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20 Hours of Labor per Week: Fractional Slavery and the True Cost of National Debt

By       Message John Q. Camarillo       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink

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Let’s break this down as simply as one can, in a manner that hopes to result in some sense of immediate relevance to the average person who has grown numb to terms like “billions” and “trillions”.

Every week, since September 28, 2007, the Government has committed you, the American citizen, to an additional 20 hours of labor to pay your portion of the National Debt.  Let me be clear: you owe an additional 20 hours of labor for every week that has passed since that date, with no end in sight.  Here’s how it works: 

As of this writing, our national debt, not including long-term liabilities such as social security, is $10,582,501,387,889.35.  (That’s just shy of eleven trillion dollars, for those who find it tedious to count backwards through the commas.)

All debt is time owed.  Period.  Money is, quite literally, representative of time and the only aspects of money that are truly in question are, “What is time worth?” followed by “How can I get more Free Time?”
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In the United States, if you are a minimum wage worker, your time, according to government mandate, is worth $6.55 an hour.  In a balanced world, you would get a token, coin, note or some other material representation of your time spent, which you could then trade to someone else, in exchange for $6.55 worth of their time, however that may be rendered. For example, it takes me an hour to find, collect and prepare a bushel of berries; it takes you an aggregate hour to plant, cultivate, and harvest a bushel of corn.  We make a fair trade.  It’s not too much more complicated than that, in its simplest form, at least.

If every one of the 305,094,737 citizens of the United States--man, woman, and child alike--shouldered equal weight of the National debt, each person would owe $34,685.95.  That is, of course, if we could pay it all off today and instantly suspend the compounding interest.  If you make minimum wage, you must work 5296 hours to pay off your portion of the debt.  A person fortunate enough to get a couple weeks of vacation each year would have to work 2.6 years, just to pay off their portion of the debt. 

For the average non-supervisory skilled worker making $17.01 an hour, 2030 hours are owed in future labor to this debt. 
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Aw, but the entire population isn’t working, so let’s assume, if we can without provoking laughter, that we have no intent of saddling today’s children and retirees with any part of this debt.  That leaves 189.89 million workers. 

Now with this adjustment, our minimum wage worker owes 8508 hours of labor and the skilled worker owes 3261 hours.  Imagine planning out your life and slotting into your calendar 2-4 years of income–free servitude.  Now, scatter that sum about your working life and tell me if it is really more palatable.

This is fractional slavery, not accidentally similar, in ambiance at least, to fractional reserve lending:  instead of declaring a few people slaves for life, we render many as slaves for only part of their life.  We call them taxpayers because it sounds better.

Within a balanced budget, we, through the euphemistic process of informed consent, agree that some of our labor hours are worth transferring to the community:  I do not want to fight fires, I would not be good at it, but I sure do appreciate the need for fire fighters.  So, perhaps as a property owner, I invest a small bit of my income into the fire department, in conjunction with many others.  Thus, a few minutes of my time are added to the few minutes of my neighbors, resulting in days of service from the fire house.  This is not slavery.  This is an investment.  It’s pretty much what keeps a community ticking.

In a fractional slavery system, the Government exceeds the consent of the People, bypassing their self-determination by co-opting their time before it occurs, without due explanation or consensus.  It’s simply easier to steal from the future, in as much as it hasn’t occurred yet.  We are rather existential beings and have a hard time grasping the reality of “future”.  In our Nation, where cognitive dissonance rules, the future was written off a long time ago in favor of more Instant Now.  We sure do like our Instant Now in this country, don’t we? I worry that we are about to lose both our Now and our Future, for these reasons and many more.

Since September 28, 2007, the Government has committed you, the minimum wage workers, to work off an additional 3.6 billion dollar average per day of National Debt.  Like some kind of horrible reverse-vacation policy, you owe an additional 20 plus hours of labor to the Government for each week that has passed.  The average skilled worker owes 8.25 hours to the pot, every week.
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When the Government passed the bailout bill in spite of popular dissent, they added a draw of 562.8 hours against the future labor of every minimum wage worker.  They added 216 hours for the average skilled worker.  The average salaried supervisor, in case they are feeling cocky at this point in the diatribe, was charged 183 hours.  The less you make, the more time you owe.  The more you make, the more likely you can pay your debt with other people’s time.

Before you move to take up arms against this clever form of slavery, consider this:  Half of the world’s population lives on $2.00 or less a week.    Apparently, the value of their time is even less than our minimum wage worker.  In China, the average worker earns 58 cents an hour in USD terms.  Their time is also, apparently, worth a lot less than ours. I suppose someone should ask, “Why?”  Oh, that’s right, someone is:  The Chinese are now asking why, along with dozens of other nations.  It would have been wise for us to make that inquiry every time Wal-Mart ‘rolled back’ more prices.

