28 Nov 2017

Contra Keynes

Contra Krugman 21 Comments

Krugman has been writing nonstop on tax policy, so Tom and I did an evergreen: We just tackled Keynesianism per se in this episode. Fun for the whole fami– OK fun for just you.

21 Responses to “Contra Keynes”

  1. Anonymous says:

    If only libertarians didn’t share Keynes’ obsession with full employment. We tried e-mailing a “libertarian” about slavery and got a link to an article claiming that, “This means that more people will go without a
    job as their loss in wages and jobs is transferred to these others: the favored cooperative farmers.”

    The article does not appear to have been written with slavery in mind, but it was linked to us with slavery in mind. Certainly, if the results of abolitionist efforts was increased employment of free workers and reduced employment of slave laborers, that would be a success.

    It’s ridiculous to think that a freed slave would necessarily end up unemployed. By holding someone captive, the slaveholder is preventing the slave from finding other employment or pursuing other interests. And if some of them want to be unemployed, that should really their choice to make. Slaves effectively receive negative wages once the costs of captivity and beatings are factored in, so good riddance if they lose those negative wages.

    • Tel says:

      The article does not appear to have been written with slavery in mind, but it was linked to us with slavery in mind.

      So obviously I’m not the only one who recognizes your “anti-slavery” campaign as being a cover for things like minimum wage.

      Here’s something strange though… we have documented open air slave markets happening right now in Libya. I’m not talking about some rubbery definition of “slavery” but this is the real deal: African migrants are being kidnapped, sold and forced into labour by Muslim slave traders. This is a direct consequence of the policies of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama. Yet despite this overt and well documented example of slavery, I don’t hear anything from the “Progressive” movement about this. You would think this is more significant than wailing about King Leopold of Belgium who died more than 100 years ago… but no, apparently failed “Progressive” policies and Muslim slave traders must not be spoken about.

      Come to think of it, the sex slaves used by Daesh don’t seem to attract the same campaigning efforts either… why is that though? Another failed Obama policy… better to keep quiet, huh? Stick to blaming the libertarians, much more politically correct that way.

      • Anonymous says:

        No, it’s the other way around, […] Libertarian opposition to minimum wage is a cover for supporting slavery. Libertarians are not content with simply legalizing low wage jobs. Libertarians apparently oppose all minimum wages, including the individual minimum wages people want to set for themselves, to be enforced by leaving any employer who does not pay them sufficiently. In order to eliminate even individual minimum wage, libertarians are apparently prepared to support locking people up at their “jobs”, as well as beating people who attempt to leave their employers. both of which were documented in the examples we gave to the person who linked the article complaining about job loss.

        Rubber slavery under King Leopold killed millions. And it is well documented. Women were kidnapped in order to force the men to gather rubber. Villages were burned for resisting. People were killed and their hands taken as trophies when rubber quotas weren’t met. For you to say that isn’t real slavery just proves that libertarian depravity truly knows no limits.

        We’ve been trying to focus on historical example of slavery due to the actions of libertarians like Dan and Darien, who love slavery so much that they are prepared to counterboycott abolitionist efforts in order to support slavery. Since historical slavery is historical, there is not much that the likes of Dan and Darien can do to aggravate the issue further, unless they acquire a time machine. However, if you would like, I am sure it would be easy to find examples of historical Muslim slavery.

        And neither of us likes Obama or Hilary. That is a distraction you are using to try to divert attention away from your love of slavery.

        • guest says:

          “Rubber slavery under King Leopold killed millions. … People were killed and their hands taken as trophies when rubber quotas weren’t met.”

          So … quotas imposed by the government?

          “… to try to divert attention away from your love of slavery.”

          You don’t actually believe this about libertarians (No, you don’t).

          I believe consistent Marxists are willing to commit mass murder in order to stop what they believe to be the source of most of the world’s misery (freedom of exchange), but I don’t accuse them of *loving* mass murder.


          • Anonymous says:

            King Leopold ruled the Congo as his private property from 1885 until 1908. It was not until 1908 that the Belgian government took over from him. The Belgian government also enslaved the populace, but at least they were less brutal than King Leopold was.

            What’s your point? That there is a difference between being willing to enslave people in order to abolish any form whatsoever of a minimum wage, even one enforced by the employee simply walking away, and loving slavery? That libertarians would be happy if people would agree to sub-zero wages of their own accord, but are simply willing to enslave those who will not comply?

