Slavery, A First World Tendency

Traveling grants perspective. We can’t be sure, but we think this must be especially true for Americans…

Americans long ago settled for convenience over freedom: Paved roads and more commercial space per capita than any other nation on earth… to go along with various prohibitions on personal behavior, expanded domestic spying by police, the TSA and the biggest prison population per capita in the world.

Why be concerned with the prison population? Because the state is caging a lot of people who have neither killed, nor raped nor stolen. According to Wikipedia:

Perhaps the single greatest force behind the growth of the prison population has been the national “war on drugs.” The number of incarcerated drug offenders has increased twelvefold since 1980. In 2000, 22 percent of those in federal and state prisons were convicted on drug charges.

But don’t drugs get to the enduser by criminal means that often involve violent cartel conflict somewhere along the line? Absolutely, but only because the state makes drugs illegal, resulting in extralegal black markets. The state says it’s for own good, but we can’t help but notice that it also serves to increase the power of the state to monitor and to police.

It’s bad enough that inflation-fueled nationalizations have become the norm in the U.S., that the government crowds out real job growth by stifling small business while bailing out failed big ones.

But what about the other legal indignities, all the other ways the authorities remind you that you and your property aren’t really yours?

Why can’t we drink on the sidewalk? Or smoke in bars? They manage to do it in other parts of the world without civilization collapsing around their ears…or even an increase in violence or cancer rates!

In Acapulco at night the streets are crowded both with parents, their young children, the elderly and tipsy young men holding bottles of Corona. It is lively but peace reigns. Perhaps people are just nicer when they aren’t constantly stressed out by being over-regulated.

People smoke in restaurants and as long as the air is circulating, no one else seems to be bothered.

Since 2006 it has been legal to possess varying amounts of “hard” drugs for personal use–though, comically, selling these drugs technically remains illegal.

Prostitution is also technically illegal, but pretty open. Every strip club doubles as a bordello, and of course there are the actual bordellos!

A mark of true civilization is civility. The people peacefully seeking their own enjoyment are able to mingle with people raising their families, all without discomfort or conflict. Sure their officials are all probably to a one thieving criminals–this is still Latin America–but the people of Acapulco themselves live blissfully free of the state’s heavy handed interference in their personal goings-about.

“All well and good for the rest of the world,” says the American conservative who claims to love “freedom” (as long as it’s done his way), “but I don’t want to be surrounded by drug use and prostitution!”

But, dear conservative control freak, you already are! This stuff goes on all around you anyway. It’s probably going on in at least one house within a couple miles of yours as you read this. And it manages not to bother you because it really isn’t any more your business than other habits and pleasures your neighbors may have.

No amount of “war” on the arbitrarily declared vice crimes (alcohol is okay, but marijuana is not?) by the state with your blessing will end practices you don’t like…unless maybe you turn the joint into a theocratic tyranny of the Middle East variety.

Criminalization just drives the behavior underground while giving the state the authority to regulate more and to seize property and cage any of us in an effort to fight “wars” against personal practices. Such laws are just prejudices backed by guns.

And in the U.S. we get it with both barrels, both financial and personal interference a la the state. They overtax us, steal from us by means of inflation and then tell us what we can do with willing partners and with ourselves. The liberals cheer on the seizure of property for redistribution while the conservatives cheer the government’s ownership of our bodies.

Yet Americans are still convinced that they love freedom. Personally we scarcely know anyone in the States who has a clue what that particular word means. And most of that small number who do are heading for the exits so they can experience it.

When they leave they leave the white, white world of Western Civilization entirely. They head for Asia…or Latin America. The latter seems to be especially popular.

Maybe it’s something just basic to the essence of the West. It’s the West after all that prides itself on being the birthplace of democracy. As if that’s something to crow about! Democracy is just a system of mass mutual slavery. Everybody owns everybody else and this power of ownership is represented by the vote. Woe be to the people–and their property–in the minority group when it’s time to count those votes.

Maybe it’s genetic. The typical American comes from European stock and though he reflexively yells “liberty” and “freedom”, he has a hard time letting go of slavery. He stopped thrusting it on imported Africans, but seemed to miss it so much that he started inflicting it on himself and his kin.

He enslaves the unborn to debt, the worker to the unproductive, the hedonist to the moralist, and so on.

Yet it’s this same set of hypocrites who gave us a higher standard of living due to technological innovation in robust free markets. It was their European ancestors who gave the world most of the advances in the hard sciences in the first place.

We’re not entirely sure what to make of it. It warrants further consideration. We suspect this would best be undertaken on beach somewhere south of the U.S. border.


Gary Gibson
Managing editor, Whiskey & Gunpowder

The Daily Reckoning