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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Day 334: Is Retirement The Same As A Slave Purchasing Their Freedom?

For most of us, our goals in life include marriage, kids and early retirement. The percentage of people who are able to attain that last one is quite low - most of us are forced to work well into our old age and still don't have enough to survive without government assistance. Sometimes that government assistance is enough to allow for a dignified decay into death, but in many countries government assistance isn't even enough to buy food to have a balanced diet. How many retired parents have to move in with their middle aged children? Most people I know have at least one grandparent who lived with their kids.

Now, once upon a time, in a land that is not quite so far away, there was a thing called slavery. Now what this means is: one human being could own another human being (like, say, a car) and treat that human being as property or as an object to be used and/or discarded on a whim. As a matter of fact, slavery does still exist. There is a country in north Africa that still practices slavery, even though it's technically illegal. This is a very interesting and informative article about slavery in Africa. There are other forms and locations for modern day slavery: there is debt slavery, mostly in Asia, and the slavery that comes about from human trafficking - this is mostly sex slavery. Here is a link to the Wikipedia article about Contemporary Slavery.Check out this quote taken from that page:

The number of slaves today remains as high as 12 million to 27 million, 
the highest number in human history

There were (and are, in some cases - probably not applicable to some sex slavery) only a few ways for a slave to gain his/her freedom: The government could free the slave, the master could free the slave, or the slave could purchase his/her freedom. Since slaves don't/didn't get decent (or any) wages, the chances of them buying their freedom are/were slim to none.

I don't know about you, but this whole slavery thing seems eerily familiar: having restricted choices to to social and/or economic position, being forced to work in order to survive, being treated as inferior by those in higher social positions, working with the sole purpose of being able to be free to choose.

Doesn't that sound a little like slavery?

We work our entire lives for the luxury of living as we please, but by the time we get there (if we are lucky enough to have had a good job and therefore a decent nest egg) we're old and decrepit and can't do many of the things we may have wanted to do. We are no different from the bonded workers in India, we just don't realise that we are. We want to believe that we are free already - as if free choice exists in a system controlled by money. Many choices in life have a price tag, and if you can't afford to pay it then it's simply not an option to you. You could resort to stealing, but there's not much difference in the end - and in any case, the thieves that are the best at what they do are sitting on a big pile of money that the rest of us believe is legitimate and honest. Yeah, right.

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