Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Great Thanksgiving Hoax

By Richard J. Maybury

Each year at this time school children all over America are taught the official Thanksgiving story, and newspapers, radio, TV, and magazines devote vast amounts of time and space to it. It is all very colorful and fascinating.

It is also very deceiving. This official story is nothing like what really happened. It is a fairy tale, a whitewashed and sanitized collection of half-truths which divert attention away from Thanksgiving's real meaning.

The official story has the pilgrims boarding the Mayflower, coming to America and establishing the Plymouth colony in the winter of 1620-21. This first winter is hard, and half the colonists die. But the survivors are hard working and tenacious, and they learn new farming techniques from the Indians. The harvest of 1621 is bountiful. The Pilgrims hold a celebration, and give thanks to God. They are grateful for the wonderful new abundant land He has given them.

The official story then has the Pilgrims living more or less happily ever after, each year repeating the first Thanksgiving. Other early colonies also have hard times at first, but they soon prosper and adopt the annual tradition of giving thanks for this prosperous new land called America.

The problem with this official story is that the harvest of 1621 was not bountiful, nor were the colonists hardworking or tenacious. 1621 was a famine year and many of the colonists were lazy thieves.

In his 'History of Plymouth Plantation,' the governor of the colony, William Bradford, reported that the colonists went hungry for years, because they refused to work in the fields. They preferred instead to steal food. He says the colony was riddled with "corruption," and with "confusion and discontent." The crops were small because "much was stolen both by night and day, before it became scarce eatable."

In the harvest feasts of 1621 and 1622, "all had their hungry bellies filled," but only briefly. The prevailing condition during those years was not the abundance the official story claims, it was famine and death. The first "Thanksgiving" was not so much a celebration as it was the last meal of condemned men.

But in subsequent years something changes. The harvest of 1623 was different. Suddenly, "instead of famine now God gave them plenty," Bradford wrote, "and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many, for which they blessed God." Thereafter, he wrote, "any general want or famine hath not been amongst them since to this day." In fact, in 1624, so much food was produced that the colonists were able to begin exporting corn.

What happened?

After the poor harvest of 1622, writes Bradford, "they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop." They began to question their form of economic organization.

This had required that "all profits & benefits that are got by trade, working, fishing, or any other means" were to be placed in the common stock of the colony, and that, "all such persons as are of this colony, are to have their meat, drink, apparel, and all provisions out of the common stock." A person was to put into the common stock all he could, and take out only what he needed.

This "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need" was an early form of socialism, and it is why the Pilgrims were starving. Bradford writes that "young men that are most able and fit for labor and service" complained about being forced to "spend their time and strength to work for other men's wives and children." Also, "the strong, or man of parts, had no more in division of victuals and clothes, than he that was weak." So the young and strong refused to work and the total amount of food produced was never adequate.

To rectify this situation, in 1623 Bradford abolished socialism. He gave each household a parcel of land and told them they could keep what they produced, or trade it away as they saw fit. In other words, he replaced socialism with a free market, and that was the end of famines.

Many early groups of colonists set up socialist states, all with the same terrible results. At Jamestown, established in 1607, out of every shipload of settlers that arrived, less than half would survive their first twelve months in America. Most of the work was being done by only one-fifth of the men, the other four-fifths choosing to be parasites. In the winter of 1609-10, called "The Starving Time," the population fell from five-hundred to sixty.

Then the Jamestown colony was converted to a free market, and the results were every bit as dramatic as those at Plymouth. In 1614, Colony Secretary Ralph Hamor wrote that after the switch there was "plenty of food, which every man by his own industry may easily and doth procure." He said that when the socialist system had prevailed, "we reaped not so much corn from the labors of thirty men as three men have done for themselves now."

Before these free markets were established, the colonists had nothing for which to be thankful. They were in the same situation as Ethiopians are today, and for the same reasons. But after free markets were established, the resulting abundance was so dramatic that the annual Thanksgiving celebrations became common throughout the colonies, and in 1863, Thanksgiving became a national holiday.

Thus the real reason for Thanksgiving, deleted from the official story, is: Socialism does not work; the one and only source of abundance is free markets, and we thank God we live in a country where we can have them.

Mr. Maybury writes on investments. This article originally appeared in The Free Market, November 1985.

Available online..

