I’m an abolitionist – I want to abolish slavery.
“Wasn’t that already done 150 years ago?”
Ah, no my friend, here you have stumbled onto the best kept secret of these last two centuries – that slavery never went away. It’s still here, right with us. And it is everywhere.
“What are you talking about? Neither I nor you can own slaves.”
No, we cannot. But there is an entire class of people who can… but before I blow your mind with information you might not be ready to comprehend, let me ask you a question: How would you define or identify a slave?
“I guess… a slave is someone who is forced to work for another.”
Right! That’s a pretty good definition. So the key word here is “forced”. If I work for another of my own free will, I am not a slave, but simply an employee, correct?
So the primary determinant of whether my work is regular employment, or slavery, is whether I consent to the interaction.
“Yup. If you consent, you’re okay. But if you’re forced to work for someone else, such as on a plantation, even though you don’t want to – then you’re a slave.”
Excellent. Now my second question for you: is it ever possible to extract 100% of a slave’s labor?
“How do you mean?”
Well, let’s say a slave on a plantation can produce $100 worth of crops per week. Is it possible to take all that money from him?
“I guess, why not?”
Well, wouldn’t the slave then die of hunger and cold?
“Oh, right – I suppose that a portion of the earnings, perhaps $10 worth, would have to be spent on shelter and food, to keep the slave alive.”
Right, so while it’s possible to work a slave to death – that’s obviously bad for business. A dead slave produces no income. Therefore, not only do slaves require minimal upkeep, but it’s often a good idea to spend a little bit more, to make sure the slave is healthy enough to productively do physical labor.
“Absolutely. It makes a lot of sense to keep the slaves healthy enough, because that actually makes them more productive.”
So a human being is a slave if he does not consent to his employment, even if he receives certain benefits from it (such as the food and shelter).
“Yes – the proportion of the extracted income from him is irrelevant. Even if he gets to benefit from 10% of his income, what matters is that the 90% is taken from him without his consent, without his permission.”
Alright, well do you think there’s a point at which, on a sliding scale, he suddenly becomes not a slave? I mean, if 80% is taken from him, is he still a slave?
“Yes, of course.”
What about 70%, or even as low as 50%?
“Definitely! As I agreed with you, the prime determinant of slavery is whether or not he consents to it. If theft is a one-time taking of someone’s property without their consent, then doing it on a regular basis, as if the person himself were the slave-master’s property, makes it slavery.”
Then you are ready to understand, that we are all of us, those who pay taxes, slaves. Already in the U.S., the average American taxpayer pays over half his salary to the government. He literally spends 197 days working for the government, before he can start working for himself. It’s a lot worse in most of Europe.
Why has the quantity of income extracted from a slave fallen – from perhaps 90%, to a mere 50%? As you said it before – productivity! A better clothed and fed slave is simply more efficient, and yields a greater overall produce. Greater enough, in fact, that the reduction in the tax rate is more than justified by the increase in tax revenues.
Have you ever heard liberals say that taxes need to go up, and conservatives respond by pointing to the Laffer curve that shows how, to a point, lower taxes actually increase overall taxation? That’s what they’re talking about – how to most efficiently extract produce and manage their slaves on the human farm.
You see – we are free-range slaves. At some point, it was discovered that being allowed to make-believe that we can own property, and allowing us to choose our profession and where we live, makes us that much more motivated and productive.
But we are no less slaves for it.
And how do we know it’s slavery?
There’s no consent. If I say “I do not consent to paying taxes and spending half of every hour working for the government – I believe it to be slavery”, you know what will happen to me? Government thugs will first threaten me with a series of letters, demanding money. If I ignore the threats, I will be tried in a government court that supports slavery, and which will conclude that yes, indeed, I must pay them money whether I want to or not.
And if I refuse, they will break into my house and take my property by force. And if I have the audacity to resist this injustice, and defend my rightfully acquired property, I will be beaten, thrown in jail, or even killed.
And if I wish to consume a substance that harms no one but myself, I must first check whether I have permission from government, for if I imbibe a prohibited leaf, I may also find myself thrown in jail. What is government deciding what I can and cannot do to my body, if not government assuming ownership over me? It is slavery!
And most people in this community, the willing slaves, will wholeheartedly support this. If I complain, they will say, “If you don’t like it – leave!”
But why? Why should I leave? I live on property whose owner is happy for me to be here. I harm no one. I transact voluntarily to obtain money, and spend that money in mutually consensual trades around town.
But if I do not pay my slave-masters money, and if I do not follow each one of their rules for slaves, I will be punished and thrown into a cage.
Perhaps I should instead say that I will be punished, and thrown into a smaller cage.
For “none are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.”