>Well, to be fair, I (the person you're responding to) wasn't the one saying that it was offensive. I agree that it detracts from the discussion.
No, I didn't assume you were. You were saying the current system isn't technically slavery which, I agree, it isn't.
>You want to talk about the thread devolving; did you really want to discuss communism v. capitalism here? To quote rms, from what I feel was his defense of capitalism and freedom, "There are things that you and I will never be able to afford, but that doesn't mean we've been enslaved."
Not necessarily, but I'm curious as to what a better system would be, though I didn't really bring it up in my original post. I'm sympathetic to communism's concerns insofar as they're legitimate, although I'm not a communist per se. Maybe part of the problem is that we're thinking about systems in terms of a Cold War-ish "capitalism vs. communism" because we're conditioned to think about it as such when discussing what a better system might be. I can think of other systems, but I'm not sure if they would be better or worse.
The questions about the plantation scenario were only to point out that slavery and the current system may be of the same type. "Freedom", in the case of the plantation, didn't actually mean very much beyond not being considered property under law (which makes little practical difference to them). Sure they can buy things now instead of having them doled out by the slavemaster, but being able to buy stuff, especially the same stuff which you used to be given for free, isn't really freedom.
You brought up the right to quit the work force earlier, but the right to quit the work force is kind of like the right not to pay taxes. It's a choice, but not really. You can't escape enforcement of the system in place. Also, just as a side note, a hunter-gatherer lifestyle would be rather difficult since most land is owned and you would still run into the state's mechanisms for enforcing the system first (namely laws and police officers) and then the cultural enforcers of the system with the news headline Crazy Modern Cro-Magnon Arrested for Trespassing.