Combs Spouts Off

"It's my opinion and it's very true."

  • Calendar

    December 2019
    S M T W T F S
    « Nov    
    1234567
    891011121314
    15161718192021
    22232425262728
    293031  
  • Recent Posts

  • Tag Cloud

  • Archives

Give thanks for property rights

Posted by Richard on November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you’re enjoying this day with family and/or friends and thinking about all you have to be thankful for. It may not occur to you, but you should spend a moment being thankful for property rights. That’s the point of a decade-old post of mine about the real story of Thanksgiving, which I urge you to read. Back then, this blog was hosted at Blog-City.com, and a search for that phrase returned my post as the first, or at least top 5, result for several years. Those canny Scots who ran Blog City had some mad SEO skills, I guess.

John Stossel, whom I consider a national treasure, addressed the same topic at Reason yesterday (emphasis added):

The Pilgrims were religious, united by faith and a powerful desire to start anew, away from religious persecution in the Old World. Each member of the community professed a desire to labor together, on behalf of the whole settlement.

Actually, he’s wrong about that. As my post (link above) noted, they were forced into this communal arrangement by their sponsors.

In other words: socialism.

But when they tried that, the Pilgrims almost starved.

Their collective farming—the whole community deciding when and how much to plant, when to harvest, who would do the work—was an inefficient disaster.

That went on for two and a half years before Bradford and the others decided something needed to change. For more details, see my post above or Bradford’s book.

His answer: divide the commune into parcels and assign each Pilgrim family its own property. …

Private property protects us from what economists call the tragedy of the commons. The “commons” is a shared resource. That means it’s really owned by no one, and no one person has much incentive to protect it or develop it.

The Pilgrims’ simple change to private ownership, wrote Bradford, “made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been.” Soon they had so much plenty that they could share food with the natives.

The Indians weren’t socialists, either. They had property rules of their own. That helped them grow enough so they had plenty, even during cold winters.

When property rights are tossed aside, even for the sake of religious fellowship or in the name of the working class, people just don’t work as hard.

Why farm all day—or invent new ways of farming—when everyone else will get an equal share?

But once Bradford created private lots, the Pilgrims worked hard. They could have sat around arguing about who should do how much work, whether English tribes or Indian ones were culturally superior, and what God would decree if She/He set rules for farming.

None of that would have yielded the bounty that a simple division of land into private lots did.

When people respect property rights, they also interact more peacefully.

At this year’s Thanksgiving dinner, if people start arguing about how society should be run, try being a peacemaker by suggesting that everyone should get to decide what to do with their own property.

If your uncle wants government to tax imports or thinks police should seize people’s marijuana, tell him that he doesn’t have to smoke weed or buy Chinese products, but he should keep his hands off other people’s property.

If your niece says everyone loves socialism now, remind her she has enough trouble managing her own life without telling the rest of the world what to do. When families don’t agree, they certainly shouldn’t try to run millions of other people’s lives.

In America today, religious groups practice different rites but usually don’t demand that government ban others’ practices. Private schools set curricula without nasty public fights. Businesses stock shelves without politicians fighting about which products they should carry.

All those systems work pretty well. That’s because they are private.

In most of our lives, private ownership makes political arguments unnecessary.

I’m thankful for that.

Amen. Did anyone bring blueberry pie? What time does the game start? Pass the wine!

And again, a most Happy Thanksgiving to all who read this!

Subscribe To Site:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.