Thursday, August 28, 2014

America's Indentured Classes

AM (an American combat aviator with an inquiring mind):  Gentlemen, in our last conversation we talked about America’s war-weary.  While this mood is understandable, what I cannot understand is how Americans submit to being indentured.

Old Gadfly:  What do you mean by indentured?

AM:   The expression, indentured class, evokes images of India or the institution of slavery.  Indentured in this sense means a contract in which a person is bound for service.[1]  An indentured class is a group of people bound for a particular service.  Slaves in colonial America were treated as property and bound for service to the owner.  In India, the Hindu caste system consists of “social divisions into which Hindu society is traditionally divided, each caste having its own privileges and limitations, transferred by inheritance from one generation to the next.”[2]  Does America have indentured classes in the twenty-first century?  Yes.  Examples of indentured classes consist of illegal immigrants, minorities, the middle class, Obama-era unemployment, the wealthy, unions, and occasionally American troops, among others.

Old Gadfly:  I think you have identified an important dynamic in America.  Can you explain the nature of these classes in more detail?

AM:  Let’s start with American troops.  Since the late 1970s, America put conscription in the closet in favor of an all-volunteer force.  Every single soldier, sailor, airman, or guardsman, whether in the active or reserve components, freely chooses to serve our nation in the armed forces.  Yet, as part of a campaign to discredit President Bush and the Iraq War, progressives, such as Speaker Nancy Pelosi, would publicly and emphatically criticize President Bush for being on the wrong track in Iraq, but always qualify the criticism with “but we support the troops.”  The implication of this narrative frame was to suggest the troops were an indentured class bound for service to a master in which they had no choice.  The military branches had no issue with retention during this time.  Many of these “troops” did not hesitate to reenlist and to serve multiple tours in Iraq.  The vast majority of troops understood the rationale for being in Iraq and felt a moral duty to the cause.  For progressives to frame the situation is such a way is a strong example of concepts John Stuart Mill explained in his 1862 essay, “The Contest in America,” repeated again here:

When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice; a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice—is often the means of their regeneration. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature, who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.[3]

American troops were protecting “other human beings against a tyrannical injustice.”  They were committed to a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice.”  These troops represented less than 1% of the American population.  They obviously did not represent that “man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety.”  These troops are not “miserable creature[s], who [have] no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men.”  When progressives, like Speaker Nancy Pelosi, criticized the effort to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice, yet claimed to “support the troops,” they also revealed their political motivations by using “the troops” as “mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets” at President Bush and his administration. 

Had progressives subordinated their political ambition in order to support an effort “to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice,” President Bush would have had only a one-front war, where the adversaries were the insurgents resisting the effort in Iraq.  Unfortunately, President Bush had a second front, that is, political opposition in America, which further emboldened the insurgents, and likely resulted in greater cost in treasure and lives (American, Iraqi, and other nations also involved).  And now we see thousands of “wounded soldiers” attempting to reintegrate into a society that is changing in ways that are contrary to the ideals for which they willingly sacrificed their limbs and lives.

IM (an American citizen with an inquiring mind):  You’ve nailed some very damaging trends in America.  Let me add to the analysis.   Minorities represent a variety of indentured classes, such as women, African Americans, Hispanics, Latinos, groups that are not heterosexual in orientation, and so forth.  To further fortify the symbiotic relationship between these groups and progressives, hate laws have been enacted to further protect these indentured classes.  Look at the racial fiasco in Ferguson, Missouri as an example.  The Department of Justice has injected itself because of potential federal-level civil rights violations.  What the hell does this mean?  From what I can see there is only one condition that justifies such interest:  a white on black act of violence.  As Bill Whittle explains, black on white violence far exceeds white on black.  Yet, whites apparently do not deserve “civil rights” protections.  Only blacks are indentured.  If true, then by whom?  If we look at the major metropolitan areas that experience crime and poverty, they tend to be democrat districts.  Detroit is a classic example.  Who runs Chicago? 

By proclaiming to be the champion for these oppressed groups, progressives further justify their causes for egalitarian policies and programs that involve promoting equality of outcomes over other freedoms.  These programs have done nothing to lift blacks out of crime and poverty since Lyndon Johnson declared his war on poverty as part of the progressive Great Society.  Johnson’s approach is exactly what Orwell describes in Animal Farm.  The Marxist pig-leader, Napoleon, had his own set of indentured classes on the farm.  And as Orwell’s farm animals discovered over time, egalitarianism has a way of devolving, such that the Guardians (see the discussion on the Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor as a Guardian in our previous discussion, “Dry, Parched Lips”) must finally proclaim:  all are equal; but some are more equal than others. 

