The price of slavery

What is slavery?

Libertarians tend to include taxation – involuntary taxation – as a form of slavery. That is, taxes forced out of people (whether the force is actual or implied/threatened) for which nothing of worth is actually exchanged. It is also theft or stealing, but because taxation (particularly of income or sales and use taxes) demands that a person work and turn part of what they earn or profit they gain by their work: it is certainly a form of theft. Equally, since government (or others who levy taxes) are stealing a part of our lives – time earning money that could be used for our own purposes, good or bad), this is a form of slavery.

We are constantly told that government provides all those wonderful things for us using the money taken from us in taxes. So too, the slaveowner provides the essentials of life (at least the most fundamental: food, water, shelter). With the plantation or estate or factory slave, the services provided to the slave has no real relationship to the services expected of the slave. Is it not the same with tax slavery?

In the Tanakh (the Old Testament) we read that God, the Creator, only required 10% of the profit – the net income – of the Hebrews be given to sustain the temple and the priesthood. Yet government routinely – especially in the 21st century – demands far more than that. Indeed, in many jurisdictions, the government collects 10% just in sales and use taxes: in addition to income taxes, and excise taxes, and many other taxes. Although the New Covenant (of Christ Jesus) does not specify such an amount, His followers are encouraged to give generously to others – including those who preach and teach the Bible. And these, we see in the various books of the Bible, like the Jews before them, are considered servants (slaves!) of God. But He does not even require a specific amount: rather, they are to give as they “are prospered.”

So even if low levels of taxation might not be slavery, we certainly can argue that anything more than 10% is definitely slavery, can we not?

We can further discuss the price paid for slavery – beyond the mere money cost. The costs to society are and have been enormous: both to the societies from which men and women and children were stolen and to the societies which used (exploited) the slaves. Costs in productivity and prosperity. Costs in peace. Costs in trust and fear. While these are hard to quantify, we nevertheless can see these costs in history, time and time again.

In just one type of example, consider the cost of slaves revolting against their condition. The American South (or even the Americas in general) are far from the only location where slaves have revolted with bloody consequences, whether those revolts were put down (Spartacus in Italy comes to mind) or successful (the revolt of the Jews under the Maccabees against the Syrian Empire or the Haitian revolt against France).

Today, it is easy to try and equate the price of slavery strictly being one of money. That is clearly not accurate. So the demands for reparations (monetary reparations) fits that misunderstanding.

About TPOL Nathan

Follower of Christ Jesus (a christian), Pahasapan (resident of the Black Hills), Westerner, Lover of Liberty, Free-Market Anarchist, Engineer, Army Officer, Husband, Father, Historian, Writer, Evangelist. Successor to Lady Susan (Mama Liberty) at TPOL.
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3 Responses to The price of slavery

  1. Steve says:

    Deuteronomy is a little tough to parse, but as I read Deu 14, Moses tells the people the annual tithe (on profit, “increase of thy seed”) they are supposed to take to the place of His choosing and throw a party for your whole clan, including all your servants. And including the Levite.

    The amount for civic duty is the every third year tithe, as it says towards the end of that chapter. Or possibly it’s in addition to the tithe. Not exactly clear. But what I think is clear is that what passes for tax is really only 10%/3 or 3.33%. To a first approximation, less than most people spend in sales tax alone.

    That’s where it’s most clear, but admittedly, you have to bring in ideas about tithe from Deu 12 and Deu 26 for things to make sense.


    • TPOL Nathan says:

      Steve, thanks for the comment. I’ve never run into your explanation before, but at first reading, it makes sense. And makes the point about government tax slavery even stronger. If our Creator (assuming we believe in Him) demands so little – and has such specificity in how and to whom – then how can mere men claim so much more and it NOT be tyranny and theft?


      • Steve says:


        He created man and gave them dominion over the fish and the fowl and lots of other things, but one glaring omission is dominion over other men. The state was not His plan for us. We find out whose plan it was in Jesus’s temptation in the wilderness. Satan offers Jesus the kingdoms of the earth, and since He was tempted, it means He knew Satan could deliver on it. So what was on offer? The psalmist tells us, “The Earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and they that dwell therein.” Pretty much all that is left that Satan could offer was the idea of man’s dominion over man. Tempting, for sure. Not only would the instrument of His death be taken away, but His plan for us would be that much sooner.

        As a libertarian, I’ve always had a special thrill from reading the last verse of Judges. I have it framed on the wall behind my desk: “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” That was before they flubbed it in 2 Samuel.

        But that’s His plan for us. As He said, let he who is without sin cast the first stone. So long as your brother does not aggress against you, let him do as he will. God will sort things out. But love your brother, try to get him to see the error of his ways. Not through force, but love. Example.

        Sorry to have slid off into theological libertarianism. I’m just so happy about the good news that it’s hard not to share it.


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