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Thread: Why is slavery bad?

  1. #21
    Slaytaninc's Avatar Pili Posterior
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    Default Re: Why is slavery bad?

    I can pretty much guarantee that Pennsylvania banned slavery for moral reasons, while the South abandoned it for pragmatic reasons, as in "Hey, we just got crushed in a war."

    Though de facto slavery remained quite common in the southern States up until the 1930s, having it's steam taken away by improved cotton harvesting equipment and the Great Migration.
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  2. #22
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    Default Re: Why is slavery bad?

    It's tricky question.

    You're dealing with a lot of dynamics, and depends on how broad a view you want to take.

    Completely owning another human being, including being able to physically punish that person, or even condemn him arbitrarily to death is morally wrong.

    On an economic level, having them do the tasks that free men and women would be reluctant to perform without great incentives makes sense.

    Deliberately selling yourself into slavery, is your own choice, assuming there was no coercion involved, like economic hardship; the Roman system had the option for the slave to buy himself free, and quite a number ended up in the Roman bureaucracy. Seems preferable to becoming a eunuch.
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    Default Re: Why is slavery bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Slaytaninc View Post
    I can pretty much guarantee that Pennsylvania banned slavery for moral reasons, while the South abandoned it for pragmatic reasons, as in "Hey, we just got crushed in a war."

    Though de facto slavery remained quite common in the southern States up until the 1930s, having it's steam taken away by improved cotton harvesting equipment and the Great Migration.
    While Britain seems to have done in for economical reasons as argued by Christopher Ewan in The Emancipation Proclamation and British Public Opinion.
    However, while Britain did officially end slavery in all her colonies in 1834 (and had ended the slave trade more than a generation earlier), economics played a large part in the push for abolition in the colonies. By the early 1800s, slavery was becoming an increasingly expensive system of labor. In the West Indies, for example, sugar cane plantation owners struggled with increased slave mortality rates, problems securing enough foodstuff and supplies for the slaves (especially in times of war), and, above all, low sugar prices. In the meantime, factory owners in Britain were making great profits employing wage (free) laborers, and did not have to worry about the day-to-day struggles of providing for their workers’ food, shelter, and health care. Simply put, slavery was a comparatively more expensive system of labor than wage labor. More than the British would care to admit, changing economic realities had as much to do with the drive toward abolition as did humanitarian concerns.
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    Default Re: Why is slavery bad?

    In Biblical times(Let's not bring religion into this but I'm just pointing out something from ancient times), slavery was a form of repaying one's own debts. That was its original purpose.

    For example, if a person fell into heavy debt he could repay that by offering his services to whoever he owed the debt to. However the condition was that the owner would have to treat him well as any other person in his household and at the end of 10 years of service the slave must be released and given 10x (or something like that) more than what he had.

    Of course nobody bothered with releasing slaves and giving them the pension that they earned so the system was abused.

  5. #25
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    Default Re: Why is slavery bad?

    It's "bad" because it conflicts with the ideas of personal freedom and equal rights for everyone, which are fundamental in the development of the Western World As We Know It? It's diametrically opposed to everything that created an unprecedented wealth and degree of liberty and security. It's morally bankrupt and economically unfeasible. Need I go on?
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  6. #26
    Khannis's Avatar Centurio
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    Default Re: Why is slavery bad?

    I just wanted to clarify something: When I ask why slavery is bad, I meant it as a discussion of human societies and how they organized themselves, and what would be the impact of slavery on the political, social and economic spheres, including on the general well-being of the "worker class" and on the well-being of the society as a whole.

    I am not surprised by the moral arguments, I just think they are useless, because they lend themselves to circular reasoning: "We don't have slavery because it's bad, it's bad because it's illegal, it's illegal because it's evil, and it's evil because it's bad", etc.

    And yes, I'm a moral relativist, sue me. I just wanted a good debate without dragging pitchforks and fires into it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Psychonaut View Post
    It's wrong because slavery isn't voluntary. One person imposing his/her will on another person is wrong.

    And Khannis, you said somewhere earlier that slaves in ancient times had a choice... but if your only other option is death, how is that a choice?
    I think it's a perfectly valid choice, for two reasons, one being that people choose death over life every day by comitting suicide, and the other being that in various cultures throughout history (including nowadays) death in battle was glorious, noble, etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by Col. Tartleton View Post
    It depends on the context. Are we taking people as slaves by threatening to kill them or are we reducing an accepted death penalty to involuntary labor as an act of clemency?

