Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The History of Thanksgiving

A primary source guide

By Dean Kalahar
November 22, 2011

Much is said about the history of Thanksgiving. As educators and social scientists, it is important to teach America’s cultural foundations; for if we forget who we are and where we came from, we will face a cultural rot that will destroy us from within.

There are only two contemporary accounts of the 1621 Thanksgiving: First is Edward Winslow's account, which he wrote in a letter dated December 12, 1621. It speaks of the feast and sharing of food with the Indians.

“Our corn [i.e. wheat] did prove well, and God be praised, we had a goodincrease of Indian corn, and our barley indifferent good, but our peas not worth the gathering, for we feared they were too late sown. They came up very well, and blossomed, but the sun parched them in the blossom. Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors.They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside,served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.”

The second description was written about 1641 by William Bradford in his History Of Plymouth Plantation. It is in this account that the Thanksgiving turkey tradition is founded.

“They began now to gather in the small harvest they had, and to fit up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength and had all things in good plenty. For as some were thus employed in affairs abroad, others were exercising in fishing, about cod and bass andother fish, of which they took good store, of which every family had their portion. All the summer there was no want; and now began to come in store of fowl, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degrees). And besides waterfowl there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many,besides venison, etc. Besides they had about a peck of meal a week to a person,or now since harvest, Indian corn to that proportion. Which made many afterwards write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England, which were not feigned but true reports.”

But the story of what the Pilgrims and modern Americans give thanks for every Thanksgiving has a deeper and more profound meaning than most Americans know. To understand Thanksgiving we must first return to Jamestown with the help of David Boaz.

In 1607, 105 men and boys, mostly indentured servants who held no private property and were to work for the “common store,” disembarked from three ships and established the first permanent settlement in America.

There were the usual hardships of pioneers far from home, such as unfamiliar diseases. There were mixed relations with the Indians already living in Virginia. Sometimes the Indians and settlers traded, other times armed conflicts broke out.

By 1609, there were 500 settlers, including women. And yet within six months fewer than 100 were still alive during what came to be known as "the starving time." Why? According to a governor of the colony, George Percy, most of the colonists died of famine, despite the “good and fruitful” soil, the abundant deer and turkey, and the “strawberries, raspberries and fruits unknown” growing wild.

And yet people were desperate. They ate dogs and cats, then rats and mice. They apparently ate their deceased neighbors. And some said that one man murdered and ate his pregnant wife. By the spring, they had given up. They abandoned the fort and boarded ships to return to England. But, miraculously, as they sailed out of Chesapeake Bay, they encountered three ships with new recruits, so they turned around and tried to make another go of it. The additional settlers and supplies kept them alive.

When a new governor, Thomas Dale, arrived a year after the starving time, he was shocked to find the settlers bowling in the streets instead of working. Dale's most important reform was to institute private property. He understood that men who don't benefit from their hard work tend not to work very hard. As such he allotted every man three acres of land and freed them to work for themselves.

And then, the Virginia historian Matthew Page Andrews wrote, “As soon as the settlers were thrown upon their own resources, and each freeman had acquired the right of owning property, the colonists quickly developed what became the distinguishing characteristic of Americans—an aptitude for all kinds of craftsmanship coupled with an innate genius for experimentation and invention.” The Jamestown colony became a success, people from all over Europe flocked to the New World, and capitalism was born in America.

Ray Harvey writes that not many years later, in November of 1620, another group of American settlers — 101 of them, to be exact, this group not financed by the British government — arrived on the good ship Mayflower, in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

These Pilgrims, as they were called, moved a short distance away to a place named Plymouth. They were not at all unaware of the early Jamestown disaster, the starvation, the disease, the famine; they were, however, unaware of what had caused it. Accordingly, they proceeded to make the identical mistake that the settlers of Jamestown had made: namely, collective ownership of land. And the Pilgrims too paid dearly for it. Within a few short months, half were dead.

