The Slave Next Door: U.S. Government Sanctioned Slavery
Actually, the answer is 2003.
In a riveting new book called The Slave Next Door, authors Kevin Bales and Ron Soodalter expose the disturbing phenomenon of human trafficking and slavery that exists now in the United States. In The Slave Next Door we find that slaves are all around us, hidden in plain sight: the dishwasher in the kitchen of the neighborhood restaurant, the kids on the corner selling cheap trinkets, the man sweeping the floor of the local department store. In these pages we also meet some unexpected slaveholders, such as a 27-year old middle-class Texas housewife who is currently serving a life sentence for offences including slavery.
Weaving together a wealth of voices—from slaves, slaveholders, and traffickers as well as from experts, counselors, law enforcement officers, rescue and support groups, and others—this book is also a call to action, telling what we, as private citizens, can do to finally bring an end to this horrific crime. An excerpt from the book tells us:
Boondoggles, pork barrels, and shoddy work are scandalous, but it was another, uglier issue that brought First Kuwaiti to the world’s attention. Some of their contract workers had been trafficked to Iraq against their will, held by force, and paid little or nothing. First Kuwaiti – and by association, the U.S. Department of State – were using slave labor to build the embassy. Taxpayers were footing the bill. The idea of a U.S. subcontractor trafficking enslaved workers into the country where we are waging a war to introduce freedom and democracy, is unthinkable. And yet, in case after case, the construction company hired workers, normally through sub-contractors, from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Sierra Leone, Egypt, Turkey, and the Philippines under false pretenses. Falsely promised work in Dubai, they were landed in a combat zone. Once in Iraq contractors confiscated the workers’ passports, forced them to live in squalid conditions, and to work long hours for little or no pay.
But it’s not only the government bringing slavery to America. The old slave ship of the 1800s has been replaced by the 747. Victims come from every region and are exploited in every state. They exist specifically to work, they are unable to leave, and are forced to live under the constant threat and reality of violence. By definition, they are slaves. Today, we call it human trafficking, but make no mistake: It is the slave trade.Throughout history, slavery has meant the complete and violent control of one person by another, the use of slaves for economic gain, and work for no payment. The one part of slavery that is new is the complete collapse in the price of slaves. For most of human history slaves were expensive, the average cost being around $40,000 in today’s money. That price has now fallen to an all-time historical low. The average slave costs around $90 today.
This is the kind of knowledge you can’t “unlearn”; the only question is, what do you do with the information once you have it? It’s a question we must all address for ourselves. We tend to think of our America as the country where slavery has no place; the dire truth is, we are pretty far from freedom, and it will take a lot of work and dedication – by the government, and by us – to make it so.