A Southern slave owner vs the modern democratic state

A scene from the 1977 mini-series Roots

HIDESIGHT

Here’s a question that came up over Christmas: who took the most – a Southern slave owner or the modern democratic state?

The modern democratic state. It’s far more rapacious.

The New Zealand government spends a third of all that we produce. A slave owner took only 10%. The governments we elect are three times more rapacious than slave owners.

Of course, we produce more and so there is a greater surplus over and above what we need to survive and reproduce. The slaves needed 90% of what they produced just to feed and house themselves.

Still, the point remains: The slave worked nine days out of 10 for himself. And one for his owner.

We work two days out of three for ourselves. And one day for the government.

We give up far more of what we produce than slaves did.

Slave owners also knew something our government doesn’t. They looked to the long term and allowed their slaves to keep enough to have the large families they wanted. Our governments don’t.  

Many New Zealand families can’t afford the number of children they would like. That’s because they are having to work one day in three for the government. The result is a fertility rate that hovers around the replacement rate.

Our government keeps New Zealand working families too poor to have all the children they would like.  

The extra child means a bigger car and mum not returning to work. The cost is too great. After taxes, too many families can’t afford the extra child that they would dearly love.

Of course, a chunk of our taxes is paid to families who don’t work to have children. That never happened on the plantation. Even the very fecund had to work.

Slaves had children, and lots of them. Slaves numbered 1.1 million in 1810. They numbered four million by 1860. That quadrupling of slave numbers in two generations was achieved entirely through natural reproduction.

The importation of slaves had been declared illegal in 1807 and the quadrupling was an astonishing rate of natural increase.

As an aside, less than 5% of the slaves shipped across the Atlantic went to the US. The estimate is 500,000. Four million went to Brazil, 2.5 million to the Spanish empire, two million to the British West Indies, 1.6 million to the Dutch West Indies and 500,000 to French West Indies.

The American south was relatively small beer in the slavery trade.

As another aside: more slaves were shipped to Arab countries than to the New World. About 18 million Africans were delivered into the Islamic trans-Saharan and Indian Ocean slave trades between 650 and 1905.

Few survived. That slave trade is largely forgotten about because there are no descendants to remind us.

Of course, this government can’t buy and sell us as slave owners could do with their slaves. It’s perhaps just as well. Slaves were valuable. A fit 25-year-old male sold for $800 in 1850. The average price for a slave that year was $500.

That was a lot of money in the south in those days. Five hundred dollars would buy an average house.

Or consider this comparison: the GDP per capita for the south was $130 in 1850. So in economic status that $500 translates to $NZ180,000 today.

Slaves were a valuable commodity. The government would need only sell the people of Hamilton and Dunedin to clear net debt. But don’t mention that equation to the Left: they will fire up, accusing John Key of planning the sale.

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82 Comments & Questions

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Good article now do one on the company "Her Majesty the Queen in Right of New Zealand" that controls it all...

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Purfect comment Anone...

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Obviously you are fishing for a bite. Well heres a mildly disinterested nibble; the majority of us are wage slaves. Take our jobs away and most of us are 3 months from liquidation. We got a minimum slave labour wage. Wat about a maximum limit fo da massas?

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The reason the West has devolved to a series of semi-police states is because not enough people understand the difference between force and voluntarism any more.

You choose to take a wage job, you have the choice of another wage job if you don't like the one you have, or going into business for yourself.

You don't, however, get a choice over paying tax. None at all. The IRD truly have the powers you would only see of a government department in a full police state.

I remember laughing so hard, once, when a teenager was seriously trying to tell me he was a slave of the capitalist supermarket owner because his body forced him to eat, that I fell off my chair. ACC didn't cover the injury, even though I have no option but pay them either, and in about fourteen different ways.

Mind you, with 95% of teachers belonging to the PPTA following a curriculum document that enshrines individuals, and their pursuit of happiness, being sacrificed to the common good, it's no wonder teenagers are as stupid as this.

