Thursday, 27 November 2014

America saved from socialism in 1623.

Switching to private property rights saved the Pilgrims from starvation. Planting corn the Indian way is a story, not an analysis.  Feel-good rules about enforced communal transfers could have been written this week in Washington.  They failed because they wasted people's talents and locked in perverse incentives against doing one's best for self and family.  Then they prospered by (apologetically) exploiting man's cupidity and preference for his own kin.  Read an extract from Ilya Somin's article then, intrigued, finish it in the original.

"People received the same rations whether or not they contributed to producing the food, and residents were forbidden from producing their own food. Governor William Bradford, in his 1647 history, Of Plymouth Plantation, wrote that this system was found to breed much confusion and discontent and retard much employment that would have been to their benefit and comfort. The problem was that “young men, that were most able and fit for labour, did repine that they should spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children without any recompense.” Because of the poor incentives, little food was produced.
Giving people economic incentives changed their behavior. Once the new system of property rights was in place, 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."

For Thanksgiving, watch Friedman on the virtues of greed:

1 comment:

  1. I thought this was brilliant. I'm plan to skip celebrating "Canadian" thanks giving next year and enjoy the American version. Will still attend both but we will at least know which is the real one.