Last week’s article provides the foundational constructs for the assertions and conclusions found herein. If you did not read last week’s article, stop reading. Read last week’s article first then come back and read this one. This article touches on several topics; some loosely coupled and others tightly coupled. While mankind has progressed tremendously since our founding, the country has regressed detrimentally in regards to natural rights, individual rights and liberty, property rights, consent of the governed, limited government, and the rule of law.
Who owns you? Who owns your body? Who owns your life? Hopefully, everyone believes they are the owners of their lives and body. To believe someone else owns your body or your life is to believe in some form of slavery.
Undoubtedly the word slavery conjures up thoughts and images of white plantation owners forcing blacks to work for them, treating them as property — chattel. While race was the issue in slavery as we know it in the United States, race isn’t the only factor. Slavery has been a worldwide issue for thousands of years. Women and children have been forced into slavery. Ethnic groups have been forced into slavery. Certain religious believers have been forced into slavery.
Some dictionary definitions of slavery and the conditions of slavery are:
- Involuntary subjugation of a person to another or others.
- Severe toil; drudgery.
- A state of subjugation or captivity often involving burdensome and degrading labor.
- Submission to a dominating influence.
The one common thread across all forms of slavery is forcing a person to labor against their will for the benefit of another (or others). It is a condition where a person or group of people have absolute power over a person’s life and liberty. Certainly, if slavery is wrong when based on race, it must be wrong when based on ethnicity, gender, age, or religious beliefs. There is simply no justification for slavery.
We can all conclude slavery is inhumane, immoral, vile, and disgusting. Under no circumstances can civil society condone slavery in any form.
Last week’s article established every individual is responsible for preserving their life. To preserve life one must produce. What one produces is one’s property. Therefore, the absolute right to property is fundamental, transcendent, and immutable as it is how every individual preserves his life.
The Law by Frederic Bastiat reveals the naked truth on property and plunder. Bastiat wrote:
Man can live and satisfy his wants only by ceaseless labor; by the ceaseless application of his faculties to natural resources. This process is the origin of property.
But it is also true that a man may live and satisfy his wants by seizing and consuming the products of the labor of others. This process is the origin of plunder.
It is evident, then, that the proper purpose of law is to use the power of its collective force to stop this fatal tendency to plunder instead of to work. All the measures of the law should protect property and punish plunder. But, generally, the law is made by one man or one class of men. And since law cannot operate without the sanction and support of a dominating force, this force must be entrusted to those who make the laws. Thus it is easy to understand how law, instead of checking injustice, becomes the invincible weapon of injustice. It is easy to understand why the law is used by the legislator to destroy in varying degrees among the rest of the people, their personal independence by slavery, their liberty by oppression, and their property by plunder. This is done for the benefit of the person who makes the law, and in proportion to the power that he holds.
It is impossible to introduce into society a greater change and a greater evil than this: the conversion of the law into an instrument of plunder. What are the consequences of such a perversion? In the first place, it erases from everyone’s conscience the distinction between justice and injustice. No society can exist unless the laws are respected to a certain degree. The safest way to make laws respected is to make them respectable. When law and morality contradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law. These two evils are of equal consequence, and it would be difficult for a person to choose between them.
The nature of law is to maintain justice. This is so much the case that, in the minds of the people, law and justice are one and the same thing. There is in all of us a strong disposition to believe that anything lawful is also legitimate. This belief is so widespread that many persons have erroneously held that things are “just” because law makes them so. Thus, in order to make plunder appear just and sacred to many consciences, it is only necessary for the law to decree and sanction it. Slavery, restrictions, and monopoly find defenders not only among those who profit from them but also among those who suffer from them.