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I'm sorry to accuse your writer of half-assed research, but please don't compare slavery with modern government. And don't start the assessment of slavery at the market where those humans were sold; Such inexpert assumptions should never get to print. And when one has a large amount of money to manage, do not forget charity. Take a broader view; exercise your narrower mind.
JR

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The article told us stuff I didn't know. Your comment told us only that you didn't like it. Tough.

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John, you never articulated the assumptions you claim are inexpert. Even three or four would be helpful.

Slavery can be compared with modern government. Just fall out of line with the IRD for a moment.

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Let me try to "articulate the assumptions". Without slaves, the plantation owners would have had NOTHING; the plantations would not have existed and the slaves would have remained. Slave owners did nothing to improve the lot of their slaves despite their self-assured boasts to the contrary. If citizens do not get what they should from government it is their own damn fault. There can be no comparison between a system based on human chattel and modern governments with tax authority. That is the "inexpert assumption" to which Mr. Riding was clearly referring.

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It's not just that he's an idiot (he's that too) it's just that he's in ill-informed, misinforming idiot.

Slave owners took 100%. If they didn't own 100% then they wouldn't have been owning slaves.

Having watched primary school debate teams for the last few years I know who is able to form arguments which make sense and who isn't. This guy wouldn't even be allowed to clean the desks after the kids.

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Interesting article, how far we have progressed,,???

As an aside the reader may be interested in checking out on google;

To the shores of Tripoli, Time.

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Another great slant on the state of our nation, Rodney.
Keep it up!
liberte

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Next lot ladies and gents, a short bald rotund gent who is harmless but has taken leave of his senses. Who'll start me on $500? No? $250? $5 from the lady at the back. Any more offers?

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Mr Hide is, without doubt, living proof of the adage, "Those whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad".

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I guess I don't need to go on about why this is offensive to human decency, so I should mention this is offensive to economic literacy as well.

Why, Rodney, would plantation owners - the richest people in the US and its economic powerhouse - spend the equivalent of a house to buy an "asset" which only provides 36 days of surplus labour a year? It implies that paid labour would have an even lower surplus. That would mean the American economy was about as efficient as subsistence farmers, in the period when it grew into a world power.

You're an embarrassment to heartless capitalism.

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You are comparing the return on the asset with the value of a different asset. What rate of return would you expect? I don't think you've shown much economic literacy yourself.

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At the end of the 18th century Europe was barely above subsistence. At that point the initial growth of the industrial revolution was in population which had been stagnant for centuries but took off due to new farming practices which allowed greater production from a given amount of land. Not until the mid 19th did Europe begin to rise significantly above subsistence, and most of the surplus in between went to fund military and colonial expansion.

I think you will find America was much the same. America didn't become a world power until the 1880's.

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Cotton/tobacco/sugar farming in pre-revolutionary America was not subsistence farming. My point was that if plantation owners would rather pay the price of house *and* 90% of the value of goods produced to slaves, rather than hire local labour, then American labour must have been so inefficient that it would have made any enterprise - let alone growth - basically impossible.

You're right about the world power part though.

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I think part of your problem is when you think of a house you are thinking of the mansions we live in today. 200 years ago housing was four walls and a roof, no connections to the outside world for power, phone, sewage, gas, water etc, no resource consents, insulation, guest bedrooms, toilets...

Also, most modern people fail to comprehend just how inefficient labour and agriculture used to be.

Growth came from technological progress which then allowed the saving and investment of surplus which modern growth is dependent on.

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Not exactly. The limits on agricultural production were very harsh, but the problem was less to do with lack of technology than the difficulties of having grain as the staple in the European diet. For a number of reasons, grain production took up most available agricultural land, making for a very restricted diet. And then there were the epidemic diseases. What actually changed things was the development of the Baltic grain trade -- the Dutch started buying surplus grain from the Baltic region around 1400 and selling it throughout those parts of Europe accessible by ship I.e. in the Mediterranean, Britain, and the riverine parts of Western Europe. Surplus grain meant that land could be used for pasture, market gardening etc. And so a population boom and urbanization occurred. The technological developments were a result of this, not a cause.

