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Lawrence,

Slavery has not ended, in the US only made illegal, so the name has changed to protect the guilty... human trafficking, chain gangs, company stores, sharecropping, and others I am not aware of.

Not quite. Slavery is BOTH (1) involuntary AND (2) not punishment for crime. Human trafficking is an adjunct to slavery -- it's a means of getting people to the place where they will be enslaved -- but the rest of these do not qualify as slavery at all.

>> Chain gangs are teams of convicted criminals -- not slaves -- performing work outside the physical walls of their prisons. Also, in the United States in the present day, prisons that operate chain gangs usually allow eligible convicts to choose whether to participate or not. Those who choose to participate usually do so because they appreciate the fresh air and the change of scenery that the "chain gang" provides, and prisons also might provide other rewards.

>> Company stores, now thankfully illegal, were pernicious institutions that extended credit to the company's employees for purchase of necessities that the employees could not afford because the company did not pay them enough. The employees theoretically were free to leave, but the caveat was that the loan was due and payable in full upon termination of employment. The indebted employees lacked the means to pay it off, and thus felt compulsion to stay. But the injustice here was an insufficient wage rather than true enslavement.

>> But sharecropping was a business transaction between two free men, that could reflect either of two arrangements. The first is an arrangement in which a tenant farmer leased a plot of land and paid the rent in kind, with a share of the crops, rather than in cash. The second is that a tenant farmer and a land owner entered a business partnership between a tenant farmer and a land owner who shared the harvest from the latter's land. In either case, both were free to terminate the arrangement.

So, no, these do not constitute slavery.

The trafficking of humans for sexual purposes is illegal but will only end when we start putting the people who pay for sex in prison instead of the victims.

Rather, human trafficking will end only when our criminal justice system (1) deals surely and severely with those who engage in human trafficking AND (2) sees to the safety and security of the victims. This is one crime against humanity for which there's a very compelling argument that capital punishment is appropriate.

Expanding upon this, there's no doubt that prostitution is immoral -- but I'm not persuaded that voluntary prostitution should be a crime under the laws of secular society. Rather, legalization of prostitution might be the only way to dry up demand for illegal prostitution and the networks of human traffickers that sustain it.

And, on the other side of this issue, not all human trafficking is related to prostitution. Rather, every now and again, one encounters news reports of federal authorities busting underground "sweat shops" where large numbers of workers illegally trafficked into the United States do arduous work without ever seeing the light of day. One also occasionally hears of instances in which ICE finds shipping containers full of people captured by street gangs, most commonly in the People's Republic of China but possibly also in poorer countries of Asia such as Cambodia and Thailand, or, worse still, full of corpses of individuals who died in transit. And, even worse, when authorities do raid a "sweat shop," the victims rescued by the raid often are very reluctant to talk because they fear that the gangs that kidnapped them will exact retribution, or even enslave, members of their families that they left behind.

I think that most Americans really don't comprehend just how real, and how extensive these problems are. It is a situation that warrants the most aggressive investigation and prosecution, and the most severe criminal punishment, that we can muster.

And on the other side of the coin, victims of human trafficking, whether for sex or not, should face no prosecution whatsoever. Rather, our government should do everything in our power to provide for their well-being and restoration of their freedom -- including the choice of returning to their homelands or of receiving "green cards" as permanent immigrants to the United States.

Norm.
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