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Everything Is Like Slavery, Except Slavery


How’s that Republican outreach to racial minorities going these days?

North Carolina Republican Senate candidate Greg Brannon has an interesting argument for eliminating food stamps: “slavery.” In a videotaped interview with the North Carolina Tea Party in October, Brannon, a Rand Paul-endorsed doctor who is top contender for the GOP nomination to take on Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan, cited James Madison in making the case for abolishing the Department of Agriculture—and with it, the $76 billion-a-year Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps. Brannon has a real chance of winning: A December poll from Public Policy Polling found the GOP primary field split but showed him leading Hagan, 45-43.

“We’re taking our plunder, that’s taken from us as individuals, [giving] it to the government, and the government is now keeping itself in power by giving these goodies away,” Brannon said in the interview. “The answer is the Department of Agriculture should go away at the federal level. And now 80 percent of the Farm Bill was food stamps. That enslaves people. What you want to do, it’s crazy but it’s true, teach people to fish instead of giving them fish. When you’re at the behest of somebody else, you are actually a slavery to them [sic]. That kind of charity does not make people freer.”

Also, Medicaid is like the Gulag, and unemployment benefits are like concentration camps. Subsidies to tobacco farmers are like the Emancipation Proclamation. Surely, we can all come together to agree on these points.

And now, to Serwer with the punchline:

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  • junker

    I also liked the “80% of the farm bill is food stamps.” If only that were the case!

    • I wonder how much this guy is getting in subsidies if he has to talk like that…can’t say dumb shit, be a Republican and also not be a hypocrite

    • NBarnes

      If the rest of the farm bill were scaled down such that the rest of the spending in the bill equaled 25% of the current spending on food stamps, you’d be able to hear the primal screams in London.

    • Jennifer Steel
      • Kurzleg

        I guess it’s a sign of progress that Democrats upped SNAP funding to meet current need.

        • Jennifer Steel

          This percentage hasn’t changed for the last 10 years. I might also add that the requirement that only US citizens be eligible for food stamps ended in 2002 under the President George Bush administration.

          • Malaclypse

            This percentage hasn’t changed for the last 10 years

            That makes the claim that Obama is “the food stamp President” somewhat problematic, unless you are willing to lie, then.

            • DrDick

              When hasn’t Jenny been willing to lie?

  • Todd

    What comes after the government is no longer “in power”? Who or what replace it? WalMart? The John Birch Society? Undocumented Mexican labor?

    • Usually warlords aspiring to form the next government until either one of them or some other movement finally does form a unified state structure.

      • rm

        Imagine there’s no countries; it isn’t hard to do.

        • Ahuitzotl

          with due respect to JL, I think its incredibly hard to do

    • Jennifer Steel

      What comes after the government is no longer “in power”?

      I think what he’s saying is those in power shouldn’t be buying votes with handouts.

      “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

      • Malaclypse

        You’re cute when you pretend to be a woman, Jennie.

        • Jennifer Steel

          What a funky lady
          She like it like it like it like that
          He was a lady

      • Kurzleg

        You mean the handouts that Wal-Mart employees are forced to take?

      • I would prefer if people didn’t write this kind of thing to other people whose name sounds so much like mine, regardless of what they say.

        • That was meant to be a reply to Malaclypse.

          • Malaclypse

            Sorry. Mockery was intended just for JenBob, not you, or any women.

            • Good to know. So it’s only for Jenny, JB, and some person who calls hirself “Steel” among other chosen pseudonyms but isn’t me (and according to Google was criticized by other commenters here as “Jennifer Steel” before commenting under that name, unless comments have been deleted). It’s also good to know that women don’t really have to fear being told “you’re not actually a woman,” because it’s only for “Jenny.”

              This isn’t really directed at you, it’s just that you’re conveniently here.

              • Sharculese

                Jennifer Steel a.k.a Jenffier Steel was the name that got Jenny tagged as Jenny.

                Jenny is not good at being his own sockpuppet.

  • Gary

    A minor quibble about such a stupid statement, but who the fuck uses the word “plunder?” Was “booty” too pirate-y?

    Plus, I’m pretty sure that “plunder” implies something obtained through theft or the like. Is he suggesting that we taxpayers engaged in criminality in obtaining “our plunder?” What a fucking moron.

    • Bill Murray

      no its the Federal Government that plunders the good, white (but I repeat myself) workers

    • JKTHs

      Yeah, this statement sounded stupid and incoherent even for a wingnut.

