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)

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The forgotten lesson of Thanksgiving

November 24, 2011

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)


Democrats should learn from King Cnut

October 11, 2010

According to legend, the 11th century King of England once rebuked his fawning courtiers by ordering the tide to stop in its course and not wet his robe and feet. Of course the sea didn’t stop, and the royal tootsies were soaked. By this, the King reminded his nobles there was a power greater than his, against which all the royal authority at his command was impotent.

Democrats and progressives (and lawmakers in general) could stand to learn the same lesson. ObamaCare promises to provide care to more people for less money, all while dictating prices and levels of coverage. Just as with King Cnut when he tried to repeal the laws of physics, the Democrats have tried to command the laws of economics, only to find that reality is far stronger. John Stossel explains:

When Obamacare was debated, we free-market advocates insisted that no matter what the president promised, the laws of economics cannot be repealed. Our opponents in effect answered, “Yes, we can.”

Well, Obamacare has barely started taking effect, and the evidence is already rolling in. I hate to say we told them so, but … we told them so. The laws of economics have struck back.

Health insurers Wellpoint, Cigna, Aetna, Humana, and CoventryOne will stop writing policies for all children. Why? Because Obamacare requires that they insure already sick children for the same price as well children.

That sounds compassionate, but—in case Obamacare fanatics haven’t noticed—sick children need more medical care. Insurance is about risk, and already sick children are 100 percent certain to be sick when their coverage begins. So if the government mandates that insurance companies cover sick children at the lower well-children price, insurers will quit the market rather than sandbag their shareholders. This is not callousness—it’s fiduciary responsibility. Insurance companies are not charities. So, thanks to the compassionate Congress and president, parents of sick children will be saved from expensive insurance—by being unable to obtain any insurance! That’s how government compassion works.

In 2014, the same rule will kick in for adults. You now know what to expect.

In the King’s case, only his feet got wet. Under ObamaCare, thanks to the Democrats’ hubris, the whole nation is set to take a bath, unless we first de-fund and then repeal it at the earliest opportunities. Fingers crossed that the 2010 and 2012 elections will give them to us.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


If ignorance of economics is bliss

January 14, 2010

Then President Obama must be one of the happiest men on Earth. FOX’s John Stossel reports on the administration’s latest hare-brained scheme, a plan to tax large banks based on their lending activity:

Today President Obama will propose a new tax on the nation’s biggest banks, reports today’s Washington Post. How will the tax work?

Firms would pay a “Financial Crisis Responsibility Fee” at an annual rate of $1,500 for every $1 million borrowed to finance lending and other activities.

In other words, the Obama Administration is going to punish those greedy banks by making it more expensive for you to borrow money. This is wrong on so many levels, it’s hard to know where to begin. Let’s start with a point made by Jamie Dimon, CEO at JP Morgan Chase:

“Using tax policy to punish people is a bad idea…All businesses tend to pass their costs on to customers.”

Exactly. But don’t worry, the Administration thought of that. They have a plan:

But by imposing the tax on only the largest firms, government officials said, they hope to protect consumers. Firms that raised prices would give smaller rivals a competitive advantage, creating an incentive for companies instead to swallow the cost, potentially by reducing employee pay.

Oh, now I see. They will only punish customers of big banks. If I run a small bank, this will now give me an incentive to stay small.  I wonder how that will encourage lending.

Beyond that nonsense is the idea that they’re “constraining the industry’s ability to take large risks and reap outsize rewards”. The only reason that banks reaped “outsize rewards” for taking bad risks is because the government encouraged them to do that by guaranteeing mortgage loans. Risk taking got wild when government protected risk takers from feeling the consequences of a bad risk.

Stossel’s right on the money about the Bizarro-World nature of this policy. But the Democrats are so addicted to government regulation and intervention in the marketplace that they cannot admit that their attempts at social engineering are what caused the problem in the first place. In other words, more cowbell!

It’s another example of how progressives treat taxes as a static factor that doesn’t affect anything around it, rather than as a dynamic factor with effects that ripple through an economy. As Dimon points out in the quote above, banks will inevitably pass this new cost along to consumers, which will in turn function as a brake on business recovery and expansion. If I want a loan to start or expand a small business, I factor in the cost of the loan in my decision-making. When (not if) the banks pass the cost of these new taxes along to me, I’ll have to recalculate my expected profit versus expenses  and determine if my plans are still worthwhile. Maybe they will be, though I’ll have to live with less profit than before. Or (and I think more likely), I’ll scale back my plans: I’ll start a smaller business or not expand as much, hiring fewer people and generating less revenue – or maybe I’ll drop my plans altogether. In the end, the result is less revenue for the government and fewer real jobs created.

Why would they want to do that?  I dont know

Read the rest of Stossel’s article to learn about some of the other gems contained in this plan, such as imposing this tax on the banks to make up for losses on money loaned to GM and Chrysler. In other words, making profitable businesses pay to recoup money flushed down the toilet of businesses everyone outside of Washington knew were losers, just so Obama could bailout his supporters at the UAW. I’m sure this will have bankers all over America anxious to start writing loans again. As Joe Biden would say, it’s their patriotic duty!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: to be a liberal Democrat requires one to purge the mind of even the smallest understanding of basic economics.

Argh. At wits end

LINKS: More from Fausta, who calls it a populist assault on the finance industry. She’s right, but bear in mind that the real purpose is to distract increasingly frustrated citizens from the Obama administration’s failures.