Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving around the web

Frank J. details what he is thankful for in his latest column for Pajamas Media.

Ann Althouse has a Thanksgiving Reflection.

Kenneth Anderson ponders "what makes the connection to place different here (the United States) than in Europe" over at The Volokh Conspiracy.

Also at The Volokh Conspiracy, Ilya Somin links to a story by Benjamin Powell titled "The Pilgrims' Real Thanksgiving Lesson", where Mr. Powell suggests (quite correctly in my opinion) that "the economic incentives provided by private competitive markets where people are left free to make their own choices make bountiful feasts possible."  To prove his point, he uses the history of the Pilgrims, and suggests that "bad weather or lack of farming knowledge did not cause the pilgrims’ shortages. Bad economic incentives did."  He continues:
In 1620 Plymouth Plantation was founded with a system of communal property rights. Food and supplies were held in common and then distributed based on equality and need as determined by Plantation officials. 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.
Faced with potential starvation in the spring of 1623, the colony decided to implement a new economic system. Every family was assigned a private parcel of land. They could then keep all they grew for themselves, but now they alone were responsible for feeding themselves. While not a complete private property system, the move away from communal ownership had dramatic results.
This change, Bradford wrote, had very good success, for it made all hands very industrious, so as much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been. 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.
Once the Pilgrims in the Plymouth Plantation abandoned their communal economic system and adopted one with greater individual property rights, they never again faced the starvation and food shortages of the first three years. It was only after allowing greater property rights that they could feast without worrying that famine was just around the corner.

TaxProf Blog has a roundup of what Tax Profs are thankful for around the country.

Steve Rosenbaum wishes everyone a Happy Digital Thanksgiving.

Megan McArdle reminds us of the Thanksgiving Proclamation given by President Lincoln.

And, finally, Gawker has video of a Roving Gang of Wild Turkeys who steal a little boy's bike.
(I couldn't get the video to embed, so you'll have to go to the link to watch).

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