Thanksgiving and Socialism

A year ago I wrote here about The Forgotten Thanksgiving Lesson.

In these troubling economic times, you may want more than words to remind you that spreading the wealth didn’t work in Plymouth Colony and it won’t work now.

Watch the following 3 ½ minute video for both education and inspiration. Show it to your family and friends on the holiday. Email it to your lists. Let people know that it’s liberty, not central planning, that produces bounty.


Steve Buckstein is founder and senior policy analyst at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market research center. Thanks to Michael Quinn Sullivan, President of Empower Texans, for making this excellent video.

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Posted by at 05:50 | Posted in Measure 37 | 15 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • John Fairplay

    It’s always amazed me that people who are absolutely convinced of the rightness of Darwinism refuse to have it applied to human beings. Survival of the fittest – and let the Devil take the hindmost!

  • Rupert in Springfield

    Great video. Thanks for posting it. Socialism does always fail. Sometimes miserably with the resulting death camps, sometimes partially, as in Europe where it is propped up by non socialist countries. The European countries ceded their defense responsibilities to the United States after WW2 and thus have been able to spend essentially their entire budget on socialist playtime. Those countries have had an astonishing freedom from responsibility in that regard, and this is why socialism appears to have worked to some extent there. However even the most die hard of advocates for this sort of thing have been forced to notice that these countries are cutting back. Like Plymouth, sooner or later all do realize socialism looks good on paper, but at the end of the day someone has to make that paper. Had not the US propped up Europe by assuming its defense costs for over half a century, that realization would have come all the sooner. The Berlin wall would have fallen not at the Brandenburg gates, but at the Arch d’ Triumph.

  • sybella

    Let’s face it. The people running our country don’t have the intelligence God gave a goose. And to prove it they’ll stand up and call us names.

  • NotYourDaddy

    Socialism can never succeed because it defies the laws of nature. Socialists believe human nature is bad and must be overcome. They believe the way to overcome it is by using the police power of the state. But the laws of the state have no sway over the law of nature. Nature (human or otherwise) is governed by the law of natural selection. That’s what ensures that a species (or a society, or any organization) continuously improves its fitness and adapts successfully to a changing environment.

    When social engineers try to turn the laws of nature upside down to ensure the survival of the least fit at the expense of the most fit, it can only weaken the social structure and, if not reversed, must ultimately lead to extinction.

    That lesson has been learned over and over, but the proponents of socialism keep rewriting history to conceal the irrevocable truth and twist it into something they find more palatable. So history repeats itself, and the same mistakes are made again and again.

    I’m thankful to live in a country where we have individual rights, freedoms, and responsibilities, and (what’s left of) the free market that made this a great nation. Maybe someday the majority of the citizens will once again recognize that for which we truly have to be thankful, and stop trying to turn it inside out.

  • dean

    Steve…I think you and Mr Sullivan may be better free market economists than historians. The Pilgrims had a rough go because:

    a) they had to crowd themselves into only 1 ship because the other leaked and had to be sent back to port, thus they had inadequate provisions.
    b) they landed about 500 miles north of their Virginia destination
    c) due to delays, they landed just at winter’s onset, so they could not have planted and harvested anything that first season no matter their work ethic or lack thereof.

    Beyond that, the logical flaw in the conclusions of the otherwise entertaining piece is that the Pilgrims were only a semi-communal society fromt he start. They had to act as a group to survive, but they also had to take individual initiative. In other words they were a mixed society, not capitalist (they had no markets other than local Indians who had no money) and not really socialist (they divided land into private spaces AND common areas from the start.

    Years after they settled they still had strict rules on land ownership, religion, and many other things. They never had full individual freedom, nor did they have full socialism.

    In other words, it was not either or for them, and it is not either or for us.

    • Steve Buckstein

      Dean, while it may not be either socialism or capitalism, I’ll work to make it much more capitalist and much less socialist. Which direction do you want us to go, or do you think that the mix is just right already?

      • dean

        I think we are 2 clicks too far to the capitalist side on a 10 scale. I expect Obama is going to be able to move us 1 click in my direction.

  • NotYourDaddy

    Dean, what is it about socialism that you and Obama find so appealing?

    • dean

      NYD…contrary to rumor, I have not been appointed to speak for Obama, so I’ll only speak for me. The short answer is that I don’t find “socialism” defined as the government directly controlling the means of production at all appealing.

      What I support is what we have in America, Canada, Japan, and Western Europe, which is a mixed economy where government has a strong role in regulation, providing macro-economic stability, direct services that the private sector can’t or won’t provide, and a social safety net for those who either can’t or simply don’t cut the mustard due to circumstances of birth, age, infirmity, discrimination, or lack of opportunity. This makes me a liberal, not a socialist.

      When I advocate 2 clicks to the left, I mean positioning the US about where Western Europe is on balance….not where Cuba is or where the Soviet Union used to be. If we went 3 clicks we would likley sacrifice too much in private economic rights and productivity. Staying where we are leaves too many social safety net holes, particularly with respect to health care. And it leaves a lightly regulated private financial system that has just shown to the world it can’t be trusted.

      I also advocate electing people who are competent to run government, but that is another story.

      • NotYourDaddy

        Dean, on your scale of 10, where do you believe the U.S. sits today? What would be your ideal?