    The first one is wrong. The second one is not. People have become enslaved for both reasons.
    I am curious as to why you would consider it an act of clemency, as to me they are the same thing. You, as a citizen of some state, for example, be allowed legally to kill any foreigners on sight, or to offer them slavery as "clemency". How is that different than enslaving someone by threat of death? Laws are arbitrary, after all.

    Quote Originally Posted by eisenkopf View Post
    It's "bad" because it conflicts with the ideas of personal freedom and equal rights for everyone, which are fundamental in the development of the Western World As We Know It? It's diametrically opposed to everything that created an unprecedented wealth and degree of liberty and security. It's morally bankrupt and economically unfeasible. Need I go on?
    Yes, I'm afraid you need. Why it is economically unfeasible? As for the part of the "western world as we know it", that's the whole point, is a "what if" scenario. We have known a western world with slavery before. So what if we had it again? Would the people's lives be worse? Why?

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    Default Re: Why is slavery bad?

    @OP

    Let me make a guess. You are a fan of Ayn Rand...

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    Default Re: Why is slavery bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mythos View Post
    @OP

    Let me make a guess. You are a fan of Ayn Rand...
    Wrong! Though many people have guessed so, and I intend to read some of her books in the summer vacation (which begins in two weeks)

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    Default Re: Why is slavery bad?

    How would you explain this "innate" empathy? Where was that when whole societies functioned on the basis of slave labor? And "civilized"? How do you judge what is civilized and what's not?
    Empathy existed in those times, it can be argued that slavery was a positive thing is certain areas at certain times (I have not denied that), the title asks why slavery IS bad, I have answered that question to the best of my ability.
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    Default Re: Why is slavery bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Himster View Post
    Empathy existed in those times, it can be argued that slavery was a positive thing is certain areas at certain times (I have not denied that), the title asks why slavery IS bad, I have answered that question to the best of my ability.
    Modern civilization is judged by the criteria by which we live today, previous civilizations are coloured by this perspective.
    I only asked why do you think this empathy existed. I agree completely that our present perspectives colour our view of the past, I just try to "uncolour" it as much as I can, try to remain objective to the best of my ability.

    EDIT: I just noticed browsing online that Ayn Rand has a lot of books, which one would you guys recommend to get the best grasp of her ideas? Or as a starting point?
    Last edited by Khannis; November 30, 2012 at 07:16 AM.

  11. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Khannis View Post
    EDIT: I just noticed browsing online that Ayn Rand has a lot of books, which one would you guys recommend to get the best grasp of her ideas? Or as a starting point?
    Her books are badly written drivel. You don't have to read them to get a grasp of her ideas. It would be a waste of summer reading time IMHO.

    I just wanted to clarify something: When I ask why slavery is bad, I meant it as a discussion of human societies and how they organized themselves, and what would be the impact of slavery on the political, social and economic spheres, including on the general well-being of the "worker class" and on the well-being of the society as a whole.
    Well this would heavily depend on the type of slavery in the society as well, but I'll refer generally to slavery in the US and new world in general.

    Impact on how societies organize themselves: Causes societies to organize themselves based on superficial things a person cannot control, like race and class. You are born into a certain class (slave, poor free person, aristocracy) and you generally stay there because laws reinforce these classes. These statuses become much more important in a slave society and form the basis for whatever political stability there is. This isn't much of a meritocracy.

    Political sphere: The largest slave owners (and wealthiest and most powerful) will dominate politics. This means pursuing policies and laws that keep in place the slave system. Something many politicians did was play off classes against each other, so poor whites would be set against black slaves as to protect the slave aristocracy. Giving poor whites certain legal privileges over slaves and also creating laws that keep these classes distinct (no race-mixing) give some classes more social status than others. Also, slaves will be treated as not really human in many instances, as they were in the US, in order to preserve this class distinction. Race was a convenient invention for the aristocracy to use to preserve these economic classes, so that race/class became interchangeable in many instances. Discourages sufferage, for slaves obviously, but also for free laborers who are not part of the wealthy elite and therefore might not share their interests.

    Economic sphere: Probably the most important, since this is what motivates even having the institution of slavery in the first place. As long as slavery is insanely profitable, and it was in the US when it came to large scale plantations of cash crops, then there is a huge incentive for the wealthiest and most politically connected/powerful to keep the institution in place. Slavery keeps other free laborers (like poor whites in the US) poor because they are essentially competing with slaves in the labor market, which makes it impossible to organize labor or improve working conditions in many ways. Free laborers will only have access to markets where slavery is unprofitable. This also means having a very large poor class and a small but incredibly wealthy slave-owning aristocracy.