            Yes, I do believe that libertarians love slavery. The threats from Dan and Darien, Tel’s constant accusations that abolitionists are by definition supporting minimum wage (which most of the world defines as the illegalization of low wage jobs, not simply the opposition to people being forced to work for low or sub-zero wages against their will)… so many libertarians who deliberately lie by saying that obvious captives, ones who are chained or locked in or beaten for running away, are there voluntarily, the glorification of the car industry and others that were built on slavery… what conclusion could be reached other than that libertarians must love slavery?

            Many pacifists and abolitionists have been socialists. The great anti-slavery campaigner E.D. Morel left the (classical) liberal movement because of Morel’s opposition to World War I (apparently the liberals were pro-war) and eventually became a socialist. John Tully, a modern socialist, takes pride in the abolitionist efforts of many socialists.

        • Curt says:

          Okay. I will say this in public because you asked me to. You shouldn’t waste so much of your time arguing with these trolls who are pretending to be Libertarians. From what you’ve told me, you have given them plenty of examples of how government makes slavery worse. If they were real Libertarians, they would oppose both slavery and excessive government. So they would be glad to hear that they were right about too much government being bad. But instead they keep trolling you and claiming that slavery is not slavery. So they are not real Libertarians. If you looked around more, you could probably find real Libertarians who would help.

  2. Anonymous says:

    This is how abolitionists explain why certain types of spending are bad.

    That’s interesting because there’s a very interesting parallel there with what goes on today in the way the European Union, and particularly the North American governments, give vast subsidies to agriculture within their borders– subsidies that are so large that they create an almost inability to compete, even by farmers in the developing world who operate at much, much lower profit levels and costs. I was actually told by anti-slavery campaigners from both Haiti and West Africa when I asked them, what’s the one thing the United States government might do to help you end slavery in your countries– and they had never met each other– they said to me in unison, end the subsidies on rice, which surprised me because I didn’t understand it at the time. But they said these vast subsidies by governments had, in fact, created the context in which hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people who grew rice, little farmers, couldn’t compete with vast bags of rice which flowed in particularly from the United States. And they were just knocked out completely from the agricultural business, and ended up themselves being enslaved in that vulnerability.
    – Kevin Bales


    Libertarian insistence on portraying the rich simply as taxpayer victims, regardless of whether or not specific rich people are receiving these sorts of subsidies, serves the purpose of creating the propaganda that helps keep these slavery-causing policies in place.

    • Anonymous says:

      And there is also this.

      Slavery explodes when conflict erupts. Child soldiers and other slaves are casualties of this obscene imbalance in how our taxes are spent. Stopping conflict helps stop slavery – let’s do it!
      – Kevin Bales https://twitter.com/kevin_bales/status/931833292021571584

    • guest says:

      The U.S. subsidies to the rich have their origin in precisely the anti-slavery, protectionist concerns you’re expressing.

      They’re misguided policies, to be sure. But regulators know that the more farmers produce, the lower the price that consumers will pay.

      So, in order to protect individual farmers from competition with one another in the U.S., or from competition with foreign farmers, people like you and your friends from Haiti, West Africa, et al support these protectionist policies.

      The rich are logically and necessarily going to be the beneficiaries of the anti-business policies you believe in because protecting businesses and workers from, respectively, other businesses and workers, requires the suppression of strategies that smaller businesses use to underbid those who currently have a higher market share.

      Now, you didn’t say you supported U.S. subsidies, but you did mention little farmers being priced out of the market, as if “the little farmers” were the thing that needed preserving; like how Walmart is poo-pooed for putting mom-and-pop-stores out of business. That’s the kind of thinking that gets these bad policies passed.

      [Aside: Were the rice farmers being priced out by a legitimately more efficient U.S. rice firm, those poor farmers would still have to stop producing rice – which begs the question, why don’t they grow different crops or offer their [presumably] other wise unskilled labor to foreign outsourcers in, say, a factory? Could it be that their own countries, motivated by protectionist sentiments of their own, are prohibiting foreign companies from “taking Haitian jobs”?]

      A couple good resources on bad farm policies from a libertarian perspective:

      Jonesin’ for a Soda

      [Time stamped]
      The Great Depression, World War II, and American Prosperity – Part 1 [Lecture 5] by Thomas Woods

      • Anonymous says:

        To be clear, abolitionists, or at least abolitionists who have done their research, oppose these rice subsidies. The abolitionists in Haiti and West Africa were quite clear that the United States should “end the subsidies on rice.” As in, no more subsidies to rich American farmers. Subsidies bad.

