The forgotten lesson of Thanksgiving

November 24, 2016

Happy Turkey Day, everyone.

I remember in grammar school we used to be taught the “lessons of Thanksgiving,” including such wonderful things as sharing and gratitude. It seems one lesson never gets taught, though, and so reporter John Stossel wrote to remind us of it in this 2010 article:

Had today’s political class been in power in 1623, tomorrow’s holiday would have been called “Starvation Day” instead of Thanksgiving. Of course, most of us wouldn’t be alive to celebrate it.

Every year around this time, schoolchildren are taught about that wonderful day when Pilgrims and Native Americans shared the fruits of the harvest. But the first Thanksgiving in 1623 almost didn’t happen.

Long before the failure of modern socialism, the earliest European settlers gave us a dramatic demonstration of the fatal flaws of collectivism. Unfortunately, few Americans today know it.

The Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony organized their farm economy along communal lines. The goal was to share the work and produce equally.

That’s why they nearly all starved.

They nearly starved because too few people were willing to work hard to make the land productive enough to feed everyone, knowing they could still draw from the communal pot regardless of their (lack of) effort. Hence, not enough food was produced and the Colony nearly died.

But it didn’t. Having seen the failure of communalism and a planned economy, the colony’s leaders decided to divide the land into plots of private property and make each family responsible for their own livelihood. The results, as reported by Governor Bradford were amazing:

“This had very good success,” Bradford wrote, “for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been. By this time harvest was come, and instead of famine, now God gave them plenty, and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many.”

In other words, private property and a free market made prosperity possible, while Socialism nearly got everyone killed.

Read the rest before you settle down to turkey and football (and the inevitable food coma), and let’s keep this forgotten lesson in mind.

Enjoy the day, folks!

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


“You cannot legislate the poor into freedom”

November 15, 2016

Still holds true after 85 years:

Adrian Rogers redistribution

Source: Someone on Twitter or Facebook, can’t recall whom.

But it’s the thought that counts.


Pension Promises to State and Local Bureaucrats Are a Ticking Time Bomb

October 17, 2016

Interestingly, these pension bombs aren’t limited to just Blue states.

International Liberty

America’s main long-run retirement challenge is our pay-as-you-go Social Security system, which was created back when everyone assumed we would always have a “population pyramid,” meaning relatively few retirees and lots of workers.

But as longevity has increased and fertility has decreased, the population pyramid increasingly looks like a cylinder. This helps to explain why the inflation-adjusted shortfall for Social Security is now about $37 trillion (and if you include the long-run shortfalls for Medicare and Medicaid, the outlook is even worse).

But Social Security is not the only government-created retirement problem. State and local governments have “defined benefit” pension systems for their bureaucrats, which means that their bureaucrats, when they retire (often at an early age), are entitled to receive monthly checks for the rest of their lives based on formulas devised by each state (based on factors such as years employed in the bureaucracy, pay…

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(Video) Pop Quiz: Can government run the economy?

August 8, 2016

Okay, it’s a trick question. The answer is “yes” and “no.” Yes, the government has the power to regulate almost all the economy (especially since the horrific Wickard v. Filburn case).

But it is also an emphatic “no,” because government rarely does a good job. In fact, government regulation often does more harm than good. A much better alternative is to let the economy run itself in a free market.

For Prager University, Steve Forbes explains why:

Now put down your pencils, close your exam books, and turn them in as you leave.

Class dismissed.


(Video) Lemonade Stand Economics: a basic lesson for progressives

July 22, 2016

When writing about the minimum wage or Obamacare, I’ve often made the point that, in the face of government-imposed higher costs, businesses have few choices:

  • Pass the cost on to the consumer by increasing prices
  • Reduce costs by cutting back on labor (reduced hours, automation, &c.)
  • Accept a smaller profit margin
  • Or just say “screw it all” and go out of business

The following video from Prager University makes a similar point, using that American icon, the kid’s lemonade stand, as an example:

Progressives take note. This is a lesson you need to learn.

By the way, those evil oil companies the Left likes to rail at? Their average profit margin is just above six percent. You know what industry has a larger profit margin? Law firms. They net on average a whopping 30 percent.

Maybe the government should regulate law firms? smiley thinking


Italy’s Fiscal and Demographic Death Spiral

July 5, 2016

An overly generous welfare state combined with demographic decline. There’s a recipe for national collapse.

International Liberty

European economic analysts are paying too much attention to the United Kingdom and too little attention to Italy.

Yes, the Brexit decision is important, and the United Kingdom is the world’s 5th-largest economy so it merits attention to see if there are any speed bumps as it escapes from the slowly sinking ship otherwise known as the European Union.

But one of the other passengers on that doomed ship is Italy, the world’s 8th-largest economy. And if the UK merits attention because of uncertainty on its way to a brighter future, then Italy should be getting five-alarm focus for its festering economic crisis as it descends into chaos.

Part of that crisis is quasi-permanent stagnation, as illustrated by this map showing changes in per-capita economic output since 1995.

To state that Italy is the slow student in the class is an understatement. There’s been a two-decade period with…

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(Video) Fossil Fuels, the Greenest fuels

May 15, 2016

In the Environmentalist Left’s rush to condemn the use fossil fuels and bring us all to a renewable, sustainable Paradise, they forget the good that fossil fuels have done in making possible a modern world that is far cleaner, healthier, and more prosperous than ever before. For Praeger University, Alex Epstein of the Center for Industrial Progress is here with a reminder:

Of course, many of us remember terrible smog problems in major cities, such as my own Los Angeles as recently as the late 80s. Heck, here’s what it looked like in the 1950s:

*cough* *hack*

*cough* *hack*

So, yeah, fossil fuels used with poor technology were a problem. But the tech has gotten better and the air (and water and land) has cleaned up, thanks in part to reasonable regulation.

But Green and other environmental radicals (and the companies that benefit from government-subsidized “Green” tech sales) aren’t satisfied with “reasonable.” They want to eliminate fossil fuels for a number of reasons: economic self-interest, political ideology, and even a near-religious utopianism.

What they fail to see (or see but won’t admit) is that their “solutions” are uneconomical (wind and solar just can’t make it in the market place without government’s thumb on the scale, for example), corrupt (remember Solyndra?), or keep people in less developed countries from achieving a better life for themselves in the form that they want. (Insufferably paternalistic, when you think about it.)

Sure, eventually we’ll want to transition away from fossil fuels, but that will happen only when genuinely economically sustainable (remember that word?) alternatives come along that provide us with the same benefits at at least the same cost.

Until then, we need fossil fuels. So let’s keep some perspective.