|"Jamestown and Plymouth Town"
By Dr. Jeff Sanders
Two English experiments in colonizing the New World give us a clear picture of what works and what does not work in economics. In 1607 when the English arrived on the shores of Virginia and established Jamestown, they were not really prepared to do what was necessary to thrive. These Englishmen came looking for gold, not to settle down and till the land and earn a living by the fruits of their own labor. They wanted others to labor while they wasted their time looking for wealth hidden under rocks. They had no leadership, and no desire to be productive. However, after starvation set in because few were actually working, and John Smith laid down the law that if you will not work, then neither shall you eat--people got the idea, started plowing fields, and began to harvest food in abundance.
A few years later, in 1620, some very devout English Christians who called themselves "Separatists" (today we call them "Pilgrims") left Europe for the New World for religious freedom. Their charter allowed them to settle in Virginia, but a storm at sea blew them off course and they landed far north in modern day Massachussetts. Before they left the boat, all on board--Separatists as well as the soldiers and sailors who were not particularly religious--bound themselves by a common law which they drew up themselves--the Mayflower Compact. They did not establish a theocracy. They established a free government by the consent of the governed. What a concept.
According to their charter, the Separatists/Pilgrims were supposed to put all their goods in a common store and distribute to everyone who was in need. All land was held in common, the fields were to be plowed by everyone. No one was to own their own farm. Sounds like a great plan. Trouble is, "from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" didn't work then, and it doesn't work today.
Finally, Wiliam Bradford, the governor of Plymouth Colony, ditched the deadly experiment with socialism/collectivism, and assigned each family a parcel of land. They were to work it on their own, and enjoy the fruits of their own labor. If they were lazy--too bad, they would not eat. They followed the verse from the Bible--"If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat" (2 Thessalonians 3:11). Bradford's comments--"This had very good success; for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than other wise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble. . . instead of famine, now God gave them plenty, and the face of things was changed, the the rejoicing of the hearts of many. . . " The truth is, they had so much, because of FREE ENTERPRISE, they had food in abundance, they shared it with the Indians, they also sold their excess, and were able to pay off their debts back in England.
Moral of this true story--if a welfare state and socialism did not work on such a small scale with the people of Jamestown or Plymouth town, why does ANYONE think it will work for 300 million people today?
Wednesday, November 25, 2009, 03:03 PM