        The soda article you linked claims that “With free competition, companies best able to satisfy consumer demand are the ones that expand production and stay in business; the consumer is king.”

        We propose a correction: Americans and other first world consumers are king. The companies that stay in business are the ones that satisfy the demands of Americans and other firstworlders. The demands of thirdworlders count for far less, and the demands of slaves count for less than nothing. For example, many of the people who grow cacao have never even tasted chocolate.

        Libertarian use of the word efficient is utterly confusing, by the way. One moment, libertarians are declaring that whatever product has the cheapest price must be the most efficient, regardless of what was done to make it cheap, the next, they are saying that protectionist policies are protecting inefficient producers, even though those inefficient producers are presumably able to offer cheaper prices thanks to the protectionist policies. Perhaps this is an internal dispute between different libertarians. A non-libertarian writer defines efficiency as greatest output per unit of input, but this is still confusing. Still, I suppose it’s good that at least one libertarian has something to say about “corporate welfare”, even if they don’t mention slavery and only seem to care about the wellbeing of consumers rich enough to afford soda.

        Were the rice farmers being priced out by a legitimately more efficient U.S. rice firm, those poor farmers would still have to stop producing rice – which begs the question, why don’t they grow different crops or offer their [presumably] other wise unskilled labor to foreign outsourcers in, say, a factory?

        The often do try to seek other employment, which is precisely the problem. Someone who successfully self-employed, or employed by a trusted member of their home village, is less vulnerable to slavery than someone who is desperately looking for a job. A self-employed person might still be captured by brute force. But it is cheaper and less risky for an enslaver to trick people into slavery. They offer good pay, good working conditions, etc., but these are lies. Once the employee arrives at the job site, the trap closes. Sometimes when the enslavers want children, they promise the parents that the child will receive a good education.

        A successfully self-employed person (or someone employed by a trusted member of their home village) has less reason to be tricked by a recruiter’s false promises. Someone on the verge of starvation is more likely to take risks that may land them into slavery. Even if they are lucky enough to find an employer who does not enslave them, the situation may still be substantially worse than successful self-employment. There are cases that do not meet the definition of slavery, where the employees are beaten or even raped but put up with it so they can feed their families. Presumably, if self-employment were a viable option, they would probably not tolerate being beaten or raped.

        Slavery tends to be a big problem in third world countries that have a high international debt load. It’s likely that in order to get their citizens to pay off these debts, the governments of these countries have tax regimes that somehow force people to grow cash crops or make other things for export instead of just being able to grow enough to feed themselves and their neighbors and not needing to worry about whether they can sell abroad. Without some form of violence or threat of violence, it seems unlikely that even bad rice farmers would be unable to at least feed themselves, except in the case of crop failure, even if they failed to be able to sell excess at competitive prices. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to find enough information about the taxation systems of these countries to be sure of this theory. Regardless, there is a correlation between a high international debt load and slavery in that country. Another possible explanation might be policies that the IMF, World Bank, and other organizations demand high debt countries adopt, regardless of the wishes of the citizens of those countries.

        Haiti is a formal slave colony of France. They gained their independence through an exceptionally bloody rebellion. In 1825, with French warships at ready near the Haitian capital, a French emissary demanded that Haiti pay 150 million gold francs to France for its independence, the alternative clearly being invasion and re-enslavement. This was about 5 times Haiti’s annual export earnings at the time. It was not until 122 years later, in 1947, that Haiti was able to pay off both the original debt and all the interest payments from the loans they had taken to meet the deadlines. That’s 122 years when, because of this debt, Haiti was forced to export substantially more than they were importing. Not really protectionist, except in the sense of protection from enslavement by the French.
        (We aren’t endorsing every single opinion expressed in that link, but it contains factual information about Haiti’s debt to France.)

        The video doesn’t seem to say anything about slavery, although there was slavery in the United States during the Great Depression. “Convict leasing”, for incredibly trivial offenses (including the offense of leaving an employer), without due process, plus the threat of convict leasing effectively forced a lot of people to sign contracts basically agreeing to milder forms of slavery.