Old Gadfly:  Excellent analysis.  How about illegal immigrants?

IM:  Absolutely.  Progressives pride themselves on being the protector of the oppressed.  Illegal immigrants fit this narrative frame.  Progressives find themselves morally obligated to provide programs and services such as public housing, income subsidies, and access to publicly funded education and health care.  The fact that this indentured class came to America illegally is not relevant for the narrative frame.  Another fact is not relevant for the narrative frame as well: that most of these illegal immigrants left real oppression for a chance at a better life.  This is why some cities, managed by progressive governments and policies, have been labeled sanctuary cities, operating in ways that ignore existing laws.  This week Governor Jerry Brown has declared California a sanctuary state and further justified the $25 billion in federal subsidies (i.e., federal tax revenues) that it generates. 

In return for the indentured service of illegal immigrants, progressives are lauded for their magnanimity in public by these groups or perhaps even rewarded with votes in those polling locations that require no proof of citizenship.  Like the American troops, illegal immigrants, as an indentured class, are “mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets” at conservatives and the Republican Party.  Finding a way to solve the illegal immigrant dilemma is less important to progressives than conservatives and Republicans.  Progressives would lose political power if illegal immigration were no longer an issue, because citizenship brings equality and freedom.  By keeping them indentured, illegal immigrants are deprived of the equality and liberty of citizenship and must depend upon the some form of largesse that progressives are more than willing to provide, at a price of course.  It is a costly symbiotic relationship of which other law-abiding citizens must bear the burden.

Now, we hear indications that President Obama may characteristically circumvent Congress with executive action to grant amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants.  The expectation is that if progressives grant amnesty to millions with the promise of a “free lunch,” then these new citizens are expected to return the favor with a vote for the “free lunch” providers.  This sets up an indefinite cycle of indefinite free lunches for indefinite votes for the indefinite “free lunch” providers.  Unfortunately, this naïve relationship is not sustainable because the wealth creators will stop creating wealth.  No wealth, then no government largesse.  No government largesse means the freeloading human instruments will get screwed.

AM:  Here’s another indentured class:  the middle class.  What is the middle class?  Intuitively, the middle class fits between the upper and lower classes.  It would seem that one-third would be upper, one-third would be middle, and one-third would be lower.  In reality, however, progressives would tell us (a) the upper-class represents the top 1 or 2%; and (b) the middle class is the remaining 98 to 99%.[4]  There is some talk about families below the poverty line, which is very arbitrary and represents about 15% to 17%, a figure that has not changed since President Johnson’s Great Society initiatives and his war on poverty (and most likely, since the founding of America as a nation).  Progressives do not spend a lot of time talking about poverty in America, probably because (a) this is not a static group—many people move in and out of this category; and (b) the majority of people in this category live more comfortably than members of the middle class in other parts of the world.[5]

Old Gadfly:  How about the unemployed?

IM:  The Obama-era unemployed definitely represent another indentured class.  Unemployment benefits were created by the Social Security Act of 1935 (Public Law 74-271).  This Act created the Unemployment Compensation (UC) Program that is administered by each State and overseen by the Department of Labor.  Normally, benefits run out after 26 weeks because unemployment is typically temporary; although benefits may be extended up to 39 weeks, typically during recessions.[6]  These provisions have been modified by a Democrat-led Congress to 99 weeks (and more with recently passed legislation) due to the extended high recession-related unemployment rates between 2008 and 2010.  Unemployment compensation is paid for by tax revenue or borrowed money, which is eventually repaid through tax revenue. 

As unemployment rates are a measure of how poorly the economy is doing, President Obama and other progressives want to raise taxes on the wealthy, or the top 1% of income earners to offset some of the economic burdens.  The rationale for this move is to increase revenue needed for entitlement programs, such as unemployment.  President Obama tells the American public that “the wealthy should pay their fair share,” as if they do not already.  By framing these circumstances in such a manner, President Obama exploited the economic free rider phenomenon, where people receive benefits without having to pay for them because others carry the burden.  This is how the progressives created another indentured class:  the middle class, i.e., everyone below the unprotected 1%, or wealthy, class.  About 50% of Americans pay no federal income tax.  “Fighting for the bottom 99%” is a clever way to shape public sentiment and future voters, even though the logic for improving current conditions for the middle class is seriously flawed.

