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BY ALFRED WEST

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    Thursday, November 23, 2006

    Happy Thanksgiving

    Shhhh.... don't tell the Democrats that Thanksgiving has a Christian religious component, or they'll try to take this holiday away from us as well.

    Americans, on this day, traditionally gather and give thanks for the plenty that we have. Most know only the bounty of this land, and are blissfully unaware of the pernicious hand of government that tries to keep it from the People. I like to take this day to reflect on how special what we have here is; and how easily we could lose it through voting away our rights to decide how to dispose of our own property and labor.

    Those who celebrated the first Thanksgiving knew all too well the value of liberty and private property and what could occur if those were denied.

    The first English colonists tried a communistic system that, due to the small size of the community on which it acted, caused the economy to completely implode in a very short amount of time. Unable to hide from the truth of their chosen economic system, they were forced to abandon it as an act of self-preservation.

    It is a little known fact that under the original charter of the Plymouth colony, all of the land, the buildings, and any end product of labor were communally owned. In other words, the Pilgrims began here in America as a communistic settlement.

    At first glance, thinking statically, this might seem like a good system. In any society, some people have more due to greater ability or motivation, and some have less due to lesser ability or motivation (this is, of course, ignoring artificial societal constructs such as 'privilege'). The greatest societal good, therefore, (still thinking statically) would come from giving all members an equal share in what society produces. Real life, however, is not static -- rather it is dynamic.

    The danger of thinking statically in regard to political and economic structures is that such thinking doesn't take changing human behavior into account -- human behavior is effectively treated as an unchanging constant. But people who make arguments using such a premise are either ignorant of the nature of human behavior, or worse, are intellectually dishonest. Human behavior is not static -- rather it is dynamic, changing in response to different stimuli. For example, if you plant a food crop each year and harvest it without incident, you are likely to continue in that behavior. If, however, each year, just before you harvest your crop, someone steals most of it, and you can't stop them, you might start planting less, or stop planting altogether, since there is no benefit to your action.

    In the case of the Plymouth colony, William Bradford and the Pilgrims noticed that their communal-ownership (communist) system gave no incentive for those most industrious to produce any more than those least industrious. These people knew that they could not benefit from their extra effort any more than the others in the community who worked less -- so they did what any rational self-interested person would do under the circumstances: they didn't work any harder than the least productive among them. Collectivism effectively killed any personal motivation the people might have had to work.

    In his journal, William Bradford wrote:

    "[B]y taking away property, and bringing community into a common wealth... this community was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For young men that were most able and fit for labor and service did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for others men's wives and children without recompense ... that was thought injustice."

    Indeed, to require that someone give up their labor for the benefit of others without compensation of equal or greater value is nothing more than robbery. People respond to the potential of robbery or theft by taking steps to prevent it. If they are unable to prevent it through defensive means, they will likely prevent it by not producing anything -- after all, if they have nothing, there is nothing to steal. Unfortunately for the community as a whole, since individuals had little incentive to produce, the communal production yields were low.

    After several years of tiny crops, Bradford was forced to conclude that communism was not a viable socio-economic system. When applied in the real world where human behavior is a factor, communism utterly failed -- it had produced nothing but barely subsistence-level harvests and had encouraged nothing but a rational avoidance of extraneous labor. The colonists were distraught over the idea of facing another year of barely subsistence-level harvests and held a meeting to discuss possible solutions to the problem. Bradford states that "[a]t last after much debate of things, the governor gave way that they should set corn everyman for his own particular... That had very good success for it made all hands very industrious, so much [more] corn was planted than otherwise would have been."

    So the solution to their woes was to replace their communist system with a free enterprise (or capitalist) system in which each family had a recognized property interest in the land that they worked and were actually allowed to own the product of their labor and thus dispose of it as they see fit. The result of the switch was a plentiful harvest in the fall of 1623. The lazier people still didn't produce as much, but those more inclined to industry produced a great surplus. In celebration of their newfound plenty, the Pilgrims held a great feast of Thanksgiving to God for guiding them to this economic system that had produced so much. If you examine the official documents of the time, you will find that the first Thanksgiving Day proclamation was issued in November of 1623.

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    5 Comments:
    Blogger David Schantz said...

    Isn't it strange that so many would like to replace our Republic with a Communist or Socialist system even though they know they have never worked in the past. We have another important date coming up in a few weeks. December 15, Bill Of Rights Day. There are many that would like to get rid of those to. Or at least the ones they don't agree with.

    God Bless America, God Save The Republic.

    11/24/2006 5:38 AM  
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    Blogger Tom said...

    Thanks for the history lesson. I heard about this for the first time this year, and I guarantee that this little tidbit will never find its way into the history books.

    Great Post!

    12/10/2006 11:02 AM  
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    Blogger BadTux said...

    When I was in school, it was made clear that the "Pilgrims" had gone to Massachusetts in order to practice freedom of religion, and that the original Thanksgiving was tied to their religious beliefs. The 4th grade textbooks that I were issued in the early 1990's when I taught elementary school for one year mentioned this also. Given my experience teaching in schools today, I have to say it depends on the teacher whether it actually gets studied in class. There is no law or rule against mentioning the fact that the "Pilgrims" were folks who cared deeply about their religion, so deeply that they'd go all the way across a vast ocean to set up in a wilderness to practice it.

    David, please point to me one (1) person in either of the major political parties who wants to replace our Republic with a Communist or Socialist system? I've been hangin' with Democratic activists for the past couple of years due to the disaster that has been Republican rule, and not a single one of them want a Communist system in America. Communism has been completely and utterly discredited as an economic system. The only people who still advocate it are a few fringe loonies like the Greenies who don't get more than a few thousand votes in any election I've heard of, which is hardly "so many".

    As for Bill of Rights Day, I was a Barry Goldwater Republican back in the days when the Republican Party believed in freedom. Unfortuantely, Barry Goldwater is dead. Nowdays we have a nation where the majority support limits on our freedoms, where anybody who disagrees with Dear Leader is an enemy and a traitor, where we have television and radio stations giving air time to people advocating that we round up other folks for practicing their 1st Amendment right of freedom of religion and put them all into concentration camps as "Enemies of the State" (but that's okay, because they're them funny Muslim fellers, not good white Christians like you and me). We could probably power Phoenix nowdays by harnessing the power of Barry Goldwater rotating in his grave.

    I'm sorry, that just isn't the America that our forefathers created and fought and died for. I don't know what to do about it, other than keep repeating that the Bill of Rights must be defended because it is the fundamental document keeping our nation from turning into some kind of banana republic hellhole, and donating money to the ACLU every year (they're certainly not perfect, for example they don't stand up for 2nd Amendment rights, but who else is standing up for free speech rights and the right to a trial by a jury of one's peers nowdays?), but it's just disquieting that so many Americans have forgotten the American dream of freedom and liberty. I suppose freedom seems scary -- thus why so many people around the world seem to prefer tyranny to freedom -- but c'mon, we're dadburned AMERICANS, and we're supposed to be better than that!

    -BT

    12/13/2006 4:25 PM  
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