        • Anonymous says:

          According to Bernard Ethéart, an expert on Haitian land issues and former director of the Institut Nationale de la Réforme Agraire (INARA – the National Institute of Land Reform), Haiti’s land tenure system is a “complete disorder that has been going on for 200 years.” Ethéart claims that most land belongs to the government, because ever since independence, various dictators have stolen, illegally “sold,” or given away parcels to their families and their allies. Haiti has no land registry. In the countryside, land security is quite low because many “owners” do not have titles or have titles that are out-of-date. In addition, a great deal of farmland is either state land leased from the government, or is “owned” by large landowner (grandon) who then rents it or has sharecroppers (known as “demwatye”) work it.
          – Haiti Grassroots Watch http://www.haiti-liberte.com/archives/volume7-13/Why%20is%20Haiti%20Hungry.asp

          So, apparently, a number of Haitian farmers face the threat of eviction by illegitimate landowners if they fail to earn enough money (or whatever) to pay rent. Presumably, if not faced with the threat of violent eviction, they would not need money so much and could simply continue to grow food to feed themselves and their neighbors even if cash prices for their crops were low.

          • Anonymous says:


            Our constitution very clearly says that those who work the land have the rights to the land, but this has never been the reality. Haiti’s poor continue to be victims of land expropriation for the profit of others, which give a tiny minority rights over the riches of this country.

            Today multinational corporations and other interests are taking cultivable land that used to produce food, and giving it to industries to make textile factories or other businesses that have nothing to do with food production – and in a country that is experiencing so much hunger. Those who are running the country profit, too. Elite landowners, who don’t even live in the country, own many thousands of hectares of land. The [Catholic] church, too is one of the institutions that owns a lot of land historically, and [rarely] does anything with it.
            – Beverly Bell

            So, from this, it seems probable that US rice subsidies are making it harder for the Haitians who actually work the land to convince their foreign landlords not to give that land to foreign corporations who will make clothing and other products desired by foreigners, rather than food for the locals.

        • Anonymous says:

          Slavery in the United States during the Great Depression:

          To underscore the veracity of Spivak’s description of black life in Georgia, the author published as a visual epilogue to the book a series of photographs taken in Georgia’s labor camps. He reprinted reports detailing whippings, extra chains, and “put in barrel”—a variation of the sweatbox. One document—titled “Official Whipping Report”—listed fifty beatings at one camp in August 1930. A gallery of photographs showed bloodhounds baying at an escapee in a tree. Guards proudly demonstrated to their visitor the latest techniques of punishment and torture—colonial-era stocks, black men trussed around pick handles like pigs ready for slaughter, the “stretching” rack.

          Across the South, despite claimed reforms in many states, more prisoners than ever before were pressed into compelled labor for private contractors— but now almost entirely through local customs and informal arrangements in city and county courts. The state of Alabama was no longer selling slaves to coal mines, but thousands of men continued to work on a chain gang or under lease to a local owner. The total number of men arrested on misdemeanor charges and subject to sale by county sheriffs in 1927 grew to 37,701. One out of every nineteen black men over the age of twelve in Alabama was captured in some form of involuntary servitude.

          The triviality of the charges used to justify the massive numbers of people forced into labor never diminished. More than 12,500 people were arrested in Alabama in 1928 for possessing or selling alcohol; 2,735 were charged with vagrancy; 2,014 with gaming; 458 for leaving the farm of an employer without permission; 154 with the age-old vehicle for stopping intimate relations between blacks and whites: adultery.

          Roughly half of all African Americans—or 4.8 million—lived in the Black Belt region of the South in 1930, the great majority of whom were almost certainly trapped in some form of coerced labor like that described in Spivak’s chilling account.

          Two Mississippi sheriffs reported making between $20,000 and $30,000 each during 1929 in extra compensation for procuring black laborers and selling them to local planters. After a plea for more cotton pickers in August 1932, police in Macon, Georgia, scoured the town’s streets, arresting sixty black men on “vagrancy” charges and immediately turning them over to a plantation owner named J. H. Stroud. A year later, The New York Times reported a similar roundup in the cotton town of Helena, Arkansas.

          Otto B. Willis, a forty-six-year-old white farmer living near Evergreen, Alabama, deep in the Black Belt, wrote the Department of Justice in 1933, describing the desperate system under which black families were held as de facto serfs on the land of the county’s white landowners. Why Willis— an Alabama-born farmer with a wife and six children, living on land they owned—would be moved to defend the plight of the tens of thousands of black laborers who shared rural Hale County with him is a mystery. But in an elegant longhand, he described point by damning point how black men and their wives and children were compelled to remain at work for years upon years to retire so-called debts for their seed, tools, food, clothing, and mules that could never be extinguished, regardless of how much cotton they grew in any year. Little had changed since Klansmen in Hale County shipped R. H. Skinner to the Alabama slave mines in 1876.

