Questions for Political True Believers, Part 1

This entry is part 22 of 47 in the series Blog1

 What is Slavery?


Thinker: Do you believe in freedom?

True Believer: Of course


Thinker: How much freedom do you believe in?

True Believer: That’s a strange question.  A lot I guess.


Thinker: Do you believe the burglar should have freedom to enter your home and take your money?

True Believer: No, of course not?


Thinker: So, in some cases you believe there should be restrictions on freedom?

True Believer: I never thought about it that way but I suppose you are correct.


Thinker: So, what then is the principle that determines when we should be free to act or restricted from acting?

True Believer: I would suppose that we should be free to act when that action does not hurt anyone and restricted when an action would cause harm.


Thinker: So laws restricting the freedom to steal, rape, murder and cause definite harm are a good thing?

True Believer: I would think so.


Thinker: Are there other restrictions of freedom that you would support?

True Believer: I’m not sure.


Thinker: How about slavery?

True Believer: Of course, I would not support that.


Thinker: Did you know that slavery was justified in the minds of the slaveholders because it was thought to bring greater freedom?

True Believer: No.  I didn’t know that and it doesn’t make sense.


Thinker: In the days of the Roman Empire as well as the Confederate States, slaveholders defended the practice because they thought it brought their class of people more freedom and created a greater culture. Can you see how they might have thought that the slavery of others enhanced their own freedom?

True Believer: I can see that.  If you have a slave to pick cotton in the hot sun then you would have the freedom to do more enjoyable work or recreation.


Thinker: Did this make slavery correct then?

True Believer: Of course not.


Thinker: Why?

True Believer: It’s just wrong to make slaves of one group of people so another group has greater freedom and opportunity.


Thinker: What is slavery, anyway?

True Believer: I would say it’s where a person is forced to work for another against his will with no way out.


Thinker: I think you captured the essence of it.  There are other ingredients possible but the main one would be: being forced to labor against your will for the benefit of another person or group. Does that sound correct?

True Believer: Yes.


Thinker: What if the slave did really benevolent work?  Would that make it right?

True Believer: What do you mean?


Thinker: For example suppose you were a slaveholder in the Old South and sent your slaves to help construct a schoolhouse, orphanage or even homes for the poor.  Would that make it all right to continue holding slaves?

True Believer: No.  Of course not.


Thinker: Why?

True Believer: Even though the slave is doing a good work he is still not free but forced to work against his will.


Thinker: So would you agree that it is wrong for one group or individual to force another group or individual to work for them even if the slaveholders think the work is good and benefits people?

True Believer: Of course.  I think everyone in this enlightened age believes this.


Thinker: I wouldn’t be so sure.  Let us continue.

True Believer: Okay.


Thinker: You have agreed that slavery is where one is forced to work for the benefit of others against his will.  Do you think this happens in America today?

True Believer: Maybe in sweatshops or with illegal aliens working in the fields.


Thinker: But their labor is not against their will.  Illegal aliens will even risk their lives to come here which tells us their labor is willing, even though, like all of us, they wish they could earn more money. There is a group of people who are forced to labor for others against their will.  Who would that be?

True Believer: I’m not sure.


Thinker: Would you be surprised to learn that many taxpayers are slaves according to the definition we have accepted?

True Believer: I don’t think so. I’m a taxpayer and I’m certainly not a slave.


Thinker: The taxpayer has to labor for his money and if a taxpayer is forced to pay more taxes than he is willing, then the forced payment causes forced labor to generate the money. Tell me. Did you support the war against Iraq?

True Believer: No.


Thinker: Did you support the government taking your money to pay for it?

True Believer: No


Thinker: Then you were forced to labor against your will to come up with that portion of taxes.

True Believer: I suppose, but I would hardly call it slavery.


Thinker: It is true that the overburdened taxpayer does not have all the restrictions of a plantation slave but a significant portion of his labor is forced upon him to pay taxes he doesn’t accept. Tell me… What portion of your income would you be willing to pay for all taxes?

True Believer: I make about $48,000 so I’d say that about 25% would be fair


Thinker: But you are paying much more than that now.  Let’s add them up. At $48,000 your federal tax would be about 19%. Then we have to add in your half of the payroll taxes of 7.65%. Then there is the state and local taxes which would be about 11% for one with your income.  All this adds up to over 37%.  That’s more than you said you’d be willing to pay.

True Believer: Perhaps, but most of it goes toward the public good so I won’t complain.


Thinker: But that’s not all the taxes you pay for there are many hidden ones.  For instance, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce calculates that 6.68% of your income goes toward corporate income taxes. Many do not seem to realize that corporations get their tax money from the people through raising prices.


Also, your employer pays an additional 7.65% of your income base to complete the payroll tax. He could give you that money in a raise if he didn’t have to pay the government.


Excise taxes costs you another 3.2%


Inflation is another hidden tax and usually overages over 3%.  This has the same effect on you as a tax, caused by government overspending.


Finally, we consumers have to indirectly pay for business costs of complying with various regulations and the tremendous accounting costs to comply with the tax code.  These costs are all passed on to us in the goods and services we buy as well as any personal expenses for our own bookkeeping. All this adds up to around 11% of your income.


Here we see the hidden taxes add up to 31.5%.  When we add this to the visible taxes of 37% we arrive at a grand total of 68.5%.  Tell me, my friend, are you really willing to pay that much?

True Believer: I have a hard time believing those figures.  I’ll have to check it out.


Thinker: Let’s say the figures were a little off in your case and you’re really merely paying only 60% of your income to taxes. Would that be over the line for you?

True Believer: If I was really paying 60% or more then, then yes, that would be too much but I have a difficult time accepting those figures.


Thinker: And do you realize that if your real tax rate was around the 25%, which you originally thought was fair, that your real income would most likely be somewhere between $60-70,000 instead of $48,000? Would enough money to buy a new car come in handy for you?

True Believer: Of course, but I still have a difficult time believing your figures.


Thinker: Of course you do for you do not think about these things.  There is some variance in taxes in different areas of the country but you will find that when everything is added up taxes are costing you over 60% of your income, which you just admitted is more than you are willing to pay. Therefore, a lot of your labor is forced upon you to pay taxes that you admit are not fair.  Does this make you a slave?

True Believer: I may be paying more taxes than I want, but I’m not a slave.


Thinker: Is that so?  Did you know that it was common in the Roman Empire to allow a slave the freedom to operate his own business if he would pay a third of the profits to his master? You are paying about twice the tribute that the slave had to pay so what does that make you?

True Believer: You’re twisting things.


Thinker: No, I’m untwisting things so you can see true reality.


Copyright 2012 by J J Dewey

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