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A Refreshing Perspective from the Religious Right

America is Great:
After-Thoughts about the Election

By Rev. Lou Sheldon, Traditional Values Coalition

This election has caused me to marvel at our Constitution and our way of government. We have just been through a revolution and yet there was no bloodshed. Some may have been mad, cried, been depressed, got drunk, etc. but no one was killed.

We were in the Ivory Coast earlier this year. They are having a revolution over who is going to be in the leadership of that country. Some were not happy with the results of a majority vote so they caused bloodshed, forced people out of their homes, in some places it is unsafe to travel, in some places thugs have taken control, the countryside savaged, people have had their businesses stolen and their money confiscated.

History is replete with examples of atrocities which occurred over the change of leadership such as following the French Revolution many people including King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were beheaded and even in England these things occurred until, under the influence of the evangelist Charles Wesley, they had what was called “a bloodless revolution” because the gospel took hold, causing the leadership to change peacefully.

Tuesday our Congressional leadership changed, but our lives and our government are still intact.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Minimum wage laws: social justice for the poor—or feel-good legislation for politicians?

On November 7, the state of Colorado voted to increase the minimum wage. While those who voted in favor of the increase were no doubt motivated by compassion for “the least of these,” they may be surprised at the affect minimum-wage laws have on the needy. For an interesting perspective on this subject, I encourage you to read the following article by Thomas Sowell, also available online.

A Glimmer of Hope

August 07, 2006

It was a common political move when Chicago's city council voted recently to impose a $10 an hour minimum wage on big-box retailers. There is nothing that politicians like better than handing out benefits to be paid for by someone else.

What was uncommon was the reaction. Chicago's Mayor Richard M. Daley denounced the bill as "redlining," since it would have the net effect of keeping much-needed stores and jobs out of black neighborhoods. Both Chicago newspapers also denounced the bill.

The crowning touch came when Andrew Young, former civil rights leader and former mayor of Atlanta, went to Chicago to criticize local black leaders who supported this bill.

While the $10 an hour minimum wage was politics as usual, the
unusual backlash against it provides at least a glimmer of hope that more
people are beginning to consider the economic consequences of such feel-good

A survey has shown that 85 percent of the economists in Canada
and 90 percent of the economists in the United States say that minimum wage
laws reduce employment. But you don't need a Ph.D. in economics to know that jacking up prices leads fewer people to buy. Those people include employers, who hire less labor when labor is made artificially more expensive.

It happens in France, it happens in South Africa, it happens in
New Zealand. How surprised should we be when it happens in Chicago?

The economic consequence of political largess--whether in the
form of minimum wage laws or medical or other benefits mandated to be paid
for by employers--is to make labor artificially more expensive.

Countries with generous employee benefits mandated by law--
Germany and France, for example--have chronically higher unemployment
rates than unemployment rates in the United States, where jobs are created
at a far higher rate than in Europe.

There is no free lunch. Higher labor costs mean fewer jobs.

Since all workers do not have the same skill or experience, minimum wage laws have more impact on some than on others. Young, inexperienced and unskilled workers are especially likely to find it harder to get a job when wage rates have been set higher than the value of their productivity.

In France, where the national unemployment rate is 10 percent,
the unemployment rate among workers less than 26 years old is 23 percent.
Among young people from the Muslim minority, the unemployment rate is even higher.

In the United States, the group hardest hit by minimum wage laws are black male teenagers. Those who refuse to admit that the minimum wage is
the reason for high unemployment rates among young blacks blame racism, lack
of education and whatever else occurs to them.

The hard facts say otherwise. Back in the 1940s, there was no less racism than today and black teenagers had no more education than today, but their unemployment rate was a fraction of what it is now--and was no different from that of white teenagers.

What was different back then? Although there was a minimum wage law on the books, the inflation of that era had raised wage rates well above the specified minimum, which had remained unchanged for years.

For all practical purposes, there was no minimum wage law. Only after the minimum wage began to be raised, beginning in 1950, and escalating repeatedly in the years thereafter, did black teenage unemployment skyrocket.

Most studies show unemployment resulting from minimum wages. But a few studies that reach different conclusions are hailed as having "refuted" the "myth" that minimum wages cause unemployment.

Some of these latter studies involve surveying employers before and after a minimum wage increase. But you can only survey employers who are still in business. By surveying people who played Russian roulette and are still around, you could "refute" the "myth" that Russian roulette is dangerous.