And Keith is right -- plantation labour in the Americas wasn't subsistence. It was a massively efficient system that, especially in the case of sugar, was reminiscent of the industrial processes that were to follow its development. It was also massively profitable.

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To say this piece is ridiculous is way to kind.

Barking mad more like it.

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You mean you don't like it, but can't think of any sensible rebuttal?

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Loved it, Mr Hide. It's the stuff of gatherings of close and intelligent friends who enjoy the verbal stoush and natural humour that can evolve. I guess a commoner's view on the discussions often seen on the TV with QI.

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Rodney, not one of your best...

Long bow and all that..

Also, our taxes pay for more than Welfare, Police, Health, Roads etc etc..

Maybe taxes don't provide those extras efficiently but would still mean we would need to pay for them as well...

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Also, assuming that slave owners were paying an economically rational price (i.e. Net present value), this means that slaves would have enjoyed private benefits of roughly $1m (in today's dollars) during their time in slavery.

A helpful resource, if you want to learn about the economics of slavery: http://www.measuringworth.com/slavery.php

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Having lived in his comfortable Western white world with a decent house and three meals a day, Mr Hyde is obviously and expert on the sufferings and hardship of Slaves in the 1800s - so much so he can compare our modern lifestyle with the atrociousness and disparity of slavery that lead America to Civil War.

Or perhaps the fact he grew up on his father's farm means he feels like has has worked like a slave and endured the hardships of a good whipping till the blood welts from his back, just like the days of old.

I like being able to visit the doctor without having to pay an arm or a leg - how about your wife, Rodney? When she visited hospital to give birth did you need to fork over your credit card details or haggle with a health insurance company over who was going to pay?

Or how about your degree from the University of Canterbury, Rodney? Did you need to pay for that? I needed to pay for mine.

I like being able to drive to work without having to pay a toll ever time I drive down the road or I can enjoy the water from the tap and I can expect my garbage to be collected each week, along with hundreds of other services and facilities my tax payer dollars contribute to.

It seems Rodney is happy to take advantage of the services and facilities that we all contribute to so everyone gets a fair go. However, it seems he doesn't want to contribute.

His world is a user-pays world and only those who are rich enough can ensure a decent standard of living heathcare and education. Too bad for those who can't.

I, for one, don't mind forking out a few dollars of my salary so the elderly can see a doctor or that my neighbour's children can go to school or assist the young with an interest-free loan to help them get a decent education for their adult years.

I don't like the world Rodney offers. I'd rather live in a society that helps its citizens rather than the user pays for everything nightmare that Rodney attempts to dress up as paradise.

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I think you had better show us how much more you "contribute" than Rodney does after that little clamber up to the moral high ground.

Otherwise what you are really telling us is that you like Rodney contributing to your lifestyle.

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Each according to his ability. Taxation is the price you pay for a decent society, with (the aim, if not the reality of) equality of opportunity for all. The majority decide we all should contribute if we can, if that's tyranny, it's a tyranny I, and the vast majority of people, can live with.

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Mike, a social democracy consisting of 5 white people and 4 black people holds a plebiscite on the proposition that white people be allowed to live off the efforts of black people via a tax on black people's incomes. Not surprisingly there is a majority, democratic vote in favour by 5 votes to 4. Black people are enslaved, 'forced' to pay an income tax for white people to live off.

Yes, that's tyranny. You admit that, then excuse it with the common good. Not good enough. Give me your moral mandate to continue the pilfering. (Include in your answer your rationalisation of the unfortunate 200 million plus individuals who were murdered by various states throughout the 20th century all in pursuance of the 'common good'. The road to every gulag has always been paved with good intentions).

Where as a society did the notion of a constitutional individualism that made the West the best civilisation to live in, ever, that is, a classical liberalism, get perverted to the cause of a barbaric, enslaving collectivism? Why are we building a national debt to build another Gulag of Equality, Fairness and Caring like the Soviets did, when we all saw what the result was?

The illusory, deeply immoral, free lunch of redistribution has seen the end of the Free West.

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Speaking of moral mandates Mark, how do the masters morally justify using the slaves to generate profit that they then keep while the slaves survive in poverty or burn to death in sweatshops?