    Social sphere: Some of these overlap obviously. As I said, tends to discourage a meritocracy since your place in society is determined by your class status (or race). For slaves themselves, it means being uneducated to keep slaves in their place, having no family stability due to family members being sold off at any time, and losing many cultural practices as well. Encourages a class system of the super wealthy at the top, with poor free laborers in the middle being played off against slaves at the bottom. Encourages the creation of social markers like "race" that can easily define who is slave and who is not, and encourages religion to excuse the institution of slavery and justify it. It means having a society that lives in constant fear and paranoia in many ways, from the slaves themselves who fear their masters, from the free laborers who fear losing whatever social status they may have that keeps them above slaves, from the slave owners who constantly fear a slave uprising, and from free laborers and slave owners that fear things like race-mixing will destroy their social inventions, like race. Social stability is, therefore, quite fragile. If there is a war, then there is a large portion of the slave society which will be a potential liability to the government.

    Impact on the well-being of the worker class and society overall: The "worker class", as mentioned above, will be competing with slaves, which is bad for them, and they will be poorer as a result. Also, the worker class becomes the "foot soldiers", mere tools, of the wealthy slave owning aristocracy. They do the dirty work in other words; fight the wars, keep the slaves in their place, at the behest of the slave aristocracy. Impact on society overall? Well it leads to a very fragile social system that can fall apart quite easily and often does. Fear and paranoia pervades. There isn't a meritocracy. You will not have a dynamic society (economically or otherwise) in other words, one that constantly is innovating and willing to try new ideas. Class/race distinctions trump all, even good policy/innovation. The priority is maintaining social stability, which is tough to do in all circumstances where such a large portion of the population is forced against their will to do some very horrible things. Causes society to invent dehumanizing markers like "race" and create mythologies that allow slave owners or free laborers that carry out their orders to feel they are doing right in the world and God is on their side. Basically, allows people to do some very dehumanizing things and gives them large social and material rewards for doing so.

  12. #32
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    Default Re: Why is slavery bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Khannis View Post
    2. History begs to differ, you can own a human being, and in fact, compared to the time slavery has been around, not owning another person is a fad. Also, most slaves in antiquity were captured in wars, so it was a choice, of sorts. Either surrender and be enslaved or die in battle. Not to mention that many brought from Africa had been in a similar situation.
    So basically, there is a choice between slavery and death? How is it a fair choice if there's no free man's option?

    3. There's no obligation, obviously, but why keep your slaves in piss-poor conditions since you bought them and they work better if better fed and better
    cared for? You, as a slave-owner, are just getting more out of your investment by keeping them in better conditions.
    Why would you care more for your slaves than for your employees? It doesn't make sense.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Khannis View Post
    Yes, I'm afraid you need. Why it is economically unfeasible? As for the part of the "western world as we know it", that's the whole point, is a "what if" scenario. We have known a western world with slavery before. So what if we had it again? Would the people's lives be worse? Why?
    Right, discounting any moral arguments.

    First, western society is built on a form of Fordism. That basically means that if you pay your workers well, they will in turn afford your stuff, so you will sell more. This was developed in part as a counter to socialism.
    This does not work well with slavery, so slave/worker riots/rebellions will be fairly common and have probably overran a few countries, abolishing slavery.

    Second, who will people be decided to be slaves? No wars, so no war slaves. Debt is easiest I assume. One point about debt is that it is distributed unevenly. That means that you'll have a bunch of former rich people and celeberties. Not sure about the direct consequences, but it's an unusual situation. It's our former movie star, not their former queen (the king would probably be excecuted by default).

    Third, what kind of work will they do? If they're very cheap, they will outcompete the workers in that profession, which can cause extra slavery demands and that gives such amazing things as an equivalent to the war on drugs, aka dubious ways to enslave and a tendency to shift the costs over to someone else. They are also an indirect waste, since it's way to expensive to use them based on their talents (spreading them out will cost way too much to have the needed control). More complicated work will also be prone to sabotage.
    The debate on prison workers falls here somewhere.

    Fourth, legal rights. Since they will be forced to have a different set of rights. Killing your own slave means? Killing someone elses slave means? A crime comitted by a slave means? A crime forced to be done by the slave's master?

    So after a certain socital development it's limiting, inefficient, wasteful and unstable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Khannis View Post
    EDIT: I just noticed browsing online that Ayn Rand has a lot of books, which one would you guys recommend to get the best grasp of her ideas? Or as a starting point?
    Atlas Shrugged is her most famous book (and the only book I heard about). Though I wouldn't bother to read it if I were you. Unless you really really don't like the colour grey.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Matthias View Post
    Her books are badly written drivel. You don't have to read them to get a grasp of her ideas. It would be a waste of summer reading time IMHO.