Over the course of the next three years, 100 more settlers arrived from England to Plymouth, all of whom were barely able to feed themselves. As Plymouth Colony Governor William Bradford wrote:

“Many [settlers] sold away their clothes and bed coverings [to the Indians]; others (so base were they) became servants of the Indians … and fetch them water for a capful of corn; others fell to plain stealing, both day and night, from the Indians…. In the end, they came to that misery that some starved to and died with cold and hunger. One in gathering shellfish was so weak as he stuck fast in the mud and was found dead in the place.”

But this same William Bradford would soon solve “the ruin and dissolution of his colony,” and he would do it in the exact same way Sir Thomas Dale had saved Jamestown.William Bradford wrote:

“After much debate of things … [it was decided that the Pilgrims] should set corn every man for his own particular, and in that regard trust to themselves … And so assigned to every family a parcel of land, for present use. 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.”

Bradford came to fully grasp how lack of property rights negates and indeed destroys the work incentive:

“Common course” was abandoned in favor of setting “every man for his own particular,” meaning private property. Instantaneously, those who had been indolent became “very industrious,” so much so that woman and men who had “previously pleaded frailty worked long and hard – once they saw how they and their families could benefit from such hard work.”

William Bradford went on to correctly identify the source of the “disastrous problem” as “that conceit of Plato’s,” who, in direct contrast to Aristotle, advocated collectivism and collective ownership of land, which, as history has repeatedly proven creates economic inefficiency and suffering.

Bradford even wrote later that those who mistakenly believed that communal property could make people “happy and flourishing” imagined themselves “wiser than God.”

The greatest lesson we can learn from this history of thaanksgiving? Freedom exercised through the natural rights of life, liberty, and property - promoted through an entrepreneurial free market economic system based on private property or capitalism- saved us in the beginning years of our nation. It is to those principles, tied to historical fact for which we celebrate Thanksgiving today.

The Real History of Thanksgiving, Ray Harvey, November 24th, 2010
Private Property Saved Jamestown and, with it, America. By David Boaz,2007
Practical Economics, Dean Kalahar, 2008

Monday, November 21, 2011

Does the AICE program advance American interests?

A closer look at the AICE Cambridge Global Perspectives course

By Dean Kalahar
November 21, 2011

Although highly organized, objectively evaluated, well intentioned, and packaged with some important academic objectives in mind, the AICE Global Perspectives course directly promotes or subtly guides students towards a vision of the world that can only be seen as counter to the principles of West civilization, American Exceptionalism, and Capitalism.

The curriculum in Global Perspectives states “The syllabus aims to develop active global citizens.” In addition, and in a stunningly disingenuous rejection of their own words and directives, the class description states:

“The course is not about getting everybody to think identically; rather it is a matter of opening minds to the great complexity of the world and of human thought, and opening hearts to the diversity of human experience and feeling.”

“The global issues provide a stimulating context through candidates can begin to develop the skills necessary to participate as active, global citizens and for practical application in further study.”

In less flowery words, AICE teachers will promote diversity through feelings not reason in order to develop skills as activists to promote a global citizenship agenda.

The syllabus offers an insightful example of how the academics in charge of developing curriculum are unaware of their bias.

A topic, such as Biodiversity and Ecosystem Loss, should not be undertaken only as a piece of empirical research e.g. into deforestation. The collection of relevant facts and information is clearly important, but what is also important is addressing the issues within the topic. What makes deforestation a matter of global import is not only the fact that about 20 per cent of tropical and sub-tropical forests have disappeared since the 1960s but also the effect of this loss on human (and animal and plant) life, both locally and globally. In general, human relations, with the planet and/or with each other, are at the centre of all global issues.”
There should be no doubt, the AICE developers are directing students to become activists for issues the AICE curriculum is directly advancing. The focus is to teach students what to think, instead of teaching them how to think.

