If you were born in America, you were born on the American plantation. It’s not the worst plantation, and it is not the best. But we are slaves here, we have masters, and we cannot so easily escape… not without dire consequences.
Harriet Tubman said:
“I freed a thousand slaves, and I could have freed a thousand more, if only they knew they were slaves”.
Let’s start at birth, when the government gives us a social security number. This number will follow us throughout our lives. It is required to start a bank account, get a job, buy a house, get a loan, etcetera. If we work hard enough, we are told, and if we survive long enough, this number will be our key to a happy, prosperous retirement!
At the beginning, when the laws of Animal Farm were first formulated, the retiring age had been fixed for horses and pigs at twelve, for cows at fourteen, for dogs at nine, for sheep at seven, and for hens and geese at five. Liberal old-age pensions had been agreed upon. As yet no animal had actually retired on pension, but of late the subject had been discussed more and more. Now that the small field beyond the orchard had been set aside for barley, it was rumoured that a corner of the large pasture was to be fenced off and turned into a grazing-ground for superannuated animals.
That is an excerpt from Animal Farm, and spoiler alert, the horse Boxer doesn’t get to retire in the pasture, he gets turned into glue.
But anyway, suppose I make it through my slave training (public schooling) and decide the life of a slave isn’t really for me—suppose I think I don’t really have to work for the government my whole life. What can I do?
Can I go get a piece of land, set up shop, and forget about the outside world? Well first I will need to labour enough to earn $200,000. That would take about 8 years on a $10/hour wage, but with taxes it will take at very least ten years, saving practically every cent that isn’t taxed away. Ten years a slave, and I will be free! Now I am 28, and ready to start my life.
I got my land! I won’t take anything from society or the government. I’m just going to stay on my property, grow my own food, build my own shelter, not use outside electricity, not use outside water, and fend for myself, okay? Nope, I must earn some money to pay the property taxes. Well fine, at least I can minimize my slave labor to the state, and be a 92% free man. I manage to get a $10/hour job, and work only 4 weeks a year to pay the $1,600 property tax on my modest home.
But wait, if I am going to earn $1,600 per year, the state and federal governments need a piece as well! Even if I get my withholding back, the social security and medicare is still taken. Fine, whatever, I only need to work another 3 days to pay for those taxes.
Oh wait, since I need to get a job to pay my taxes, I will need a way to get to and from the job. I’ll just get a heap of a vehicle, spend only $2,000 which will take me 5 weeks to earn enough to buy. Just kidding, I will also be taxed on that income, so it will take me 6 weeks to earn enough. But actually, there is also a 5% sales tax, and a yearly excise tax of $50, so make that almost 7 weeks. If I am lucky, next year I won’t have to work so much for my vehicle, but chances are it will need repairs.
Okay, okay, I can deal with working 11 weeks per year as a slave to the government, just so that I can live on my own piece of property. I forgot about gas, damn it! Alright another 3 weeks of work per year (almost one third of that labour going to pay the taxes on the gas). I am determined to only be a slave to the government 14 weeks per year! And every second of that labour, and every cent earned is only to get the government “their” money, simply because I was born on one of these 4 million square acres we call America. It is slave labour so that the other 38 weeks a year you can be left alone on your property to somehow figure out how to survive.
Except… you kind of need a shelter, and cannot build one without a permit, unless you want to risk a steep fine, subjecting you to further slave labour. Uhg! $100 for a building permit? Another $100 to get a permit to keep animals? Fine. That’s another week when you figure in more taxes, gas, and taxes on the gas. So it looks like someone might conceivably be able to get away with being a part time slave to the government, only 29% of each year. The rest of the year will be that much more grueling to create enough to live on, since 1/3 of your time must be spent laboring for the plantation owners.
Isn’t There an Alternative?
How about I just move into the mountains, hunt and gather, and leave society behind? What? A Runaway slave, you say?! You will be arrested and imprisoned for living on government land in the national, state, or local parks. Or else you will be kidnapped and caged for living on someone else’s private property.
Well can I just choose a different plantation? Yeah, I guess… but my slave labor will not add up to much less, and possibly even more under the new slave owners. Oh right, it also costs $2,350 to denounce your U.S. citizenship. Work makes you free. Hmmm, where have I heard that before…
But I am sure I could find enough friends and strangers to lend me their land for hunting and gathering. Ha! Where’s your health insurance? You need to buy health insurance (another 4 weeks of slave labor at least) or pay the fine; currently only less than a week of slave labor. But alas, I cannot simply earn this money and be done, I must earn enough extra to pay the taxes, and get me to and from my slave job.
Not minding being a slave does not mean you are not a slave. As Harriet Tubman expressed, many people are not even aware that they are slaves. The master gives us a shack to live in, and scraps to eat, as long as we keep laboring away day in and day out in order to fund the plantation owners and slave masters. And if we are so uppity as to question why we must be slaves while others are masters, we will get lashings, or a cage, or our family will be split up, or we will be killed.
People stealing from you, and forcing you to labor for them is not okay just because they call themselves the government. I’m not claiming to be Harriet Tubman. I am simply a fellow slave trying to wake some of the other slaves up before she comes back around to lead more of us to freedom.