Tag: Pilgrims

Timeless Lessons

World temperatures will ebb and flow, but one constant remains, human nature is what it is. He was wrong when then candidate Obama told Joe the plumber that it is good for everyone when you spread the wealth around, as wrong as that failed experiment with socialism when the Pilgrims first landed on Plymouth Rock, a noble endeavor, but clearly unworkable when you factor in the human condition. What’s mine is only mine if it stays mine, and it’s value is couched in my ownership, and my ability to produce that which is mine, an obvious V-8 moment. Spreading the wealth only insures that said wealth will be diminished.

The 104 people who arrived at Plymouth Rock on December 21, 1620, were organized under a charter which imposed a seven-year period of joint ownership. Thus, from the day they arrived in the new world, all clothing, houses, lands, crops, and cash were jointly owned. No matter how hard a man might work, he had little hope of personal gain for his effort.
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It led to a social order at odds with the dictates of human nature and what 19th century historian James Eggleston called a “sinking of personal interest …, in dissensions and insubordination, in unthrift and famine.”
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Governor Bradford wrote that common ownership “was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much employment which would have been to the general benefit and comfort.”
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While fishing helped make up the shortfall from the field, the “pinch of hunger” forced the Pilgrims to abandon their corporate charter in March of 1623. After “much debate,” Governor Bradford

allowed each man to plant corn for his own particular [for his own household] and to trust themselves for that … so every family was assigned a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number … this was very successful. It made all hands very industrious, so that much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the governor or any other could devise.

Suddenly, these heretofore mediocre farmers made their own capitalist “great leap forward.” Authors D. James Kennedy and Charles Hull Wolfe report that while the Pilgrims planted 26 acres of corn, barley, and peas in 1621, and nearly 60 acres the next year, they planted 184 acres in 1623.

Bradford reported that “instead of famine, now God gave them plenty, and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many, for which they blessed God.” Under the new system of private enterprise, “any general want or famine hath not been amongst them since to this day.”

You would think this would be one of those “duh” moments, but considering that they were all honorable men, held together with common values and goals, that each would understand how important his efforts would be to the collective. Yet, even starring at the specter of survival, a leopard can’t change his spots, nor can people. So each man did only what was necessary to get by, to match that which his neighbor did in effort and industry, giving new meaning to that Soviet euphemism ,”We pretend to work and they pretend to pay us”.

It did not work 400 years ago and it will not work now, especially here in America where our very heritage and history is rife with those throwing the dice. From those settlers in the early days along the Canadian frontier that constantly fought the French and the Indians, those placing their very lives in jeopardy to separate from the mother country, to those that risked it all to go West and settle in lands unknown, those that risk much and make it should keep the fruits of that work, to keep their reward.

As much as Obama would like us to emulate Europe, we will never be Europeans, or live like them.