Socialism Did Not Work at Jamestown
Editorial by Former State Representative Karey Hanks
Many of us are familiar with the story of the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock in 1620 and that they celebrated the first Thanksgiving. An important lesson on socialism is often missed in that early settlement. Originally all colonists were to place their production in the common warehouse and receive back only what was necessary for himself and family, attempting to live “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” The Pilgrims suffered starvation; about half the colonists died.
“The colony’s governor, William Bradford, wrote that its socialist philosophy greatly hindered its growth: Young men resented working for the benefit of other men’s wives and children without compensation; healthy men who worked thought it unjust that they received no more food than weak men who could not; wives resented doing household chores for other men, considering it a kind of slavery.” (Op-ed: Dr. Judd Patton)
Governor Bradford and other leaders set up a new system wherein each individual or family was assigned a parcel of land and each was responsible to grow his own food; in other words, “who will not work will not eat.” The colonists became very industrious, and three times the corn was planted under the new system. The seeds of Capitalism were planted in America!
What is socialism? Socialism is a system basically denying our Bill of Rights, creating a loss of personal freedom with accompanying restrictions on guns, religion, speech, etc. Second, government leaders redistribute wealth and re-define goods and services as rights—the right to healthcare, for example. None of our God-given, natural rights require someone else to provide them. These new “rights” do require others’ efforts. In short, Socialism equals CONTROL.
Many members of my family are fans of Atlas Shrugged, a philosophical novel featuring John Galt, a great inventor who left a motor company because the owners decided to pay everyone the same; in effect, dooming the company to failure because the incentive to excel was gone. Galt’s credo was: “I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.” Ayn Rand predicted many of the current challenges we are facing as she penned this classic novel. (It’s a great movie trilogy too—I recommend it!)
Another example was recounted by a consultant many years ago in Bulgaria. He noted that there was little motivation to be productive because the ethic was that everyone had a right to a job, so they couldn’t really be fired. The joke was: “They pretended to pay us and we pretended to work.” A similar scenario played out in China a few years later: the consultant saw a group of eight people getting in each other’s way working in a supply depot. He remarked that it seemed they could accomplish the same results with three people, to which the manager replied, “Yes, but then what would happen to the others?” (Why We Do What We Do, Edward Deci)
Flash forward to recent news:
According to TheHill.com, “Food riots, accelerating emigration and outright starvation plague what was once the brightest economic light in South America. The 2013 death of Chávez brought Nicolás Maduro to power, who has doubled down on both the redistributive and repressive policies of the Chávez regime.” With oil wealth pouring into the nation, leaders abandoned opposition to government intrusion into their economy and extensively expanded government programs. Increased global competition diminished the return on oil and the citizens are reaping the ‘harvest’ of decades of corruption. (Edward Lynch, Failing Democracy in Venezuela Demonstrates Failure of Socialism)
In our own state, Idaho voters overwhelmingly approved Medicaid expansion, which when implemented will lead to cost overruns and the inevitability of higher taxes, and the possibility of cuts in other services, including school funding. Is this “just a little bit of socialism?” Former U. S. Agriculture Secretary Ezra Taft Benson wondered if “just a little bit of theft or a little bit of cancer is all right, too!” He knew that the growth of the welfare state is difficult to check. His solution in reversing socialistic trends is first to freeze all welfare-state programs and not add any new ones! (Proper Role of Government)
Each of us needs to seriously study the Constitution and the words of our Founding Fathers to better understand why the power of government was limited in the founding of our republic. Let us remember the lessons learned by our Pilgrim forefathers as they chose capitalism and a strong work ethic over depending on someone else to provide for their wants and needs!
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