Back in the days of plantations and slavery, plantation owners virtually owned their workers. They told them what to do, when to do it, how to do it, who they could be with, who they couldn't be with, and in return they gave them shelter and a place to sleep. They provided food; they gave them healthcare; and they gave them certain liberties when they were good, and punished them when they were bad.

The United States abolished slavery. But they have never abolished the economics behind slavery. Today more than ever in this country we are adopting what I call "plantation economics." We no longer sanction slavery but we do sanction giving up control of our lives to government, our new masters. We do this through trading freedom for security.

The function of government as envisioned by our Founding Fathers was an institution that set down laws, and courts to enforce those laws, in order to protect individual rights and reconcile disputes. It established armies to protect against foreign invasion, and set standards and measurements such as those that defined things like money; and it established a fiscal policy that conducted business within the confines of a balanced budget. That was about all the responsibility government took upon itself. Most other responsibilities were left to the individual and the states.

Except for slaves -- they were the slave owner’s property and were their responsibility.

A different set of economic and political principals ruled on the plantations of the South than the factories of the North. For slaves, individual rights and property rights were non-existent. The States argued that slaves weren't really slaves because they were cared for and were provided all they needed for a secure life. The idea of a benevolent master was accepted by the courts, even though there was rampant abuse of slaves and a fierce desire for freedom among many of the slaves, especially the young.

Eventually there was a growing movement to free the slaves as a blatant contradiction to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and this nation fought a brutal war to bring that freedom about. When the slaves were given their freedom they achieved liberty but lost security. Many had nothing, and living in many ways was harder as a free man than being in slavery. But the freed slaves began to learn and grow, and produce, and thrive. And over the years, plantation economics disappeared.

Ironically, today we see the exact reverse movement taking place. We see a movement to give up individual rights, property, and responsibility in exchange for security from a new master -- the federal government. We see this as the government helps people to own homes they can't afford and incur debts they can't pay back. We see government begging people to enroll for employment benefits, food stamps, and now healthcare. And we see government regulating individuals in every aspect of their lives.

Government benefits are sold to us as rights conferred by the beneficence of government. Today, to reduce independence and increase dependence is considered a virtue, not a vice. Today those that take care of us at the expense of our freedom are the good guys, and those that protest such policies are denounced as uncaring, selfish, and even racist. 

“Freedom” is no longer held in the same esteem by this society as it was in our past.  So many have lost the knowledge of what real freedom is like. They never imagine trying to live as independent people. Today millions are more interested in what benefits they are eligible for than how they can prepare themselves to meet the responsibilities of life.

I had a conversation with a young girl recently and we were discussing this subject, and I made the point that freedom should be the goal of a society, not dependence. I described a free society, and was surprised at her response to the principles of freedom our Founding Fathers gave us. She said, "If that's freedom, I don't want anything to do with it!" I immediately thought of those persecuted in England and the slaves on the plantation in the days of old; of the tens of thousands who died in the American Revolution and the Civil War to win freedom for all Americans.

What makes today’s trend toward slavery so insidious is that it is not slavery by force; it's slavery by submission. As more and more people claim the right to education, the right to shelter, the right to food, and the right to healthcare they find themselves each year with a little less freedom. The poor find themselves poorer and the middle class are not far behind. The standard of living is declining for most people in America as all these so-called "rights" are claimed. Progress is slowing along with prosperity for each new generation.

At the end of the civil war came the Industrial Revolution which brought the greatest period of invention, growth, and prosperity the world had ever seen. Free men, black and white, rose to heights they never thought possible.

Does anyone envision such a period of prosperity ahead for America?  Does anyone really believe that the direction we are going as a nation is the right direction and will lead to greater freedom and greater prosperity in the future? I thought not.

We need to shed the shackles of dependency and return to the path of freedom and independence before virtually every area of society is run by the new masters of our day.

You would think that the President of the United States, a man of color, would be out in front leading the transition toward a society of greater freedom and greater independence. We are instead, returning to a society based on security in exchange for freedom. We are returning to a society as in the days of old -- a society based on plantation economics.

Paul Nathan