An Enduring Institution, and Democracy!

Column by Paul Hein.
 
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Some might jump to the conclusion that the world’s oldest enduring institution is prostitution, and they wouldn’t be far wrong. But in fact, the holder of the title is not prostitution, but slavery. Not only is it alive and well, but thriving.
 
We’ve dealt with the subject of slavery before, but what made me think of it again was a picture in the newspaper. It showed a beaming mayor of St. Louis, evidently at some sort of celebration with several firemen, also smiling broadly. What made them so happy? The headline gave the answer: Earnings Tax Survives. Long-suffering St. Louisans would have to pony up about $140 million yearly to support the projects of the Rulers, and very likely, some of that loot will find its way into the pockets of the city’s employees--like the firemen and mayor. Of course they’re smiling!
 
The accompanying article noted that the voter turnout was “better than expected,” at 20%. Ninety percent of those favored the tax! Democracy at work, right? Majority rule! But wait: the population of the city, exclusive of the surrounding county, is only 319, 294. Of those, there are 239,000 registered voters, and, we’re told, about 20% of them, or 47,800, actually went to the polls. And 90% of these, or 43,000, voted for the tax. So the decision to tax 319,000 St. Louisans was made by 43,000 of them, or 13%. In other words, 87% of the city’s population did NOT vote for the tax. Commenting on the election, the mayor said, “I was very pleased with all the people who came together. The future of our city was at stake.” “All the people,” Mr. Mayor? And what was at stake was your own agenda, and your pocketbook--and those of your fellow employees of the municipal corporation. The vast majority of St. Louisans obviously did not attach much significance to the election.
 
I haven’t been able to learn the number of employees of the city, but I would not be surprised to learn that they, and those who depend upon them, and retirees, and their families, and those doing business with the city, would be a significant proportion of the 43,000 who voted to compel their fellow St. Louisans to support them and their projects. The general public was obviously not particularly interested in the election (they should have been!) but there can be no doubt that the city’s employees were strongly urged to get out the vote! And, evidently, they did.
 
How would you define slavery? Would it be correct to say that a slave is someone who is compelled to work for the benefit of another? Is it necessary that 100% of his output, or nearly that, be turned over to the master, if the worker is to be considered a slave? If the worker is encouraged to think of himself as free, and an employee, and allowed to keep a goodly portion of what he makes, he will be much more productive, and the overseer, with his whip, will be unnecessary. But he still faces punishment should he have the temerity to attempt to keep all of his production for himself!
 
Does the slave have the right to say how his production is to be used by those who take it from him? Of course not! So the St. Louisan who has his output seized by the city will also have more of it seized by, and for, the state, and still more for the benefit of the federal gang. And in no instance will he have any control over the process, so that the product of the sweat of his brow might well end up in the account of some despot in a third world country, or financing something which is abhorrent to him right here at home.
 
Slavery has become quite sophisticated, and much more profitable to the slave-owners than in the olden days of overt “involuntary servitude,” which is forbidden by the Constitution. Unless, of course, the slavery is for the benefit of the Rulers. In that case--and many others, the Constitution be damned, or, more likely, ignored. And that has been the case since the time the ink dried on that document.
 

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"I would not be surprised to learn that they, and those who depend upon them, and retirees, and their families, and those doing business with the city, would be a significant proportion of the 43,000 who voted to compel their fellow St. Louisans to support them and their projects."

Yes, we had this issue in Oregon. Oregon statute (or maybe constitution) mandated something like 6 different days a year to use for elections. The teacher's union of course would hold elections for tax hikes to "support schools" on the low-turnout election days - that is, days that weren't primary or general elections. And of course they came out in force on those days, days when most people didn't even know an election was going on. It got so bad that some irate citizens put an initiative on the ballot that any tax measure outside of the regular primary or general election dates requires at least a 50% turnout of registered voters to pass. You should have heard the hogs squeal when that passed!