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American Remembrance

: "The experience that was had in this commone course and condition tried sundrie years and that amongst godly and sober men may well evince the vanitie of that conceite of Platos and other ancients applauded by some of later times that the taking away of propertie and bringing in communitie into a comone wealth would make them happy and florishing as if they were wiser then God. For this comunitie so farr as it was was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much imployment that would have been to their benefite and comforte. For the yong men that were most able and fitte for labour and service did repine that they should spend then time and streingth to worke for other mens wives and children with out any recompence. The strong or man of parts had no more in devission of vktails and cloaths then he that was weake and not able to doe a quarter the other could this was thought injuestice. The aged and graver men to be ranked and equalised in labours and victails cloaths etc with the meaner and yonger sorte thought it some indignite and disrespect unto them. And for mens wives to be commanded to doe servise for other men as dresing their meate washing their cloaths etc they deemd it a kind of slaverie neither could many husbands well brooke it. Upon the poynte all being to have alike and all to doe them selves in the like condition and one as good as another and so if it did not cut of those relations that God hath set amongest men yet it did at least much diminish and take of the mutuall respects that should be preserved amongst them. And would have bene worse if they had been men of another condition. Let none objecte this is men's corruption and nothing to the course it selfe I answer seeing all men have this corruption in them. God in his wisdome saw another course fiter for them.

But to returne. After this course setled and by that their corne was planted all ther victails were spente and they were only to rest on Gods providence at night not many times knowing wher to have a bitt of any thing the next day..."

So what did they do?

: "At length, after much debate of things, the Govr with the advise of the cheefest amongest them gave way that they should set corne every man for his owne perticuler and in that regard trust to them selves in all other things to goe on in the generall way as before. And so assigned to every family a parcell of land according to the proportion of their number for that end only for present use but made no devission for inheritance and ranged all boys and youth under some familie. This had very good success for it made all hands very industrious so as much more corne was planted then other waise would have bene by any means the Govr or any other could use and saved him a great deall of trouble and gave farr better contente. The women now wente willingly into the feild and tooke their litle ons with them to set corne which before would aledg weaknes and inabilitie whom to have compelled would have bene thought great tiranie and oppression"

Other news of related interest

Pilgrims Beat 'Communism' With Free Market-"Recalling the story of the Pilgrims is a Thanksgiving tradition, but do you know the real story behind their triumph over hunger and poverty at Plymouth Colony nearly four centuries ago? Their salvation stemmed not so much from the charitable gestures of local Indians, but from their courageous decision to embrace the free-market principle of private property ownership a century and a half before Adam Smith wrote The Wealth of Nations.

Writing in his diary of the dire economic straits and self-destructive behavior that consumed his fellow Puritans shortly after their arrival, Governor William Bradford painted a picture of destitute settlers selling their clothes and bed coverings for food while others “became servants to the Indians,” cutting wood and fetching water in exchange for “a capful of corn.” The most desperate among them starved, with Bradford recounting how one settler, in gathering shellfish along the shore, “was so weak … he stuck fast in the mud and was found dead in the place.”

The colony’s leaders identified the source of their problem as a particularly vile form of what Bradford called “communism.” Property in Plymouth Colony, he observed, was communally owned and cultivated. This system (“taking away of property and bringing [it] into a commonwealth”) bred “confusion and discontent” and “retarded much employment that would have been to [the settlers’] benefit and comfort.”

Brink of ExterminationThe most able and fit young men in Plymouth thought it an “injustice” that they were paid the same as those “not able to do a quarter the other could.” Women, meanwhile, viewed the communal chores they were required to perform for others as a form of “slavery.”

On the brink of extermination, the Colony’s leaders changed course and allotted a parcel of land to each settler, hoping the private ownership of farmland would encourage self-sufficiency and lead to the cultivation of more corn and other foodstuffs.

As Adam Smith would have predicted, this new system worked famously. “This had very good success,” Bradford reported, “for it made all hands very industrious.” In fact, “much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been” and productivity increased. “Women,” for example, “went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn.”

The famine that nearly wiped out the Pilgrims in 1623 gave way to a period of agricultural abundance that enabled the Massachusetts settlers to set down permanent roots in the New World, prosper, and play an indispensable role in the ultimate success of the American experiment.

A profoundly religious man, Bradford saw the hand of God in the Pilgrims’ economic recovery. Their success, he observed, “may well evince the vanity of that conceit...that the taking away of property... would make [men] happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God.” Bradford surmised, “God in his wisdom saw another course fitter for them.”

Amen to that.

Thanksgiving Story: 2005

Plymouth’s Pilgrims may have survived that near-fatal brush with socialism but, sadly, many political leaders remain transfixed by a blind faith in the ability of government to shape and set the course of human behavior.

Case in point: the tenacious liberal belief that no connection exists between the tax burden we place on capital formation and the economic behavior of those who must shoulder that burden.

The liberal creed holds that investors will take economic risks and create jobs no matter how punitive the tax regime. To liberals, lowering that burden through reductions in the rate of taxation simply bestows an unwarranted windfall on the “rich” and deprives the government of much-needed tax revenue.

Of course, incentives matter every bit as much today as they did four centuries ago. The latest proof comes from figures released by the Treasury Department for the fiscal year that ended on Sept. 30. They vindicate the predictions of conservative economists that the 2003 law, which included a number of pro-growth provisions such as cutting the top tax rate on capital gains and dividends to 15 percent, would be a raging success.

Compared to the previous year:
Total federal revenues grew by an astonishing 14.6%.
Corporate receipts exploded, increasing by 47%.
Payroll tax receipts, an indicator of employment growth, increased by a respectable 8%.
We have much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving season."

Voters Have Low Opinion of Congressional Democrats Key to the Economy-"Just 30% of U.S. voters have a favorable opinion of Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd, the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, while 37% view him unfavorably. One-third of voters (33%) don’t know enough about Dodd to have an opinion of him one way or the other. Of course, Dodd, who briefly ran for the Democratic presidential nomination this year, isn’t helped by news reports that he received preferential mortgages from Countrywide Financial and then later tried to engineer a federal bailout for the troubled lender when the housing bubble burst. Dodd also has been a big recipient of campaign contributions from the insurance industry and from the beleaguered mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Rep. Barney Frank, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, which oversees the banking and housing industries, has an even bigger favorability gap. Twenty-seven percent (27%) have a favorable view of the Massachusetts congressman, but 42% regard him unfavorably, including 31% who say that view is Very Unfavorable. A similar number (32%) are not sure what they think of Frank. Frank has his own credibility problems with regards to the financial industry. He fought Bush Administration efforts to increase oversight over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, both of whom were large contributors to his campaigns."

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