Thursday, November 26, 2015

A History lesson for Bernie Sanders

Mr. Sanders,

I'd like to start by wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving. I hope it's a wonderful one for you and yours.

That being said, I should tell you who I am. I'm an individual who has the misfortune of being in the demographic that you're catering to. I grew up in the Bush years, which means much of my adulthood has been spent in an economic downturn with no sign of upswing. I want all of the things that my parents had, and here you are promising me all of it, and then some. All I have to do is be around on January 20, 2017.

However, your gravitation to Socialism, or "Democratic Socialism" as you've tried to distinguish it, concerns me. But for what it's worth, I don't fear you. If I thought you had a chance of fulfilling your agenda upon election, I'd be "Feeling the Bern" trickling down my leg. Humor aside, I don't think I'd be doing anyone any favors by sitting back and watching.

While the follies of Socialism and it's offshoots are bountiful and easily cited throughout history, I'll only be focusing on one in my address to you - the first Thanksgiving. Of course, Socialism wasn't an ideology at the time. But it's essence and spirit was alive and well in the fledgling colonies that would one day become the United States. After all, the core of Socialism is to provide for the "Have-Not's", with the resources of the "Have's". This is precisely what you propose, for every plank of your platform - all to thunderous cheers from a demographic that's fought for scraps for the last seven years. But I'm not delusional - I doubt you'll read this personally, and I'd doubt even further that anything could change your approach to governance.

We're familiar with the story of the first Thanksgiving. An eager group of Pilgrims boarded the Mayflower to find a new and better life in the new world. They arrived to the New World, established a colony, but many died, the survivors learned agriculture from the native peoples, worked hard, and sat at a table with the aforementioned natives to celebrate a bountiful harvest in 1621. Everyone worked together and thrived, forever and ever, The End.

But this story is entirely false. The real story is much more grim, to the point that one wonders what would have become of the New World if the real story hadn't panned out the way it did. I don't have to speculate on this. Governor of Plymouth, William Bradford, wrote in his diary the follies of the colony. As recorded in the History of the Plymouth Plantation, many of the colonists were lazy at best, thieves at worst - all of whom still had to eat. Thus, the condition of the harvest: "much was stolen both by night and day, before it became scarce eatable."

Consumers took from the producers, "Have-not's" received from the "Haves", without compensation to the "Haves", who would become "Have-not's" themselves. The harvest feasts of 1621 and 1622 would subsequently not be joyous occasions. They would be viewed as the possible "Final Meal", not unlike a death row inmate having his last fill before facing an inevitable death.

The year of 1623 would be a pivotal turning point for the Colonists. For the lazy and criminal, they could no longer bleed the producers of the fruits of their labor. Two years of doing such nearly brought the colony to ruin. After a poor net result of harvest for the year of 1622, Governor Bradford cites a change in situation:

"Instead of famine now God gave them plenty,and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many, for which they blessed God."

That's certainly a dramatic change. So bountiful were the harvests, that the colony was able to produce enough to make their first export in 1624.  To what did they owe such bounty? According to Governor Bradford:

"they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop."

It took two years of famine and death. What was the driving factor?

There was a common stock, to which everyone was to contribute the sum of their labor, whether that labor was bountiful or nil. From this common stock, one was only permitted to take what they needed. One doesn't need a cited source to understand that a common stock, coupled with laziness and thievery, with only a handful of contributors will equate to a common stock that hardly resembles a stock at all.

Again, from "Have's" to "Have not's". From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.

These "Have's" were young men, willing and able to contribute their labor to create a better life. They complained of contributing their labor to everyone's betterment, while they would keep a slim portion of their harvest after enduring the grueling labor that comes with agriculture. Meanwhile, the "Have-not's" were able to net the same amount of harvest, without having to break their bodies to get it. Thus, the "Haves" opted to cease participation.

One could equate this to an "Escape from the States" scenario. The "one percent" that you would tax and reap from could, in theory, opt to not participate. They could leave the country, and take their operations with them. They could shut the doors, and become "Have-Nots" themselves.

So what did Governor Bradford do to prevent the "Haves" from opting out? He gave incentive. He released his hold on the individual plots of land that would comprise the colonies, and allowed the colonists to use the land to their benefit. They could maintain their own stocks, their own fields, and their own industry - their labor was theirs, as was their bounty. Governor Bradford abandoned an early form of Socialism, and established property rights and free markets in it's place. Much to all of our great fortune, otherwise history would have been very different.

As a result, they were able to begin exports. They had prosperity, security, and incentive.

It's my hope, that you would consider the truth behind Thanksgiving as you eat your Turkey in a few hours. If it weren't for incentive, you wouldn't have this Turkey on your plate. Nor would you have much on your plate tomorrow, nor would you have a "one percent" to be taxed.

If there is anything I could say about a potential Sanders Administration, it would be that it's Socialist approach to economic woes could have the same results as the Colony of Plymouth, and could perhaps dispel the Utopian myths of Socialism once and for all - but perhaps at a great sacrifice.

Wishing the potential Sanders Administration a bountiful harvest,

Black Flag

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