French political thinker and historian Alexis de Tocqueville’s seminal work, Democracy in America, makes several astute observations regarding individuals and the American political system. De Tocqueville says:
Americans are so enamored of equality, they would rather be equal in slavery than unequal in freedom. Democracy extends the sphere of individual freedom, socialism restricts it. Democracy attaches all possible value to each man; socialism makes each man a mere agent, a mere number. Democracy and socialism have nothing in common but one word: equality. But notice the difference: while democracy seeks equality in liberty, socialism seeks equality in restraint and servitude. When the taste for physical gratifications among them has grown more rapidly than their education . . . the time will come when men are carried away and lose all self-restraint . . . . It is not necessary to do violence to such a people in order to strip them of the rights they enjoy; they themselves willingly loosen their hold. . . . they neglect their chief business which is to remain their own masters.
It is above all in the present democratic age that the true friends of liberty and human grandeur must remain constantly vigilant and ready to prevent the social power from lightly sacrificing the particular rights of a few individuals to the general execution of its designs. In such times there is no citizen so obscure that it is not very dangerous to allow him to be oppressed, and there are no individual rights so unimportant that they can be sacrificed to arbitrariness with impunity.
A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship. The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years.
Bastait and De Tocqueville share some common themes in their writing. Both refer to justice and the law. Both refer to the use of the law for legal plunder. Both refer to the individual as the rightful master of their own destiny; the master of their rights, life, liberty, and property.
In 21st century America legal plunder is the new norm. Not only is legal plunder acceptable, both political parties partake in the enterprise and benefit from it. Under the veil of legitimacy, the illusion that the law is sacred, and that any law is the supreme law of the land the people concede, willingly or through ignorance and apathy, the very things that make us human and unique individuals. The politicians use sophistry, deception, manipulation, and lies to consolidate power into one central authority consisting of a few hundred people. They no longer function as a fiduciary, a public trustee, and an agent and guardian of the people. Certainly, the cabal has no interest in preserving individual rights, life, liberty, and property rights.
Recall, the one common thread across all forms of slavery is forcing a person to labor against their will for the benefit of another. It is a condition where one person or group of people have absolute power over a person’s life and liberty. There is no justification for slavery.
If at any time someone or some entity forces you to work and then confiscates whatever you produce you are a slave. If someone takes half of what you produce you are half a slave. If someone takes one day’s worth of what you produce you’re a slave for a day. That is the very definition of forced labor or slavery.
First through taxation, then through inflation government confiscates your work product –your property, which impacts your ability to preserve yourself and your family. Excessive government taxation plunders property. Monetary policy destroys property through currency debasement causing inflation and a loss of wealth and purchasing power. Our money is plundered by wasteful and profligate government spending.
Those that work to preserve their lives, to produce, have the only rightful claim to their property. Favored political organizations, private industries, individual businesses, and blocks of voters are the recipients of this plunder. The government through the threat of fines, prison, or worse confiscate property from its rightful owners and redistribute it to those that have absolutely no rightful claim to it. There are hundreds upon hundreds of explanations government uses in an attempt to justify their actions.
In the end, it is simply legal plunder and the government is the modern day plantation owner.
The abhorrent institution of chattel slavery was abolished 150 years ago. Today, we are debt slaves to the masters running the government plantation. If slavery is illegal and one person cannot force another person to work for them against their will, under what legal or moral authority does government possess the power to enslave generations of Americans? Indeed, life in 21st century America is Life on the Government Plantation.
In one sentence Bastait captured the essence of our peril. He said, “[t]he law is used by the legislator to destroy in varying degrees among the rest of the people, their personal independence by slavery, their liberty by oppression, and their property by plunder.”
Just as a slave does not consent to unlimited submission to another, free people do not consent to unlimited submission to government. Too often government shackles are placed upon the wrists and ankles of those turning to government for largesse, the property of others, or simply an easier way to preserve their lives then to produce. How far have we regressed as a society if free men willingly surrender their freedom and liberty by submitting to government masters demanding compliance, obedience, and a vote. There are none so blind as those that will not see.
One of my favorite quotes from Sam Adams rings true today as it did in the late 1700s. “If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and my posterity forget that you were our countrymen.”
The uncomfortable truth is government has transformed itself into the modern day slave holder. Government caused problems along with government based solutions are responsible for our condition. Aided and abetted by a complacent and apathetic populace ignorant of history and our founding principles Americans are delivering society into perpetual bondage at the hands of their government masters.