          “The negro is worse than broke…. His family goes ragged and without medical attention and the women are attended by ignorant colored midwives at childbirth and many die from blood poison,” Willis wrote. “The negro is half starved and half clothed, yet he sees no hope of ever being out of debt, cause many landowners tell them if they move off his land he will have them put in jail or threatened bodily harm. Colored people have little standing in court here. So he is afraid to move. So they are forced to remain on and start another crop for the landlord…. These are the facts…. Is it right?”

          – Douglas A. Blackmon, Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II

  3. Bob Roddis says:

    Enslaving people, stealing their land and chopping off their hands violates the NAP. We have that one covered.


    • Anonymous says:

      Really? If you’re entirely sure about about that, then please look at this article.


      It claims that, “The result was twofold: his [Henry Ford’s] workers were able to be paid more than workers in other industries, and individuals across the economy were able to purchase high-quality automobiles.”

      Rubber slaves in Henry Ford’s supply chain, based on those photos, clearly were not “paid more than workers in other industries”, nor were they “able to purchase high-quality automobiles”.

      Libertarians ought to fix these propaganda pieces which glorify profits obtained by slavery, or, better yet, stop publishing them to begin with.

      So if you are entirely sure that the actions taken against the Congolese to force them to gather rubber “violates the NAP” (whatever that means), it would be helpful if you could kindly tell William L. Anderson as much and request that he fix his article, and, should he decline to do so, debunk him in public, one libertarian to another.

      • Anonymous says:

        And, while you are at it, if you could kindly explain to Tel, one libertarian to another, that these actions taken in the Congo did indeed amount to real slavery, and that the campaign against it was not “a cover for things like minimum wage” (as most people define minimum wage), that would be great too.

      • Bob Roddis says:

        “violates the NAP” (whatever that means)

        • Anonymous says:

          Or if you want to explain to us what violates this NAP of yours, perhaps you could explain what detail about King Leopold’s reign of the Congo you noticed which lead you to the conclusion that what happened to the Congolese which counted as slavery (by the incredibly narrow libertarian definition of slavery) and violated “the NAP” – a detail which, presumably, Tel missed, leading him to the conclusion that what happened to the Congolese under King Leopold was not slavery and presumably did not violate any NAP? Or was it the other way around? Did Tel notice something about the situation which proved it was not slavery, by the incredibly narrow libertarian definition of the word slavery, and did not violate any NAP, a detail which you missed?

          Or you could explain to us why these are not slavery (from the libertarian perspective).

          On November 20th, according to court documents filed last week, three tomato pickers made their way to the Collier County Sheriff’s office after having escaped two days earlier through the ventilation hatch of a box truck where they had been held against their will by their employer. The three men told police of an Immokalee-based tomato harvesting slavery ring in which workers “were beaten and forced to work exclusively for the Navarrete family,” according to an article entitled, “Family accused of enslaving workers at Immokalee camp” in the Naples Daily News (12/7/07).

          Federal prosecutors filed charges last week in a case in which farmworkers picking tomatoes in the Immokalee area say their bosses “beat them and chained their hands to keep them from leaving and finding other jobs.” The criminal complaint went on to describe the workers’ inhumane living conditions, saying workers were “locked in box trucks, crates and sheds,” by their bosses. Following the charges, authorities arrested four members of an Immokalee-based farm labor operation.

          – Coalition of Immokalee Workers, Fresh allegations of “human slavery” emerge from the tomato fields of Immokalee

          Everything came with an exorbitant imaginary price tag. To stand under a cold hose at the end of a day’s work was $5, and lo and behold, he found that no matter how hard he worked, he kept falling further and further behind, and he saw what – if people didn’t work, they were beaten. Some were hospitalized.

          They were told that they were now property of this crew leader and his cohorts, and for two and a half years this particular guy worked as a slave. Occasionally they’d give him a $20 bill to, you know, keep his hopes up, but there was no regular pay, and he couldn’t leave. And he had no choice of when he worked.

          FLATOW: What do you mean he couldn’t leave?

