No, you heard it right the first time – more slaves today than at any other time in history.
Brings one up a bit short, don’t it? And it made me wonder whether they’d just simply counted total slaves today against years past and come up with a larger figure without accounting for how many more people there are in the world today. I mean, even if they hadn’t allowed for the fact that the world is also much more filled with humanity than at any other time (even the recent past) in history, it’s still an amazing – and disgusting – statistic. And while it would indeed be statistically correct to “weight” the number of slaves in the world against the number of people in the world before trying to compare today to, say, 1800, on another level – the human level – I think it would actually be wrong to do so.
Why? Because human misery isn’t scalable or reducible. In other words, it would be just plain wrong on a human level to say that things really haven’t changed much even if we discovered that the “weighted” percentages of slaves-to-world-population were not all that much different today than in the “glory days” (gag) of slavery, because the sheer number of people in slavery today would be so much higher: 4% of 1 billion people is 40 million. 4% of 6.5 billion or so would be 260 million. Statistically the same, realistically, very different. Here’s a bit from the article, but it’s worth reading the whole thing:
BS: …consider that five hours from where I live in New York — a three-hour flight down to Port au Prince, Haiti, and an hour from the airport — I was able to negotiate for a 10-year-old girl for cleaning and cooking, permanent possession and sexual favors. What do you think the asking price was?
TM: I don’t know … $7,500?
BS: They asked for $100, and I talked them down to $50. Now to put that in context: Going back to the time when my abolitionist ancestors were on their soapbox, in 1850, you could buy a healthy grown male for the equivalent of about $40,000.