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)


Happy Fourth of July!

July 4, 2016

Sprit_of_'76.2

It’s Independence Day here in the US, in which we celebrate our break with the British Empire. We’re 240 years old and, despite what some sanctimonious Lefty scolds might think, I think we’re doing pretty darned good. We’re not without our problems or faults, for instance two major parties that manage to find the two worst people possible to nominate for president, but I continue to believe America is exceptional among the nations of the world and that we are indeed a force for good. If you’re looking for some good Independence Day reading, there’s always the Declaration of Independence itself. Think of it as a short ideological summation of who and why we are.

Then there’s the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which function as a citizen’s “owner’s manual.” And yes, to those of you in other countries raising an eyebrow about now, we do tend to place those documents on a pedestal. You have to admit, however, they’ve worked well for over two centuries. How many republics and constitutions has France had in that time?

Gosh, it’s become quiet…. Winking

A lot’s been written around the Web about today, so I’ll spare you my musings. Instead, I want to leave you with something that I think symbolizes the best of the “Spirit of 1776:” a reenlistment ceremony held in 2008 in Baghdad in Saddam Hussein’s former palace, Al Faw. Over 1,200 enlisted personnel volunteered for another tour of duty, sworn in by General Petraeus himself:

 

Petraeus reenlistment

Eat that, Michael Moore. Oh, and Congressman Murtha? What was that about our military being broken?

Happy 4th of July, folks. Enjoy the hot dogs and fireworks.  smiley party

LINKS: More at Sister Toldjah, and Cassandra’s “love letter to America“.

UPDATE: Historian Victor Davis Hanson, as always, puts it better than I:

The Founders’ notion of the rule of law, coupled with freedom of the individual, explains why the United States runs on merit, not tribal affinities or birth. Most elsewhere, being a first cousin of a government official, or having a prestigious name, ensures special treatment from the state. Yet in America, nepotism is never assured. End that notion of American merit and replace it with racial tribalism, cronyism or aristocratic privilege, and America itself would vanish as we know it.

There is no rational reason why a small republican experiment in 1776 grew to dominate global culture and society — except that America is the only nation, past or present, that put trust in the individual rather than in the state and its elite bureaucracy. Such confidence in the average free citizen made America absolutely exceptional — something we should remember more than ever on this Fourth of July.

Those notions are being put to a test these days as progressives try ever harder to divide us on tribal lines and turn free citizens into wards of the State while the two parties nominate exemplars of “cronyism and aristocratic privilege,” but I still believe they’re true. smiley us flag

Note: This is a republication of a post I wrote in 2008, edited to repair broken links or replace text no longer available on the web.

 


Happy New Year from Public Secrets

January 1, 2016

It was a heckuva party last night, wasn’t it?

Happy New Year, folks. May 2016 bring you all you could desire. smiley dance


Merry Christmas!

December 25, 2015

From Public Secrets Global HQ, wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and many happy surprises under your tree:

UPDATE: Here’s a very interesting article by historian John Steele Gordon on the origins and history of Christmas, including the story of how it came to fall on the end of the Roman holiday of Saturnalia. Smart man, that Pope Liberius: A Brief History of Christmas. (Hint: search the author and title in Google to get past the subscriber wall.)


Happy Fourth of July!

July 4, 2015

independence day patriots

It’s Independence Day here in the US, in which we celebrate our break with the British Empire. We’re 239 years old and, despite what some sanctimonious Lefty scolds might think, I think we’ve done pretty darned good. We’re not without our problems or faults, some of them serious, but I continue to believe America is exceptional among the nations of the world and that we are indeed a force for good. If you’re looking for some good Independence Day reading, there’s always the Declaration of Independence itself. Think of it as a short ideological summation of who and why we are.

Then there’s the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights, which function as a citizen’s “owner’s manual.” And yes, to those of you in other countries raising an eyebrow about now, we do tend to place those documents on a pedestal. You have to admit, however, they’ve worked well for over two centuries. How many republics and constitutions has France had in that time?

Gosh, it’s become quiet…. Winking

By the way, at The Federalist, John Daniel Davidson asks us to consider how the Declaration’s list of King George’s offenses against the (then English) constitutional order and the rights of the American people might well also apply to President Obama.

