13 January 2013

Involuntary Servitude

Section 23 of Article I of the Constitution of the State of Iowa reads as follows: "There shall be no slavery in this state; nor shall there be involuntary servitude, unless for the punishment of crime." I am not sure of the distinction between slavery and involuntary servitude, but I expect a distinction existed at the time the Iowa constitution was written and adopted. What the founders of this state did not foresee was, everyone has become a criminal, and therefore, subject to involuntary servitude. This may seem an exaggeration but there is nothing illogical nor irrational about this statement. One can not go about one's business on any given day without committing a crime. Traffic violations are crimes. Without including traffic violations, the statement probably is an exaggeration; but the fact remains-a person is subject to involuntary servitude in this state as punishment for crime. Involuntary servitude may have meant the forced labor, imprisonment, or peonage of a person for the satisfaction of a debt. A criminal offense necessarily means a debt to the state in the form of court costs, fines, dare fees, law enforcement initiatives (whatever they may be), and repayment of court appointed attorney fees. We have managed to avert the literal interpretation of involuntary servitude by declaring that a person does not go to jail for failing to pay the state its due, the person goes to jail for failing to follow a court order. To those who go to jail, this is a distinction without a difference. It really doesn't matter whether a person goes to jail because he didn't pay or because he failed to do what he was told to do. Additionally the state will take the driver's license of those who do not pay. This was meant to ensure that everyone pays their fines, court costs, etc. It does not; it means that numerous people drive without licenses, ergo committing more crimes. Ironically as a few activities are no longer considered criminal such as mixed marriages and homosexuality, they are replaced by other activities. We now have hate crimes, violation of civil rights, theft of services, and numerous others. It seems we must have criminals and lots of them to make the rest of us feel good about ourselves. And yes we do have involuntary servitude--its call Prison Industries. True, most who work in and for prison industries, or are farmed out, would rather be working than sitting in a cell, but involuntary servitude it is. Because it is a preferable alternative does not exempt it from what it is.