Richard Ebeling emails:
I have a new article on the news and commentary website, “Thanksgiving: Celebrating the Birth of American Free Enterprise.”
Many Americans, as they gather with their families around the dinner this Thanksgiving, have no knowledge of the origin of this holiday as a unique and important experiment and lesson in American history.
When the Pilgrims came to colonial America in the early 1620s, the goal was to turn their back on the corruption and greedy materialism of the “old world.” In its place they decided to follow the communist model of the ancient Greek philosopher, Plato, in his book, The Republic. It ended up being a disaster of perverse anti-work incentives plus social resentments and envy, with an outcome of death by starvation for many of the colonists.
This changed only when, facing economic catastrophe, they introduced a different idea, as recounted the diary of the Plymouth leader, Governor Bradford. They divided the colony’s property into private family farms on which each family could grow whatever crops and raise whatever livestock they chose.
Now, the colonists applied themselves to their private lands, and generated an abundance so great that they decided to give thanks to God for their, now, successful survival in the wilderness.
So, when we sit around that Thanksgiving dinner table, we should take a moment to recall that what we are really celebrating is the birth of free enterprise in America.