    • jim, some guy in iowa

      he thought he had a clever spin on “taxation = theft” but then got lost in garbled bible/ayn rand-isms

    • Nutella

      Plunder is exactly what he means. Taxation is theft to these people. Except the taxation that funds agricultural subsidies, oil subsidies, the NSA, and the army’s weapon budget. Those are the good taxes as long as they are paid by the 99%.

      • JKTHs

        Not quite. He’s saying the government is taking “our plunder” so…everyone’s income comes from theft.

        • NonyNony

          Republican projection shows up in the oddest places, doesn’t it?

        • rea

          Property is theft.

    • I assumed he was talking about how Chris Christie got caught making a plunder.

    • No, “booty” was too sexy.

    • Bill Murray

      perhaps he comes from a land down under,
      where women glow and men plunder

      • Professor what’s another word for pirate treasure?

  • JP Stormcrow

    C’mon have some sympathy. Imagine a dystopia where America’s farms feed hungry children … forever.

    • Bartleby

      I haven’t read the books (or seen the movies), but that doesn’t sound like the plot to The Hunger Games.

      • Hob

        Not even close.

  • Linnaeus

    When you’re at the behest of somebody else, you are actually a slavery to them [sic]. That kind of charity does not make people freer.

    Here’s the thing. I’ve said this before (although this opinion is by no means original to me), but conservatives are just fine with someone being at the behest of someone (or something) else. The government, for all its flaws, is at least partially responsible to the people it serves in ways that other social institutions are not. Conservatives are just fine with companies, families, churches, etc. exercising greater control over people, and never mind that these institutions can also be oppressive. But these are realms of private power that, as Corey Robin has pointed out, conservatives favor.

    • To refine your point a bit – They absolutely hate the idea of an impartial system of aid.

      Charity should only be doled out after the supplicant has been thoroughly inspected and judged worthy of receiving whatever help the “Right” people decide to give.

      Of course being judged worthy will involve leaping through hoops and lots of humiliation and exploitation.

      And if we flipped to a private charity only mode, those who will be deemed worthy will be an increasingly small number as those who have the funds decide there’s no point wasting it on smelly poor people.

      p.s. I see Bannon is another GOP Ob/Gyn. Ugg.

      • MAJeff

        p.s. I see Bannon is another GOP Ob/Gyn. Ugg.

        They’re just practicing their love with women.

        • ExpatJK

          How do so many of them go to med school when they don’t believe in science? That’s what I want to know.

          • Linnaeus

            Humans can be very good at compartmentalizing.

          • Nutella

            Simple. Medicine isn’t science.

            It’s a craft that is informed by biology and chemistry, just like pottery-making is informed by physics and chemistry, but it’s not a science.

            Plenty of doctors (and engineers, too) are anti-science.

        • Lotta Figina

          They’re just practicing their love with women.

          You should try it sometime. Just hold your nose and go for it.

          • Origami Isopod

            As Mal says, the subtext is always text with you, Jennie.

  • Nobdy

    I think it is an extreme national shame and tragedy that we, as a country, sent cruel violent men to Africa to kidnap innocent people and bring them back here in unsanitary and frequently deadly ships only to force them to give a small percentage of their earnings to the government who then redistributed those earnings among poor citizens thus preventing hunger and stimulating the economy. Truly it it is a blight upon our nation that we did this.

    What percentage of their income did African laborers on a cotton plantation have to give to the government to redistribute as food stamps? .02%? .5%? Don’t tell me it was over 1%. I will weep if the cruel and violent government confiscated 1% of their income for this ignoble purpose!

    • Jennifer Steel

      Truly it it is a blight upon our nation that we did this.

      True, but it’s interesting that you only single out America for your brow beating for something that happened 150 years ago. This was standard stuff back then. You need to spread your love around some…

      Where African Slaves were sent

      Portuguese America (modern Brazil) 38.5%
      British America (minus North America) 18.4%
      Spanish Empire 17.5%
      French Americas 13.6%
      British North America 6.45%
      English Americas 3.25%
      Dutch West Indies 2.0%
      Danish West Indies 0.3%

      • Sharculese

        Weird, it’s almost as if the subject of this post were America or something, dummy.

      • Ralph Wiggum

        Out of curiosity – what in hell are the ‘English Americas’, and how are they separate from British America or British North America?

        • Linnaeus

          My guess is that “English America” refers to English colonies prior to the Acts of Union that united England and Scotland in 1707.

        • wjts

          Non-North American British colonies were the Mosquito Coast, British Honduras, and British Guiana. The Caribbean colonies might fall under there as well.

      • Chilly

        Anyone else excited that Jenny’s back with a classic pseudonym?

        • I am because I missed the Jennifer Steel phenomenon. I did see Honorable Bob in the virtual flesh, however.

