Thanksgiving Story: The Pilgrims, Socialism, and Free Markets

pilgrims-300x215The story of the Mayflower, the Pilgrims, and Thanksgiving is widely taught in all our schools. What is seldom taught, however, is what those Pilgrims learned, at great pain, about Socialism versus Free Markets.

The Pilgrim experience stands as the most authentic-ever, real-life comparison of socialism versus free-markets for human interaction, commerce, and governance.

As a reminder, the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock in November, 1620. They promptly lost half their population to starvation, sickness, and exposure that first winter, and they fared little better the second winter. We were all taught that a Native American named Squanto taught the survivors to fish, plant corn, use fertilizer, and hunt deer.

What most of us never learned (or glossed over) was that the original contract the Pilgrims brokered with their London sponsors required that everything the Pilgrims produced was to go into a common store, and every member was to be allotted one equal share.  Further, all the land they cleared and all the buildings they constructed were to belong to the whole community rather than to any individual.

To those with visions of utopian egalitarianism (which today’s Left piously calls Social Justice), this must have sounded like the ideal society.  Free of outside evil influences from Europe, personal property and greed were to be banished.  Everyone was to work hard for thecommon good, and altruism was to be its own reward.

How did it work out?

williambradford.statue3Horribly!

In the two winters beginning in 1621 & 1622, many died from starvation, pneumonia, or both.  Here are excerpts from Governor William Bradford’s own retrospective summary of the community’s experience with what we now variously call collectivism, socialism, or communism:

This community (so far as it was) was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort.

For the young men, that were most able and fit for labour and service, did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without any recompense. 

And for men’s wives to be commanded to do service for other men, as dressing their meat, washing their clothes, etc., they deemed it a kind of slavery, neither could many husbands well brook it.

Let none object this is men’s corruption, and nothing to the course itself. I answer, seeing all men have this corruption in them, God in His wisdom saw another course fitter for them.

In other words, said the Governor, it simply didn’t work. Mankind’s nature simply wouldn’t accommodate it, no matter how “ideal” it may have seemed.

Bradford had discovered that even these most idealistic of peoples had no reason to put in any extra effort without the motivation of personal incentives to do so.

Wisely, in April, 1623, Bradford abruptly abandoned collectivism. Instead, he assigned a plot of land to each family, permitting them to keep everything they grew or made and to market anything they didn’t consume themselves.  He actually harnessed all that awful human ”greed” and put it to work in a free-market system.

So how did free markets and private property work out for the same people in the same place under the same circumstances?

corn-187781_640Boffo!

The Pilgrims soon had more food than they could eat or trade among themselves.  So they set up trading posts and exchanged goods with the Native Americans.  They paid off their debts to their London sponsors and soon attracted a great European migration. They still had plenty of problems, but hunger was never again one of them.

As Bradford summarized the new approach:

The women now went willing into the field, and took their little ones with them to plant corn, while before they would allege weakness and inability, and to have compelled them would have been thought great tyranny and oppression.

This [new approach] had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content.

Most importantly for us today, Bradford wrote about the bitter lessons learned from the failure of original plan:

Let none argue that this is due to human failing rather than to this communistic plan of life in itself ...

In modern times, when confronted with the undeniable historical record of socialism’s failures, the Left usually argues that the “right people” weren’t in charge, and if only they had been, their utopian socialist vision would have succeeded. If Bradford could speak, he would surely disagree based on the Pilgrims’ real-life experience.

So …

Why isn’t this lesson featured up front, in neon lights, in American history classes? Why isn’t it the lead story of the Pilgrim experience?  Why has the history even been falsified and its most important lesson ignored?

Perhaps it’s because the people who write our history textbooks still don’t want to believe it. Perhaps those authors still cling to the hope that some form of their beloved utopian socialism, collectivism, Marxism, communism, … will one day triumph over Private Property and Free Markets.

Unfortunately for those authors, the historical record couldn’t be clearer. For Americans, the Pilgrims’ experience should rightfully be our Exhibit One. In our own time, Milton Friedman said much the same in this now-classic video clip.

milton-friedmanWhen it comes to bettering the life of the common man, Free Markets and Private Property work — the alternatives don’t.

Granted, socialism, fascism, communism and other grand central-planning systems may work for a little while, after a fashion, most especially for those in power. But eventually they always fail, hurting most the people those systems were supposed to help — to the point of killing them. Yet even to this day, people keep falling for the false promises of those failed systems of human interaction and governance.

