I was reading something from the organisation Trocaire which is popular in Ireland and provides gifts at a cost to contributors to the third world at Christmas time and this year it had a pretty unusual gift which you could buy someone - Freedom.
I was surprised because I thought, wait, water pumps, goats, huts, teachers, immunisation or basic medical services, yeah, I can see how you could provide those, pretty tangible things, and also that those things could, by expanding choice and removing obsticles make people free but freedom itself? Really?
I read on and discovered that while the region in which this was targetted prohibits slavery it actually permits a kind of indentured labour, where people incur a debt and are in virtual or practical bondage until it is paid (parallels to the banker's creation of the world recession in another thread please). I first read about this kind of thing in fiction, it was in a great novel called Bring The Jubilee with a heart breaking, and sudden, finish but which dealt with an alternative time line in which the northern states had lost the war against the confederacy in the US. The whole thing bothered me so much that I read about indentured labour and things like it in the past and present. I hate the whole idea, it smacks of rank class war if its not actual slavery and I think it comes close. I probably only hate people trafficking, rape and child abuse slightly less and I seriously hate those things.
So I was thinking about this deal where you can donate money in the form of a gift purchasing people their freedom and the dilemmas that sort of thing could give rise to. I'll probably purchase it anyway because I do believe in the story of the star fish (kid runs along a beach throwing starfish washed up on the shore back into the waves, old man comes along as says why bother because you'll never be able to return them all before they die and it wont make a difference, kid says it makes a difference to "this one, and this one, and this one" as he goes) and I hate slavery and I love freedom. However should freedom be something which can be commodified in that way? Can you abolish slavery if you've got enough money to do so?