      • Here is an even more detailed breakdown.

        British Mainland North America – 360,400 or 3.7%
        Jamaica – 1,077,100 or 11.2% (three times as many as the US)
        Barbados – 491,000 or 5.1% (more than the US)
        British Leewards – 304,200 or 3.2%
        British Windwards and Trinidad and Tobago – 362,000 or 3.7% (more than the US)
        Guianas – 403,400 or 4.2% (more than the US)
        French Windwards – 304,200 or 3.1%
        St. Domingue (Haiti) – 787,400 or 8.2% (more than twice as many as the US)
        Spanish America – 427,200 or 4.4% (more than the US)
        Spanish Caribbean – 791,900 or 8.2% (more than twice as many as the US)
        Dutch Caribbean – 128,700 or 1.3%
        North East Brazil – 898,800 or 9.3% (more than twice as many as the US)
        Bahia – 1,036,100 or 10.7% (more than twice as many as the US)
        South East Brazil – 2,042,300 or 21.1% (more five times as many as the US)
        (Sub-Total for Brazil – 3,977,200 or 41.1% [more than ten times as many as the US])
        Other Americas – 110,400 or 1.1%
        Africa – 131,200 or 1.4%
        Total – 9,657,100 or 100%


        David Eltis and David Richardson, “Prices of African Slaves Newly Arrived in the Americas, 1673-1865: New Evidence on Long-Run Trends and Regional Differentials,” in David Eltis, Frank D. Lewis, and Kenneth L. Sokoloff, (eds.), Slavery in the Development of the Americas (Cambridge University Press, 2004), table 2, pp. 188-189.

        • Captain Lookback

          Jamaica – 1,077,100 or 11.2% (three times as many as the US)
          Barbados – 491,000 or 5.1% (more than the US)

          Yeah, but this is about ‘Merica and how it’s the evil hellhole, even if all this happened 150 years ago.

          • MAJeff

            Keep fucking that chicken.

            • Chickens are for filthy liberals. I fuck pancakes like the good lord intended!

      • Nobdy

        Oh wow. The “Others were worse” defense. I’ve seen the light! How brilliant you are! How righteous and true! If others were worse than America then American slavery was fine and even laudable in its restraint! This is why you lobby each year for Charles Manson to be released from prison, right? Because Jeffrey Dahmer was worse!

        • It also happened a long time ago. THere’s a statute of limitations on these things.

          Is it time for my pancakes yet??

          • Nobdy

            Dear Idjit Dummypants.

            Greg “dummydum” Brannon brought up slavery, not the libruls. That’s why we’re talking about slavery. You are very stupid and cannot be trusted with a pancake. Pancakes are too complicated a thing for you too operate. You may have strained peas if you ask nicely.


            A librul.

      • Its not brow beating, its breast beating.

  • Randy

    Enough with this outsider information. Let’s hear someone who gets SNAP tell us how they feel they are being enslaved.

    • I work with a group of guys, several of whom either use various forms of government assistance to survive despite working, usually, two or more jobs and doing a little hustling on the side, or they have folks in their families on said assistance. All of these guys, except for one, is African-American and could be described as “working poor”. If anything, most see this as just another hoop they have to jump through to feed themselves, take care of their kids, keep their people safe, and get a little enjoyment out of life. Slavery or any shame at having to be on assistance rarely comes up. None of them are actually proud of it, of course, but it’s just another thing the day brings, like having to wait in the rain for a late bus or getting pulled over by cops for driving while black. Frankly, if I had to guess, having to working shitty hours at a shitty job for shitty pay from shitty employers is more like “slavery”, though none of them are dumb enough to use the comparison.

      The whole “shame them into getting off welfare” won’t work, I think, because these guys already know that conservatives hold them in nothing but contempt and always will regardless of their circumstances. This all probably still counts as outsider input, but I do think it’s relevent.

      • these guys already know that conservatives hold them in nothing but contempt and always will regardless of their circumstances.

        Dear me, why on earth would anyone think such a thing? Surely no one would look at the neoCon reaction to President Obama (imitate a pissed off Alien Queen) and conclude they just don’t respect African-Americans.

        Snark aside, thanks for making this excellent point. Part of the continued RW hostility towards African-Americans (and minorities in general) is due to the fact we don’t have to make with the ass kissing when they wiggle their bottoms. See also their intense longing for The Good Olde Days(R)(C)

        • Here’s the interesting thing. In the months leading up to 2012, after Romney had gotten the nomination locked down but before he gave that famous “moochers” speech, a lot of these guys (and some of the front-of-the-house folks who, I should mention, were basically in the same socio-economic boat) were thinking seriously about voting for Romney. They weren’t particularly pleased with what Obama had accomplished and, despite the still-strong joy at having a Black President, thought maybe Romney would do a better job fixing the economy.