About half of American households pay no federal income tax; and the majority of these households actually receive money from the federal government.  The other half actually pays income tax.  In 1987, the lower 99% paid 75% of the tax burden, and the top 1% paid 25%.  In 2009, the lower 99% paid 63% of the tax burden, and the top 1% paid 37%. 

The private sector bears the burden of generating a rising economic tide and the upper class, in particular, clearly bears the burden of providing tax revenue for government programs and services.  Meanwhile, a large central government has far greater influence on inducing and aggravating income inequality than private sector practices.  For example, regarding unemployment, for every tax dollar collected for unemployment benefits, the actual benefit received is less than a dollar.  Part of that dollar is spent in government administrative costs.  Yet, if that dollar remained in the private sector, unencumbered by ineffective regulatory policies, it has the potential of generating a multiplier effect when spent as investment or consumption.  Data reveal a strong correlation between investment and unemployment rates.  When businesses invest in inventory, unemployment rates go down.    

Many U.S. businesses have cash to invest.  Yet, there is no confidence to do so because of current political agendas.  For example, a political shift occurred in 2006 when Democrats took control of both Houses of Congress.  There was a significant downturn in tax revenue generated, $2.57 trillion in 2007 versus $2.52 trillion in 2008 and $2.10 trillion in 2009.  Unemployment rates increased from 4.6% in 2007 to 5.8% in 2008, and 9.3% in 2009.  When President Obama took office in 2009, with a seasoned Democratic-controlled Congress already in place, he immediately set out to execute an aggressive progressive agenda—such as the Affordable Care Act, passed without a single Republican vote.  The anticipated and realized effect of this particular legislation on the economy led to a major power shift in both houses of Congress in 2010.  In the Senate, the Democratic Party managed to hold on to a slim majority but no longer capable of preventing Republican filibusters (until Senate Majority Leader Reid changed the rules).  An even greater shift took place in the House of Representatives, with Republicans assuming a strong majority.

            These facts are significant.  Yet, they do not make it into the public narrative because progressives control it.  To the contrary, progressives are going to great lengths to blame Republicans for causing the financial crisis, a government shut-down, and the current lack of economic progress.  So, the Obama-era unemployed remain an important indentured class (and powerful “human instruments” according to J.S. Mill) because they help to justify the progressive movement.

Old Gadfly:  So, how about the wealthy Americans representing the top 1%?

AM:  If they remain an American citizen (unlike Eduardo Saverin who chose not to [see also here and here), they too represent an indentured class.  Not only are the wealthy demonized by progressives, they are forced through egalitarian tax policy to pay far more for government spending than they receive in the form of benefits.  Yet, the wealthy are entitled to the same voting privileges as those who pay nothing for the cost of government.  If the wealthy remain in America, then they accommodate indentured status over other conditions they would likely endure in other countries. 

Old Gadfly:  How about unions?

IM:  Unions are an obvious indentured class.  The progressive movement’s most favorite indentured class is the union.  Given its socialistic influence, labor represents the proletariat against an imagined tyrannical bourgeoisie—business owners and those who invest in business enterprises.  Unions have far exceeded their original noble cause (e.g., safety and a fair wage) and now represent power factions aligned with the progressive movement.  Not all members of unions enthusiastically join them, but they do eventually choose membership in a faction.  An example of public sector forced membership was recently found to be unconstitutional.  Another personal example involves a family member of mine who discovered that, even in Colorado, if he wanted to work for a grocery chain, he had to join a union.  Even though he was paid a minimum wage, his union dues were deducted from that wage, thus earning less than the federally-mandated minimum wage for an entire year before he was eligible for any benefits.  Ironically, Galatians 5:20 identified “faction” as one of the impediments to the “freedom” for which we are called in Galatians 5:13. 

The strength of unions has significantly declined in the private sector because a market determines a fair wage and highly motivated people can seek the skills that benefit far more from a competitive market than one constrained by monopolized labor.  In other words, the more one develops his or her talent to add value in a free market, the more one can gain in compensation and benefits while contributing to overall wealth creation.

Union membership declined significantly in the private sector, but its presence in the public sector has steadily grown.  Table 1 compares union membership rates between 1983 and 2013, with a further comparison of public and private sector composition.


