The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


March 21, 2014

My Turn: Slavery in America

On Jan. 1, 1863 Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation thus accelerating the demise of slavery in the United States, a problem that had been festering for decades.

Then, following the end of the Civil War, the 13th Amendment to the U S Constitution was ratified:

Section 1: “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

Section 2: “Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”

Based on those two powerful actions by the Chief Executive and the constitutionally authorized federal/state ratification process, slavery in the United States was eradicated. It no longer exists.

Or does it?

Certainly the kind of slavery prevalent in the first half of the 19th century is gone; but today there is a more insidious, more addictive form in our country — economic servitude. A significant and growing segment of the U.S. population is dependent on some form of government assistance.

In “Federalist 79” Alexander Hamilton wrote “In the general course of human nature, a power over a man’s subsistence amounts to a power over his will.” Given Hamilton’s observation of human nature, which is hard to dispute, is slavery in America really dead?

Progressive/liberal politicians like to wrap themselves in the cloak of “social justice.” Two carefully chosen words meant to soothe, to lull, to say “trust us — we’re for justice — how can that be bad?” Actually, much of the justice they seek to advance is the kind that gives them power over the subsistence of the people they profess to help. The more they help the more control they exert. Those helped become enslaved. Their subsistence depends on the helpers, thus they are no longer free. We own you. Vote for us or we will take away your next meal, your baby’s formula, your cell phone, your federally-subsidized low-rate mortgage, your unemployment check, your ability to heat your home!

How can an ideology whose programs actually enslave people be considered “just?”

Oppression can be harsh or gentle; seemingly benign or iron-fisted. Either way, the result is the same — you are no longer free.

If you take a dispassionate, reasoned look at the policies advanced by the current administration you will see a pattern. The extension of federal unemployment benefits, the attempt to raise the minimum wage, Obamacare, modifications to the rules governing overtime pay, HARP loans, free cell phones for low-income people, the expansion of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) — all these programs have one thing in common — they are monetary in nature and provide direct sustenance to the recipients.

The above list just scratches the surface. If you really want to be shocked and convinced of the insidious, pervasive nature of government pulling the strings that control people’s lives, go online and search “Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance.” The publication is as the title describes: More than 3,000 pages documenting more than 2,000 federal programs. That’s a stack of paper almost a foot tall.

In spite of Nancy Pelosi’s recent declaration that “the cupboard is bare”, I’m pretty sure if you examined those pages you would find many instances of duplication, overlap and obsolescence. Senator Tom Coburn has decried that very thing, but no one in the federal government does anything about it. After all, if you take a benefit away, you run the risk of angering some constituency and losing control over their lives and their votes.

A recent op-ed inThe Daily Item cited 1.8 million Pennsylvanians as receiving SNAP benefits. Given a 2012 population of 12.7 million that means 14.2 percent is dependent on the federal government for nutrition assistance alone.

The federal government is guilty of overtly selling a program that runs counter to the desire of the people and expands the culture of dependency. It also demonstrates Hamilton’s caveat — the subsistence of this group of people will now depend on their subsidy; hence their free will has been usurped. It also violates Section 1 of the 13th Amendment.

No one will dispute that there are those in society who truly need help, the orphan, the aged and infirm, the wounded veteran, those with a congenital disease. A civilized society has an obligation to help those who truly cannot help themselves and are in that situation through no fault of their own. Suffice to say there are those who have made themselves susceptible to the narcotic of dependency or enslavement through their own poor choices.

I agree with Hamilton. Even though the majority of people — black, white, Hispanic, Asian, you name it — would rather be in control of their own lives, once they are enslaved by liberal programs that put them into servitude, breaking free becomes difficult.

Wouldn’t you rather be free?

“The problems we face today are there because the people who work for a living are now outnumbered by those who vote for a living.” — Milton Friedman

Stan Zellers, of Lewisburg, is a member of the Susquehanna Valley Conservatives.

Text Only
The Daily Marquee

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.