          Then came that speech, and that fixed that shit. With one dude, who was totally going to vote Romney, it was overnight. And then came the ramping up of dog whistles, like the comparisons to plantations and the out-right attempts to keep black folks from voting in certain states. Again, I will not speak for my co-workers nor the Black Community as a whole, but from someone standing fairly close to the door, whatever inroads the GOP has made in that community, they’ve pretty much erased since the 2012 election.

  • charluckles

    I work at the behest of my boss. Does that mean that I am a slavery?

    • Linnaeus

      No, that’s freedom.

      • njorl

        You can tell by the licorice smell.

  • What you want to do, it’s crazy but it’s true, teach people to fish instead of giving them fish. When you’re at the behest of somebody else, you are actually a slavery to them [sic]. That kind of charity does not make people freer.”

    As is so often the case when I read the mumblings of a doctor who is running for office, I can’t help but remember that many med board sanctions are triggered by substance abuse.

    Jesus Doolittle Christ, does this sound like someone who is sober? Trick question – No it doesn’t.

    Yes. We’ll teach people to fish. In the water we want to keep full of pollutants because jobs. And when I say teach people to fish, I mean buy stock in companies that produce fishing gear, set up a company called Fishing 4 Moochers and then require people to sign up and pay if they want to learn to fish. Did I mention jobs? And if the fish start to run out (which is of course impossible) then … Jesus. Or something.

    (Of course the fact that many people already do fish (and hunt) to keep from starving escapes fuckwits like this because the only time he goes out to catch critters is on a privately owned game preserve or a yacht.)

    • steve

      How exactly does he expect the working poor to not be poor anymore except through wage subsidies like EITC and in-kind transfers like SNAP and rarely Section 8? I mean these are high school graduates, GED holders, and high-school drop-outs, who often have past drug convictions and/or poor credit, which severely limits the jobs they can do. Not that there are many jobs to go around to begin with.

      I don’t see this guy proposing we end the war on drugs, or pay for schooling, or childcare, or reform zoning laws, or regulate the use of credit scores in employment, or expand the EITC, or further expand access to medicaid (the largest “implicit marginal tax,” something the Right seems to bitch about oportunistically ad constantly).

      Does he think a single mother of two living with a GED and an old drug conviction living in a blighted neighborhood is going to magically become a dotcom millionaire once she is further “incentivized” to work by having $394 in food/month taken away?

      • Nobdy

        Actual Republican answer: “Who CARES? She lives, she dies, whatever, as long as I have a few extra bucks in my wallet it is literally impossible for me to care less.”

        Fake Republican Answer: “She will be incentivized to work harder and better herself. Plus employers will have more money to pay her so her wages will rise [they say this without laughing, which is impressiv] blah blah blah free market right to work good business environment blah blah blah!”

      • steve

        And also…2% of the federal budget. I am sure that the economy would benefit if that 2% was instead refunded to rich people and sat in a “vault” rather than circulated in the economy. That Keynes guy didn’t know squat.

      • He doesn’t expect anyone to do anything except listen to the words he’s strung together and then vote for him.

        Have you noticed that members of the GOP sound more and more deranged? It is because more and more of their speech is sound bite and cliche without any padding. I think it is because the party is almost completely given over to people who just aren’t very bright. So to ask what he expects … Nobdy is right – he doesn’t care. He isn’t there to help the poor. He is just there to make the right noises.

        But I’m coming to believe that even when Republicans do care, they lack the capacity to formulate a plan. Haven’t we seen that every time they announce they have THER PlN that will make everyone Perfect, they come out with some 14 page joke, 70% of which is carefully selected stock photos of grinning white people? And that’s with the help of lobbyists!

    • guthrie

      He might just object if 20 million americans were trained to be Dr’s.

    • We can train ’em, but if the jobs aren’t there we’ll just have very well trained unemployed people.

  • OliversArmy

    Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to eat.

  • Brien Jackson

    “You know what else is just like slavery? Baseball players using steriods!”

    -Shorter Buster Olney.

  • joe from Lowell

    Republicans’ unfamiliarity with economic hardship and the people who experience it leaves them blind to the way that economic hardship itself reduces freedom and opportunity, and how programs that alleviate that hardship liberate people.

    There’s a reason the term “grinding” is often attached to “poverty.”

    • DocAmazing

      FoxNews will now try to popularize the phrase “grinding wealth”.

