The Old-School Liberal

“Freedom granted only when it is known beforehand that its effects will be beneficial is not freedom” — Friedrich Hayek

Stossel Shares the Lost Lesson of Thanksgiving: Property Rights

Posted by Poorsummary on November 21, 2007

TurkeyStossel reports:

“When the Pilgrims first settled the Plymouth Colony, they organized their farm economy along communal lines. The goal was to share everything equally, work and produce. They nearly all starved. Why? When people can get the same return with a small amount of effort as with a large amount, most people will make little effort.”

Sharing is good, but only when it is voluntary, motivated by the goodness of one’s own heart, rather than from a fear of punishment at the hand of the government. “Public charity” is a bit of an oxymoron, since charity means “benevolent goodwill toward or love of humanity” and the presence of actual charity in the heart of the giver would obviate the need for any threats from the government. In fact, public charity reduces the actual amount of true charity, as it spawns a sense of resentment on the part of the giver and a sense of entitlement and dependence on the part of the receiver, and since there’s no sense of urgency to help one’s fellow man if the government is already taxing you under the auspices of performing this sacred task.

This Thanksgiving, let’s be grateful to live in such a prosperous land where wealth has flourished due to adherence to the oft forgotten advice of its founders:

“To take from one, because it is thought that his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, ‘the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry, and the fruits acquired by it.'” –Thomas Jefferson

Thanks to Greg Mankiw for the Stossel link.

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