    Well this would heavily depend on the type of slavery in the society as well, but I'll refer generally to slavery in the US and new world in general.

    Impact on how societies organize themselves: Causes societies to organize themselves based on superficial things a person cannot control, like race and class. You are born into a certain class (slave, poor free person, aristocracy) and you generally stay there because laws reinforce these classes. These statuses become much more important in a slave society and form the basis for whatever political stability there is. This isn't much of a meritocracy.

    Political sphere: The largest slave owners (and wealthiest and most powerful) will dominate politics. This means pursuing policies and laws that keep in place the slave system. Something many politicians did was play off classes against each other, so poor whites would be set against black slaves as to protect the slave aristocracy. Giving poor whites certain legal privileges over slaves and also creating laws that keep these classes distinct (no race-mixing) give some classes more social status than others. Also, slaves will be treated as not really human in many instances, as they were in the US, in order to preserve this class distinction. Race was a convenient invention for the aristocracy to use to preserve these economic classes, so that race/class became interchangeable in many instances. Discourages sufferage, for slaves obviously, but also for free laborers who are not part of the wealthy elite and therefore might not share their interests.

    Economic sphere: Probably the most important, since this is what motivates even having the institution of slavery in the first place. As long as slavery is insanely profitable, and it was in the US when it came to large scale plantations of cash crops, then there is a huge incentive for the wealthiest and most politically connected/powerful to keep the institution in place. Slavery keeps other free laborers (like poor whites in the US) poor because they are essentially competing with slaves in the labor market, which makes it impossible to organize labor or improve working conditions in many ways. Free laborers will only have access to markets where slavery is unprofitable. This also means having a very large poor class and a small but incredibly wealthy slave-owning aristocracy.

    Social sphere: Some of these overlap obviously. As I said, tends to discourage a meritocracy since your place in society is determined by your class status (or race). For slaves themselves, it means being uneducated to keep slaves in their place, having no family stability due to family members being sold off at any time, and losing many cultural practices as well. Encourages a class system of the super wealthy at the top, with poor free laborers in the middle being played off against slaves at the bottom. Encourages the creation of social markers like "race" that can easily define who is slave and who is not, and encourages religion to excuse the institution of slavery and justify it. It means having a society that lives in constant fear and paranoia in many ways, from the slaves themselves who fear their masters, from the free laborers who fear losing whatever social status they may have that keeps them above slaves, from the slave owners who constantly fear a slave uprising, and from free laborers and slave owners that fear things like race-mixing will destroy their social inventions, like race. Social stability is, therefore, quite fragile. If there is a war, then there is a large portion of the slave society which will be a potential liability to the government.

    Impact on the well-being of the worker class and society overall: The "worker class", as mentioned above, will be competing with slaves, which is bad for them, and they will be poorer as a result. Also, the worker class becomes the "foot soldiers", mere tools, of the wealthy slave owning aristocracy. They do the dirty work in other words; fight the wars, keep the slaves in their place, at the behest of the slave aristocracy. Impact on society overall? Well it leads to a very fragile social system that can fall apart quite easily and often does. Fear and paranoia pervades. There isn't a meritocracy. You will not have a dynamic society (economically or otherwise) in other words, one that constantly is innovating and willing to try new ideas. Class/race distinctions trump all, even good policy/innovation. The priority is maintaining social stability, which is tough to do in all circumstances where such a large portion of the population is forced against their will to do some very horrible things. Causes society to invent dehumanizing markers like "race" and create mythologies that allow slave owners or free laborers that carry out their orders to feel they are doing right in the world and God is on their side. Basically, allows people to do some very dehumanizing things and gives them large social and material rewards for doing so.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ironside II View Post
    Right, discounting any moral arguments.

    First, western society is built on a form of Fordism. That basically means that if you pay your workers well, they will in turn afford your stuff, so you will sell more. This was developed in part as a counter to socialism.
    This does not work well with slavery, so slave/worker riots/rebellions will be fairly common and have probably overran a few countries, abolishing slavery.

    Second, who will people be decided to be slaves? No wars, so no war slaves. Debt is easiest I assume. One point about debt is that it is distributed unevenly. That means that you'll have a bunch of former rich people and celeberties. Not sure about the direct consequences, but it's an unusual situation. It's our former movie star, not their former queen (the king would probably be excecuted by default).

    Third, what kind of work will they do? If they're very cheap, they will outcompete the workers in that profession, which can cause extra slavery demands and that gives such amazing things as an equivalent to the war on drugs, aka dubious ways to enslave and a tendency to shift the costs over to someone else. They are also an indirect waste, since it's way to expensive to use them based on their talents (spreading them out will cost way too much to have the needed control). More complicated work will also be prone to sabotage.
    The debate on prison workers falls here somewhere.