If this is what taxpayers, parents, and students are looking for, then the AICE curriculum is a fine place to increase academic focus and discipline. If, however, taxpayers, parents, and students are unaware of the ideology being disseminated through AICE, it may be a good time to ask some tough questions to see if the program is appropriate.

To further back up these sentiments, the following are excerpts of core curriculum benchmarks taken directly from the AICE syllabus for the 2012 Global Perspectives course. Comments and potential concerns in parenthesis are mine.

Benchmarks Focus questions for a global perspective

Biodiversity and ecosystem loss

Why are plant species threatened? How can existing material/mineral
resources be maintained? How would we judge whether the loss of a
number of plant or animal species constituted a disaster?
Are humans themselves becoming more, or less, diverse?

(sustainability, anti-capitalism ideology)

Climate Change
What causes climate change? What are the effects of climate change?
How do different countries approach climate change?

(global warming ideology)

Conflict and Peace
What is the role of the UN in times of conflict?
(Global government/law, anti-sovereignty ideology )

Disease and Health
Is access to good health care a right?
(Universal health care ideology)

Education for All
Does everyone have the right to an education?
(Global education, centralization of education ideology)
(Redistribution of wealth, command economic systems, “fair/living” wages, exploitation of workers, open boarders ideology)

Family and Demographic Change
Why do some countries have a high proportion of children, or of elderly people? What difficulties can this cause? What is a ‘family’? How/why has the family changed?
(anti-family, alternative family/lifestyle agenda, eugenics ideology)

Fuel and Energy
What are the world’s mineral resources used for? Which countries provide the most/ least? Which countries use the most/least? Who controls the prices? What kinds of fuels are the most environmentally friendly?
(Alternative energy, Anti-capitalism, anti-wealth, “green” ideology)

Humans and Other Species
How well do humans share the planet with other species? Are certain species more important than others? Should humans be permitted to ‘use’ other species to make human life easier/ better?
(Environmentalism, anti-west ideology)

Law and Criminality
Who decides which laws should be in force? What are the problems caused by different law systems in different countries?
(global government ,World court, anti-sovereignty ideology)

Poverty and Inequality
Why are some countries poorer than others and are all the people in these countries poor? How has the gap in equality changed between countries in recent years? In what way should richer countries be concerned about poverty in other countries?
(Anti-west, anti-capitalism, income redistribution ideology)

Trade and Aid
Who makes the rules? Why are some countries with plenty of natural resources poorer than some other countries? Do richer countries have a responsibility to help poorer countries?
(Income redistribution, anti-capitalism ideology)

Tradition, Culture and Identity
Why do people value tradition? Why do people divide into nations? Why do some people move from one country to another? How does this affect their lives? If we have ‘European citizens’, should we aim eventually for all people to be ‘World citizens’?
(global government, world citizenship, anti-sovereignty, open boarders ideology)

Transport and Infrastructure
(Promotes mass transit and control ideology)

Why are more houses being built in many countries in the world? Should there be restrictions on house building?
(Anti-Israel settlement building, environmental ideology)

Water, Food and Agriculture
(over population, sustainability ideology)

Source: http://www.cie.org.uk/qualifications/academic/middlesec/igcse/subject?assdef_id=998

Monday, November 7, 2011

Memo to the occupy Wall Street protestors and class warfare politicians:

If you’re against wealth, then you’re for suffering.

By Dean Kalahar

The Occupy Wall Street movement and class warfare politics we are experiencing is no less abhorrent than racism. We should call this behavior a more proper name, “Wealthism.” Just as racists believe in superiority by division and discrimination, “Wealthists” seek superiority by division and discrimination of wealth creators. There is just one problem; the so called villains being demonized are the very people that enhance and save lives.

Basic economics teaches that wealth is created by the actions of man in altering and adding value to scarce raw materials and resources to make them more useful in meeting demand. This additional value is considered capital, which economist Hernando DeSoto explains originally came from the word “cattle.”

