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Friday, April 25, 2014

Clive Bundy's Question

"And I've often wondered, are they better off as slaves, picking cotton and having a family life and doing things, or are they better off under government subsidy? They didn't get no more freedom. They got less freedom."
Clive Bundy's remarks have set off a firestorm, in which Bundy has been called every manner of racist. A look at the historical facts might be in order.
"[B]y age 16.5 American male slaves were taller than factory workers and laboring classes in England, the poor of Italy, students in Habsburg military schools, the middle class of Stuttgart, German peasants, and factory workers in Russia. As adults they also exceeded the aristocrats of Stuttgart, Moscow middle school pupils, and were about one-half inch below the Swedish schoolchildren, and less than one inch below the nonlaboring classes in England. At age 17.5 American female slaves exceeded Boston women of American or Irish parents, factory workers in England or Russia, and the upper class in Italy and were slightly more than one inch below the tallest group (schoolchildren in Sweden)."
And from another source:
This interpretation for average height has led to their use in studying the health of slaves, health inequality, living standards during industrialization, and trends in mortality. The first important results in the “new anthropometric history” dealt with the nutrition and health of Americans slaves as determined from stature recorded for identification purposes on slave manifests required in the coastwise slave trade. The subject of slave health has been a contentious issue among historians, in part because vital statistics and nutrition information were never systematically collected for slaves (or for the vast majority of the American population in the mid-nineteenth century, for that matter). Yet, the height data showed that children were astonishingly small and malnourished while working slaves were remarkably well fed. Adolescent slaves grew rapidly as teenagers and were reasonably well off in nutritional aspects of health.
Table 5: Life Expectancy at Birth by Country and Year
United Kingdom40506977
United States39476877

In terms of another kind of growth, population growth, it is the case that both slave and free populations in 19th century America grew at twice the rate of any European country. In fact, the American slave population grew by a factor of four between 1810 and 1860, an increase which was entirely due to reproduction, since importation was illegal by 1808. That kind of population growth is impossible without high fertility and relatively low mortality rates. High fertility, in turn, is not possible on an inadequate diet or in inadequate living conditions. In America, both slave and free infants were being conceived, born and were thriving at rates higher than that of every European population of the time.  

This fact was not lost on slave owners. Many American slave-owners made an argument in support of slavery based exactly on these facts: life as an American slave might not be ideal, but it was superior to life as a free "savage" in Africa, and even superior to the lives of many poor white men in both America and Europe. And, if we consider only nutritional and life expectancy data (as liberals generally do), the argument is quite strong.

Of course, there is more to living in a just society than simply good food and long life. There is freedom to consider. But that is precisely the question Clive Bundy raises - can living on government welfare be considered "freedom"?

When one considers that WIC and food stamps restrict what you are permitted to eat, government housing restricts where you are permitted to live, government schools restrict where you are permitted to be educated, government Medicare, Medicaid and Obamacare dictate what doctors you are permitted to see and what conditions they are permitted to treat, given that government subsidies allow the government to dictate so many aspects of the recipients' lives, what is the precise difference between the old slave owner and modern government? 

That is the question Clive Bundy asked.
By calling him a racist, that is the question the government and the media avoid answering.

Clive Bundy feeds his cattle on land the government took via eminent domain, but he refuses to live according to the rules the government wishes to impose on him as a consequence of "allowing" him to use the land which his family owned before the government seized it.

Slavemasters used to strip and publicly whip uppity slaves. Mr. Bundy's family has been stripped of their land, and, as Alan Keyes has pointed out, they are now being whipped in the media. Despite the passage of two centuries, not much has changed.

1 comment:

Steve Dalton said...

Once again, you have stated some inconvenient truths. I suspect Mark Shea might show up to denounce you as a wascally wacist. I also think a certain friend of yours will be very upset at you. If he does, ask him what the name of the local skating rink in his town was for many years. BTW, the housing for slaves was superior to what most poor had too.