I presume that you include fascist, right wing states obsessed with individual hero worship IE Germany and Italy and perhaps the USA under Bush as murderers of the 200 million.

As with many right wing ideologues, you confuse socialism with Stalinism (perhaps this is because you don't want to acknowledge that Stalin, like Hitler, was a fundamentalist right wing thinker in everything but name.) And, by the way, what is your difficulty with fairness and caring?

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Mandingo:

Re your first paragraph: how did you get such a low opinion of employment? I know a lot of employers, and they all want to pay the best price they can to attract the best they can. But that's not even the point here; see my post above: this is about voluntarism versus state coercion: quoting my imitable self - 'You choose to take a wage job, you have the choice of another wage job if you don't like the one you have, or going into business for yourself.' Perhaps you should be thinking of self employment (and my commiserations to your current employer given your evident attitude toward them).

Re your second paragraph. I include all states that work under the barbaric ethic individual human lives must be sacrificed to the group: whether that be forced by a right wing or left wing tyrant, or as with our social(alist) democracies, by an emoting mobocracy.

Re your third paragraph. I'm not right wing. I don't even recognise right versus left wing anymore; as Reagan said, there is only up or down freedom or statism. I'm for freedom, and that was, remember, the guiding light in the West, ultimately, since the Enlightenment when men realised reason was the only decent basis for law-making and constitutional arrangements. All that lost over the last fifty years at the bloodied altar of the common good.

Regarding your last points, if 'fairness' and 'caring' are forced by the state, then we end up with the opposite: a gulag of forced altruism which has become a societal suicide for the West. Charity, compassion, benevolence: all these are noble, but they have no meaning when done with a government gun at their head.

Finally you use the word 'fairness' as sloppily as the politicians for whom fairness always mean taking my money to build an indecent society I have virtually no points of agreement with. In fact, I've written a whole blog post <a href="http://lifebehindtheirondrape.blogspot.co.nz/2012/07/taxing-language-que... your type of unfair use of 'fairness'</a>: take my challenge on that post, work through my three short examples in relation to fairness vis a vis taxation, and you tell me what fairness is.

(Oh, and socialism is just the half-way house of communism: again, it's freedom versus statism).

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Gee I enjoyed that.

I totally disagree with your unnatural conclusions regarding the primacy of the individual of course coming as I do from the view that the world is now a crowded global village. The rest of your contortions barely warrant consideration. In terms of your blog I will read it and no doubt enjoy disagreeing with every conclusion you have made.

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'My unnatural conclusions regarding the primacy of the individual' ???

Scary stuff. Are you writing from Borg HQ?

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No man is an island mate. Do you live in a commune-ity? do you have a family? What about an extended family? What about a whanau? Would you walk past a hungry child? Where do you draw the line between those you care for and those you don't.

Voluntarism vs state coercion. You intimate that if a group persuades an individual to act in a certain way that will benefit the majority of the group it is a barbaric ethic...and a product of mobocracy.

If your not right leaning why quote Reagan who was also trying to hide the obvious.

Forced altruism?? Fairness and caring forced by the state?? They are natural and "good" human characteristic that you have obviously subsumed beneath something else and forgotten the meaning. Maybe you spend too much time counting money.

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I live in the village. However, unlike you, I believe a decent society is only possible so long as the village doesn't own me; relationships are voluntary, not forced. Because I will naturally have love for my brother of its own accord in a family that is raised 'due' to natural love and affection, whereas if you force me to be my brother's keeper, then you force me to be my brother's slave, and everything changes. Especially when we are no longer, in the welfare state, just talking of my brother, but complete strangers, and the welfare state dollar as often as not is instigating and subsiding appalling parenting, and is destroying self-reliance and fostering an insidious dependency and the null mind. Quickly, snap question: how many murders and maimings have there been in NZ just over January? I've already lost count. Where's all this violence coming from?

And I don't 'intimate' 'if a group 'persuades' an individual to act in a certain way that will benefit the majority of the group it is a barbaric ethic' - I state that directly. Because in our mobocracy the mob doesn't 'persuade'. That denotes a reasoned, englightened debate, and this society doesn't work like that: the mob forces the individual to sacrifice their life to them. It's so depressing people like you are this brainwashed you don't have the wherewithal to understand these basics that once made the West the most civilised societies to live in, with the highest standards of living of any societies in history. I give the example I have above, again, now answer to it directly, and let's see which brand of society is the compassionate one:

' ... a social democracy consisting of 5 white people and 4 black people holds a plebiscite on the proposition that white people be allowed to live off the efforts of black people via a tax on black people's incomes. Not surprisingly, there is a majority, democratic vote in favour by 5 votes to 4. Black people are enslaved - 'forced' to pay an income tax for white people to live off.'

So, you have no moral qualms about that scenario (which is fact pretty much states the truth about our society).

And money means nothing to me. To restate my first paragraph, I am basically a 60s-styled hippy, peacenik. It's just that I realised freedom existed only in the voluntary transaction of laissez faire; and natural love and affection can only be given and taken voluntarily. The 20th century is the object lesson in this. Force 'caring' with the gun of government, and a society will end up eating itself in violence. Read my blog byline.

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Oh, and I've come to realise over my life, that those who ask 'would you walk past a hungry child', are often those who would, thus they believe force is needed to make sure other's wouldn't.

I'd never walk past a hungry child: you'd have to be some sort of monster to do so ... and there's the basis for statist politicking. What's wrong with you?

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Is it really all about comparisons for you Alan?

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Apologies, I thought comparisons was what the article was about and exactly what you folk are getting your knickers in a twist over?

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Bloody comparisons Alan. Who cares whose got what! Status is derived from who we are not what we got. We are all in this together. Share!!! Its good!

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And what do you contribute, Alan? I work full time, pay my taxes not try and shift them into a trust fund or dodge paying them by hiring an accountant to avoid paying my share.

Or, let me guess, you're just another frustrated dole bludger hiding behind a computer who could only get a job if it wasn't for this high tax economy that prevents someone hiring a gem like yourself?

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I suspect I pay rather more than you do, John, as well as help people very substantially directly. And I worked full time to 1985 when I became self-employed and therefore worked more.

However, it is not me who is standing on the moral high ground disparaging Rodney who probably contributes and has contributed far more than his fair share to his country.

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Taxpayers fully funded Rodney's lifestyle for fifteen years, if you care to remember. He didn't seem to mind that ...

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Are you arguing that we shouldn't elect and pay MPs? Or just making a pointless noise?

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And Alan please tell me what does Rodney contribute? I mean apart from us both paying his salary for all his years feeding from the trough of tax payers money?

Or do you mean his narcissistic comparisons of his own comfortable lifestyle of modern living with those of the millions of nameless slaves who lived in poverty fear and bondage

(Slaves where often paraded naked before sale to show how little whipping they needed)

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I see you don't need to bother with the facts, since you can happily invent your own and then rant about them.

Rodney made no comparison of lifestyles. He specifically compared the "take" of slave-owners and our IRD. Obviously this is a subtlety quite beyond the ability of the Left to comprehend.

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I think it is beyond the closed minds of "the right" to see that capitalists 'take' the surplus value generated by workers and fund their bloated, obscene, consumption with it while the children of the poor starve. How much does a person need to be happy?

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Wot, going to the doctor is a 'lifestyle'? Not dying is a 'lifestyle' is it?

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This explains why none of those slaves wanted freedom.

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Even though your economics don't make sense, comparing our so-called democratic system to slave time America is quite apt. Middle-class wages are so low that there is little difference to being a modern slave other than not getting physically beaten for "f**k up's". The basic wage is only enough for food and shelter. In the 1950s and 60s you could raise 4-5 kids with one income. Now you need 2 incomes to raise 2 kids - go figure.

The state will convince us we are not slaves because there are supermarkets and you get 2 days off a week, but it won’t be long before the middle class has to work those 2 days as well to survive!

Bring on the class wars .... I can hear Obama's Drum Circle from here!

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In the 50s and 60s, and before, one person's wages (usually the man's) was enough to keep a family. Then women wanted to work, and then they wanted equal pay, so the laws of supply and demand eventually required TWO persons' wages to keep a family. Approximately.

