The Truth About Thanksgiving
The Market Ticker - Commentary on The Capital Markets
Login or register to improve your experience
Main Navigation
Sarah's Resources You Should See
Full-Text Search & Archives
Leverage, the book
Legal Disclaimer

The content on this site is provided without any warranty, express or implied. All opinions expressed on this site are those of the author and may contain errors or omissions. For investment, legal or other professional advice specific to your situation contact a licensed professional in your jurisdiction.


Actions you undertake as a consequence of any analysis, opinion or advertisement on this site are your sole responsibility; author(s) may have positions in securities or firms mentioned and have no duty to disclose same.

The Market Ticker content may be sent unmodified to lawmakers via print or electronic means or excerpted online for non-commercial purposes provided full attribution is given and the original article source is linked to. Please contact Karl Denninger for reprint permission in other media, to republish full articles, or for any commercial use (which includes any site where advertising is displayed.)

Submissions or tips on matters of economic or political interest may be sent "over the transom" to The Editor at any time. To be considered for publication your submission must be complete (NOT a "pitch"; those get you blocked as a spammer), include full and correct contact information and be related to an economic or political matter of the day. All submissions become the property of The Market Ticker.

Considering sending spam? Read this first.

2010-11-25 10:49 by Karl Denninger
in Editorial , 1078 references Ignore this thread
The Truth About Thanksgiving *
Category thumbnail

A reprise from my personal blog in 2006, before The Ticker began publication...

Ok folks, in commemoration of Thanksgiving, while I sit here trying to figure out how eating a plate full of turkey has suddenly made me feel like I gained 10lbs (it couldn't have been the stuffing, fixings and cookies, could it?) I thought I'd put this out there to dispel some of the myths surrounding this holiday.

As we are told, the first settlers to this country (from Europe, natch) faced a horrible first winter, lost many of their people, and the native Americans (aka "Indians") that were here helped them the following year and thus they were able to survive and ultimately prosper. They gave thanks for their harvest and invited their Indian friends to dinner.

Well, ok, that's part of the story.

Now let's talk about the rest.

The colonists did not have money, of course. Merchants in London paid for their journey, but this put each of the colonists heavily into debt - a debt which they intended to pay off through their fruits in the New World and, they hoped, through the discovery of gold.

There was no gold (well, not on the east coast anyway.) Before the colonists arrived in Cape Cod they penned the Mayflower Compact, which you can find at The Mayflower Compact

You might recognize some of the language in that document - it is strikingly similar to the writings of Carl Marx many years later!

In part, it read: "....And by Virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal Laws, Ordinances, Acts, Constitutions and Offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the General good of the Colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience."

The first winter was disasterous - nearly half of the Pilgrims died of starvation, pneumonia and tuberculosis. Many claim that Bradford's first wife perished that first winter, but that is not quite true - she actually fell off the Mayflower quite close to land and drowned, never making it to Plymouth (he later remarried.)

During the first two years the colony lived under what could only be called Communism, enshrined in the Mayflower Compact. Each person was accorded a "share" of the totality of what was produced at the colony, and each person was expected to do their part in working toward the common good. The land, and that upon it, was owned by the colony as a collective.

It not only did not work out, it nearly killed them all.

William Bradford wrote in his diary "For in this instance, community of property (so far as it went) was found to breed much confusion and discontent, and retard much employment which would have been to the general benefit and comfort. For the young men who were most able and fit for service objected to being forced to spend their time and strength in working for other mens wives and children, without any recompense. The strong man or the resourceful man had no more share of food, clothes, etc., than the weak man who was not able to do a quarter the other could. This was thought injustice.

After the second winter, realizing that the colony had survived only through the friendship and largesse of the native Americans, and would soon perish if changes were not made, Bradford tore up the Mayflower Compact. He instead assigned each family a plot of land to be their property, to be worked as the family saw fit, and with the fruits of that land to be their own. It was the beginning of private property rights in the New World.

The result? Again, from his diary: "It made all hands very industrious, so that much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could devise, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better satisfaction.

From the very day that Bradford tore up the Mayflower Compact, Plymouth began to prosper. Within a year the colonists found themselves with more food than they could eat. Flush with a bountiful harvest far in excess of their need for food and having bartered for all the goods they needed to get through the winter, they had a feast of thanks with their Indian trading partners.

Within a couple of years the colonists paid off their debt to the London Merchants and became, in fact, free men.

The story - and reason - for their success is not told in our government schools, for were every American child to be made aware of precisely why we have this nation today, and to understand just how close this country came to extinction 150 years before the Revolution, they would grow up understanding exactly how dangerous liberal and socialist thought - and the punishment of industry and capital through punitive tax policies - truly is.

Today, we live in a society that is increasingly suspect of private property rights. We no longer own our property, we effectively lease it through ad-valorem property taxes. Our right to keep to ourselves or consume as we see fit the fruits of our labor is increasingly taxed away and given to others, who do not work for their rewards at all. Nearly half of all in the United States today can in fact "vote for a living", in that they pay no federal income taxes at all, and a good percentage are actually paid to exist through the Earned Income Credit.

When Plymouth Colony was founded, the population was small and the effects of such foolishness immediately apparent. When you only have 150 people, half of them dying is by no stretch catastrophic, and immediately obvious.

This evening as we eat our feasts, let us not forget what Thanksgiving is truly for giving thanks for. It is not that the Indians saved the colonists from certain starvation.

No, it is that one man - William Bradford - saw the wisdom of private property and free enterprise, and the folly of socialist society, and through his wisdom - far before the Founding Fathers - he took action to save his people and lay the groundwork for what would become America.

As we loll around the house this evening, plump with our turkey feast, let us hold in our hearts that much of what we have in this nation does not comport with this very basic, fundamental principle. Our Constitution, written by men far wiser than us, has been twisted, contorted and tortured to permit all manner of socialism and communist action in the guise of "the greater good", whether it be Social Security, Medicare, Welfare, government schools or prescription drug cards - and that it is our duty, as citizens of this great land, to do that which is necessary - and possible - to turn away from that which has, in the course of human events, been proven never to succeed.

Finally, make sure you tell your children the truth about Thanksgiving, for they are the future, and without the truth about the past, cannot be expected to make good decisions as they grow up in the world.