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The Free-Market Pilgrims

Lovely Thanksgiving picture from

Today is Thanksgiving. I have the usual thoughts of gratefulness for family, friends, and material and spiritual blessings.

One more thing I'm extremely grateful for is capitalism.

Capitalism is actually at the root of the Pilgrims' Thanksgiving in 1621.

During their journey across the Atlantic, fleeing religious oppression, they drafted the Mayflower Compact which gave a share of the common store to everyone. All the goods and property were part of the bank, the common store. It was an early commune.

What happened is that nobody had any incentive to work and produce when it all went into the common store for other people's wives and children. So productivity dried up.

William Bradford saw quickly that was going to kill the entire community, and he scrapped the whole plan.

Instead, he assigned each family a plot of land to do with as they willed. They could farm it, build on it, produce what they liked, use the resources, and keep all they needed for themselves. They were free to sell the rest and make a profit on their work.

Socialism, which is what they had practiced at first, was an utter failure, and the colony was quickly failing under that system.

William Bradford opened the free market for the Pilgrims, and they prospered and thrived on that model. They were able to pay off the sponsors who had underwritten their trip to the New World.

While we think of Squanto and the Indians for that first Thanksgiving, and their help in showing the Pilgrims how to grow food in the New World, the real reason they could hold a feast was because they were a free-market colony and had produced far more than they needed to survive.

America's story since 1621 has been one of opportunity. A free land where anybody, regardless of social status, or race (as our country progressed), was able to prosper just for putting in the hard work. They were free to be lazy and not prosperous, too. They were free to manage their own affairs.

Without capitalism, we wouldn't have even a shadow of the America we know and love.

I love my country; and I'm thankful for this great land of opportunity.

Note: For more on this subject, read Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims by Rush Limbaugh. Geared for children, but very informative for anyone.


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