This brings us back to the question “How can I get more Free Time?”  Well, there are several age-old strategies for gaining more free time than your natural allotment in life:

1.   Increase Productivity:  We call this, wait for it, WORKING HARD.  If you can work harder than the next guy and get more bushels of berries per hour, then you can trade for more corn. You can then reinvest the spread in tools that will help you harvest even more berries.  This is the only means of fairly increasing time.

2.   Consume Less:  We call this thrift.  If you don’t need so many bushels of corn, then you don’t need to pick so many bushels of berries.

3.   Counterfeit the Measure of Time:  We call this printing money. We just create money, gambling that the market will take time to realize that this new money isn’t backed by any solid or tradable representation of time.  No assets, no gross national product.  It’s just paper that people still believe represents some relative measure of time.  When the amount of time represented by the paper exceeds the amount of time that can be truly harnessed in any foreseeable period, the value of the paper collapses.

4.   Create Pretend Time:  We call this usury, the derivatives market, credit default swaps, and the whole host of make-believe financial instruments wherein people make money simply by creating fake money.  They don’t even bother printing a counterfeit measure.  They just say “Yep, we own all this time, so give us some more…” and the idiots and the ignorant believe them.  Neat job if you can get it.

5.   Steal All Time Now:  We call this slavery.  You take a body of people and declare that their time is intrinsically less valuable than your time.  Ten of them work the hours of ten people, no different an output from ten of your people, but you pay them for the hours of one.  That is a hell of a return on investment.  Slaves aren’t free; you have to feed them, it’s preferable that they have shelter of some sort and sometimes it’s useful to give them a little premium, so they can buy food from you.  If they complain, you beat them into submission.  In modern slavery, the chains of circumstance have replaced anklets, but the idea is the same.  On two dollars a week, where does one hope to run to?

6.   Steal Some Future Time:  We call this fractional slavery, or at least I do because I like to impress myself, and maybe it will catch on, regardless of my flawed ego.  It’s the same thing as good old fashioned slavery, except that you aren’t so much the victim of ruthless exploitation as you are just a gullible fool on the crap-end of a really bad deal.  If you live in a Democracy where the instruments of redress would allow you to stifle the sale of your future time, but you fail to take true action, then you are no more a victim than you are a collaborator. 

 
So, here we are, sliding into an unprecedented Depression in a world with exponential population growth, paying hugely, via debt, for a dishonorable war that the majority of Americans said 'no' to, repeatedly, while we pay out trillions to failed business models reeking of corruption via bailouts that the majority of Americans said 'no' to, loudly, and yet still a good ninety percent of the country continues to accrue 8 to 20 hours a week in future slavery.  It's hardly an investment, as indicated by the continuing slow-motion train wreck that we politely call our economy.

I guess the only question remaining is whether we, over the last eight years, during the reign of an Administration that added more National Debt than all of prior Administrations combined, unknowingly shifted from our comfortable, negotiated, fractional slavery system to the full blown unapologetic serfdom of the people of the United States? 

Or does the fact that we are still in this war, and that we still keep giving away the future’s money to corrupt businesses, and that Bush and Cheney still have not been impeached for heinous crimes against the State, against Providence, and against the dignity of humanity as a whole, stand as testament to our own selfish complicity in this mess?  Are we about to reap what we have sewn?  The rest of the world thinks so, and, though they should tread delicately in such self-righteous garb, as glass houses are plentiful these days, their positions are not without merit. 

Do We the People have an honest debt to settle with the rest of the world, whether we like it or not, one that can be negotiated peacefully, one that will require sacrifice on our part, or do We the People have a debt to settle with our own Government first, one that will require courage on our part? 

Or are we just going to call it a draw here at home, everyone having sinned equally, and just blow up some more countries in a bid to balance the books, while a new administration spoon feeds us eloquent hubris, national 'service' programs and stimulus checks?  I have a horrible feeling that it is this latter prognosis that will come into fruition.  After all, as long as we have the biggest military in the world, who dares collect on our ill-gotten time? Do we really seek change, or do we just want to change the outcome? 
Tell me, oh lesser slaves of the new America, because I can’t figure it out from our actions, and frankly, I'm all stocked up on rhetoric so action at this point is all that matters.  All I know for certain is that the math would indicate that we are running out of time.  It’s all been spent, and then some.

 

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