Finally —

For more than 3000 years at Passover, Jews around the world have been re-telling the story of their deliverance from slavery. And for over 2000 years at Easter, Christians have been re-telling the story of their redemption.  Now that it’s been nearly 400 years since the Pilgrims landed in America, perhaps we could begin re-telling the real story of Thanksgiving every year, headlining those life-and-death lessons the Pilgrims learned about the differences between Socialism and Free Markets.

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The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings;
the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.
Winston Churchill

[Note: This is an updated version of articles written in January, 2011, and the Novembers of 2012, 2013, and 2014. This article was originally published at http://www.westernfreepress.com/2015/11/22/thanksgiving-story-the-pilgrims-socialism-and-free-markets-2/]

Thanksgiving Story: The Pilgrims, Collectivism, and Free Markets

pilgrims-300x215The story of the Mayflower, the Pilgrims, and Thanksgiving is widely taught in all our schools. What is seldom taught, however, is what those Pilgrims learned, at great pain, about Collectivism versus Free Markets.

This story stands as perhaps the clearest and starkest-ever before-and-after comparison between those two rival systems for human interaction and governance.

Read the full article at this link.

Hear John Huppenthal and Diane Douglas Debate Arizona Education

Huppenthal-Douglas

On August 5, John Huppenthal (incumbent) debated challenger Diane Douglas for the position of Superintendent of Public Instruction, Arizona Department of Education.

It was a lively debate, with both candidates touting their record of support for local control of education and their opposition to federal control and meddling. Each challenged his/her opponent’s actual commitment to these principles.

Common Core, College & Career Readiness Standards (CCRS), Race to the Top, Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) Testing, school choicecost controls, ethnic studies, and student data gathering were among the topics debated.

Full video at this link.

Hear 5-Minute Stump Speeches from 29 Arizona GOP Candidates!

uvs140316-001Here’s a chance to see and hear from no less than 29 Arizona elected-office candidates, all in one place. It’s like speed-dating for politicians(!).

On March 15, 2014, the Sun City West Republican club sponsored a well-run Candidates Forum in which each candidate packed all he/she could in a 5-minute appeal to Arizona voters.

The full article and videos are at this link.  You can hear them all or use time sliders to pick the candidates of your choice. Included, in order of appearance, are:

Michael Jeanes, candidate, Arizona Clerk of Courts
Sandra Dowling, candidate, Maricopa County Board of Supervisors
Clint Hickman, candidate, Maricopa County Board of Supervisors
Elbert Bicknell, candidate, Maricopy Country Health Care District #4
Jean McGrath, candidate, Marcopa County Community College District #4
John Heep, candidate, Marcopa County Community College District #4
Bonnie Katz, candidate, Arizona Corporation Commission
Lucy Mason, candidate, Arizona Corporation Commission
Diane Douglas, candidate, AZ Superintendent of Public Instruction
Jeff Dewit, candidate, Arizona State Treasurer
Randy Pullen, candidate, Arizona State Treasurer
David Livingston, candidate, AZ Representative LD22
Phil Lovas, candidate, AZ Representative LD22

Judy Burges, candidate, AZ Senate LD22
Clair Van Steenwyk,
candidate, US House of Representatives
Trent Franks,
candidate, US House of Representatives
Tom Forese,
candidate, Arizona Corporation Commission
Mark Brnovich,
candidate, AZ Attorney General
Tom Horne,
candidate, AZ Attorney General
Michele Reagan,
candidate, AZ Secretary of State
Justin Pierce,
candidate, AZ Secretary of State
Christine Jones,
candidate, AZ Governor
Al Melivn,
candidate, AZ Governor
Alice Lukasik,
candidate, AZ Governor
John Molina,
candiate, AZ Governor
Frank Riggs,
candidate, AZ Governor
Scott Smith,
candidate, AZ Governor

For the full article, click here.

Mark Levin, Kelli Ward, Article V, and the Mt. Vernon Conference

LevinWardOn Mark Levin’s January 13 radio show, Levin spoke briefly to Dr. Kelli Ward, Arizona State Senator from LD5. Along with Arizona State Rep. Kelly Townsend (LD16), Ward was part of the Dec 7, 2013 Mt. Vernon Conference where the stage was set for a Convention of States (COS) to propose amendments to the US Constitution.

