"The experience that was had in this common course and condition
... may well evince the vanity of that conceit of Plato's and
other ancients applauded by some of later times; that the taking
away of property and bringing in community into a commonwealth
would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser
than God. ... For this community (so far as it was) was found to
breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment
that would have been to their benefit and comfort."
Plymouth Plantation" (1620-1647), Gov. William Bradford
started with the vision of John Winthrop, leader of the Mayflower
Compact: "We must delight in each other"; in other words,
mutual responsibility should be the social lodestar, requiring
everyone to keep in mind "our community as members of the same
like something Barack Obama would say, almost 400 years later.
Pilgrims attempted a socialist colony, with everything they produced
going into a common warehouse, and their needs met out of supplies
held in common.
wonder they almost starved.
America's first experiment with socialism was an abject failure that
cost the lives of more than half of the foundering settlers by 1627.
After living the liberal philosophy for half a decade of want, Gov.
Bradford and the other founders of the Plymouth Plantation came to
recognize that, despite their struggles, perseverance and faith,
something was very wrong; something needed to change if they were to
concept of communitarianism was quickly rejected in favor of
capitalism, and the colony subsequently thrived. Bradford and
his council established property rights and free enterprise,
self-reliance and self-motivation, truly a new concept in this new
frontier. Immediately, the result of private industry was
had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as
much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any
means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great
deal of trouble, and gave far better content," Bradford wrote.
social experiment in property rights and capitalism progressed it
only got better. The country thrived and eventually became the
greatest nation on earth.
many Americans who think the Pilgrim story is primarily about making
friends with Native Americans, still believe that "spreading the
wealth around," as Barack Obama described it to Joe the Plumber, is
the best way to run a commonwealth.
According to Gov. Bradford, the wealth was spread from the "most
able and fit" until this was "deemed a kind of slavery." Keep
in mind that the Pilgrim able and fit really were able — there were
no corporate con men talking their boards into outrageous salaries
and bonuses as their companies collapsed. They were forced to
serve only the unfit and disabled; society had not yet evolved to
cheerfully fund the kind of waste and corruption we see today.
of the Pilgrims were living beyond the means of the plantation or
borrowing against their children's crops. They would have been
horrified to see what their descendants have done and become.
Thanksgiving we celebrate a $14.3 trillion gross domestic product,
the result of much hard work and entrepreneurship, as well as a
whole lot of rampant consumerism. Unfortunately, as
individuals we spend not only what we have earned and carry in our
wallets, we borrow in order to spend more — not only for major
purchases, but for vacations, sundries and doodads. As a
nation, we borrow not only from ourselves, but from the communist
Chinese and oil-rich Arabs.
national debt is now more than $10 trillion, and this year's deficit
is estimated to be at least another trillion. We will soon owe
as much as this year's national market value!
an economist why anyone would lend to a country that seems so
irresponsible and were told that the United States is still a good
investment, because "it's too big to fail." We've heard that
before, not about just the original government bailout and General
Motors, but now about Citigroup. I imagine it was said about
the Roman Empire, just before it collapsed from within and became
overrun by barbarians.
history always repeat itself? During the Thanksgiving holiday,
we might consider something that isn't the usual "be thankful"
holiday message: The possibility that like the Pilgrims, we
can reject what doesn't work, and move in another direction as they
away from socialism isn't enough. Capitalism in its pure form
is the only economic system that is compatible with individual
freedom, allowing as it does individual ownership with free-market
enterprise decisions and free choices in allocating resources.
United States approached this ideal, then allowed itself to become a
"mixed" and "managed" economy with government involvement — which
now includes "bailouts."
we can still turn ourselves around, renew our founding fathers'
commitment to property rights, free enterprise, self-reliance and
self-motivation, and choose to share with the less fortunate; while
rejecting the politics, entitlement demands, creeping greed, fiscal
irresponsibility and lack of integrity that got us to where we are