          ESTABROOK: Well, as he pointed out, one of his crew finally just couldn’t take it anymore and ran away, and one of the crew boss guys chased him in the pickup truck and came back an hour or so later, and the guy was beaten to the point where he was unrecognizable and had to be dropped off at the hospital, and it was – he was permanently injured. He survived but permanently injured. And the crew boss said: You want to try to run away from me? Take a look.
          – NPR, The Unsavory Story Of Industrially-Grown Tomatoes

          Antonio Martinez stood in the hot sun, exhausted from a cross-country journey, and waited. Just 21 years old, he had traveled from Mexico to the U.S. with the promise of a well-paid construction job in California. But now he stood in a field in central Florida, listening to one man pay another man $500 to own him.

          “I realized I had been sold like an animal without any compassion,” Antonio thought at the time, more than 10 years ago.

          These slaves often work for 10-12 hours a day, seven days a week. They are kept in crampt and dirty trailers, constantly monitored, and have wages garnished to pay a debt invented by the trafficker to keep victims enslaved. Many victims face threats to themselves or their families, regular beatings, sexual harassment and rape. They can’t leave, can’t seek help. They are in every way trapped.

          – Amanda Kloer, Your tomato’s possible ties to slavery

          The response we got when we e-mailed these examples to a libertarian was:

          Saying that immigrants are “forced” to pick tomatoes, when in fact they are not coerced, but are instead faced with few economically feasible options, is an example. To the left, the difference between actual coercion on one hand, and a lack of feasible options on the other, is of lesser importance, to put it mildly.

          – Timothy Sandefur

          So, if you could kindly explain why what happened to the Congolese under King Leopold was slavery and violated “the NAP” from the libertarian perspective (at least, your version of it, if not Tel’s), but why what is happening to these tomato workers is not slavery and presumably does not violate “the NAP”, from the libertarian perspective, it might shed some light on the situation.

        • Curt says:

          If you look above you can see that Tel trolled him. Tel accused Anonymous of only campaigning against slavery as a cover for minimum wage. Tel also implied that what happened in the Congo was not real slavery. So a lot of Libertarians or pretend Libertarians have trolled Anonymous and mutual friend of ours like this. So he is very confused and has no idea what the Non Aggression Principle is. And it probably will not be possible to explain without trying to reverse the effects of all the trolling.

    • Anonymous says:

      Additionally, in a recent article, Bob Murphy claimed that “a uniform head tax that isn’t tied to behavior” does not distort activity very much, is “more efficient” (for some mysterious definition of efficient) than other systems of taxation and imposes “much less drag” compared to other systems of taxation. All this sounds a lot like an endorsement (at least in the relative sense if not the absolute sense).


      In the Belgian Congo, Angola, Nigeria, Uganda, Papua New Guinea, and Togoland, head taxes have been used by forced labor regimes. So, if you could kindly render your opinion about whether these systems of taxation “violate the NAP” more or less (relatively speaking) than other systems of taxation:

      In the Congo, where labor was officially free, the government subjected the Africans, up until 1945, to a particularly harsh form of coercion, to the benefit of Lever, by imposing upon them, on the one hand labour contracts punishable by prison and chicotte, on the other hand an onerous head tax which they could pay only by becoming serfs.”
      – Jules Marchal, Lord Leverhulme’s Ghosts, page 220

      Select excerpts from a report by Dr. Raingeard, as printed on pages 121-128 of Lord Leverhulme’s Ghosts by Jules Marchal.

      “When a native, remarkably enough, managed to resist the threats and blows of the merchants, I have seen government officers offering him the choice between signing a contract and prison.”

      “Suppose we leave to one side the legitimacy of a tax which benefits only Europeans and presents the blacks with no compensatory advantages. This tax, which is sometimes equivalent to two or three month’s work, ought to replace corvees in kind, it used to be said; in reality, the two co-exist, and the natives have now to bear the burden of both a tax in money and a tax in kind.”

      “By law old men and adolescents of less than sixteen years old are exempt from taxation. In practice, as I have many times observed in Mushuni and Mombanda circles, 80% of old men and 40% of children pay.”

      “It is of course the case that when an entire population is put to work, in a manner harmful to its very existence, it cannon be a question of voluntary labour.”

      “Entering into the agreement, and then honoring the contract are enforced by means of prison and the chicotte, which are generously administered by government officers, who have been reduced to acting as labor recruiters and as guards supervising convicts on behalf of the companies.”

      “Those who do not die at the trading post return to their villages as walking skeletons.”

      “They work from six in the morning to six in the evening without a moment’s rest, even in the very middle of the day.”

