A slave analogy

April 18, 2010 

On April 15 you published a most curious op-ed by Chris Fitzsimon ("Civil services supported by taxes"). He lists government services and implies we should be grateful. It was curious for three reasons.

First, some of the items are not services at all but are mandated by silly laws.

Second, many of these services are financed by additional direct fees, not taxes.

Finally, his recitation of how ungrateful we are reminded me of letters I have come across in my academic research on slavery. Slave-owners in the old South were genuinely surprised, and hurt, when their ungrateful slaves ran off after the Civil War. After all, the slave-owners had fed, clothed, housed and in some cases educated the slave in blacksmithing or other trades.

The point is that the slave-owners came up with elaborate lists that said, "Look at all the things Master does for you. Why aren't you grateful?" And those lists looked, well, pretty much exactly like the Fitzsimon article.

I say you keep your services, I'll keep my taxes, and we'll just call it even.

Michael Munger


The writer was the Libertarian candidate for N.C. governor in the last election.

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