Slavery is defined as ‘submission to a dominating influence’. Surely, any reasonable person would agree that all citizens are expected to submit to the dominion of the government by obeying the law. For the purposes of this article, we will consider the more technical definition of slavery, a definition that sets a much higher bar. In the economic-labor sense, slavery is the complete ownership of a person and their sovereignty, and thus the product of their labor. This, of course, results in the mandatory confiscation of 100% of the monetary value of the product of their labor.
In order to properly discuss the concepts of self-ownership and slavery, we must begin the conversation at a point where every individual on any part of the political spectrum would agree: If the government were to confiscate (read: tax) 100% of one’s income, he would essentially be a slave, because he would be forced to surrender 100% of the product of his labor, and because taxation is ultimately enforced by the threat of violence. None of the 7 federal income tax brackets are close to 100%, though. Now that President Trump’s Tax Cuts & Jobs Act decreased the tax rates, the federal income tax brackets stand at 10, 12, 22, 24, 32, 35, and 37 percent.
On top of federal income taxes, Democrat-run states like California take up to 13% from workers’ paychecks by threat of force (read: violence). Just like that, those paying the highest marginal tax rates may already be giving over 50% of their income to the government under threat of force – causing them to become half slaves.
Income taxes are only one of many taxes levied by the federal, state, and local governments in the United States. There are around 50-100 different taxes individual Americans are forced to pay. For instance, my small house costs me $5,000 per year in property taxes; many of my friends throughout New Hampshire are forced to pay much more. New Hampshire also forces people to register their cars, and the accompanying registration fee may be a few hundred or a few thousand dollars. I paid over $3,000 in tolls per year when I lived in NYC, and I didn’t ever use the Verrazano bridge, whose $19 toll is the highest in the city. Few people know this, but business owners must also pay taxes when they earn money (corporate tax) and whenever they pay any employee (payroll tax).
If you add those taxes, middle-class earners might pay a total effective tax rate of 55-60% depending on the state they live in. Keep in mind that we already established that a 100% effective tax rate would be tantamount to slavery. How, then, is a 50% effective tax rate not cause for considering Americans to be 50% slaves?
A case could be made for the argument that slaves who rented their own time from their masters in the 1800’s had more freedom than Americans do today. Once they paid their masters, they were likely able to do anything in the world they wanted short of violent acts. Today, Americans must pay half of their income to their masters AND must always obey the millions of laws, rules, regulations, and constraints imposed by all levels of government.
The only argument in defense of taxation and against the notion that it is modern day slavery is that the politicians who set the tax rates are technically elected by a vote, which somehow justifies any legislation they could ever pass, no matter how immoral. For those who have not yet been taught, ‘democracy’ and ‘majority rule’ are effectively mob rule. The slave-owners in 19th-century America had a majority and, therefore, the law, on their side. Yet, that did not grant them magical moral justification for enslaving others. If majority makes morality and might makes right, then some might say that Hitler did nothing wrong and that gang-rape is totally acceptable.
“The minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.” -Thomas Jefferson
“That can’t be the case!”, one might object. Civilized societies must accept that the Holocaust, gang-rape, and all violence is inherently immoral.
“How should we reconcile morality with majority, then?” and “I learned in school that democracy and voting are what make America a free and fair nation. Were my teachers wrong?” would be the next logical questions.
The United States is not a Democracy. It was established as a Republic, in which every individual retains certain unalienable rights that could never be taken away, even by elected politicians. Among those are the right to property, life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, free speech and expression, the right to bear arms without infringement, the right to privacy from the government, and the right to due process in a court of law.
The ‘voting’ part of the United States was only supposed to be utilized for very few decisions, such as electing politicians for the purpose of regulating some interstate trade and controlling the US military. Clearly, we have allowed the government to grow by massive leaps and bounds over the last 250 years. Today, many Americans have more than half of their money confiscated by force, which is used to fund over 400 federal agencies. Most of these agencies generally function with the primary purpose of controlling people and confiscating their property. Using linear logic and empirical evidence would lead someone to the conclusion that the average American is roughly 50% slave, fiscally speaking. In regards to personal freedom, much more than half of the things that people do on a regular basis are regulated, taxed, or outright illegal. Perhaps our liberties are not being stripped from us and maybe they remain totally intact. After all, we still do have the right to sing about being the Land of the Free’.