      “Some posts boast of file houses built of half-crumbling adobe, 4 metres by 3 or 4 metres, in which 15, 20 or 25 natives are piled on top of one another. Other managers settle for allowing the new arrivals to build straw huts, outside of work hours of course. In these huts, which are 1.50 metres high, the blacks sleep one on top of the other. In Dunda I saw five in the same bed, which was 1.20 metres long and 0.80 metres wide.”

      “Two days later the porters asked for were paraded in front of him, old men, invalids and women, with ropes around their necks.”

      “Sanitary conditions are lamentable. Sleeping sickness ravages the local population.”

      An explanation of motives, which we do not endorse:

      Natives in this area, like natives everywhere, are inclined to shirk all work, and very rarely agree to work of their own free will. So the only time they feel a need to work is when they are compelled by their tax obligations to do so. We saw this in Ankoro, a region where large numbers of laborers were recently recruited. It is therefore preferable for the Exchange agent to go to work where the tax collector, that is to say, the area agent or administrator, collects taxes.
      – Committee notes from a meeting in Kiambi as quoted by Jules Marchal on page 42 of Forced Labor in the Gold & Copper Mines: A History of Congo under Belgian Rule, 1910-1945

      As a result of the hysteria, the colonial authorities were able to impose an apartheid-style system of laws and regulations on the Papuans. Not only were they coerced by the head tax into leaving their villages to work in the mines and plantations, but when they got there, every aspect of their lives was controlled.

      – John Tully, The Devil’s Milk., page 220

      Australian planters and their advocates believed they were losing windfall profits because of the ‘lazy natives.’ ‘The reason the boys don’t want to work is their conservatism,’ said the Right Reverend Dr. Sharp, the Anglican Bishop of New Guinea. ‘Their parents have never worked, and they do not see why they should.’ The solution, which dovetailed with the rhetoric of the mission civilisatrice, was that the natives should be forced to work. The left-wing Barrier Daily Truth warned that ‘a number of capitalistic hirelings have sought a remedy for Papuan labor problems in a system of enforced labor.’ ‘The chief of these,’ the article continued, was Miss Beatrice Grimshaw, ‘who has travelled extensively in Papua.’ Grimshaw’s views received strong support from the Australian establishment. Earlier, a number of letters published in the Sydney Daily Telegraph urged the introduction of a head tax to force the Papuans into the cash economy and wage labor. The most prominent advocate of compulsion was Sir Hubert Murray, an Irish-Australian lawyer serving as the Lieutenant Governor of Papua who had commanded a detachment of the NSW Rifles in the Boer War. Murray told the Melbourne newspaper Agethat unless the natives were compelled to work, then the colony would not be developed and they would become ‘useless betel-chewing louts.’ Murray pointed to South Africa, where
      “They accomplished the task by direct taxation, imposing a money hut tax on all the natives under their control. The natives were of course destitute of money, but they had money’s worth in the labor of their hands. Finding themselves obliged to pay the tax, they worked to produce it, either as servants of the whites or as producers and tillers of their own soil. Murray also introduced a stringent Native Labor Ordinance to regulate the terms and conditions of laborers’ work under a system of contracts.”
      Underlying Murray’s reasoning was the belief that the whites had a right to employ the Papuans for whatever purposes they saw fit.
      Once an area was ‘pacified,’ recruiters would move in and take out long lines of ‘signed on boys,’ often roping them together to prevent them from escaping.

      – John Tully, The Devil’s Milk., pages 235-237

      Supplying labour to the mining sites was indirectly aided by the British policy of demanding taxation in cash. While taxation was not new in northern Nigeria, a portion of it had always been collected in kind, and the sums fluctuated to take into account the effect of the frequent drought, flood, or insects upon the harvest. But once the British began to demand cash exclusively, natural crises made tax payments very difficult. Demands for ‘political labor’ to build railways and roads were also very onerous at times, and peasant households sometimes collapsed under the strain. As a result, permanent individual workers and a much larger stream of migrant, dry-season labour came to the Plateau to work tin.
      – William Freund, Theft and Social Protest Among the Tin Miners of Northern Nigeria, in Banditry, Rebellion and Social Protest in Africa, edited by Donald Crummey

      • Anonymous says:

