With the northern victory in the Civil War, and the subsequent passage of the 13th amendment, slavery was formally ended in this country. Specifically, the 13th amendment stated:
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for
crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist
within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Unfortunately, over a century later, slavery has returned to the United States. Today, through the exercise of political power and the redistribution of wealth that should never have been Constitutional, 55% of Americans hold the other 45% in bondage, living off the product of their efforts just as surely as the white plantation owners of the Old South lived off the sweat of their African slaves. The basis for this new servitude, however, is not race, or religion, or national origin, but productivity. (via TJIC)
From the Christian Science Monitor:
Slightly over half of all Americans - 52.6 percent - now receive
significant income from government programs, according to an analysis
by Gary Shilling, an economist in Springfield, N.J. That's up from 49.4
percent in 2000 and far above the 28.3 percent of Americans in 1950. If
the trend continues, the percentage could rise within ten years to pass
55 percent, where it stood in 1980 on the eve of President's Reagan's
move to scale back the size of government.
Meanwhile, Ari Fleischer writes in today's WSJ (sub req) that the
top 1% of income earners pay 37% of total income taxes, the top 10% of
income earners pay 71% of total income taxes, and the top 40% of income
earners pay 99% of total income taxes.
The latter analysis is a bit off because it does not include payroll taxes, but if you include these taxes you still have under 50% of Americans paying virtually all the taxes (table at top of this page includes payroll taxes)
The second greatest failing of the Constitution as originally drafted (the first being legality of slavery) is the lack of clear protections for property and commerce. As a result, the only protection we have against full confiscation of everything we own is the whim of the electorate. Now that a clear majority of voters are on the receiving end of money confiscated from a minority of voters, how good is this last protection?
We have become a nation of slaveholders, with the majority holding the productive minority in bondage. Inserting government in the middle of this process as an agent, so the recipients of this slave labor don't have to get their own hands dirty, does not change the nature of the relationship one bit. It just pretties things up for our conscience.
Update: Is the word "slavery" over the top? Maybe, and I guess I could be accused of trivializing the true horrors of African slavery in the 19th century. So substitute the word "serfdom" for "slavery".