This is the time of year when scrool yoots learn about the first Thanksgiving. We¹ve all heard how that first winter in the New World was very difficult for the pilgrims. Lack of food and the bitter cold temperatures killed nearly half of the colony.
According to the journal of Gov. William Bradford, which he completed in 1650, there was actually plenty of resources from which to eat, and plenty of able-bodied men to provide food, but yet they nearly starved. Why?
Gov. Bradford says of the first harvest of 1621, ³They began now to gather in the small harvest they had, and to fit up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength and had all things in good plenty. For as some were thus employed in affairs abroad, others were exercised in fishing, about cod and bass and other fish, of which they took good store, of which every family had their portion. All the summer there was no want; and now began to come in store of fowl, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degrees). And besides waterfowl there was a great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc. Besides they had about a peck a meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to the proportion. Which made many afterwards write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England, which were not feigned but true reports. All this while no supply was heard of, neither knew they when they might expect any.²
With an abundance of resources, why would the pilgrims face starvation?
For the same reason that the former Soviet Union could be so rich in natural resources, yet the Russian people lived in squalor with a poor economy that eventually led to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, when the Soviets were unable to keep up to America in the arms race begun by President Ronald Reagan.
The Soviet Union is very rich in oil, ore, iron, manganese, asbestos, and natural gas. Yet because of the communist form of government they had, it wasn¹t profitable for the people to obtain these resources and sell them for a profit. When you have a government that takes most or all of what you earn and distributes it equally to everyone, there is no incentive to work.
We can also learn a lesson from Hong Kong who, in spite of having no natural resources whatsoever, had a robust economy because of the freedom to produce and sell for a profit.
So, we see that natural resources really have nothing to do with a prosperous economy.
In Gov. Bradford¹s journal, we learn that it was required for the colonists to put everything they had produced in the common stock and each man was free to take what he and his family needed. Basically, they were expecting to live off the fruits (and vegetables) of other men¹s labor.
This is the essence of what Karl Marx said in 1875, ³From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.² An example of a man who learned nothing from the pilgrims over two hundred and fifty years before.
We read from Gov. Bradford¹s journal that this caused confusion, discontent and bitterness as the pilgrims felt it immoral and ³deemed it a kind of slavery² to be working for the families of others. He wrote of this fallacy that they believed ³that 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.²
Greek philosopher, Aristotle, noted, ³That which is common to the greatest number has the least care bestowed upon it.²
In an interview last December with Tom Brokaw, Genius Obama stated of the economy, ³Š if our entire economic policy is premised on the notion that greed is good and what¹s in it for me, it turns out that that¹s not good for anybody.²
If only someone could have passed this TV wisdom along to the pilgrims. Here was a society where nothing was in it for them, and they just quit producing! Nowadays, the ³what¹s in it for me² is what we call a paycheck. If you didn¹t get a paycheck for the work you do, would you still get up each day and go to work?
Gov. Bradford and others figured out that ³God in His wisdom saw another course fitter for them.² So they tried the first American farms conceived in the idea of private ownership, which today we callŠ ³Capitalism².
Gov. Bradford writes, ³So they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length, after much debate of things, the Governor (with the advice of the chiefest amongst them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particularŠ²
Each family was ³assigned² a ³parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number² from which they could plant and produce all they could for their own family¹s use.
Now the families had the incentive to get out and plant corn. Gov. Bradford writes, ³This 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 useŠ² Even the women and children planted and harvested. In the winter of 1623, there was such an abundance of everything the pilgrims needed, that they were able to sell or trade the surplus they produced.
Contrary to what schools teach about sharing with the Indians was really America¹s first lesson in the failures of socialism.
Communism/Socialism is destructive to the human nature as Gov. Bradford quickly learned, but many of today¹s leaders, centuries later, still have not learned this valuable lesson.
These forms of government are destructive because they destroy man¹s God-given incentive to be productive and flourish. The first Thanksgiving began with the idea that we would all throw what we produce into a big pot, and we can all share and share alike. It sounds great in theory, but as I¹ve said, this kind of thinking fails to take human nature into consideration.
You can read Gov. William Bradford¹s account from his personal journal at: http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1650bradford.html
Beating back the forces of ignorance and stupidity