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The Massachusetts Thanksgiving Story
from Governor Bradford

[COMMENT:   If Americans understood the economic principles below, and how Godly economics works, we would be a different country.  But we have drifted back into the control mentality and given up our understanding of, or desire for, freedom.  We want to be taken care of by Government Nanny.  That is the road to slavery on the government plantation. 

But God has better for us.  Pray that we wake up in time. 

Socialists claim that free enterprise and capitalism are inherently greedy and selfish.  They do not raise that issue about those who run the centralized bureaucracies of socialism and communism..., who have, in almost every case, themselves been the most greedy, self-centered, and destructive of all people.  It all depends on who is doing the work.  It would be hard to outdo the self-centeredness of Communist and socialist leaders of the 20th century.  Capitalism can also be run by greedy people. 

The issues are two: (1) the system itself, and whether one or the other conforms more closely to the plan of God for how we distribute and use the goods He has given us; and, (2) the spiritual life of all involved. 

(1) The basic problem with socialism of any form is its inherent need for coercion.  People do not naturally line up all the same.  And there are some things which ought not be coerced -- such as charity -- i.e., redistribution of wealth from the rich to the poor. 

(2) It is not true that private enterprise is naturally greedy.  Adam Smith, the great classical economist, said that the local farmer does not supply my needs out of his desire for me to eat well, but out of his own desire to eat well, to be clothed and housed, etc.  That is not true as a general statement, and played right into the hands of socialists.  Putting the matter that way slants the issue toward believing that providing for myself and my family is exclusive of wanting to do well for other people.  That is not so, and a tragic misrepresentation of both spiritual and economic truth. 

The Second Great Commandment does not say that we are to love others instead of ourselves, but as ourselves.  If I do not love myself, I will not be able to love my neighbor.  If my farm goes bankrupt, I will not be able to supply my neighbor.  Loving my neighbor means including my neighbor in the circle of my own wealth, not renouncing wealth per se.  Some may need to renounce their wealth (as Jesus said to one fellow) if they have an idolatry of their wealth. 

But a Godly farmer will genuinely want to do well for others, not cheat on his customers, will not give as little as possible for the maximum return, and will not be satisfied until he has done a good job for his customer.  To say that people cannot behave that way is nonsense.  For a Godly farmer, the farm is primarily about good relationship, not about getting rich. 

The question is really a spiritual one.  Is the farmer (or the customer, or the commissar) trusting God for his own sense of personal stability and meaning, and obeying God for his purpose for existence?  If he is not, he will not be able consistently to love his neighbor as he loves himself.  But if he is dependent on and obedient to God, he will be able to carry out his trade with a genuine love of neighbor.  He will want to respect the need of the neighbor to provide for himself and his family just as he is for his own family, and will thus run his business in that manner.  Genuinely good business practices are also good Christianity, part of the Way of the Cross, a self-discipline for myself, my family, and my customers.  

Read on...     E. Fox]

In the middle of December 1620 the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, leaving behind the sinfulness of the “old world” to make a “new Jerusalem” in America. Three years later, in November 1623, they had a great feast thanking God for getting them through an earlier famine, and now for a bountiful crop.

What had created the earlier famine and then the bountiful crops? The story is told in the diary of Governor Bradford, who was one of the elders of that early Puritan colony.

At first, they decided to turn their back on all the institutions of the England that had been their home. This included the institution of private property, which they declared to be the basis of greed, averse, and selfishness.  Instead, they were determined to live the “Platonic ideal” of collectivism, in which all work would be done in common, with the rewards of their collective efforts evenly divided among the colonists.  Farming was done in common, as well as housekeeping and child raising. This was supposed to lead to prosperity and brotherly love.

But their experiment in collectivism did not lead to prosperity or brotherly love.  Rather, it created poverty and envy and slothfulness among most of the members of this little society.  Here is Bradford’s description of what communism created among the Pilgrims:

 “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 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 labor and service, did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men's wives and children without any recompense.  The strong had no more in division of victuals and clothes than he that was weak and not able to do a quarter the other could; this was thought injustice.  The aged and graver men to be ranked and equalized in labors everything else, thought it some indignity and disrespect unto them.

 “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. Upon the point all being to have alike, and all to do alike, they thought themselves in the like condition, and one as good as another; and so, if it did not cut off those relations that God hath set amongst men, yet it did at least much diminish and take off the mutual respects that should be preserved amongst them” 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.”

For two years the harvest time failed to bring forth enough to feed the people.  Indeed, many starved and many died of famine.  Faced with this disaster, the elders of the colony gathered, Governor Bradford tells us, and decided that another year, and they would surely all die and disappear in the wilderness.

Instead, they decided to divide the property and fields of the colony, and gave each family a piece as their own.  Whatever they did not use for their own consumption, they had the right to trade away to their neighbors for something they desired instead.

Now, instead of sloth, envy, resentment, and anger among the colonists, there was a great turnaround in their activities.  Industry, effort, and joy were now seen in practically all that the men, women and children did.  Bradford writes:

 “They had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been.  The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn; which before would allege weakness and inability; whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression”. By this time harvest was come, and instead of famine, now God gave them plenty, and the faces of things were changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many, for which they blessed God.”

Indeed, their bounty was so great, that they had enough to not only trade among themselves but also with the neighboring Indians in the forest.  In November 1623, they had a great feast to which they also invited the Indians.  They prepared turkey and corn, and much more, and thanked God for bringing them a bountiful crop.  They, therefore, set aside a day of “Thanksgiving.”

So this November 23rd, when we all sit down with our families and friends to enjoy the turkey and the trimmings, let us not forget that we are celebrating the establishment and triumph of capitalism and the spirit of enterprise in America!

Click here for a picture of the desperate situation of the Pilgrims.


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