Have something to say? Submit it for our Citizen Voices section. This Citizen Voices column comes from Paul Hamby. You can read his full bio below. For more information on our Opinion Section please click here.
I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving holiday. It is an important time to pause and reflect. I am thankful for many blessings including God, family, and a thriving business.
Having said that, I’d like to offer the rest of the Thanksgiving story with a lesson you probably did not learn in school.
The American Thanksgiving started with the pilgrims coming to America to escape religious persecution and find freedom and a better way of life. You probably know the basic story, but do you know the important lesson that was learned 395 years ago?
The Pilgrims organized themselves into a political entity – a colony where everyone worked for the good of the whole colony. Essentially they were a commune where the fruits of one’s labor was turned over to the colony.
Here is the text of their governing document, The Mayflower Compact:
In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, defender of the Faith, etc.
Having undertaken, for the Glory of God, and advancements of the Christian faith and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic; for our better ordering, and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.
In witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape Cod the 11th of November, in the year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth, 1620.
The colony had written ideas into their charter that sounded good; communal property and labor. Governor William Bradford describes in his diary, Of Plymouth Plantation, how the system did not work out as hoped.
According to Bradford, by 1623 it became clear this system was not working out well. The men were not eager to work in the fields, since if they worked hard, they would have to share their produce with everyone else. The colonists faced another year of poor harvests.
Resources were squandered, vegetables were allowed to rot on the ground, and people were starving. Some of the colonists died of disease or starvation.
It was one of the world’s most famous lessons in the shortcomings of a socialist society. And, sadly, it’s one that is rarely taught today in our history classrooms.
This failed social experiment continued for 2 1/2 years when the leaders of the colony abandoned their socialist mandate instead creating a system that allowed and protected private property. Colonists were able to learn trades and sell their skills or goods they made. Free market trade among the colonists and Native Americans began.
This was the beginning of the American free market system that made our country the strongest economy in the world.
With a new economic plan based on free market trade and private property ownership, the colony thrived and the abundance which resulted was what was celebrated at that iconic Thanksgiving feast.
Author and economics professor Thomas DiLorenzo writes in his book How Capitalism Saved America:
“On the eve of the American Revolution, capitalism had made the American colonists wealthier, taller, and in better health than their British counterparts.”
The Pilgrims learned that collectivism violates the laws of human nature. It takes away motivation, pride, initiative. It failed then and has continued to fail throughout human history.
It failed in 1620. It failed the Soviet Union. It failed Haiti. It failed Cuba.
Free market economies create wealth and raise everyone’s standard of living. Just compare the difference between Haiti and the Dominican Republic today.
Ronald Reagan used to joke “The problem with socialism is you eventually run out of other peoples money to spend.” The bigger problem with socialism/collectivism/communism is you take away initiative and motivation.
Every one sits around waiting for some one else to harvest the corn. We saw this first hand in Russia in the 1970s. Corn rotted in the fields, if the fields were even planted at all, then their cattle went hungry and then the Russian people were starving.
Paul Hamby, a father of two, lives in Maysville, Missouri where he owns and manages Hamby Dairy Supply. Hamby is a 1985 graduate of the University of Missouri – Columbia. Today, he is a board member of Missouri First, Inc., a think tank devoted to promoting constitutional governance. Hamby was a past state coordinator of Missouri Campaign for Liberty. Hamby helped lead the 2010 fight against the China Hub project in St Louis, Missouri. In that battle, grass root activists stopped a $350 million government handout that was supported by Governor Nixon, House and Senate leadership and the Chamber of Commerce. Leading a coalition of Missouri political activists in 2008-2009, he successfully fought against Real ID, NAIS, and National Animal ID. For more information on our Opinion Section please click here.