The 3:10 to Serfdom

Humanity's struggle for freedom, the struggle to own oneself and the value of one's labor, has been long, arduous, and bloody.  It continues today, the latest flashpoint being the nation once known as the Last Best Hope of Earth, where a citizenry drunk with one too many  shots of magical thinking  and 100-proof suspensions  of disbelief has shakily handed over the car keys to a messianic ideologue who just got his learner's permit. 

We no longer have to worry about driving down the Road to Serfdom: we are already parked in the cul-de-sac. Ironically, we have been here before, in a different time, with different players.  If history doesn't quite repeat itself, as Mark Twain said, it sometimes rhymes.

In 1934, as FDR demagogued his way through the long, long Great Depression, Herbert Hoover wrote the following in his book, The Challenge to Liberty:

"Thus the scene of the tragedy of Liberty world over must be suffering and discontent among the people. The drama moves swiftly in a torrent of words in which real purposes are disguised in portrayals of Utopia; idealism without realism; slogans, phrases and statements destructive to confidence in existing institutions; demands for violent action against slowly curable ills; unfair representation that sporadic wickedness is the system itself; searing prejudice against the former order; dismay and panic in the economic organization which feeds on its own despair. Emotions rise above reason. The man on horseback, ascending triumphantly to office on the steps of constitutional process, demands and threatens the parliament into the delegation of its sacred power. Then follows consolidation of authority through powerful propaganda in the pay of the state to transform the mentality of the people. Resentment of criticism, denunciation of all opposition, moral terrorization, all follow in sequence. The last scene is the suppression of freedom. Liberty dies of the water from her own well-free speech- poisoned by untruth."

Serfs were not slaves, but neither were they free.  Although they were not the property of their lord, the value of their labor was.  The serf was first and foremost required to perform services for the lord of the manor, who could claim up to one-third of a serf's working time. 

According to the Tax Foundation, Tax Freedom Day in the United States in 1940 was March 7.  In feudal times, Involuntary Servitude Freedom Day would have been April 10 or so.  In 2008, Tax Freedom Day was April 23.  Do the math.  And be sure to keep an eraser handy, because the new lord of the manor is just getting started.
Humanity's struggle for freedom, the struggle to own oneself and the value of one's labor, has been long, arduous, and bloody.  It continues today, the latest flashpoint being the nation once known as the Last Best Hope of Earth, where a citizenry drunk with one too many  shots of magical thinking  and 100-proof suspensions  of disbelief has shakily handed over the car keys to a messianic ideologue who just got his learner's permit. 

We no longer have to worry about driving down the Road to Serfdom: we are already parked in the cul-de-sac. Ironically, we have been here before, in a different time, with different players.  If history doesn't quite repeat itself, as Mark Twain said, it sometimes rhymes.

In 1934, as FDR demagogued his way through the long, long Great Depression, Herbert Hoover wrote the following in his book, The Challenge to Liberty:

"Thus the scene of the tragedy of Liberty world over must be suffering and discontent among the people. The drama moves swiftly in a torrent of words in which real purposes are disguised in portrayals of Utopia; idealism without realism; slogans, phrases and statements destructive to confidence in existing institutions; demands for violent action against slowly curable ills; unfair representation that sporadic wickedness is the system itself; searing prejudice against the former order; dismay and panic in the economic organization which feeds on its own despair. Emotions rise above reason. The man on horseback, ascending triumphantly to office on the steps of constitutional process, demands and threatens the parliament into the delegation of its sacred power. Then follows consolidation of authority through powerful propaganda in the pay of the state to transform the mentality of the people. Resentment of criticism, denunciation of all opposition, moral terrorization, all follow in sequence. The last scene is the suppression of freedom. Liberty dies of the water from her own well-free speech- poisoned by untruth."

Serfs were not slaves, but neither were they free.  Although they were not the property of their lord, the value of their labor was.  The serf was first and foremost required to perform services for the lord of the manor, who could claim up to one-third of a serf's working time. 

According to the Tax Foundation, Tax Freedom Day in the United States in 1940 was March 7.  In feudal times, Involuntary Servitude Freedom Day would have been April 10 or so.  In 2008, Tax Freedom Day was April 23.  Do the math.  And be sure to keep an eraser handy, because the new lord of the manor is just getting started.