      • DrS

        She’s just bein’ Miley

        • DocAmazing

          No, that’s grinding teeth.

          • MAJeff

            The kids still doing extasy?

    • steve

      This is part of the reason economic inequality and poverty are reenforcing.

      • steve

        Though it is really the republican leadership. There are plenty of dirt poor Republicans who need to be constantly dazzled with talk of welfare queen blah people else they might start to consider their own economic hardship and potentially extrapolate.

        • Yes, but the inside joke used to be the GOP wouldn’t actually do anything that would cause its voters to extrapolate.

          It is one thing to say “Wouldn’t it be great if those brown moochers didn’t have their food stamps?” It is quite another to say “In the act of cutting the moochers’ food stamps, we cut yours as well. Freedom!”

  • UserGoogol

    There is a valid point there. It’s entirely possible for assistance to be condescending or even counterproductive. Paternalism can be a flawed way of looking at the world. The problem is that Republicans are effectively being paternalistically anti-paternalistic. (Which I guess is an extension of the whole strict father/nurturing mother way of looking at politics.) Taking away people’s assistance can also be condescending and counterproductive, and has the added negative that they don’t even get the assistance.

    • Barry

      ” The problem is that Republicans are effectively being paternalistically anti-paternalistic.”

      You’re going way to far here – these people didn’t, don’t and won’t give a f*ck about these people. They’re not trying to help.

      • Anonymous

        The problem with this response and most of the others in this thread is the commenters fail to discuss policies. Instead, they are more focused on demonizing their opponents.

        This is a fail.

        • Origami Isopod

          Concern troll is concerned.

          • Anonymous

            The sad fact is UserGoogol made a valid point…and Barry has nothing…nada.

        • My policy is that half the unemployed people work in a pancake restaurant making pancakes all day everyday so I can put them in my FACE. The other half of people will make syrup to go on the pancakes which I will put in my FACE.

          And that is my policy to make the poors stop being poor.

        • The problem with your comment is that no one really cares what you think. That is a fail.

    • Este

      Yes! There is paternalism here, but of the punitive rather than nurturing variety: I cannot give you the aid *you are asking for* because it’s bad for you! And if you still want it, well, that’s because you don’t know any better. I have to punish you for your own good.

      Deep down, of course, many of them don’t give a fuck–Barry’s right to an extent. But I also think many Americans have strongly internalized punitive paternalism and believe that giving people who are down on their luck the aid they want encourages laziness and other sins. It’s very Puritan and very Victorian. Helping the poor too much makes them idle and self-indulgent, and therefore a good master is a strict master.

      • Patriarchy and oligarchy are not paternal. This is the dirty little secret of real patriarchs who routinely kill wives and children when necessary. Paternal concern is a rhetoric of reaction, like virtue when it dictates submission is a rhetoric of religion as oppression.

        • Este

          Patriarchy is literally paternal. It’s rule by the fathers. I get what you’re trying to say, which is that patriarchy has nothing do with the actual feelings of a loving and respectful father, but “paternal” does not equate with “loving and respectful” in the real world. A lot of standard paternal concern is patriarchal.

          • MAJeff


            • MAJeff

              Fuck off, Jenny.

          • Spaceman_Spiff

            In that sense, what we have now is militant deadbeat-dad patriarchy. Those who want all of the privileges, none of the maintenance responsibilties.

    • I think the GOP wants to be the kind of paternalistic that grabs one of the kids because he is whimpering and beats the shit out of him while screaming “I’ll give you something to cry about!” Before he goes back to beating his wife or calling his 8 year old daughter a slut.

    • Sly

      It’s a valid view if you’re looking at something like the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, which is a far cry from the welfare state for which modern liberalism advocates (i.e. one that lacks mandatory drug testing and other absurdly punitive eligibility requirements). The least paternal welfare state would, in fact, be the most expansive.

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  • Mike Schilling

    The Civil War was caused by tariffs. Which are like slavery. You know, the bad kind of slavery.

    • cleter

      The Civil War was caused by secession, and the reason for secession was slavery.

  • Lex

    The good news is, this guy won’t get the nomination. The bad news is, the guy who most likely will, state House speaker Thom Tillis, is little better, and unless incumbent Kay Hagan grows a spine, Tillis will win. He’ll be better than Ted Cruz, but barely.

  • e.a.f.

    with people like that running for public office we know why the U.S.A. is becoming a second rate country. Usually people who make statements like that, are put on medication and sent to a hospital until they recover. ah, well…….

  • Rob in CT

    Hey, there were plenty of white Southerners in 1860 screeching about how Lincoln was going to make “slaves” of them. By freeing their slaves.

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