Old Gadfly:  IM, I want to emphasize something you just said:

The strength of unions has significantly declined in the private sector because a market determines a fair wage and highly motivated people can seek the skills that benefit far more from a competitive market than one constrained by monopolized labor.  In other words, the more one develops his or her talent to add value in a free market, the more one can gain in compensation and benefits.

In a different way, what you are saying is that competition in a free market promotes innovation, which results in actual progress and wealth.  Note the significant monopoly of unionized labor in government. 

AM:  Is it any wonder that there is so much incompetence and inefficiency and so little progress in terms of ideas and solutions that matter?  And, technically, those who work for the government are subsidized by us, the tax-payers.  Yet, they arrogantly “rule” us when they should “serve” us.

Old Gadfly:  How about women?

IM:  Those who align with progressives and the fictitious “war on women” are truly an indentured class.  What is so sad is that the “war on women” meme has resonated too long despite obvious distortions of the truth.  For example, the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court ruling has been deliberately misrepresented in perpetuating the “war on women” meme.  One of Colorado’s U.S. Senators, Mark Udall, has made this ruling the justification for a crusade.  I called Senator Udall’s office to suggest that his crusade may actually backfire because of its distortions.

Old Gadfly:  There is compelling literature that explains how women have been coopted into this indentured class based on eugenics.  In 1934, Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, published a “Code to Stop Overproduction of Children” that clearly stated:  “no woman shall have a legal right to bear a child without a permit . . . no permit shall be valid for more than one child.”[7]  Jonah Goldberg accurately assessed the essence and impact of Sanger’s philosophy and activism:

Sanger couched this fascistic agenda in the argument that “liberated” women wouldn’t mind such measures because they don’t really want large families in the first place.  In a trope that would be echoed by later feminists such as Betty Friedan, she argued that motherhood itself was a socially imposed constraint on the liberty of women.  It was a form of what Marxists called false consciousness to want a large family.[8]

IM:  Wasn’t Sanger a racist?

Old Gadfly:  She wanted to rid the world of “lesser creatures,” whether black, imbecile, or otherwise handicapped in some way.  Here is Sanger in her own words:

We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities. The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal.  We don't want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.[9]

AM:  Sad . . . so very sad.

Old Gadfly:  If the various “human instrument” distinctions--and the indentured class status they represent--become less important, then there would be little need for progressives in their Guardian role.  What do progressives have to gain from such a development?  Nothing.  So, we’re in for a long fight against the domestic “war on America” and the unalienable God-given rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that represent what America is all about.

[1] The definition of indentured is from indentured. (n.d.). Unabridged. Retrieved December 20, 2011, from website:
[2] Caste. (n.d.). Unabridged. Retrieved December 20, 2011, from website:
[3] John Stuart Mill, “The Contest in America,” Fraser’s Magazine, April 1862.  This essay is in the public domain and available at
[4] According to U.S. Census Bureau data, 1.5% of households earned $200,000 or greater Adjusted Gross Income (AGI).  There is no specific breakout for those making $250,000 or greater, but a reasonable estimate based on the decreasing  number of people reported in the increasing $5,000 bracket increments (4,627,000 at $200,000 minus 680,000 leaves 3,947,000 households at 250,000 or above divided by a population of 311 million), is 1.0 to 1.2%.  See new01_001.htm
[5] See Fredrik Bergström and Robert Gidehag, EU versus USA, Timbro (June 2004), Stockholm Sweden.  Retrieved from  Timbro is a Swedish economic think tank.  See also Robert Rector and Rachel Sheffield, “Air Conditioning, Cable TV, and an Xbox:  What Is Poverty in the United States Today?” Backgrounder No. 2575 (July 18, 2011), the Heritage Foundation.  Retrieved from
[6] A history and explanation of unemployment compensation can be located at social_welfare/archive/unemployment_compensation.shtml
[7] Steven W. Mosher, “The Repackaging of Margaret Sanger,” Wall Street Journal, May 5, 1997, p. A18.
[8] Jonah Goldberg, Liberal Fascism:  The Secret History of the American Left, from Mussolini to the Politics of Change.  (New York, NY:  Broadway Books, 2009), p. 273.
[9] Margaret Sanger's December 19, 1939 letter to Dr. Clarence Gamble, 255 Adams Street, Milton, Massachusetts. Original source: Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College, North Hampton, Massachusetts. Also described in Linda Gordon, Woman's Body, Woman's Right: A Social History of Birth Control in America, (New York, NY: Grossman Publishers, 1976).

1 comment:

  1. Gadfly,
    Isn't the alternative anarchy?