I recently read an interesting little story in the L.A. Times, Giving Thanks, about the real lessons learned from the first Thanksgiving. It is a story you probably missed in school. It is a lesson in capitalism, in self-sufficiency, and in personal freedom.
Here is a short excerpt from the article:
For the Pilgrims, life was a constant battle for survival. Later, Governor William Bradford made a decision. Instead of the colonists sharing their crops equally, he assigned a parcel of land to each family and told them they could keep whatever they produced for themselves.”
“Then what happened?” asked Sam.
“At last the Pilgrims began to prosper. Governor William Bradford wrote in his book ‘Of Plimoth Plantation,’ ‘This had very good success, for it made all hands industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been.’”
When crops were shared amongst all the colonists, some figured out that they could work a little less and still enjoy the same fruits. Those who worked hard began to resent those that worked less, and soon began to produce less themselves. However, when each family was responsible for feeding themselves, but were allowed to keep all that they produced, they began to prosper.
The “industrious” hands Bradford referred to are the same hands that built this country into what it is today. However, somewhere along the way we forgot the lessons from this Thanksgiving story.
We have slowly crept back towards a time of dependence on others to take care of us, rather than reliance on our own industriousness. To further stifle the entrepreneurial spirit, our government plans to levy higher taxes on those who are most industrious. And what good will that do?
Those who are most industrious provide jobs, and products, and services for others. To punish them is to ultimately punish ourselves. No, instead we should celebrate their success, and make it as easy as possible for more people to emulate them.
So on this day of Thanksgiving Day, I am thankful for our founders, who had the guts to set out on a journey for freedom, and ultimately fight for that freedom. I’m also thankful for the men and women who continue to fight to protect our freedoms today.
Our way of life will likely be tested in the coming months and years, thanks to the economic tailspin we’ve witnessed recently. But penalizing those who are most industrious is not the way to prosperity. Relying on someone else to provide for us is not the path to self-sufficiency. Remember these lessons on Thanksgiving Day, and beyond.