Alan K. Henderson's Weblog


Old comments migrated to Disqus, currently working outtechnical issues

Monday, May 02, 2005

The Latest In Anti-Religious Paranoia

The Rottweiler and Captain's Quarters fisk a New York gathering of lefists whining about the political influence of the Religious Right. (If only such influence would allow Bush to confirm all his judician nominations within a single term.) Meanwhile, National Review's Stanley Kurtz reviews Harper's Magazine's series of articles collectively titled "The Christian Right's War On America." Kurtz puts this "war" in perspective (emphasis mine):

Traditional Christians are openly excoriated in the mainstream press as evil, fascist, segregationist bigots. Their political speech is placed under legislative threat. Their institutions of higher education are attacked and destroyed. Naturally, America’s traditional Christians are fighting back. They’ve turned to the political process in hopes of securing for themselves a space in which to exist. Weary of being the butt of hatred by those who proclaim tolerance, conservative Christians are complaining, with justice, about the all-too-successful attempts to exclude them from society.

Rush Limbaugh discussed the feature on his show today. One item that caught my attention was a Harper's author's claim that the Religious Right wants to bring back slavery. One could address the historical ignorance (few religious conservatives share the same cultural origins as Civil War-era Southern aristocrats), or the leftist refusal to accept that any great number of Christians who interpret the Bible according to original intent actually believe Jesus' exhortations to treat people of all classes with dignity, that the Good Samaritan parable and Jesus hanging out with tax collectors and sinners and lepers mean nothing. (That doesn't preclude fisking them when they're wrong; next time soneone tells you Jesus never condemned anyone, show 'em Matthew chapter 23.)

I'll hit on another false assumption: that slavery is economically beneficial, or is perceived to be by any great number of Christians. On paper it looks like a good deal - Mister Plantation Owner has a bunch of workers and his only expense is housing and food. But there are tradeoffs. The plantation must hire its equivalent of jailers. Its most crucial opportunity loss is a loss in productivity. Voluntary labor is simply more productive than involuntary labor.

If the plantation owner makes a profit (I've read that many went into debt in the long run - sorry, no links), he doesn't make as much as he would have had he hired a voluntary workforce. Getting rid of the jailers alone would decrease his labor costs, and the greater productivity would reduce his need for farmhands. Slavery may be a good deal for the special interests involved in slave commerce, but as the economic gap between the Confederacy and the Union illustrates, the benefits don't go far beyond that. If involuntary labor were such a boon, Cuba would be richer than Florida.

Site Meter