Conservative Colloquium

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Posts Tagged ‘capitalism’

“Obscene” Profits and Salaries

Posted by Tony Listi on June 14, 2008

Well, well, looks like liberals actually do believe in the existence of something called obscenity. No, it’s not pornography. It’s not government financial support for disgusting and sacrilegious art. It’s not any of the vulgarities that characterize modern culture.

Profits and salaries are obscene! Of course! Money is obscene! How could we conservatives be so blind? Sure, one can know obscenity when one sees it.

The fact of the matter is that it is not any of government’s business how much profit any business makes, regardless of size and productive capacity. If workers at a certain company feel that they are not compensated enough or that their superiors are excessively compensated at their expense, then they are free to quit and seek another job where their talents are more justly compensated.

You see, the market works. It rewards companies that allocate their profits where such funds are most needed and deserved. A company headed by a CEO who takes a larger salary than is necessary or just is only hurting himself and his company. He is taking away funds that could be reinvested in the company to increase future earnings and maintain a competitive advantage over other firms. He is also driving good and talented people, human capital, away to other companies who will more justly compensate such people. Or at the very least (or worst?), the CEO is creating justified bitterness and complaining among employees who feel they are not receiving their fair share. This corporate cultural disruption can only hinder productivity and competitiveness.

The capitalist system works. We don’t need government stepping in and creating unintended problems.

But what unintended problems?  asks the naive liberal and statolatrist.

Glad you asked. Wealth creation (before it can even be distributed) is really a product of reinvestment of profits. The most successful and wealthy corporations reinvest their profits in human, technological, and various other kinds of capital. Thus the corporation uses its money to make even more money for all its stakeholders! Wealth grows at a rapid rate with such freedom to make wise investment choices.

Now what do you think happens when the government comes along and confiscates “obscene” or “windfall” profits from corporations? It stifles this wealth-creating reinvestment! It puts these corporations at a competitive disadvantage nationally and globally. Ultimately, it hurts the working man who depends upon the success of his employers and their ability to reinvest in him and his productivity.

What makes you think the government can more effectively reinvest the profits of companies within a particular industry or generally throughout the economy?!

You think that politician in D.C. knows anything about creating, marketing, and distributing a product or service? Hate to break it to you, but most of those politicians graduated from law school, not business school or the school of hard knocks. They are mostly lawyers who are talented in using the law to coerce others and steal the fruits of their labor. They are skilled in marketing of a certain kind (read: demagoguery), but they have no know-how in producing any great physical product. I’d like to see Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry, and other liberals get oil out of the ground, refine it, and then distribute it worldwide! Last time I checked, they weren’t petrochemical engineers of the caliber that Texas A&M produces.

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Posted in Budget, Spending, and Taxes, Economics, Energy, Government and Politics, Liberalism, Politicians, Socialism, Texas A&M, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Freedom Creates Diversity, Government Creates Uniformity

Posted by Tony Listi on May 16, 2008

Diversity is inextricably linked to freedom. Economic freedom naturally produces a diversity of income levels. Freedom of speech naturally produces a diversity of speech and opinions. And so on.

Uniformity is inextricably linked to coercion of some sort. Government is inherently an instrument of coercion that reduces freedom.

Therefore, because conservatism is for limited government and thus a champion of freedom, conservatism  (NOT liberalism) is the true proponent of responsible diversity!

Global economic inequality is merely economic diversity; each country practices different economic theories (capitalism, socialism, communism, etc.) and are free to do so. Seems liberals do not like economic diversity and that is why they despise economic freedom.

Capitalism, because it is inherently a system of freedom, creates a greater diversity of goods and services than any other economic system (a diversity relative to consumer demand). Because capitalism is based on voluntary exchange, it creates a just diversity.

Now conservatives are NOT devotees of every kind of diversity. Unlike liberals, we are not worshippers of the Idols of Difference and Change. Rather conservatives uphold a value system and a moral code. Therefore, a diversity of moralities is abhorrent to conservatism. Serial killing and living in peace, or homosexuality and heterosexuality, may be merely “diverse lifestyles” according to liberalism, but conservatism upholds and proclaims these differences to have absolute normative value. One is bad and one is good. Now, for the conservative, it is a matter of prudence whether certain tenets of his moral code should be imposed on society. The law is a teacher, but sometimes its good intentions can create more harm than good.

Posted in Government and Politics, Liberalism, Political Philosophy, Uncategorized, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Which is More Materialistic: Capitalism or its Alternatives?

Posted by Tony Listi on May 15, 2008

Marxism is specifically atheistic. By denying the supernatural, transcendent, and spiritual aspects of reality, it is inherently materialistic and deterministic. The world is atoms, their random motions, and absolutely nothing else. Marxism seeks to satisfy material needs and desires regardless of the moral consequences (because morality, a transcendent thing, doesn’t exist). Communism, socialism, and welfare statism are merely derivatives of this Marxist theory.

Capitalism inherently believes that all human beings have free will and should be free to exercise that freedom without coercion from others in economic matters. Now the very idea of free will and freedom presupposes the divine, the supernatural. Freedom presupposes something more than a mere mass of atoms and random chance. It presupposes something more than the material world. It presupposes something (or someone) that can actually choose, i.e. the soul, and thus presupposes a Soul-Maker too. Thus capitalism presupposes the transcendent and spiritual and thus is less materialistic than any of its alternatives.

There is a distinction between materialism and productive use of the Creation. But of course, if you are an atheist, this distinction necessarily has no meaning for you.

Posted in American Culture, Christianity and Politics, Economics, Government and Politics, Political Philosophy, Politics and Religion, Socialism, Uncategorized, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments »

Industrial Revolution Was Good for Common Worker

Posted by Tony Listi on March 31, 2008

http://www.econlib.org/Library/Enc/IndustrialRevolutionandtheStandardofLiving.html

Industrial Revolution and the Standard of Living
By Clark Nardinelli

Between 1760 and 1860, technological progress, education, and an increasing capital stock transformed England into the workshop of the world. The industrial revolution, as the transformation came to be called, caused a sustained rise in real income per person in England and, as its effects spread, the rest of the Western world. Historians agree that the industrial revolution was one of the most important events in history, marking the rapid transition to the modern age, but they disagree vehemently about various aspects of the event. Of all the disagreements, the oldest one is over how the industrial revolution affected ordinary people, usually called the working classes. One group, the pessimists, argues that the living standards of ordinary people fell. Another group, the optimists, believes that living standards rose.

The debate over living standards is important because it represents a place where the critics and defenders of capitalism meet head-on. It is no coincidence that the debate heated up during the Cold War. The pessimists wanted to show that the English industrial revolution, which took place within a capitalist economy, necessarily made working people worse off. Optimists defended capitalism by showing that the industrial revolution made everyone better off.

This disagreement over the standard of living is confined almost entirely to academicians. Most other people, if they think about it at all, consider it well established that the industrial revolution was a disaster for the working classes. Indeed, the ghastly images of Dickens’s Coketown or Blake’s “dark, satanic mills” dominate popular perceptions of what life was like during the early years of English industrialization. Economic historians, however, have gone beyond popular perceptions to try to find out what really happened to ordinary people.

First, we must consider what “standard of living” means. Economic historians would like it to mean happiness. But the impossibility of measuring happiness forces them to equate the standard of living with real income. Real income is money income adjusted for the cost of living and for the effects of things such as health, unemployment, pollution, the condition of women and children, urban crowding, and amount of leisure time.

Because a rise in real income was precisely what made England’s transformation “revolutionary,” it would seem that, by definition, the industrial revolution led to a rise in the standard of living. According to the estimates of economist N. F. R. Crafts, British income per person (in 1970 U.S. dollars) rose from $333 in 1700 to $399 in 1760, to $427 in 1800, to $498 in 1830, and then jumped to $804 in 1860. (For many centuries before the industrial revolution, in contrast, periods of falling income offset periods of rising income.) Both sides in the debate accept Crafts’s estimates. But if the distribution of income became more unequal and if pollution, unemployment, and crowding increased, the real incomes of ordinary people could have fallen despite the rise in average income.

If significant economic growth is sustained over a century or so, the only way the poor become worse off is if inequality increases dramatically. Crafts’s estimates indicate that real income per person doubled between 1760 and 1860. Therefore, the share of income going to the lowest 65 percent of the population would have had to fall by half for them to be worse off after all that growth. It didn’t. In 1760 the lowest 65 percent received about 29 percent of total income in Britain; in 1860 they got about 25 percent. So the lowest 65 percent were substantially better off. Their average real income had increased by over 70 percent.

This evidence means that the optimists have won the debate on the big issue of whether the industrial revolution helped or hurt ordinary people. It helped. But smaller debates remain. Did the working class become worse off during the early years of England’s industrialization, 1790 to 1840, when real income per person grew at only about 0.3 percent per year? Growth at such a slow rate made a deterioration in the lot of the working classes possible. A simple numerical illustration will show why. If we take 0.3 percent per year as the annual rate of growth of real income, average real income in 1840 would have been about 16 percent higher than in 1790. The share of total income going to the lowest 65 percent of the income distribution need only have fallen to 86 percent of its 1790 level to negate the benefit of rising average income. Although they do not agree on how much, most economic historians agree that the distribution of income became more unequal between 1790 and 1840. Moreover, if we add the effects of unemployment, pollution, urban crowding, child labor, and other social ills, the modest rise in average income could well have been accompanied by a fall in the standard of living of the working classes.

The modern debate over this issue, which began with a 1949 paper by T. S. Ashton, has focused on other measures of living standards, especially wages. Ashton himself used changes in the cost of living-measured by the prices of basic commodities-to conclude that real wages rose after 1820.

The debate heated up considerably during exchanges between the pessimist Eric Hobsbawm and the optimist Max Hartwell in the late 1950s and early 1960s. According to Hobsbawm, Ashton’s evidence on real wages was inconclusive. He argued that high unemployment indicated that living standards may have deteriorated before 1840. Hobsbawm stressed that evidence on consumption also implied that living standards did not rise and may have fallen between 1790 and 1840. He placed particular emphasis on these estimates of consumption, reasoning that a decline in food consumption per person indicated a decline in the standard of living. He noted that the number of beef and sheep slaughtered at various markets failed to keep pace with the growth of population before 1840.

Hartwell criticized Hobsbawm’s use of evidence. The problem with looking at the volume of beef and sheep sold at particular markets, he noted, was that new markets were appearing. Hartwell also emphasized the appearance of new, previously unavailable consumer goods after 1820, such as popular periodicals, inexpensive cotton clothing, and the exotic fruits made available by improved transportation. But Hartwell’s main point was that few theories can explain falling real wages in the face of economic growth-particularly when rising labor productivity accompanied that growth. He emphasized that it would take implausibly high increases in unemployment or inequality for living standards to fall when average income was rising.

The debate gradually receded into the background until a 1983 paper by Peter Lindert and Jeffrey Williamson brought new life to the controversy. Lindert and Williamson produced new estimates of real wages for the years 1755 to 1851. Their estimates were based on money wages for workers in several broad categories, including both blue-collar and white-collar occupations. Their cost of living index attempted to represent actual working-class budgets.

The Lindert-Williamson series produced two striking results. First, real wages grew slowly between 1781 and 1819. Second, after 1819 real wages grew rapidly for all groups of workers. For all blue-collar workers-a good stand-in for the working classes-the Lindert-Williamson index number for real wages rose from 50.19 in 1819 to 100 in 1851. That is, real wages doubled in just thirty-two years.

Lindert and Williamson’s findings were reinforced by estimates that economist Charles Feinstein made of consumption per person for each decade between the 1760s and 1850s. He found a small rise in consumption between 1760 and 1820 and a rapid rise after 1820. Other evidence that supported the hypothesis of rising real wages came from statistics on life expectancy at birth and on literacy rates. According to historians E. A. Wrigley and Roger S. Schofield’s population history of England, life expectancy at birth rose from thirty-five years to forty years between 1781 and 1851. A modest increase in literacy in the generation before 1840 also supported Lindert and Williamson.

Although the evidence favors the optimists, doubts remain. For example, pessimists have long maintained that the largely unmeasurable effects of environmental decay more than offset any gains in well-being attributable to rising wages. Wages were higher in English cities than in the countryside, but rents were higher and the quality of life was lower. What proportion of the rise in urban wages reflected compensation for worsening urban squalor rather than true increases in real incomes? Williamson-using methods developed to measure the ill effects of twentieth-century cities-found that between 8 and 30 percent of the higher urban wages could be attributed to compensation for the inferior quality of life in English cities. Yet even the 30 percent estimate was much too small to fully offset the rise in real wages before 1850.

Another criticism of Lindert and Williamson’s optimistic findings is that their results hold only for workers who earned wages. We do not know what happened to people who worked at home or were self-employed. Because the consumption per person of tea and sugar failed to rise along with real wages, Joel Mokyr has suggested that workers who were not in the Lindert-Williamson sample may have suffered sufficiently deteriorating real incomes to offset rising wage income and leave the average person no better off.

Contemporary pessimists argue that for at least some part of the industrial revolution the happiness and well-being of the lower classes was not rising much, if at all. Even if one accepts their argument, however, it is not necessary to abandon the optimists’ position. For example, the industrial revolution had a positive effect on real income, but its positive effect may well have been offset by the negative effect of frequent wars (the American Revolution, the Napoleonic wars, the War of 1812). Some economic historians include bad harvests, rapid population growth, and the costs of transforming preindustrial workers into a modern labor force as additional causes of slow growth before 1820.

So careful economic research has narrowed the debate. Whether one is an optimist or pessimist today depends on whether one believes that the sustained rise in real wages began in the 1820s or the 1840s. Virtually all participants agree that growth was slow at best before 1820 and rapid after 1840.

Posted in American Culture, American History, Economics, Government and Politics, Intellectual History, Moral Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Poverty | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Democracy as a Form of Capitalism (and vice versa)

Posted by Tony Listi on March 5, 2008

It is no coincidence that democracy (or democratic republicanism to be precise) and capitalism have been joined at the hip throughout history, especially in the West. Democracy is the political formulation of capitalism; capitalism is the economic formulation of democracy. They arose together and they will fall together.

Whether one is talking about politics or economics, the key fundamental question will always be: who is in control? Who has the power? And there will always be only two possible answers to this question: either many people have power or very few have power.

In a democracy, many people have power. They vote in elections and choose their leaders or approve legislation be referendum. Power is diffuse and divided among all the people. There is accountability: government officials who do not serve well are replaced by someone else at the next election. In all other forms of government, power is more concentrated because it is in fewer hands, and they are the hands of government officials or those who can control government officials.

Under free market capitalism too, many people have power rather than a few. Consumers (which is all of us) have the freedom of choice to buy something or not. Similar to political power in a democracy, economic power under capitalism is diffuse and divided among all consumers. Like democratically elected officials who must satisfy their constituents, producers (from small businesses to corporations) who want to prosper must meet the needs and desires of consumers. In all other economic systems (e.g. socialism), those with political power (or just the power of the sword in general) seize the economic power and freedom of the people and dictate production (i.e. quotas) and consumption (i.e. rationing) to the rest of society, just as a tyrant would dictate laws to his subjects.

The common denominator between democracy and capitalism is freedom, freedom from centralized power and control. What many Americans don’t seem to realize is that political freedom and economic freedom cannot be separated. In order to take away your economic freedom to give you a false sense of economic security, the government necessarily usurps more political power to itself as well so that it can actually be able to enforce its economic dictates. The equalizers are never equal in political power to those they equalize. This means less political power for you. Power is a zero sum game; there is only so much political power to go around, so that one person’s gain is another’s loss. But wealth is not a zero sum game; the pie can grow under a system of freedom, so that one person’s slice is not at another’s expense because value is always being voluntarily exchanged.

Thus political and economic freedom are intimately intertwined and thus inseparable. So don’t believe liberal Democrats when they tell you that you will have more freedom or security with more government intervention and mangement of the economy. You will have neither freedom nor security: freedom is our security because freedom allows for accountability through checks and balances.

I would like to end with the wisdom of Milton Friedman:

“Economic freedom is an essential requisite for political freedom. By enabling people to cooperate with one another without coercion or central direction, it reduces the area over which political power is exercised. In addition, by dispersing power, the free market provides an offset to whatever concentration of power may arise. The combination of economic and political power in the same hands is a sure recipe for tyranny. The combination of economic and political freedom produced a golden age in both Great Britain and the United States in the nineteeth century.”

“Majority rule is a necessary and desirable expedient. It is, however, very different from the kind of freedom you have when you shop at a supermarket. When you enter the voting booth once a year, you almost always vote for a package rather than for specific items. If you are in the majority, you will at best get both the items you favored and the ones you opposed but regarded as on balance less important. Generally, you end up with something different from what you thought you voted for. If you are in the minority, you must conform to the majority vote and wait for your turn to come. When you vote daily in the supermarket, you get precisely what you voted for, and so does everyone else. The ballot box produces conformity without unanimity; the marketplace, unanimity without conformity. That is why it is desirable to use the ballot box, so far as possible, only for those decisions where conformity is essential.”

“The economic controls that have proliferated in the United States in recent decades have not only restricted our freedom to use our economic resources, they have also affected our freedom of speech, of press, and of religion…. [F]reedom is one whole, that anything that reduces freedom in one part of our lives is likely to affect freedom in the other parts.”

“Ironically, the very success of economic and political freedom reduced its appeal to later thinkers. The narrowly limited government of the late nineteenth century possessed little conentrated power that endangered the ordinary man. The other side of that coin was that it possessed little power that would enable good people to do good. And in an imperfect world there were still many evils. Indeed, the very progress of society made the residual evils seem all the more objectionable. As always, people took the favorable developments for granted. They forgot the danger to freedom from a strong government. Instead, they were attracted by the good that a stronger government could achieve –if only government power were in the ‘right’ hands.”

“[N]o society that has ever achieved prosperity and freedom unless voluntary exchange has been its dominant principle of organization…. Wherever we find any large element of individual freedom, some measure of progress in the material comforts at the disposal of ordinary citizens, and the widespread hope of further progress in the future, there we also find that economic activity is organized mainly through the free market. Wherever the state undertakes to control in detail the economic activities of its citizens, whevever, that is, detailed central economic planning reigns, there ordinary citizens are in political fetters, have a low standard of living, and have little power to control their own destiny.”

“A society that puts equality–in the sense of equality of outcome–ahead of freedom will end up with neither equality nor freedom. The use of force to acheive equality will destroy freedom, and the force, introduced for good purposes, will end up in the hands of people who use it to promote their own interests. On the other hand, a society that puts freedom first will, as a happy by-product, end up with both greater freedom and greater equality. Though a by-product of freedom, greater quality is not an accident. A free society releases the energies and abilities of people to pursue their own objectives. It prevents some people from arbitrarily suppressing others. It does not prevent some people from achieving positions of privilege, but so long as freedom is maintained, it prevents those positions of privilege from becoming institutionalized; they are subject to continued attack by other able, ambitious people. Freedom means diversity but also mobility. It preserves the opportunity for today’s disadvantaged to become tomorrow’s privileged and, in the process, enables almost everyone, from top to bottom, to enjoy a fuller and richer life.”

Posted in American Culture, Budget, Spending, and Taxes, Economics, Government and Politics, Political Philosophy, Quotes, Socialism, Written by Me | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Capitalism, Catholicism, Morality, & Poverty

Posted by Tony Listi on January 25, 2008

http://www.isi.org/lectures/lectures.aspx?SBy=search&SSub=title&SFor=Teach%20the%20Churches

This is a video of an excellent lecture by Thomas E. Woods.

No Catholic (or Protestant for that matter) should be ashamed of whole-heartedly advocating free market capitalism and limited government. Conservatism and perhaps even libertarianism to some extent are eminently compatible with Christianity.

Posted in American Culture, American History, Christianity and Politics, Economics, Foreign Aid, Government and Politics, Moral Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Politics and Religion, Poverty, Science and Religion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Milton Friedman on Greed and Capitalism

Posted by Tony Listi on January 12, 2008

Every society runs on greed. It is inescapable. Attempts to legislate against mere greed make things worse. Political self-interest is no better than economic self-interest.

Posted in Budget, Spending, and Taxes, Economics, Government and Politics, Moral Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Poverty | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Real Story of Thanksgiving: Thankful for Capitalism

Posted by Tony Listi on November 22, 2007

If you were like me, what we were taught in school was that the Pilgrims came over, and they were just overwhelmed; they were swamped; they had no clue where they were; they had no clue how to feed themselves; they had to clue how to protect themselves; they had no idea how to stay warm; they had no idea how to do anything.  They were just typical, dumb white people fleeing some other place they couldn’t manage to live in.  And then, out of the woods came the wonderful Indians, who had great compassion, they were at one with the land, they were at one with the spirits, and they saw these incompetent, dupe white people dressed up in these odd, stupid, black and white hats and suits, and they befriended us, and they taught us how to plant corn and how to catch beasts and how to skin beavers to stay warm, and Thanksgiving is where we give thanks to the Indians….

Of course the rest of the Thanksgiving story is that after the Indians saved the white people, who, after all, did what?  They brought syphilis, sexually transmitted diseases, gongorrhea, as had I high school health teacher pronounced it, racism, bigotry, homophobia, all these things.  Then what are we going to do to show our gratitude?  Then we had the guts to swindle ’em out of Manhattan for 24 bucks, and then we stole their land, and we stole their horses, and we moved ’em away from the various things that they had used religiously, peyote and so forth, and they got sick.  So then we put ’em in reservations, and after awhile we felt guilty and let ’em run all the casinos outside of Las Vegas and Atlantic City.  Well, that is not the true story of Thanksgiving….

How many of you believe that we actually swindled Indians when we bought Manhattan from them?  I’ve always thought that ’til I read this book.  It’s called Commissioner Roosevelt: The Story of Theodore Roosevelt and the New York City Police, 1895 to 1897, by H. Paul Jeffers.  And here is the relevant paragraph:  “A persuasive case can be made that the city of New York began with a swindle. For generations school children have been taught that a slick trick was played on unsuspecting Indians by the director of the Dutch West India Company, Peter Minuit. In 1626 he purchased the island of ‘Manna-hatin’ for sixty gilders worth of trinkets, about twenty-four dollars. What Minuit did not know at the time, however, was that his masterful real estate deal had been struck with the Canarsie tribe, residents of Long Island; they held no title to the land they sold to the Dutch. In due course, the intruders from Amsterdam who thought they had pulled a sharp one on the locals were forced into negotiating a second, more costly deal with the true landlords.”  So it was the Indians that pulled the real estate scam when they sold Manhattan because the ones that sold it didn’t own it.  We got taken….

Now, the real story of Thanksgiving: “On August 1, 1620, the Mayflower set sail. It carried a total of 102 passengers, including forty Pilgrims led by William Bradford. On the journey, Bradford set up an agreement, a contract, that established just and equal laws for all members of the new community, irrespective of their religious beliefs. Where did the revolutionary ideas expressed in the Mayflower Compact come from? From the Bible,” and this is what’s not taught. This is what’s left out. “The Pilgrims were a people completely steeped in the lessons of the Old and New Testaments. They looked to the ancient Israelites for their example. And, because of the biblical precedents set forth in Scripture, they never doubted that their experiment would work. But this was no pleasure cruise, friends. The journey to the New World was a long and arduous one. And when the Pilgrims landed in New England in November, they found, according to Bradford’s detailed journal, a cold, barren, desolate wilderness. There were no friends to greet them, he wrote. There were no houses to shelter them. There were no inns where they could refresh themselves. And the sacrifice they had made for freedom was just beginning. During the first winter, half the Pilgrims – including Bradford’s own wife – died of either starvation, sickness or exposure.

