Thanksgiving, Socialism, and the Free Market

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As Barack Obama prepares to assume the presidency, it would be appropriate today to remember that the original Thanksgiving celebrated the demise of the “spread-the-wealth” economic system that the colonists at Plymouth Rock initially established.

The story of socialism at Plymouth Rock is one that few Americans are taught in their public (i.e., government) schools. On landing at Plymouth Rock, the Pilgrims established an economic system in which all their crops would be owned in common and whose harvest would be distributed to each family in accordance with its needs. The colonists felt that such a socialist system would be consistent with their deep religious convictions.

There was one big problem, however, with this spread-the-wealth economic system: starvation. When everything was owned by everyone, people would look for excuses to avoid working in the fields and the harvests were not sufficient to keep everyone fed.

Finally, after repeated food shortages Plymouth Rock Governor William Bradford declared an end to socialism at Plymouth Rock. He announced that every family would be responsible for planting and harvesting its own crops and would be free to keep the bounty.

The result? No more starvation! Instead, a bountiful harvest and more than enough food for everyone.

And that’s what the first Thanksgiving was all about — to give thanks for the plentiful bounty that had been brought into existence through the “miracle of the market.”

While Barack Obama undoubtedly recognizes that socialism is a bad system, sadly he favors socialistic programs. While he would no doubt acknowledge that socialism brings impoverishment, as it did at Plymouth Rock, he thinks that by using coercion to “spread the wealth” from rich to poor and middle class, society will be better off.

How logical is that? Does it make any sense? If socialism brings starvation, why would socialistic programs bring anything but economic harm and lower standards of living?

Moreover, why would God create a system in which coveting and stealing the goods of the rich and spreading their wealth to others would bring positive results?

Today, let us not celebrate the socialistic, spread-the-wealth system that has plunged our nation into chaos, crisis, and destitution. Let us instead celebrate the system of economic liberty that the Pilgrims discovered at Plymouth Rock. They pointed the way to an economic system that brings prosperity and harmony and that is consistent with the laws of nature and the laws of God. Today, let us not only celebrate their achievement, let us also rededicate ourselves to restoring a free-market system to our land.

Jacob Hornberger [send him mail] is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

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