        Portugal, like other colonial powers in Africa, [allegedly] abolished slavery, yet still wanted access to Africans’ labor power. The most effective means to ensure access was the head tax, known in Portuguese Angola as the imposto indígena (native tax). By requiring all African men to pay this tax in Portuguese currency the government created a situation in which a large percentage of men in any given year could only earn the specie needed to pay the tax by going to work for a colonial employer. Of course, compelling people to work for low wages at undesirable jobs in distant locations from their homes and families required more than simply a law. The Portuguese constructed a network to enforce their requirements and to deliver labor. It was this network of colonial administrators and African policemen (cipaes; sing. cipaio) who enforced the system, often brutally, to ensure compliance. Women were not exempted, and in fact, it was women and children who built and maintained much of Angola’s extensive road system.
        – Jeremy Ball, “I escaped in a coffin”. Remembering Angolan Forced Labor from the 1940s

        Sometimes after the men are taken from the village, they take some of the women [to work on road maintenance]. Some men were taken to Catete on the railroad to work in the cotton fields. They may have to stay two or three years as contracted laborers. Some of them have been sent to work on sugar plantations for a six month’s term, but under various pretexts the time may be prolonged to seven or eight months. The planter told them that he had ‘bought’ them of the Government, that they were his slaves and that he did not have to pay them anything. They got only their food and a receipt for their head tax.
        – Edward Ross as quoted by Jeremy Ball

        Government recruited him in 1920 and ‘sold’ him to the petroleum company. He worked for it seven months, at the end of each three months he got a pano worth three escudos. At the end of the seven months he was told that he had seventy escudos due him, which would be paid him at the station where he had been recruited. However, he got nothing there but the receipt for his head tax. He asked about his wages but was told there was nothing for him.
        – Edward Ross as quoted by Jeremy Ball

        In practice forced labor works out as follows. A laborer works for the coffee planter and at the close of his term of service the planter says, ‘I can’t pay you anything for I have deposited the stipulated wage for you with the Government; go to such and such an office and you will get your pay’. The worker applies there and is told to come around in a couple of months. If he has the temerity to do so, he is threatened with the calaboose [jail] and that ends it. It is all a system of bare-faced labor stealing. They think that the planter has really paid for their labor, but that the official does them out of it.
        – Edward Ross as quoted by Jeremy Ball

        Ross summarizes his findings as a collective condemnation of Portuguese colonial practice. He describes the labor system as ‘virtually state serfdom’ that does not allow Africans adequate time to produce their food. Workers rarely received the bulk of their pay, which was embezzled by colonial officials. Africans had no recourse to colonial law for protection. The hut tax and obligatory labor for public works caused a heavy burden. Women, with only rudimentary tools and no pay, were forced to build roads, causing them to abandon their fields, and thus impacting negatively on food production.
        – Jeremy Ball, “I escaped in a coffin”. Remembering Angolan Forced Labor from the 1940s

        According to Galvão, the practice of colonial officials forcibly recruiting workers for particular employers and receiving payments from employers and a cut of worker salaries was ‘required in confidential circulars and official orders’. Galvão concluded that the system was crueler than pure slavery, an opinion also expressed by Africans interviewed by Ross in the 1920s. Mortality rates as high as thirty-five percent for forced laborers reflected the poor conditions under which they lived and worked.
        – Jeremy Ball, “I escaped in a coffin”. Remembering Angolan Forced Labor from the 1940s

        In the principal provinces of Uganda, natives pay four dollars and seventy-five cents poll tax, while in the small districts the tax is from one dollar and twenty-five cents to two dollars and fifty cents. Besides this there are a number of local taxes which go into the Uganda treasuries. In Buganda, natives pay a land tax of five dollars and must work thirty days without pay on the roads under the native rules. Chiefs and headmen in Myasaland, who are responsible for collecting the head tax, have at times arrested the wives and female relatives of defaulters and detained them until the tax was paid.
        – William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, Black Folk Then and Now: An Essay in the History and Sociology of the Negro Race

        Nevertheless, one should be reminded that there was a regime of corporal punishment and the whole array of colonial coercion existed in Togoland, meaning one should not consider the colony as exceptional within the German colonial empire. Broadly speaking, the map’s veneer of orderliness and calm, almost sterile, depiction of Lomé betrayed the potentiality of violence. Colonial officials decreed that all Togolese must pay a Kopfsteur, a head tax, principally through forced labor. After completion, one received a tax card, which a Schutzmann checked to ensure people had ‘paid.’
        – John Gregory Garratt, Kulturkampf in Lomé: German and Ewe Identification and Alienation In Togoland, West Africa, 1884-1913


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