Is there an advantage to being a slave rather than a minimum wage worker, who lives on a subsistence salary? A slave is a piece of property that needs to be maintained, just like a car or tractor. Hence from a health point of view, the situation of the slave is better than that of many workers in America, who still struggle with health costs, despite the advances of Obamacare.
A slave, like a pet, also has to be fed and treated with plenty of TLC, otherwise it will become squirrelly and indolent. Repeated punishments and beatings have not been found to increase the effectiveness of slaves. Minimum wage workers, however, require little TLC. If a worker in a fast food joint doesn't perform his job, there's always a replacement waiting in the wings. Of course, freedom is the one thing that slaves don't have. Everyone talks about freedom and dreams of it, but once it arrives its benefits fall far short of the promise that was once held out. Sure it's nice to be free, but freedom like independence means that you end up having to fend for yourself. It's nice to be free if you can hack it, but if you end up having a hard time in an increasingly competitive marketplace, then you may want think about relinquishing your freedom.
In general, when you create a spreadsheet and list all the pluses and minuses of freedom versus slavery, you're going to find that it's a very close call. Would you rather be enslaved by a relatively nice owner, say a Thomas Jefferson type, or work for McDonald's for the rest of your life?
This was originally submitted to The Screaming Pope, Francis Levy's blog of rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture.