalistic care — at least minimal care — from the state according to the power elite’s will, whims and their need to remain in power.

The key to any slavery is that the benefits of your labor are confiscated for the benefit of the slave master, first and foremost — and subsequently doled out to those who support the system. In most cases, you, the peasant, receive only the barest of sustenance in return — only a fraction of the value of your labor.

The key question is: When do you and I become slaves to the state? At which point is the confiscations of our personal wealth tantamount to slavery?

This is not a frivolous question. Most “slavery” does not come in the form of kidnapping, being sold to some private enterprise and whipped into submission. In fact, most slavery is the result of authoritarian governance — slaves to the state. It can come by sweeping change as was the case in Chile, when the generals overthrew the democratically elected government. But, more often it comes by slow erosion, as the corruptive influence of power consumes more of our rights and freedoms with the false promise to improve the quality of our lives.

The most common characteristics of slavery is a wealthy elite and an impoverished captive laboring class. It is the same whether the enslaved is chattel or just subjected to the dependency on government for life’s minimal essentials. If you look closely, you realize that the residents of the American socialist ghettos are captive — stuck in generational poverty and segregated, figuratively and literally, from the personal opportunities of free market America.

You not only find slavery in America’s Old South, but in every society governed by rulers. The evidence of the suffering of the masses in undemocratic societies is so overwhelming as to be indisputable. All-powerful governments produce deprived masses. It can be called communism, socialism, Marxism, feudalism, or whatever. The more the state possess decision-making power over the lives of the governed, the more the governed are “slaves of the state.”

Many liberal political science professors like to proffer the theoretical benefits of a “benevolent dictatorship” as the potentially best form of government. However, significant examples of this “ideal” are impossible to find. Therefore it is safe to say that the more a government confiscates the value of our productivity, the more we are enslaved. More government means less freedom. Simple as that.

The Greco/Roman precepts of democracy have given those who live under them the most advanced and highest standard of living in history. Political freedom, the right to own property, pick our leaders, and engage in free market enterprise have brought the commoner personal wealth beyond the wildest imagination — far better than even those in this modern world who are still enslaved to their state.

While state-desired innovation has occurred under totalitarian regimes, it pales compared to the staggering progress achieved for the masses under free market capitalism. The Soviet Union did not sire the technology that got them into space or balanced our nuclear advantage. They stole it. And while the Russians and Red Chinese were able to focus on specific competitive military technologies (the so-called “arms race”), the people of their nations lived two centuries behind the average American.

As Ronald Reagan said, we are always only one generation away from totalitarianism. The democratic revolution in France, that was to mimic our own, ended with the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte. The more democratic Mensheviks of the Russian Revolution were crushed by the brutal statism of the Bolsheviks. Democracies are always threatened by forces, internal and external, which would enslave the public. This is why Thomas Jefferson admonished us to “eternal vigilance.”

So, what is the point.

The point is that we have every reason to be fearful with what is happening in Washington today. It is currently calculated that we already work for government from January 1 until mid August — more than half a year. This means that more than half of the wealth you and I earn is confiscated and redistributed by government. For most of the year, we already are “slaves of the state.”

As if that is not bad enough, we now have a regime in Washington determined to extend or servitude even more. Like all would-be dictatorship, they claim that the government must provide the benefits to society since you and I are not either capable enough or good enough. Like all statists, the radical Democrats currently in power demonize the producers of wealth as greedy and immoral — and only their government can protect the poor, the infirmed, the needy, and the very natural world in which we live from the evil of our intentions.

This sounds good, like the pitch of the snake oil salesman, but look at the reality of their world. We need not look to history or overseas to find the examples of socialistic statism. Detroit was a city run by radical socialists. The most “liberal” (read that socialistic) states in America are on the verge of economic collapse.

After a speech in a African American church in one of Chicago’s Democrat-run ghettos, I was challenged by an young lady to explain what free markets and capitalism has done for her. I told her, “Nothing.” Before she got too smug, I explained that she does not live in free market American. She is trapped in socialist America — an island of socialism surrounded by the obvious benefits for capitalism.

I often refer to the plight of modern inner city African Americans as the second great enslavement. They are trapped in dependency on the meager hand out of the government masters. Like the American slavery that ended with Abraham Lincoln, the new and more subtle economic slavery of today results in depravation of housing, depravation of food, depravation of healthcare, depravation of education, depravation of mobility and depravation of personal freedom. For meager considerations, the slaves of yore were to pick cotton. Today, the enslaved minorities provide the political plantation owners with votes.

More than anything, our founders were small “d” democrats, and more than anything they feared unbridled government as the enemy of the people. “The government that governs least, governs best.” “A government that can give you anything, can take away everything.” Their warnings ring through their writings, which, by no coincidence, are no longer taught in our government-run schools.

One can argue the extend of the danger in Washington today, but can anyone really say that we are not moving in the direction of an authoritarian regime? Already, the grip of Washington is so strong that many see it as inconceivable to take back the influence of the federal government.

Over the course of my blogs, I will examine this most critical issue from different perspectives.

IDEA: Obama in mint condition

If you follow this blog, you know I’m a great fan of Abraham Lincoln. As such, I have written often against the elimination of the Lincoln penny. I know I am a few years ahead of things, but here is my idea.

First, let’s all agree that unless Obama screws up badly, he is destined to be immortalized on some denomination of coin or currency. Right? Well, what about creating the Lincoln-Obama penny – a double profile impression. This is a case where two heads are definitely better than one. This would most certainly end any talk of doing away with the distinctive copper coin. Yea!

It is also a most fitting match up. The Great Emancipator and the first African-American President. The fact that both claim Illinois as their home state is a charming coincidence. On the reverse, I propose we replace the Lincoln Memorial with the iconic, albeit romanticized, abolition image (left) of Lincoln personally bestowing freedom on a slave.

This also solves another problem. If you don’t double up on the penny, who gets knocked off one of the other coins or bills to make room for Obama? Washington? Jefferson? Roosevelt? Or, you could wind up putting Obama on a denomination that gets no significant circulation.

I think Old Abe would be right proud to share his coin with the first President that at least looks like he could have had slave ancestors.

(A special thanks to my colleague, Xiong Neng Her, for the execution of the design.)