"Slavery was a good life, if you had a good master. Just eat and sleep and play and take care of a small part of the farm."
This was Dan Hughes speaking in
When Dan Hughes was a slave with a good master, he had security. His parents had no worry for the future when he was born. Such training as he received in his youth—and it was equal to the education received in those days by many free men—was provided without cost to him by his benevolent "owner." He looked forward to guaranteed full employment during his productive life, and to an old age free of economic worries.
Dan Hughes, the slave, had subsidized housing and guaranteed medical care. He had incentive, too; if things had gone on as they were he might have become a straw boss or even a butler up at the big house. And if he planted what he was told to plant on the small part of the farm he took care of, well—try planting wheat today without being told you can plant it.
The security Old Dan had in those days, he couldn’t have had without slavery. We cannot have it today without slavery. Guaranteed food and housing and medical care, assured full employment and carefree old age, surety against economic depression and protection against price-cutting competition, these are the fruits of security—and the attributes of slavery. It makes little difference whether a person or a government is the master.
The more Americans call upon government for cradle-to-grave security, the more they ask politicians for guaranteed jobs, guaranteed profits, guaranteed living, the closer they come to placing themselves in slavery. Some say the difference is that we choose our masters; they forget that the more freedom we surrender elsewhere, the nearer we come to losing the right of choice. Others say government is a good master; they forget that when slavery is established, masters can change.
We think that for all the security of slavery, Dan Hughes must have preferred freedom with its risks. So do we. So, we believe, does a great majority of the American people. To "eat and sleep and play and take care of a small part of the farm" isn’t enough for the human soul. Our task today is to see that we do not drift through complacence into a bondage we would not knowingly accept. When government promises security, let us look for the chains before we accept.