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How Capitalism Created an American Holiday

There are many things for which to be thankful this Thanksgiving, not the least of which is free-market capitalism in America. Many folks don’t realize it, but the English Puritans who settled Plymouth, Massachusetts had in mind a socialist system of profit sharing. Under this proposed system each man in the colony would work the farms and fields, and each would receive an equal portion of the harvest. It didn’t take long for Colonial Governor William Bradford to learn that this was a recipe for disaster.

The unintended, although predictable, consequence of such collectivism was starvation and economic stagnation. Since socialism gives to each man the same fruit, regardless of the level of his labor, he will seek to work less. There is no incentive for him to work harder, for he knows that he will get an equal share of the harvest, regardless if another man outworks him. Unfortunately for the folks in Plymouth Colony, too many men felt this way and did little or nothing to provide for their families and the community. The first two years of communism in the colony left only a fraction of the colonists. Realizing that the Colony would, ultimately, fail under such a system Gov. Bradford decided to try something new. The Governor instituted private property rights and free market capitalism to try and reverse the starvation socialism brought to his people.

Once Gov. Bradford provided each family with a private portion of land, and allowed each family to keep the vast majority of the fruits of its labor, prosperity came to the Colony. The starvation and stagnation of the first two years in the new world were reversed when freedom came flooding in. Gone were the days of the sluggards, who sought to survive off the sweat of their neighbors. In were the days of industrious self-reliance, which brought a rising tide to lift all boats. The real meaning of Thanksgiving is that the LORD of Providence provides for His people. Nevertheless, the sub-plot is that He used freedom to provide for those in need. The Apostle Paul had it right when he told the early church: “if a man will not work, he shall not eat” I, for one, believe those words of Paul were just as inspired as the others that he preached.

May God Bless America this Thanksgiving, and may He continue to inspire us to industriousness, greatness and goodness.

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One Response to "How Capitalism Created an American Holiday"

  1. Can’t get enough of this message – have a blessed Thanksgiving, Josh!

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