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No, today we are paying 4 times the allocated income for the family house (50-60% of income), we are paying twice the allocated income for petrol, we are paying twice the allocated income (now 3 times because of the Christchurch earthquake) for insurance, we are paying 1.5 times the allocated income for food and incidentals, we pay 1.65 times the tax they did adding, GST, ACC, petrol tax, etc. We are paying 1.75 times the allocated income for power also.

So here we are funding monopolies, oligopolies, and a sea of bureaucrats with their failed policies like “think big” and RMA . We are transferring wealth to the top 10%. The right to own a home is no more because the lack of foresight of successive governments letting the market dictate, at the same time putting up red tape to supress it.

Seven out of every eight hours a nurse, or a teacher or a policeman, or a mechanic, or a scientist, or a chef works goes to funding: an oil baron sitting on his super yacht in the Mediterranean, a baby boomer who sold his house for 15 times what he paid for it sitting in a cruise ship in the Mediterranean, a bureaucrat sitting in an office in Wellington tossing balls of paper into his bin, a banker in Australia making his next 5 billion, a supermarket owner in Australia making his next billion.

If you are middle class and your parents aren’t rich then you are no better than modern slaves!

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We still haven't got it

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The average life expectancy of a slave upon arrival in the Americas was six years for most of the history of the Atlantic slave trade. The exposure to tropical disease, the brutality of the system, and the physical exertion were all factors in this. During that period (i.e. the most of the history of the Atlantic slavery and plantation system), reproduction rates were around 10%, due to poor nutrition and an unwillingness to bring children into an enslaved life (because if you were born into slavery you were automatically a slave).

The change that occurred after 1807 wasn't due to natural and voluntary reproduction, but because plantation owners knew that their human chattels were no longer unlimited in supply, so they forced reproduction upon them. That's not to mention the rape that was endemic to plantation culture.

It is true that slavery existed internally throughout Africa and into the Indian Ocean, however the comparison you make on pure numbers is problematic. You'll notice that the Atlantic slave trade lasted from roughly 1500 to 1807. Most estimates have settled on about 12million transported in just over 300 years, with the greatest concentration in the eighteenth century. That's two thirds of the numbers in quarter of the time. It is possible that nearly as many died either after capture in Africa or on the ships across the Atlantic as became slaves in the Americas. You also say that "there are no descendants [of the internal and Indian Ocean trade] to remind us." I'm not sure how tapped into the ethnic politics of the Indian Ocean, but it in fact there are plenty of descendants of African slaves in those places, although because they were generally used as labourers in houses rather than on plantation their assimilation into their respective societies is much more complete. If you were implying that their lives were worse than those in the Atlantic system, that is flatly false.

You are quite correct that slavery in the American South was but a fraction of the entire system. However, it also persisted for much longer than most other places, with the exception of Cuba, and as far as I am aware only the United States and Haiti required a war to end the practice. It's legacy of disfranchisement, segregation through Jim Crow laws, and lynching (4,733 between 1889 and 1959, according to wikipedia) should give you pause for thought when you talk about the oppressive modern state with its freedom of movement, freedom of speech, right to fair trial, right to the vote, etc., etc.

I assume you looked at Fogel and Engerman's Time on the Cross for your research for this piece. You should know that their book has been thoroughly debunked both in its statistical analysis and in its reasoning about the impact of things like violence on individuals. It's also possible that your research was really just a bit of googling. In any case, your ignorance and inhumanity is very much on display here, and frankly I think you should be ashamed of yourself for giving such a glib treatment to a genuinely horrific period in human history.

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Would I be right in thinking you don't rate Jonathan Swift either?

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It's less Swift than Poe's Law, which is not necessarily the same thing.

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As it happens I do. What does that have to do with this?

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A land-value tax might serve us better than income-tax.

Be interested to see what Rodney thought of that... because right-wing politicians although they pretend to be "all about fairness" have traditionally ALWAYS been about shifting money from the poor to the rich.

