In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, Sarah Palin said using ‘slavery’ as a way to describe the national debt is only offensive to African-Americans if they misinterpret the word.
“There is another definition of slavery and that is being beholden to some kind of master that is not your choosing,” Palin said.
Actually, that is the precise definition of slavery that not only are most people not confused about, but is the reason some people may be offended by comparing it to the national debt when looking back not only at the relatively short span of U.S. history, but all of history.
“I am sure if we open up a dictionary we can prove there is a definition of slavery that absolutely fits the bill there when I am talking about–with semantics that are various–we can prove that there is a definition of slavery that absolutely fits the bill when I am talking about a bankrupt country that will owe somebody something down the line if we don’t change things.”
Marriam-Webster defines slavery as:
1. Drudgery, Toil
2. Submission to a dominating influence
3. a) the state of a person who is a chattel of another, and b) the practice of slaveholding
There is a perfect baseball metaphor here. I am just trying to put my finger on it.
So, it appears that not only are people offended by Sarah Palin comparing the national debt to slavery not misinterpreting the word, she has failed to interpret the word correctly.
Perhaps there is a better hyperbolic metaphor for her to use that could have the same sensationalized effect without the possibility of “misinterpretation.”
A person who signs and is bound by indentures to work for another for a specified time.
I have heard people compare taxes to indentured servitude, but we pay taxes to fund a government that provides services for us. Now, people will argue that the tax burden should be lower or higher, depending on one’s political leanings. Some people will argue we should get more for what we pay for and others will argue that the government should do less and we, in turn, should pay less in taxes, but the government does provide public services, which are funded by public dollars.
That being said, the government should be spending taxpayer dollars and whatever it borrows on the best possible government to serve the people. To say there is room for improvement is an understatement.
Still, we need to call the national debt what it is: debt. That is the only appropriate term to describe it. Resorting to hyperbole like “slavery” or “indentured servitude” does not allow the country to have a serious debate on an issue that concerns many Americans.