A lot’s been written around the Web about today on the meaning of Independence day, so I’ll spare you my musings. Instead, I want to leave you with the thoughts of historian Victor Davis Hanson (1) who, writing in National Review in 2008 (2) at a time of growing national discord, wanted to remind us that things often had been much worse and that, on that 4th of July six years ago, we could use a little perspective:

On this troubled Fourth we still should remember this is not 1776 when
New York was in British hands and Americans in retreat across the
state. It is not 1814 when the British burned Washington and the entire
system of national credit collapsed — or July 4, 1863 when Americans
awoke to news that 8,000 Americans had just been killed at Gettysburg.


We are not in 1932 when unemployment was still over 20 percent of the
work force, and industrial production was less than half of what it had
been just three years earlier, or July, 1942, when tens of thousands of
American were dying in convoys and B-17s, and on islands of the Pacific
in an existential war against Germany, Japan, and Italy.

Thank
God it is not mid-summer 1950, when Seoul was overrun and arriving
American troops were overwhelmed by Communist forces as they rushed in
to save a crumbling South Korea. We are not in 1968 when the country
was torn apart by the Tet Offensive, the assassinations of Martin
Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, and the riots at the Democratic
convention in Chicago. And we are not even in the waning days of 1979,
a year in which the American embassy was seized in Tehran and hostages
taken, the Soviets were invading Afghanistan, thousands were still
being murdered in Cambodia, Communism was on the march in Central
America, and our president was blaming our near 6-percent unemployment,
8-percent inflation, 15-percent interest rates, and weakening
international profile on our own collective “malaise.”

We
live in the most prosperous and most free years of a wonderful
republic, and can easily rectify our present crises that are largely of
our own making and a result of the stupefying effects of our
unprecedented wealth and leisure. Instead of endless recriminations and
self-pity — of anger that our past was merely good rather than perfect
as we now demand — we need to give thanks this Fourth of July to our
ancestors who created our Constitution and Bill of Rights, and suffered
miseries beyond our comprehension as they bequeathed to us most of the
present wealth, leisure, and freedom we take for granted.

Still holds true, I think.

Happy 4th of July, folks. Enjoy the hot dogs and fireworks.  smiley us flag

RELATED: Also from 2008, a love-letter to America. There is a point of view that sees the American Revolution as a second English Civil War. It’s an opinion with some merit, I think, given that the Patriots saw themselves as defenders of rights granted under the Bill of Rights of 1689. Continuing that theme at National Review, Daniel Hannan, a British MEP who’s more of a Patriot than many Americans I know these days, writes about the meaning of the forgotten flag of the American Revolution. Also at NR, British emigrant to America Charles Cooke considers the civil war of 1776. Cooke’s articles should be on your must-reading list. On American exceptionalism, Jonah Goldberg looks at how progressives really resent it. Finally, Salena Zito takes us to where independence began.

Footnotes:
(1) aka, my spiritual leader
(2) Sorry, the old link is broken, and National Review can’t be bothered to provide a searchable archive. Bad show, NR, bad show. Update: Found a re-posting. Do read it all.


Happy New Year from Public Secrets

January 1, 2015

It was a heckuva party last night, wasn’t it?

Happy New Year, folks. May 2015 bring you all you could desire. smiley dance


School nativity play includes Jesus, Mary, and Joseph…. Stalin?

December 29, 2014

Stalin of Nazareth

 

Whether this was a hilarious mistake or a pre-planned prank, this got me laughing hard:

When Russian schoolboy Ilya Gavrichenko told his parents he was playing Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin in his school production, they put together the perfect costume – moustache and all.

It was only when he arrived on the night of the performance that they realised he was meant to be playing a very different role – Joseph of Nazareth.

Ilya, who is 12, was dressed in a white shirt, jacket, military trousers and army boots when he arrived at the school in St Petersburg.

With no time to change before the start of the nativity, he was left with no choice but to accompany the Virgin Mary to Bethlehem while dressed as the murderous tyrant.

Fortunately the other parents took it in good cheer and laughed at the absurdity of one of history’s worst monsters heralding the birth of the Son of God. And I suspect the kid had a grand time.

No word about if he later had the Three Kings purged as class enemies, though. smiley wink