I'm assuming he's a land-owner... our taxes pay for our national and social infrastructure... all things that increase the value of property. What this means is that if you own land, other people's taxes increase your wealth... and all you have to do is sit there.

If you're poor and you don't own land... you pay tax and enjoy the benefits of a stable and supportive society.

If you do own land, the money you pay in tax comes back to you as an increase in land-value. Your life-time tax-contribution will come back to you in less than a decade.

Anyone who says we don't need tax is selfish and short-sighted. We do - what we need though is a land-tax, so the rich don't get richer at everyone else's expense.

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Have you not heard of the problem of being land-poor? When one's theoretical assets are high, but one's income is less than the costs of owning the land. It is sometime seen in OZ, where farmers have to walk off their land as they can't afford to stay. So how do you decide on the amount of your land-tax?

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Where is Rodney getting his facts from? To say that a slave owner takes 10% of the output of a slave suggests that a slave receives an income, and 10% of that income goes to their owner as "tax". But my understanding is that the slave owner gets 100% of the output of the slave and in return provides only the bare necessities of life like food, clothing, and accommodation.

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Is it progress if a cannibal uses a knife and fork?

Personally I'm quite happy for Hamilton and Dunedin to be sold!

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Even if we grant you the dubious assertion that the The Dastardly Government takes more of the taxpayers' income than the slave owner did from his slaves, how does that money get spent? In a democracy, tax revenue gets redirected back into vital social services, public infrastructure and so on - indirectly being returned to the taxpayer. A slave owner, by contrast, spent the majority of what a slave produced to fund his own lifestyle, which, for some of the bigger plantations, could be very lavish.

Here's some other features of the slave system you forgot to mention:

- slaves had no legal or political rights, and so no way to seek redress for grievances
- the daily threat of death, rape, or violence
- back-breaking labour at crushingly long hours and without legally-required breaks
- no ability to freely choose who you work for, or the right to leave your employer
- the ever-present fear that you may be separated from your family, friends and the community which raised you, by being sold to another owner

As long as you think purely in terms of money, though, as Rodney Hide and his ilk seem capable of only doing, then you can forget about this and, sure, make the case that modern democracy is a bigger oppressor than slave owners ever were.

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Who cares? The author doesn't even use those!!!

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I have it on good authority that Mr Hide has a brand new white suit and matching hat being delivered to him. He'd better watch out for a couple of hoons in a red Dodge Charger though...

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This article really is Tea Party boilerplate. I think that the left is supposed to be outraged by Mr Hide's use of slavery as a comparison but, you know, epic fail, it's just ludicrous.
The key issue is Mr. Hide, we can vote for the government we want, we will make up our mind about the government by weighing up a lot of things, taxation is one of those things. Now, Randian supermen will not want to pay taxes, fine. If you can get a majority of people to believe you, you can run the country. But look, less than 3%, oh well.

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No, in a democracy taxes are taken from the producers of goods and services; a large proportion is then used to support an ever-increasing bureaucracy, and whatever is left over is indirectly returned to the tax-payer.

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Rodney is forgetting Act party dogma that wealth is always created by the wealthy - the slave owners. In fact, 90% of the owners' wealth was being stolen by the slaves. Welfare leeches!

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Quit using my name!

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God bless you reactionary retards. May you never be happy.

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A statistic Rodney didn't cite: 2 of every 10 slaves died during the passage.
1/3rd died before making it that far.

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I occasionally voted for you Rodney, but this article is tripe.

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I suspect there is a sound economic and social point to be learned among Rodney's comparison and the various posturing reactions he has drawn.
I understand Treasury economists found a few years ago that the optimum tax rate was around 20% - optimum that is for economic growth.
But of course that position was rejected by the government.
Is my understanding correct Rodney?
And if it is, what stands in the way of government reducing its rapaciousness half way towards that of southern slave owners?

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On the button Brent, and if you're a property owner, you'll pay more when you factor in rates etc. Taxes are the price we pay for co-existing in a society. If we all went bush, we'd live for free and governments everywhere would collapse.

