Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A Closer Look at real Thanksgiving Day

When I was in school, the Indians, later to become Native Americans, later still to become outraged and offended Original Americans, all of which is wordier and even less descriptive, were being rehabilitated along the lines of "the noble savage."  Formerly the Indians were thought of as savage, godless barbarians who deserved whatever horrors we dished out to them, which was not true.  But neither was the newer version.  In any case, in this morality play, the hapless Pilgrims arrived on the shores of Plymouth unable to fend for themselves, but were met and guided by friendly Indians of the noble savage variety, who showed them how to plant corn and hunt turkey.  The colonists learned so well that they held a great feast and invited the Indians to the ho-down and all lived happily ever after.  The end.

This was intended to instill in our callow minds the virtue of sharing.

Now, sharing is a Christian virtue, under certain circumstances.   This is important, you must be sharing your own stuff.  Let's say you have some used clothing that you can no longer wear because you have...um...expanded your girth, but it is still like new.  Taking it down to the Salvation Army store is both good stewardship and a form of sharing with someone who is not as far along that expanding waistline thingy. If, on the other hand, someone comes along and asks you if he can use that Toyota truck over there, and you say "yes," even though the truck actually belongs to your neighbor, that is not sharing. It also is not sharing unless it is done voluntarily.  If I come up to you, point a gun and say something like "please donate to the PolyKahr fund," even though I say "please" and use the word "donate," it is still stealing.  And that is why liberals get no "virtue" credit for sharing funds collected through taxation with others.  They also can not claim compassion or any other virtue.  Instead, what they have done would be classified as stealing, and they would be put in prison for it if it were done by you or me.

This brings up an interesting point.  Many times liberals will argue that the fund of taxes collected is like a community fund, similar to a church or the NRA, and since they pay taxes too, they should have an equal share in saying where those taxes should be spent.  First, as I pointed out above, taxes are compelled by force of arms.  Just ask anyone in jail for not paying his taxes.  The government can maintain the fiction of "voluntary" payment, but that only lasts so long as the average persons tax burden is a nuisance.  At some point, people begin to seek out ways to avoid paying taxes.  A church or the NRA are completely different, because they can not force anyone to pay.  Instead, they must offer something that people want to pay for.  If the NRA, for example, does not meet my needs, I will not join.  Indeed, for many years I did not join because the NRA talked about the Second Amendment as if its main focus was hunting.  If liberals, using their own money, want to start a fund to give welfare checks to needy families, they are welcome to do so, and would find many conservatives who would contribute as well.  But liberals instead want to use other peoples money and then pat themselves on the back for being compassionate.  Sorry, it doesn't work that way.

The story of the Puritan pilgrims is in fact available to us today in the form of the detailed journals kept by the Governor of the colony, William Bradford.  Bradford's journals reveal not the rosy picture of corrupt and vile Europeans meeting uncorrupted noble savages who save them from destruction.  Instead, Bradford's reveal something about the nature of men, everywhere and at all times.  But for that story I'll take you to the Heritage Foundation where Michael Franc writes that the Pilgrims Beat Communism with Free Market.

 In the purest sense, of course, that isn't entirely true. The original Christians living in Jerusalem in the immediate aftermath of the events of Easter, did in fact have a communal existence, though it wasn't "communism" as expounded by Karl Marx.  You can read about it as described in the Acts of the Apostles. Everyone brought their goods together and the needy were fed and their other basic needs were met. And it worked for a time. Indeed, such communal living has been practiced by small groups of tight knit people since man first stood upright. The Puritans wanted to return to that pure form of Christianity before it became corrupted by the church hierarchy, thus the name "Puritans." Communal living can be sustained right up to the point when people begin to go hungry, or begin to freeze at night. In other words, when competition for limited resources sets in. As Franc writes:
The most able and fit young men in Plymouth thought it an "injustice" that they were paid the same as those "not able to do a quarter the other could." Women, meanwhile, viewed the communal chores they were required to perform for others as a form of "slavery."
There it is, the corruption at the heart of man's every evil act. The cure of course, was the parceling out of the land to each family. Each family could then grow their own food, with the implicit threat that if you don't work, you don't eat. So it has ever been. Franc again:
On the brink of extermination, the Colony's leaders changed course and allotted a parcel of land to each settler, hoping the private ownership of farmland would encourage self-sufficiency and lead to the cultivation of more corn and other foodstuffs.

As Adam Smith would have predicted, this new system worked famously. "This had very good success," Bradford reported, "for it made all hands very industrious." In fact, "much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been" and productivity increased. "Women," for example, "went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn."
We celebrate this week our own thanksgivings, remembering to be grateful for the many blessings we have, and continue to receive. In that sense, perhaps the morality play version of the original Thanksgiving day may be more appropriate. But we shouldn't erase history, because those who do are indeed doomed to repeat it. Karl Marx's version of communism shares in the basic error that communal systems always do.  When resources are limited, one must distribute those resources by rationing, and the imposition of force (that means guns for the more obtuse.)

On the other hand, and as so many on the left have noted, capitalism, as now practiced is better by only a thin margin. Without Christian charity, capitalism devolves to dog eat dog, and must ultimately be controlled by excess regulation and enforcement by (yes) government force. Both systems, with out a Christian basis, lead to rule by a strong man and a further crippling of God's plan. It is only be following Christ, that man can be truly free.  Christianity can not be legislated, but must be freely chosen be each person.

Grace and peace to you, gentle readers, from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ

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