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Saturday, November 01, 2003

Slavery Versus Freedom

During the period immediately preceding the civil war, southern slaves were better off than their northern free counterparts by every physical measure. For example, the slaves were taller, heavier, had more daily calories to eat, had a longer life-expectancy, and had higher birth rates. This makes sense in a perverse sort of way, since slaves where "property" and their owners invested in their property to maximize utility. The northern, free blacks had nobody investing in them.

Of course, even though the southern slaves were physically better off and more comfortable, none of the northern blacks sold themselves into southern slavery to achieve that comfort. Freedom was worth far more to them than comfort. In fact, according to this:
"What slaves hated most about slavery was not the hard work to which they were subjected (most people in the rural United States expected to engage in hard physical labor), but the lack of control over their lives - their lack of freedom."
While you might think that statement is blisteringly obvious, it's amazing to me how quickly people nowadays are willing to trade their freedom for a little security, whether it be support for the Patriot Act or the FDA, ignoring the evisceration of the Rule of Law, tolerance for bureaucratic meddling and high taxes, or support for soon to be bankrupt programs like Social Security or Medicare.

Apparently, freedom doesn't seem like it's all that important until you don't have it anymore.

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