Convention of States and the Compact for America (CFA) project seek to use Article V of the US Constitution, as intended by the Framers, to rein in our runaway federal government. While they are separately run projects, COS and CFA are complementary and implicitly allied, as discussed here.

It is still a surprise to most Americans to learn that our own state legislatures can amend the Constitution without the permission or approval of Congress, the President, or the Supreme Court. Details may be found in the links at the bottom of this article.

COS, CFA, and other Article V initiatives got a big boost with the August 13 publication of Mark Levin’s book, The Liberty AmendmentsIt is one of the few books I read cover-to-cover last year, and I recommend it highly.

Godspeed to Arizona’s two “Kellies”, Ward and Townsend, and all other state legislators across our country who are awakening to the power of Article V to restore our republic.

See/hear Levin and Ward, and read the rest of the article at this link.

AZ Electric Utility Rates: Regulated Monopoly or Free-Market Competition?

gavel1-300x223In May, 2013, the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) opened a docket to gather information on how Arizona might allow competition among electric companies. On September 11, they shut down the docket with a 4-1 vote, citing “legal issues” that were apparently just too much trouble to tackle. Maybe the ACC will tell us more about that later(?).

So until & unless a new docket on the subject is opened, it’s over.  Of course, Arizona residents do still have a choice: either sign up with the one company legally allowed to provide electric service in your area or go without electricity altogether.

APS and SRP are regulated monopolies. The ACC sets the rate of return that they are allowed to earn on their capital investment in generating stations, transmission lines, and so on*. Their day-to-day operating expenses, depreciation expenses, taxes, etc. are fully covered, dollar-for-dollar, by their customers (you and me). That’s the law.

power-transmissionIs that so bad? Yes, it can be. This is the classic problem of regulated monopolies. While their rate of return is firmly capped by ACC, what are the incentives these monopolies have to hold down their capital expenditures on which they earn that guaranteed return? And what are their incentives to minimize expenses such as payroll? Technically, there aren’t any, other than their own good will and the ACC looking over their shoulder.

So can’t the ACC guarantee that the monopolies are run efficiently?  Oh, would that it were!  No, ACC politicians can’t hope to micromanage a monopoly for efficiency.  On the other hand, if there were competition, the utility would have to run itself efficiently or lose customers to a more efficient competitor that could charge lower prices.

Even when the monopolies are run by people of good will and good intentions**, they can easily slip into inefficient behaviors when there is no overriding free-market, profit-motivated, competitive incentive to stay efficient and keep prices down.

Bell_System_1939I’ve been through deregulation before. From 1969 to 1984, I worked at Bell Laboratories, the research arm of the biggest regulated monopoly ever — the old Bell System (“Ma Bell”).  We even had our own tightly coupled manufacturing arm called Western Electric.  The old Bell System was heavily regulated at the federal, state, and (in some states like Texas) local level.

In the old Bell System our advertising proudly claimed that we provided the world’s best telephone service at the world’s lowest prices. And we really did. But the DOJ Antitrust Division broke up AT&T anyway in 1984, opening the long-distance and equipment manufacturing businesses to competition. It was traumatic for us.  It was complicated.  But the job got done, and today’s telecom industry is much more competitive, innovative, entrepreneurial, and a lot cheaper than it would be if we still had one grand national monopoly.

powerlinesWouldn’t it be nice if the same thing happened with electric power in Arizona?  It could — but not until the ACC opens another docket and attacks those “legal issues” anew.

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*Correction: As shown on the ACC website, ACC regulates rates for APS, but on SRP, ACC is only involved when SRP wants to build large power plants (100 Megawatts) or very high voltage transmission lines (115 kVolts.)  ACC also regulates Tucson Electric Power (TEP).

** Regarding good intentions:  A look at the SRP and APS websites will show that these utilities are indeed responsible corporate citizens, offering ratepayers tips, a choice of rate plans, rebates, and other assistance to help customers lower their electric bills. Both utilities and their employees are involved in conservation, and I know first-hand of their contributions to public education in Arizona. But business is business, and there’s nothing like the pressure of competition and the incentive of higher profits to drive a company to run the most efficient operation and offer the lowest prices possible.

Mark Levin, Constitution Article V, and the “Liberty Amendments”

Mark LevinOn his July 10 radio show, Mark Levin previewed contents of his new book called The Liberty Amendments.  Levin points to Article V of the Constitution, which prescribes the methods by which the Constitution may be amended to reverse the federal power grab and runaway spending.

