*The Unincorporated Man* and slavery

As long as we are on the topic of slavery, why not consider fiction?  This science fiction novel has an intriguing economic premise: you're born a slave and you're not free until you can buy yourself back from your owner (which may be a corporation).

It may sound funny to think that a slave can save money but arguably an optimal slavery contract in a high-productivity society will give the slave some residual claimancy and some property rights, in order to spur work effort.

At some point you wonder whether a slave in this futuristic society is better off buying the rights to himself or herself.  (Then he has to find individual health insurance!)  If the system of slavery is truly secure, it's like living under Laffer Curve-maximizing taxation.  That's oppressive, but many people have lived under worse.  There would be lots of "Nudge" as well and with advanced technology very effective monitoring and control.

Is it possible that in such a world you would trust only a person who was a slave?

In many historical instances, slaves cannot precommit to "no revolt."  So slaves aren't allowed to earn at the Laffer maximum point, for fear they will rebel or otherwise receive or lobby for greater rights.  Real world slavery is much much worse than this hypothetical portrait might make it seem.

I won't have time to read through the novel (the new Alice Munro is out, for one thing) but I thought the premise was an intriguing one.  The Amazon reader reviews are favorable.


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