        • dean

          On the unofficial Dean scale we are presently a 3. We have more than decent programs for those over 65, and we have a few underfunded but useful programs for the working poor and their kids. We have a somewhat regulated economy and strong environmental regulations compared with most nations (stronger than those of Europe and Canada). My ideal would be a 5. I place the Scandanvian social-democratic states, like Sweden and Denmark at a 6 or 7. Also France would probably be a 6. Canada, Britain and Austrailia might be around a 4. Germany a 5.

          If Obama and the Democratic congress are able to implement a mixed bag health care system that makes insurance universal, with sliding scales of payment and a range of private and public plan options, that would bump us to a 4, on the Dean scale that is.

          How about you? Where are we today and where would you like us to be?

          • NotYourDaddy

            Hm, my scale seems to be the reverse of yours, with 1 on the left and 10 on the right…

            On my scale, I think we’re probably around 5 today (maybe 4, depending on how they decide to squander our bailout bucks…) Obama will probably take us down to about 3. I’d like to see us around 8 or 9.

            I disagree that “we” are (or should be) taking care of those over 65, especially when you consider that, for most of us, social security is going to pay out less then we paid in. I do not trust the governement to “take care” of me in my old age, and I’d prefer they didn’t appropriate my hard-earned money under that pretext. I’d rather take responsibility for myself.

            Overregulation of industry is driving our businesses offshore, and more environmental regulations will cost us even more loss of industry, as well as fueling inflation by raising the costs of production for those that remain. How can we expect to recover economically if we persist in impeding production instead of fostering it?

            I don’t support a universal health insurance program because the reason premiums are higher for people with higher risk factors is that their health care costs a _lot_ more. If nobody can be charged more for premiums based on their risk factors (often self-inflicted), then who ends up paying for their higher medical costs? Those costs will be passed on to those who now have lower premiums because of their healthier lifestyles. And sliding scales are just another way of saying “from each according to his ability and to each according to his need.” It seems you’re in favor of redistribution of health and wealth, all at the same time.

            But, when you penalize some behaviors and reward others, the natural consequence is to discourage the behaviors that are penalized and encourage the ones that are rewarded. Do you really think it’s beneficial to society to penalize the healthy and the wealthy to subsidize/reward those who are less motivated (for lack of a better word)? To what end?

          • dean

            My scale is based on total socialism (government controls all production at one end and total capitalism (no control whatsoever, no programs for the poor, etc) on the other. So we are not that far out of whack on our interpretations perhaps, but differ on where the dial ought to be set.

            Human behavior is complex, and is not stricly driven by economics. Examples abound, like the soldier who sacrifices himself to save his or her comrades in arms. Or the parent who sacrifices for their kid. Or those who volunteer their time serving in local government at the expense of their busines. Some people want more money and others want more time. I fit the latter category.

            Some see higher taxes on the wealthy as “penalizing” them for success. But many wealthy people are only “succesful” because of opportunities offered them by the rest of society, from public schooling to good universities to provision of a safe (police, courts, jails) and healthy (public water, public sewer service, clean air due to regulations) environment full of opportunities. Others are only wealthy because of inheritance (Paris Hilton, Ted Kennedy). I see it as; it costs money to run a complex modern society, and those that have the most can contribute the most without sacrificing anything necesary to life. Its not about punishing them, and I see no evidence that higher taxes on rich people discourages them from getting more rich. In fact, the few truly rich people I know are well aware they have way more than they need and spend a lot of time giving away their excess money. And it turns out those Obama plans to tax more voted for him by a majority. Do these people want to be “punished” or do they think they need to put more in the community pot? I think it is the latter.

            Some people are unhealthy because of self-induced risk factors like obesity, smoking, and alchoholism. Others are unhealthy due to aging (which we are all destined for if we live long enough,) poverty (can’t blame poor kids for what they were born into,) or genetics, like CF for example. Universal health insurance programs in other nations deliver as good or better results as we get for much less cost. I don’t care whether we have socialized insurance or private insurance on principle. I care about what works, and our long experience with work-based private insurance supplimented by government provided insurance for old people and poor people has not been successful by any measure. And all signs are it is getting worse, not better, by just about every measure.

            I don’t view the health issue as penalizing or rewarding. I view it as: How do we get the healthiest population cared for at an affordable cost? Its complex, and starts with lifestyle and diet habits formed at an early age, prospects for which are improved by reducing poverty. But it also involves having a lot more old people to deal with, who are expensive to care for. You may disagree with caring for those over 65, but they vote. You can’t elect a politician anywhere in the US, including deeply red states, who promises to cut back on services to the elderly. Its a non-starter.

            On industry…I don’t agree over regulation is driving them out. Otherwise why would foreign owned car, solar, and wind turbine companies, to name just 3, be building new factories here? Again, its complex, and depends a lot on trade agreements, wage rates, benefit packages, and so forth. Pat Buchanon, no liberal, points out that the only reason we have foreign car plants in the US is because Ronald Reagan limited their imports to us. It was only after that that Honda, Toyota and others started plants in our southern states, to avoid our unions. It was not “free trade” that brought those jobs here.

            Polluting our common environment to retain industrial jobs is not a good tradeoff in my view. That simply allows a private company to benefit at the public’s expense. Better to require other nations to raise their standards if they want to sell in our market.

  • NotYourDaddy

    There’s a difference between voluntary generosity and having the government take your money to subsidize somebody else. (http://notyourdaddy.wordpress.com/2008/01/19/giving-away-other-peoples-money)

  • Poor Boomer

    Each family was assigned a parcel of land. Free land – all they had to do is work it.

    Sounds like socialism to me.

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