November 26, 2009 The Truth of Thanksgiving By Matt Spivey Our nation has dramatically changed since the inception

of this special day. I asked my students if they knew the original intent of the day we now call Thanksgiving. To my consternation, these were a few of those responses: “Isn't it to celebrate the final time we showed unity with the Indians before we massacred them?” “I think some important document might've been signed that day, right?” “Does it symbolize how the Native Americans taught white people how to cook?” These are some of your nation's college students...participants in American high academia. Our country may be in serious trouble. In an effort to spark an argument for the benefit of the next composition assignment, we read President Lincoln's official Thanksgiving declaration. To my students' surprise, they learned that our then-leader openly believed that America resided under “the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.” They discovered that we have received “the gracious gifts of the Most High God.” They saw that the original goal of our founders was to “praise our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” They read how Lincoln asked for “the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation” and our actions to be “consistent with the Divine purposes.” And they noticed that he signed the document “in the year of our Lord.” In 1863, in a country battling racism and separatism, in a land divided by the blood of our brothers, Lincoln wrote of guidance from a higher power and blessings bestowed by an eternal giver. In 2008, in a country embracing humanism and secularism, in a land divided by the ideologies of our neighbors, we need Lincoln's words now more than ever. We are a nation fighting against God while Lincoln fought for Him. And in our efforts to exclude divinity, we have created taboos of moments of silence, scandals over school pageants, and lawsuits over morality. Thanksgiving was initially intended as a day of Christian observation. Today, food and football are America's religion. So this begets the question: For those of us who do keep the holiday as the Pilgrims intended and follow the words of Lincoln, Thanksgiving is a peaceful day of prayer, family, and worship for the gifts bestowed upon us. But for those in our society of secularists who incorrectly sing the “separation of church and state” mantra, shouldn't it just be Thursday? I've never understood how a government that claims to be irreligious gets to take part in religious celebrations. But in this spirit of giving and kindness and blessing, I will forgive those who misinterpret the true meaning of Thanksgiving. I will recommend that all Americans, regardless of beliefs, take part in being thankful for living in the greatest country God has ever allowed to be created. And I will offer some specific thanks of my own. I will give thanks to God that our nation has brave men and women fighting to defend our land and our liberty. I will give thanks to God that He has blessed my family with safety and health for another year. I will give thanks to God that even though my candidate of choice did not win last year, He allowed me the freedom and opportunity to cast my vote.


I will give thanks to God that I am free to choose whatever career I want and, for now, am free to spend my money at my discretion. I will give thanks to God that I have a spouse who believes in being thankful. And I will give thanks to God that I am free to thank God any day of the year. Happy Thanksgiving.

Thursday, November 26, 2009 Abundance from Freedom Posted by Nathaniel Givens, America's Right Assigned Reading: The Pilgrims' Real Thanksgiving Lesson (From: The Independent Institute) Benjamin Powell of the Independent Institute takes on one of the myths of Thanksgiving: Many people believe that after suffering through a severe winter, the Pilgrims’ food shortages were resolved the following spring when the Native Americans taught them to plant corn and a Thanksgiving celebration resulted. In fact, the pilgrims continued to face chronic food shortages for three years until the harvest of 1623. Bad weather or lack of farming knowledge did not cause the pilgrims’ shortages. Bad economic incentives did. The problem was that the original economic system of the pilgrims was a form of communism. Everything that was grown went into a communal store and the leaders doled out form the store to everyone. But the old Marxist ideal of “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need”, turned out to be a disaster. Finally the Pilgrims decided to scrap their system and try again. They gave each family their own land and told them that they could keep whatever they grew and that no one could depend on a handouts from the leaders anymore. The Pilgrims' governor, William Bradford, recorded in 1647 that this change saved the pilgrims. This change, Bradford wrote, had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been. Giving people economic incentives changed their behavior... Once the Pilgrims in the Plymouth Plantation abandoned their communal economic system and adopted one with greater individual property rights, they never again faced the starvation and food shortages of the first three years. It was only after allowing greater property rights that they could feast without worrying that famine was just around the corner. Not quite the lesson you learned in grade school about the Pilgrims being rescued by generous Native Americans, is it?


How the Pilgrims progressed Posted: November 25, 2009 As America embarks on a bold leeward lurch toward centralized power and massive redistribution of wealth in addressing its economic problems, it might be time to take a step back and learn a lesson from our forebears, the Pilgrims. But first we must familiarize ourselves with the historical truth of their experience – something that has been in short supply in the media and our schools. Kids often learn today that the Mayflower gang were pretty incompetent – bad farmers, bad fishermen, bad hunters. They came to the New World unprepared for the hardships they would face in the wilderness. They were rescued by the friendly native Americans who taught them the survival skills they would need, so the story goes. The first harvest festival was a time of rejoicing and giving thanks to their saviors – the Indians who befriended them and guided them to a better way of life. That picture is totally wrong. Here's the real story: Before leaving Europe the Pilgrims entered into a contract, dated July 1, 1620, that would have all profits of their “trade, traffic, trucking, working, fishing, or any other means of any person or persons, remain in the common stock until division.” In other words, the settlement at Plymouth Bay was the first New World experiment in communism – long before Karl Marx supposedly invented it. To say that social experiment was a total failure would be an understatement. The first winter spelled death and disease and hunger for the colony because the Pilgrims had arrived too late in the season to plant crops and build adequate shelters. Half of them died. The following spring, however, they planted and hunted and fished to get by – just barely. They did invite some of the friendly Indians to join them in their first “Thanksgiving” celebration. But they were not thanking the Indians. They were thanking God for pulling them through. As William Bradford wrote in his journal: “And thus they found the Lord to be with them in all their ways, and to bless their outgoings and incomings, for which let His holy name have the praise forever, to all posterity.” Nevertheless, Bradford remained troubled by the colony's inability to prosper. He found the answer by studying the Bible and revisiting the notion of private property and incentivized hard work. He wrote about it in 1623: “So they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop than they had done, that they might not still thus languish in misery. At length, after much debate of things, the Governor (with the advice of the chiefest amongst them) gave way that they should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves. ... This had very


good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could use, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better content. The women now went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn, which before would allege weakness and inability, whom to have compelled would have been thought great tyranny and oppression. The experience that was had in this common course and condition, tried sundry years and that amongst Godly and sober men, may well evince the vanity of that conceit of Plato's and other ancients applauded by some of later times, that the taking away of property and bringing in community into a commonwealth would make them happy and flourishing, as if they were wiser than God. For this community was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. For the young men, that were most able and fit for labour and service, did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men's wives and children without any recompense. The strong, or man of parts, had no more in division of victuals and clothes than he that was weak and not able to do a quarter the other could, this was thought injustice. … And for men's wives to be commanded to do service for other men, as dressing their meat, washing their clothes, etc., they deemed it a kind of slavery, neither could many husbands brook it. Upon the point all being to have alike, and all to do alike, they thought themselves in the like condition, and one as good as another; and so, if it did not cut off those relations that God hath set amongst men, yet it did at least diminish and take off the mutual respects that should be preserved amongst them.” In other words, the introduction of the idea of private property saved the Pilgrims and made their experiment successful. To coin a phrase, that's how “the Pilgrims progressed”. They went back to their Bibles and saw that in practicing utopian communism, they were attempting to be “wiser than God.” Once they abandoned that deadly economic system, they flourished. Do you think we are wise enough to learn a lesson from the Pilgrims' experience today? Or are we doomed to repeat the failures and experience the miseries of socialism, again, for ourselves? Statism's illogic exposed for all to see in F.A. Hayek's “The Fatal Conceit: The Errors of Socialism”


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