Minimum wage laws play Russian roulette with people who need jobs and the work experience that will enable them to rise to higher pay levels. There is now a glimmer of hope that more people are beginning to understand this, despite political demagoguery.

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Stanford, California.


Sowing and Reaping: Scandals Scorch House GOP

Democrats take at least 12 seats from scandal-tainted Republicans.

For more details, click here.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Legalize marijuana?

The evangelical community is reeling over the revelation that Ted Haggard has admitted to having purchased methamphetamine, even as Colorado voters are preparing to vote on Amendment 44, which would allow people 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana. Let me be clear: I am adamantly opposed to substance abuse. Dependence on mind-altering drugs has nearly destroyed several people in my family. My step-brother is homeless, broke and alone due to his addiction, having lost custody of his little girl. My mother was an alcoholic for many years before God miraculously delivered her. I have seen the effects of drunkenness and drug abuse, and I know God hates it. Nonetheless, this Election Day I am voting in favor of Amendment 44.

Why would I vote to decriminalize an activity that is sinful and destructive? Quite simply, there is no biblical mandate for the civil government to regulate and control the use of drugs.

While the Religious Right has a penchant for using the power of the state to force unredeemed people to behave in redeemed ways, nowhere is this tendency seen in Jesus or the apostles of the Early Church. When Jesus saw a person trapped in sin, his response did not consist in appealing to the Roman authorities to criminalize the sinner’s behavior. He did not call for a law prohibiting cohabitation when he encountered the Samaritan woman who was living with a man who was not her husband. Instead, he offered her the only means of overcoming the bondage of her sin—a life-giving relationship with God.

Although idolatry was punishable by death under the theocracy of ancient Israel, the apostle Paul did not lobby the government of Rome for a law against idol worship. Rather, he introduced idolaters to the One True God who could set them free. When sexual immorality crept into the church, Paul did not seek to make those sins illegal; he called the guilty parties to repentance.

The Word of God in Romans 13 pictures civil government as a God-ordained minister to “punish those who impose wrong on others,” writes Tom Rose, professor emeritus at Grove City College. “In short, the biblical role of civil government is to foster justice and to prevent people from engaging in acts of violence against each other” (“Should Christians Favor the Decriminalization of Drugs,” The Christian Statesman, vol. 129, no. 1).

While the Law of Moses contained numerous prohibitions against consuming certain foods, nowhere does the New Testament suggest that the state should pass laws governing what people can ingest. When discussing the role of government, neither Peter nor Paul called upon the power of the state to legislate holiness. Yet this is precisely what Christians are doing when they support laws against drug use. They are asking the civil government to force non-Christians to behave like Christians. The same can be said for laws against gambling, prostitution, pornography, and profanity.

“These Christians, in effect, tend to look at the civil authority as the ultimate guarantor of what they themselves envision as the ‘good life,’” says Rose, “and they end up turning civil government into a secular god.”

Not only is Christian support for the war on drugs unbiblical—it is also illogical. The drug war has clearly been a failure. Before drug use was criminalized, drug abuse was not the epidemic it has become today. Innocent bystanders weren’t killed in turf wars over drugs, and addicts didn’t have to steal to support their habit—because there was no black market creating the artificially high prices that are currently paid for drugs.

Our View of the Colorado Springs Gazette (11-3-06) describes the war on drugs as being “responsible for thousands of deaths, prison overcrowding and untold misery for a lot of people… A blanket prohibition on drugs clearly isn’t working.” Moreover,
“banning certain products on the grounds that they might be dangerous in the hands of some people shouldn’t fly in a truly free society. Government is in the business of protecting us from others, not ourselves. It’s true that marijuana use is not risk free. But very little in life is, and free people should be able to make their own choices. The drug war has been going on for decades and drugs are still readily available across the country, proof that current policy isn’t working. [Amendment 44] is a good first step toward forcing government to abandon an approach that just doesn’t work.”
In the past few years it’s been fashionable among Christians to ask, “What would Jesus do?” When I think about the price he paid for our freedom, I find it hard to believe he would use the power of the state to force people to abstain from drugs.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Do Christians need a nose job?

WARNING: the following link may be offensive to Republicans and Democrats. In fact, there are probably few people who won’t be offended. Visit at your own risk.

Christians Need a Nose Job
, by Coach Dave Daubenmire

PS: I apologize in advance for those who will be offended.