In the past, most conservatives have pushed off any notion of a Constitutional Convention or “Con-Con” because its agenda might be uncontrollable.  For example the 2nd amendment could even be repealed.  For years, Levin himself consistently said “no way” to a Con-Con.

But after his careful study of Article V and especially the record of the Founding Fathers’ debate on it (George Mason, James Madison et al), he argues we’ve all been missing something critical.

Namely –

Article V was specifically designed to cover the situation we face today — an over-reaching federal government.  The Founders knew that such a government, once entrenched, would never vote for amendments that would reduce its own hold on power.  So they deliberately included a separate amendment process in Article V that keeps Congress, the president, and the Supreme Court out of the loop.

The time for that Article V process has clearly come, says Levin.  It’s been there all along, clearly explained in the historical record, yet we’ve somehow disregarded it.

How would it work?  Consider the following simple, hypothetical amendment to the Constitution:

The debt of the United States shall not be increased except by three-fourths majority vote of both the House and Senate, nor may federal expenditures exceed 20 percent of gross domestic product except by three-fourths consent of the several state legislatures.

The merits of this particular amendment and wording aside, if 38 state legislatures were to ratify this amendment, it would be fully effective immediately as a formal amendment to the Constitution.  No permission from Congress, the president, or the Supreme Court need be sought, none is required, and there is no appeal.  The state legislatures are the ultimate authority — by designThis may come as a shock those who’ve always presumed Washington rules us all.

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Read the rest of the article and hear an audio excerpt from Mark Levin’s July 10 show — Click Here.

Thanksgiving Story: The Pilgrims, Socialism, and Free Enterprise

The story of the Mayflower, the Pilgrims, and Thanksgiving is widely taught in all our schools.  What is seldom taught, however, is what those Pilgrims learned, at great pain, about Free Enterprise versus Socialism. That story stands as perhaps the clearest and starkest-ever comparison between those two rival systems for human interaction.

We all know how the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock in November, 1620, and how they lost half their population to starvation, sickness, and exposure that first winter. We all know how a Native American named Squanto taught the survivors to fish, plant corn, use fertilizer, and hunt deer. And we know that following their first harvest, Governor William Bradford (above) declared a day of Thanksgiving that we celebrate to this day.

What most of us never learned was that the original contract the Pilgrims brokered with their London sponsors required that everything the Pilgrims produced was to go into a common store, and every member was to be allotted one equal share.  Further, all the land they cleared and all the buildings they constructed were to belong the whole community.

It must have sounded like the ideal society.  Free of outside evil influences, greed and personal property were to be banished.  Everyone was to work for the common good, and altruism was to be its own reward.

How did it work out?  Horribly.  In the three winters of 1621-1623, many died from starvation, pneumonia, or both.  Here is Governor Bradford’s own summary of the community’s results with what we now call Socialism:

The experience that was had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years and that amongst godly and sober men, may well evince the vanity of that conceit of Plato’s and other ancients applauded by some of later times; that the taking away of property and bringing in community into a commonwealth would make them happy and flourishing; as if they were wiser than God. For this community (so far as it was) was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For the young men, that were most able and fit for labour and service, did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without any recompense.

In other words, said the Governor, it simply didn’t work.

Wisely, in April, 1623, Bradford abruptly abandoned the idealistic practice of collectivism. Instead, he assigned a plot of land to each family, permitting them to keep everything they grew or made and to market anything they didn’t consume themselves.  He actually harnessed all that awful ”greed” and put it to work in a Free Enterprise system.  Bradford had discovered that even these most idealistic of peoples had no reason to put in any extra effort without the motivation of personal incentives to do so.

So how did Free Enterprise work out for the same people in the same place under the same circumstances?  Boffo!

The Pilgrims soon had more food than they could eat or trade amongst themselves.  So they set up trading posts and exchanged goods with the Native Americans.  They paid off their debts to their London sponsors and soon attracted a great European migration.

As Bradford summarized the new approach:

This had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content.

This was an essential and timeless lesson, learned the hard way.   So why isn’t this lesson featured up front, in neon lights, in American history classes?  Why isn’t it the lead story of the Pilgrim experience?   Perhaps it’s because the people who write our history textbooks still don’t want to believe it.  Perhaps those authors still cling to the hope that some form of Socialism will one day triumph over Free Enterprise.   Unfortunately for those authors, the historical record couldn’t be clearer, and the Pilgrims’ experience is Exhibit One:  when it comes to bettering the life of the common man, Free Enterprise works — and Socialism fails.

For more than 3000 years at Passover, Jews around the world have been re-telling the story of their deliverance from slavery, and for over 2000 years at Easter, Christians have been re-telling the story of their redemption.  Now that it’s been nearly 400 years since the Pilgrims landed in America, perhaps we could begin re-telling the real story of Thanksgiving every year, headlining those life-and-death lessons the Pilgrims learned about the differences between Socialism and Free Enterprise.

[Originally posted at WesternFreePress.com, January 26, 2011]

Rep. Artur Davis Endorses Vernon Parker for Arizona CD9

Artur Davis is a former Democrat Congressman from Alabama. He caused quite a stir when he changed his registration to the Republican Party, and he delivered an outstanding speech at the Republican National Convention.  Davis is an eloquent spokesman for conservative priniciples that used to be held by all Americans, but which Democrats have largely abandoned.  You can hear more about his inspiring story at this link.

In the video below, recorded October 23rd, Rep. Davis endorses Vernon Parker, former mayor of Paradise Valley, for Arizona Congressional District 9 Representative.  Parker is another rising star within the Republican Party who is running against a self-described “Prada Socialist” with many questionable ties.  CD9 voters could hardly have a clearer choice.

More than just an endorsement, Davis’ remarks also deliver some important messages about the need to change the view that minorities have about the Republican Party.

It’s the Morning After the First Debate, and I’m Giddy

Wow!  I’m giddy.  I was surprised and thrilled by Gov. Romney’s performance in last night’s debate (Oct. 3).  I watched the debate with 7 other Conservatives, time-delayed by a Tivo box so that we could halt the action and toss in our own comments.

Several of us were apprehensive at the outset, but by the end of the debate we had worked ourselves into a frenzy of excitement, shouting “Yes! Yes! Yes!” as he pounded home those key points that free-market, limited-government, fiscal-responsibility Conservatives have been trumpeting for years.

Now I have to confess.  I had no idea that Gov. Romney had this in him.  Sure, he’d had some brief flashes on the campaign trail, and his style turned for the better after naming Paul Ryan as his VP.  But like many Conservatives, I feared the Governor was just the next-in-line Establishment Republican candidate — doomed to be another gracious loser.

I’m still absorbing what I saw & heard, and I’ll have to go through the whole debate again, but I do remember Romney’s first home run of the evening (for me) when he pointed out the immorality of the debt we are piling on the backs of our children.  As I’ve written in the past (herehere, and here for example), we are effectively selling them into a modern-day version of debt bondage.  At last we have a candidate who leads with that point against all those “compassionate” Democrats, the people who supposedly “care”.

As for Obama’s own performance, a repeated interjection among my friends was “He’s flailing, he’s flailing!”.  Time and again he reached back for his standard campaign talking points, sometimes well off-topic, and he was visibly shell-shocked when Romney put them down emphatically, with compelling refutation points, nicely bulleted and driven home like nails in a coffin (puns intended).

If you can watch the debate again, keep an eye on Obama’s upper jaw near his left ear as he stares down at his podium.  One of our friends spotted it first.  You’ll see a light spot come and go as he visibly clenches and unclenches his teeth. This man is used to adulation and acquiescence, not reasoned confrontation.  Bound up in his Leftist ideology and surrounded 24/7 by sycophants and a fawning, collaborative media, he was totally unprepared to defend his indefensible record. He spent much of the evening staring down at that podium as if being scolded by his school master.

Obama will be better prepared at the next debate, and Romney will have to guard against over-confidence.  But I’m no longer worried.  Obama’s hand is incredibly weak — almost everywhere, he’s holding a pair of deuces against Romney’s full house.  And Romney’s better at the game — much better.

Of course, the election ain’t over ’til it’s over, and the Obama machine, the Great American Left, and the Democrat Media Complex won’t go gently into the night.  But we have ourselves a candidate in Mitt Romney, and I have a new-found confidence that he and his staff might just run this campaign right across the finish line going away, and leading by several lengths.

Then, the long hard path to recovery begins.

[This article cross-posted from WesternFreePress.com]