How the Whip Came Back



Two delegates to the United Nations Conference on Human Value discuss a vote that will re-introduce human slavery.


  • A gibson is a martini with the olive replaced by a pickled onion. Olives are associated with peace and faith. Onions are associated with tears.
  • Louis XIV was the "Sun King" who thought the French government should revolve around himself and his court. He said, "I am the state."
  • Pope John XXIII, the last Pope that Ms. Bushnan was taught about, called Vatican II. One of the results was the Gaudium et Spes, which condemns slavery. This is either a change in Catholic doctrine, or not, depending on who you ask.
  • Bushnan could be an allusion to Buchanan. James Buchanan was the president-elect at the time of the Dred Scott decision. (This case is famous for establishing judicial review; it is also infamous as a pro-slavery decision).
  • There is plenty of money around for the upper classes to indulge in conspicuous consumption. A hotel with at least 125 floors has been redecorated to match the fashion of the year (red acrylic and green leather). There's an association implied between wealth and working for the government. Big government has also led to the loss of belief in personal charitable giving.
  • The figures on prison population and cost seem absurdly low:
    • The government representative says there are 250,000 in prison and the cost per person is $5000. He gives the total cost as one billion (it would actually be 1.25 billion).
    • One billion is peanuts. The federal budget was close to three trillion in 2007.
    • There were about two million people in prison in the United States in 2006 (reference here). There were just under 200,000 in prison in 1970 when this story was written.
    • The cost per inmate was about $23,000 per person in 2001, and 58% of the cost was for security. The states alone paid $29.5 billion for prisons in 2001. (reference here).
    • There could have been major deflation, but this seems unlikely since a simple software upgrade for an AI costs $200.
    • Prison conditions may be truly hellish. Miss Bushnan thinks slavery would give the prisoners more decent surroundings.
    • The anti-aggressants he mentions may be used on the population as a whole, cutting the crime rate way down.
    • Probably the government representative is innumerate, lying, or both. He is certainly wrong about the number of people who will oppose slavery being only in the thousands. If 79% approved with the current US population of 300 million, then 63 million would be opposed or indifferent.
    • The real motivation is more about giving the elite a sense of power, as Miss Bushnan's thinking shows.
  • The Pope allows himself to be tricked into abstaining. He probably thinks the charitable organization will take the heat for him. He shows another moral failure when he is embarrassed to even mention that there was once a dress code for nuns. He tells girls "all the things they wouldn't have to give up" to be nuns, probably including dating. The failure to provide any moral leadership may be the reason Christianity has fallen so far, and partly responsible for why this society is so corrupt.
  • Additionally, refer to Marc Aramini's analysis on the mailing list.

Unresolved Questions

  • Why does the Pope’s abstain? Does his abstention indicate he's not completely against slavery? Marc Aramini suggested that the Pope might believe that slavery will bring back religion, and that's why he ultimately does not vote against it.

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