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A totally pointless article with no sign of any understanding of the subject matter and no sensitivity to how offensive slavery still is. How do you plan to offend next? The economic benefit of the Holocaust? Stick to drinking raw milk and rereading Joe Karam's books again and again until you grow up and learn how to read properly. The editor of NBR should be ashamed of letting such twaddle grace his pages- it may be Rodney's writing but it the newspaper's credibility that suffers when there is no quality control over what is published.

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I don't care if you are offended. I only care if Rodney's facts are correct.

Obviously you don't care if his facts are correct. You only care that you are offended.

Tough, again.

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Wow, what am incredibly asinine article. We pay taxes for services that benefit ourselves - roads, medical care, education, defence, police, fire protection, and on and on. We have government because all these things can be provided for by working collectively much more efficiently than by each of us doing these on our own. That a slave owner required 90% of the labour value to keep him alive reflects the inefficiency of an economy based on manual labour - that slave produced a minuscule % of the economic value of a modern worker, only 10% more than was needed to keep him alive. A slave owner would have taken a larger % of his value if it was possible to do so without killing him.

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I think it comes down to whether you are in favour of criminal prosecutions for refusal to pay taxes or not.

If you believe that people who refuse to hand over their earnings rather than having it spent in scandalous ways, on unjust wars or wasted in corrupt inefficient institutions, should be imprisoned against their will ... then yes, you are standing in an equivalent moral swamp to a slave master of yester-year. Sorry, that is just basic Ethics 101.

Tax compliance should be a civil matter at worst, in a truly free society it would be voluntary. It all comes down to the rights of the individual, these are the defining features that distinguish free societies from police states under authoritarian rule, all else is noise.

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Slaves needed 90% of what they produced just to feed and clothe themselves. Where does this figure come from? and by definition, slaves didn't feed and clothe themselves anymore than cattle provide their own feed, or horses decide which races to run. There is a presumption of agency here that may have existed in individual cases, depending on the whim of the owner, but slaves were ultimately flora and fauna, cattle, livestock, property however you want to view it. This piece is so...unsatisfying! There is only so much use comparing apples with bicycles, without some more actual facts and substance that can persuade me this is a comparison of merit.

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The comments in the main show how much society has been brainwashed with socialism. What will be the detractors reaction when they read this brilliant article.

http://mises.org/daily/6332/Obsessed-by-Megalomania

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I don't agree with slavery, but I reckon they had a better life in America than they did in Africa. My father met a black American once who said to him, "Thank God for slavery because I wouldn't want to be an inhabitant of the Congo now." And regarding Rodney Hide's comment that New Zealanders can't have the big families they want - well, in this day and age we don't need big families, there are enough people on this earth already. And if you can't afford them, don't have them. And regarding the fat cats with the yachts, mansions, etc. well they pay their taxes and contribute to society (look at Gates, Branson, etc.) Why do we want to drag everyone down to a low level where no-one benefits.

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Rodney, please list your sources if you are going to make statements pertaining to be facts (please tell us where 10% comes from). Do have a look at the link Keith Ng posted http://www.measuringworth.com/slavery.php.
Also, that you use the word rapacious in your description is also puzzling - having the same etymological origin as rape. Out of democratic states and southern slave owners only one of the groups committed rapes, torture and executions. I'll let you figure that one out. How about a retraction?

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Rodney, I think you need to eat some carbs. This ideological, dog-whistling nonsense is why I cancelled my subscription.

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It is nonsense to draw a parallel between the Goverment's share of GDP and the number of children. The Nordics take a much higher share of GDP but have on average more children than Kiwis, particularly Sweden, the largest Nordic economy.
Also, the east Asian economies, Japan, Taiwan, HK and South Korea all have a relatively low share of GDP going to Government, esp HK, and their birth rates are disastrously low. South Korea's is lower than China with its one child policy. 1.2 vs 1.6.

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Stop me if I'm wrong, but it seems that virtually all the money Rodney has earned in NZ was derived from the taxpayer. Apart from a brief stint in the private sector working for Alan Gibbs as an "economist" his only NZ positions were teaching and politics. Hide doesn't like contributing to the tax pool but he is more than happy to wallow in it.

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