The Thanksgiving story is pretty amazing. People left Europe to escape religious persecution. I am not sure a lot of us would take the same risk today. Sure, we have immigrants come here today. They escape desperate situations in some cases, and take risks to come. But, the Pilgrims came on a sailboat….in September…and landed in November. Did you see the onslaught of snow they received in the upper Northeast this week? That’d be fun to try with no heat, no power, and no shelter.
They landed at the wrong spot. They befriended the Indians and started their colony. Accounts say they tried to divide the labor using “fairness”. Then, they switched to capitalism. Capitalism sustained them. From the Mises Institute blog:
This had required that “all profits & benefits that are got by trade, traffic, trucking, working, fishing, or any other means” were to be placed in the common stock of the colony, and that, “all such persons as are of this colony, are to have their meat, drink, apparel, and all provisions out of the common stock.” A person was to put into the common stock all he could, and take only what he needed.
This “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” was an early form of socialism, and it is why the Pilgrims were starving. Bradford writes that “young men that were most able and fit for labor and service” complained about being forced to “spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children.” Also, “the strong, or man of parts, had no more in division of victuals and clothes, than he that was weak.” So the young and strong refused to work and the total amount of food produced was never adequate.
To rectify this situation, in 1623 Bradford abolished socialism. He gave each household a parcel of land and told them they could keep what they produced, or trade it away as they saw fit. In other words, he replaced socialism with a free market, and that was the end of the famines.
Coase worked then, and it works today.
When I was trading, a guy in our pit had graduated from Cal-Berkeley. Post college, he went to a commune. After a few months, he became totally chagrined. He realized that form of economic organization would never work. He became one of the strongest libertarians I knew.
Hope you are celebrating Thanksgiving with someone you love, or at least someone that you appreciate and returns the favor. My family and I are in Detroit. My sister is allergic to turkey, so we are having beef. We will still have my grandfather’s dressing recipe.
Happy Thanksgiving. Peace be with you.