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Guest Post: Pilgrims Tried Communism, Found It Didn’t Work

November 21st, 2007 by Halli

From Bryan Fischer, Idaho Values Alliance

Our Pilgrim forebears, of whom we think at Thanksgiving, actually tried socialism and discovered rapidly that it didn’t work as a method of governing a prosperous, happy, and productive society.

In 1620, the farm economy in the Plymouth Colony was originally organized along communal lines. It sounded so noble and so “Christian” – everything was to be shared equally, both work and produce.

As a result, the Colony nearly starved to death.

The colony’s elders resorted – gasp! – to private property and free enterprise as an alternative. As William Bradford said, they “assigned to every family a parcel of land” which was their own to work as they saw fit. They were free to enjoy the fruit of their own labors without having that fruit confiscated by others less diligent than they.

The Colony experienced dramatic and virtually instantaneous results. As Bradford observed, “This had very good success, 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.”

And voila, the first Thanksgiving in 1623.

As John Stossel points out, this is the “lost lesson” of the first Thanksgiving. If individuals can take from a common pot regardless of how much they put in – as they can do today under government welfare programs – it incentivizes dependency, laziness, greed (whatever I don’t take will be taken by somebody else), fraud and the avoidance of personal responsibility. And the whole community suffers.

But when personal responsibility is joined with Christian compassion, those who work hard are inclined willingly to share freely with the less-fortunate until the poor are able to stand on their own. The transfer of wealth from those who have more to those who have less then becomes voluntary rather coercive.

The voluntary transfer of wealth enriches everyone, both those who give and those who receive, while the involuntary transfer of wealth through burdensome taxation creates both resentment and dependency, and weakens the character of those who receive.


Townhall.com::The Tragedy of the Commons::By John Stossel

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