    Fourth, legal rights. Since they will be forced to have a different set of rights. Killing your own slave means? Killing someone elses slave means? A crime comitted by a slave means? A crime forced to be done by the slave's master?

    So after a certain socital development it's limiting, inefficient, wasteful and unstable.
    Excellent posts, that was what I was looking for. +Rep to both of you

    Quote Originally Posted by Lupus Wolfram Tungsten View Post
    Atlas Shrugged is her most famous book (and the only book I heard about). Though I wouldn't bother to read it if I were you. Unless you really really don't like the colour grey.
    What's that supposed to mean?

    Also, I noticed your posts take into account a society where free workers are also present. But what if society was divided into only two classes: Slaves and Slave-Owners? I think that would change a lot of the dynamics and solve at least some of the problems you presented.

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    Default Re: Why is slavery bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Khannis View Post
    How would someone measure these sets of values and the moral consensus? Why Singapore?
    Mainly through comparative analysis of three things:

    - Institutional Confidence(the trust citizens deposit in the governamental institutions).
    - Crime rates(the lower they are the less deviant behaviors one encounters)
    - Ideological and moral dispersion(the more ideologically and morally disperse a society is the more plural and individualistic it's value framework is).

    Why Singapore? because, google that.
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    Default Re: Why is slavery bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Khannis View Post
    I am curious as to why you would consider it an act of clemency, as to me they are the same thing. You, as a citizen of some state, for example, be allowed legally to kill any foreigners on sight, or to offer them slavery as "clemency". How is that different than enslaving someone by threat of death? Laws are arbitrary, after all.
    Let's say Bill is a murderer. Rather than hanging him he's made a slave.

    What's wrong with that? Same as a prison. Just handled differently, and more reasonably by the community.

    Prison farming is slavery. But it's legal and it should be.

    I say hanging because that's the death penalty here. Not because I'm being archaic.
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    Default Re: Why is slavery bad?

    The slavery is wrong, because who states that slavery is right is a disgusting criminal! Then he should be removed from the Civilized Society of normal human beings and he should be locked up in prison (to save money, it might be better an execution! but many would desagree so I don't insist!) or he should be re-educated in a good old mental hospital with many session of electroshock!

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    Default Re: Why is slavery bad?

    Some reasons against slavery from an economic standpoint:

    1. Corporations today have far higher profit margins than the slave businesses of old. There is not significant incentive for slavery when companies are doing very well and remain competitive. If the current model allows for such growth, why change it?

    2. Slavery is very unpopular, and one of the biggest expenses of major corporations is advertising. Companies do not want to associate themselves with unpopular things. That is why many are promoting "Green" products - people are attracted to that, so companies offer it.

    3. No one wants to be a slave. Unless slavery is mandated, no one will work for the slave businesses. Companies desire experience in employees above all, and trying to hire from a pool of criminal-slaves means you will probably be hiring inexperienced workers with no motivation. So the choice is between a decent pre-trained, productive minimum wage worker or a crappy slave. Not much in the way of savings.

    Quite simply, there is not much motivation for such a massive shift. Why use slaves and bring in a whole bunch of social and legal issues and risk the future of your business when you are already profiting enough to be able to pay your top executives millions in annual bonuses?

    In a dystopian world, perhaps slavery has appeal. But workers are cheap - they are cheaper than they were decades ago despite minimum wage increases. The cost of everything has multiplied several times, the profits of businesses increase exponentially, but worker wages remain about the same as decades ago. The status quo for low-rung workers is almost as good as slavery to the largest companies, but without the negative impacts.

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    Col. Tartleton's Avatar Tribunus
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    Quote Originally Posted by Diocle View Post
    The slavery is wrong, because who states that slavery is right is a disgusting criminal! Then he should be removed from the Civilized Society of normal human beings and he should be locked up in prison (to save money, it might be better an execution! but many would desagree so I don't insist!) or he should be re-educated in a good old mental hospital with many session of electroshock!
    Slavery is a perfectly legitimate constitutionally protected punishment. However there must be a crime worthy of the punishment. There's a certain kind of people in this country who belong in shackles toiling under the hot sun down in Alabamy. Problem is they aren't exclusively black and it shouldn't be a hereditary offense. The old system was conflicting with our legal system. Heredity isn't a crime or a virtuous act. We rejected the divine right of kings to rule and we rejected the curse of the low birth to be ruled.

    Who you are has some bearing on who you will be and what you will do, but it's not something the law should be concerned about preempting.
    Last edited by Col. Tartleton; November 30, 2012 at 01:41 PM.
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