Because cattle have always been important sources of wealth beyond the basic meat they provide. Livestock are low maintenance possessions; they are mobile and can be moved away from danger; they are also easy to count and measure. But most important, from livestock you can obtain additional wealth, or surplus value, by setting in motion other industries, including milk, hides, wool, meat, and fuel. Livestock also have the useful attribute of being able to reproduce them-selves. Thus the term “capital” begins to do two jobs simultaneously, capturing the physical dimensions of assets (livestock) as well as their potential to generate surplus value. From the barnyard it was only a short step to the desks of the inventors of economics, who generally defined “capital as that part of a country’s assets that initiates surplus production and increases productivity
Because we do not live with unlimited abundance like the Garden of Eden, scarcity places value on resources that are directly or indirectly owned based on human demand. When capital in the form of goods and services is exchanged, wealth is created.

Wealth is often defined in terms of a tangible currency. But money only acts as a certificate of performance in meeting the needs and demand of others. Capitalists must first serve before they can earn in a free market of voluntary exchange.

In a market economy, human nature and incentives allow scarce resources to efficiently flow from those who have to those who need. Greater wealth comes from increased economic efficiency in meeting needs while answering the fundamental scarcity question. In turn, wealth creation means more of mans unlimited desires including food, clothing, shelter, and medical care, are being met. As a beautiful result, the standard of living rises which equates to a greater quality and quantity of life.

In short, economic growth creates wealth which saves lives. By default then, wealth creation is compassion by action, which is a far cry from the compassionate chest and drum beating coming out of Wall Street and Washington. Proof can be seen in the world wide increase in the standard of living, population, and life expectancy while infant mortality and poverty rates decline.

We can even add a formula to the explanation. If amount of economic growth raises the standard of living Y amount, then Z numbers of people are saved who would have otherwise perished as a result of the previously lower standard of living. In turn, any economic inefficiency that prevents economic growth to Y will cost Z lives.

For example, if for every 1% of growth in GDP the quality of life increased by X amount and Y people were saved, then a government program that restricted growth by 3% would cost the lives of 3Y peoples minus the number of lives saved by the program. In mathematical terms, if $50 million equals 1% GDP growth and for every 1% increase in GDP 500 lives are saved, then a program that costs $100 million would in effect take the lives of 1000 people minus the number of lives the program saved. If the program saves 1001 people it would be worthwhile, if it saves 999, it is inefficient and in fact would indirectly cause the death of one life.

Thomas Sowell explains this concept in more eloquent terms:

There have been various calculations of how much of a rise in national income saves how many lives. Whatever the correct figure - X million dollars to save one life - anything that prevents national income from rising that much has, in effect, cost a life. If some particular safety law, policy, or device costs 5X million dollars, either directly or in its inhibiting effect on economic growth, than it can no longer be said to be worth it “if it saves just one human life” because it does so at the cost of 5 other human lives. There is no escaping trade-offs, so long as resources are scarce and have alternative uses.

Thus anything that inhibits the market economy from operating freely costs potential economic growth which means the economy does not expand as much as it could have. As a result needs go unmet and more perish than would have otherwise if the market had been freer. In other words, “smaller pie and people die.”

Wealth creation is fostered by property rights, the rule of law, and limited government in the free market. Crony capitalism, where government picks winners and losers abuses these fundamental tenets. Class warfare politicians, who feel entitled to make economic decisions for others, cover their tracks and protect themselves politically by stirring up protestors to deflect attention away from their social engineering.

Those who impugn wealth creation are championing a cause whose end result will be greater human suffering and death. “Wealthism” is either ignorant economics or the vicious side of human nature masquerading as compassion. If class warfare politicians divide and discriminate, while protestors shut down commerce and demand the end to the efficiencies inherent in a system that save lives, the “Wealthists” need to understand, it is they who will have blood on their hands.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


The Occupy Wall Street movement and the class warfare taking place in America is no better than racism. We should all call it by its proper name, Wealthism.