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Everything Is Like Slavery, Except Slavery

[ 112 ] January 14, 2014 |

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:


Comments (112)

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  1. junker says:

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

  2. Todd says:

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

  3. Gary says:

    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.

  4. JP Stormcrow says:

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

  5. Linnaeus says:

    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.

    • (Shakezula) says:

      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.

  6. Nobdy says:

    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 says:

      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 says:

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

      • Ralph Wiggum says:

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

      • Chilly says:

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

      • J. Otto Pohl says:

        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.

      • Nobdy says:

        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 says:

            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.

      • Aimai says:

        Its not brow beating, its breast beating.

  7. Randy says:

    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.

      • (Shakezula) says:

        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.

  8. charluckles says:

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

  9. (Shakezula) says:

    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 says:

      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 says:

        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 says:

        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.

      • (Shakezula) says:

        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 says:

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

    • Major Kong says:

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

  10. OliversArmy says:

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

  11. Brien Jackson says:

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

    -Shorter Buster Olney.

  12. joe from Lowell says:

    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.”

  13. UserGoogol says:

    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 says:

      ” 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.

    • Este says:

      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.

    • (Shakezula) says:

      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 says:

      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.

  14. Mike Schilling says:

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

  15. Lex says:

    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.

  16. e.a.f. says:

    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…….

  17. Rob in CT says:

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

  18. […] things conservatives insist on comparing to slavery.” Or, as Adam Serwer put it, “Everything is like slavery, except for slavery, which wasn’t that bad and definitely […]

  19. […] Everything Is Like Slavery, Except Slavery — If it wasn’t so grimly sad and offensive, this conservative fixation with comparing pretty much every political initiative they disapprove with slavery would be funny. (Via Slacktivist Fred Clark.) […]

  20. […] than lynching and slavery put together. Far worse than that, actually, since lynching and slavery weren’t actually that bad.” You’re […]

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