“When spring finally came, Indians taught the settlers how to plant corn, fish for cod and skin beavers for coats. Life improved for the Pilgrims, but they did not yet prosper! This is important to understand because this is where modern American history lessons often end. Thanksgiving is actually explained in some textbooks as a holiday for which the Pilgrims gave thanks to the Indians for saving their lives, rather than as a devout expression of gratitude grounded in the tradition of both the Old and New Testaments. Here is the part that has been omitted: The original contract the Pilgrims had entered into with their merchant-sponsors in London called for everything they produced to go into a common store, and each member of the community was entitled to one common share. All of the land they cleared and the houses they built belong to the community as well.” They were collectivists! Now, “Bradford, who had become the new governor of the colony, recognized that this form of collectivism was as costly and destructive to the Pilgrims as that first harsh winter, which had taken so many lives.

“He decided to take bold action. Bradford assigned a plot of land to each family to work and manage, thus turning loose the power of the marketplace. … Long before Karl Marx was even born, the Pilgrims had discovered and experimented with what could only be described as socialism. And what happened? It didn’t work! Surprise, surprise, huh? What Bradford and his community found was that the most creative and industrious people had no incentive to work any harder than anyone else, unless they could utilize the power of personal motivation! But while most of the rest of the world has been experimenting with socialism for well over a hundred years – trying to refine it, perfect it, and re-invent it – the Pilgrims decided early on to scrap it permanently. What Bradford wrote about this social experiment should be in every schoolchild’s history lesson,” every kid gets. “If it were, we might prevent much needless suffering in the future.” Here’s what he wrote: “‘The experience that we had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years…that by taking away property, and bringing community into a common wealth, would make them happy and flourishing – as if they were wiser than God,’ Bradford wrote.

“‘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. 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 other men’s wives and children without any recompense…that was thought injustice.'” That was thought injustice. “Do you hear what he was saying, ladies and gentlemen? The Pilgrims found that people could not be expected to do their best work without incentive. So what did Bradford’s community try next? They unharnessed the power of good old free enterprise by invoking the undergirding capitalistic principle of private property. Every family was assigned its own plot of land to work and permitted to market its own crops and products. And what was the result?” ‘This had very good success,’ wrote Bradford, “for it made all hands industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been.’ Bradford doesn’t sound like much of a Clintonite, does he? Is it possible that supply-side economics could have existed before the 1980s? … In no time, the Pilgrims found they had more food than they could eat themselves. … So they set up trading posts and exchanged goods with the Indians.

“The profits allowed them to pay off their debts to the merchants in London. And the success and prosperity of the Plymouth settlement attracted more Europeans and began what came to be known as the ‘Great Puritan Migration.'” Now, aside from this program, have you heard this before? Is this “being taught to children — and if not, why not? I mean, is there a more important lesson one could derive from the Pilgrim experience than this?” What if Bill and Hillary Clinton had been exposed to these lessons in school? Do you realize what we face in next year’s election is the equivalent of people who want to set up these original collectivists communes that didn’t work, with nobody having incentive to do anything except get on the government dole somehow because the people running the government want that kind of power. So the Pilgrims decided to thank God for all of their good fortune. And that’s Thanksgiving. And read George Washington’s first Thanksgiving address and count the number of times God is mentioned and how many times he’s thanked. None of this is taught today. It should be. Have a happy Thanksgiving, folks. You deserve it. Do what you can to be happy, and especially do what you can to be thankful, because in this country you have more reasons than you’ve ever stopped to consider.

Posted in American Culture, American History, Christianity and Politics, Economics, Politics and Religion, Socialism | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »