I Owe My Soul to The Government Store

Back when I wasn’t yet and my father was giving shots to jocks in Air Force uniforms, Tennessee Ernie Ford recorded the following piece called Sixteen Tons:

There are few today who would find that that the abuses of which the song speaks are worth repeating, but it would seem that our government is working diligently to do just that. The slavery is softer and less physically dirty, but the ideas are not that different.

The company has determined that we (the workers) exist for the betterment of all, and especially the betterment of the company. We are being told more and more just what things must cost and how much we’ll be paid for the work that we do. Inherent in all of this is the apparent belief on the part of the company clerks that each of us who is not in management is equipped with “a mind that’s weak and a back that’s strong.”

If price fixing, wage fixing and indentured servitude are wrong in the private sector, why are they right in the public sector? Does not each of these run afoul of fundamental principles of freedom for my person, property and pursuits?

I realize that some reading this may be saying “well, those Wall Street fat cats had it coming.” Let’s assume that’s true. Who is currently defining what a “fat cat” is? Well, by my estimation, it would be a number of unelected officials who are paid salaries somewhere in the range of $100k to $200k. I don’t know how things work in your world, but in mine, I tend to think people are wealthy who earn/own more than I do. That is, wealth is always relative. Pour a coal hod of self-righteousness and envy over that thinking and you have the means of destroying the power of the market to reward high-achievers (and yes, to screw up sometimes and make mistakes).


Perspective from someone who has been there and done that under the Soviet Union.