A Modest Proposal

The country is increasingly in the grip of discontented protesters who lament the present economic conditions. Capitalism, they claim, has failed us. Year by year those who are already obscenely rich get even richer while the poor become poorer and the middle class shrinks down into poverty. It cannot be denied that capitalism, as it is now practiced, creates huge social problems. The rich live in their gated communities cut off from the needs of the poor, the unemployed, the destitute.

But is socialism the answer? I think not.  Shall the government take from the rich and give to the poor? The only people that benefits are the rich because they must give up some of their wealth, and that must be a good thing. The poor do not benefit because they are given hand outs–and that is demeaning. It encourages indigence, low self esteem, dependence and lack of aspiration. A hand out is not a gift. It is a booby prize.

Capitalism has failed and Socialism has failed. Allow me therefore to make a modest proposal and suggest that we return to the much misunderstood system of slavery. Slavery, as the basis for an economic system, has much to recommend it. Instead of a large, centralized, overblown and expensive bureaucracy, each landowner would raise his own army to defend his land. His standing army would also double as his work force. Slavery would keep the price of labor very low–which would help our country compete globally, and the principle of social welfare is built in very neatly because the landowner (let us call him Lord of the Manor) has a financial interest in the health, welfare, education (and I may add–discipline) of his workforce.

Should we adopt slavery instantly the unemployed would have jobs. The destitute would be housed. The hungry fed and the poor looked after. The unruly would be disciplined. The indigent put to work, the freeloaders encouraged by the homely words of Scripture, “He who would not work–neither should he eat.”

We would, admittedly, sacrifice the principle of ‘individual freedom’, but this is a highly over rated quality, and one which was virtually unheard of until modern times. Indeed, one could argue that ‘individual freedom’ has not existed in our own society anyway since the invention of the television.

And will we really sacrifice ‘freedom’? Think of the freedom the slave enjoys. Freedom from worry about where the next meal will come from. Freedom from paying a mortgage or rent. Freedom from crippling credit card debt. Freedom from making decisions about his future. Freedom from the stress of choosing his own mate. Freedom from the troubles of deciding what he is going to do all day. Freedom from the worries of personal security because they will be locked safely into their homes each evening. Think of the carefree life of the slave–working in our great factories and farms:

Each day they rise to the bright promise of a day full of rewarding work with a congenial group of colleagues of their own background and education. Walking home together arm in arm after a productive day, they will be welcomed by their wives and children for a simple meal. Perhaps after sundown they will all gather at the Lord of the Manor’s home for songs and entertainment and S’mores around the campfire before wandering home tired but happy to collapse into their beds for a satisfying night’s sleep before rising for another day.

The benefits for the landowners are also manifold. They do not need the government to take their money to feed the poor. They will be involved in this joyful duty themselves. Not only will they feed and house the poor, but because the poor live on their land and in their housing they, and their family will know the poor and care for them as members of their extended clan. No need for large government to build schools. The landowners will educate the children of the poor. No need for large government to build expensive armies or pay for the police. Each landowner will defend his own property with his standing army, operate his own justice system should the slaves misbehave (whipping and hanging may at times be necessary evils) and he will not need any of the ‘services’ provided by a central government.

In order to bring about this happy state of affairs I am interested to hear from all people who would like to join a new experimental community in South Carolina. I have secured the use of an old cotton plantation complete with a mansion which is in need of repair and some delightful slave cottages with the hooks still in the walls where chains may be attached. I will be Lord of the Manor and am looking for physically fit, unemployed people who would like to be the first slaves. In order to encourage volunteers I have set aside the sum of $20,000.00 to purchase some lead slaves. I am looking for bright, enthusiastic children of the middle class. Parents who cannot afford college for their children may be very interested in taking up this lucrative offer. Not only will they get paid for their children, but I can guarantee that each young slave will not only receive free room and board, but will also receive full training in a trade or profession free of charge.

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