The real story of the first Thanksgiving

You’ve no doubt heard the well-known story of the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth, Massachusetts. But did you know that what you’ve heard is drastically inaccurate?

According to the writings of William Bradford, the colony’s first governor, the hardships and near-starvation of the entire population occurred because the colonists turned their backs on capitalism. They believed the old lie that an economy based on the concept of “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs” can actually work. They instituted a socialist system, and found out that socialism causes disaster:

The harvest of 1623 was different. Suddenly, “instead of famine now God gave them plenty,” Bradford wrote, “and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many, for which they blessed God.” Thereafter, he wrote, “any general want or famine hath not been amongst them since to this day.” In fact, in 1624, so much food was produced that the colonists were able to begin exporting corn.

What happened?

After the poor harvest of 1622, writes Bradford, “they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop.” They began to question their form of economic organization.

This had required that “all profits & benefits that are got by trade, working, fishing, or any other means” were to be placed in the common stock of the colony, and that, “all such persons as are of this colony, are to have their meat, drink, apparel, and all provisions out of the common stock.” A person was to put into the common stock all he could, and take out only what he needed.

This “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” was an early form of socialism, and it is why the Pilgrims were starving. Bradford writes that “young men that are most able and fit for labor and service” complained about being forced to “spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children.” Also, “the strong, or man of parts, had no more in division of victuals and clothes, than he that was weak.” So the young and strong refused to work and the total amount of food produced was never adequate.

To rectify this situation, in 1623 Bradford abolished socialism. He gave each household a parcel of land and told them they could keep what they produced, or trade it away as they saw fit. In other words, he replaced socialism with a free market, and that was the end of famines.

For more on the lessons the pilgrims learned, see this piece by Rick Williams, Jr.

Then read about the tragedy of the commons, and consider how that knowledge applies to America’s present disastrous condition.

Here’s a way to get rid of all that federal land

The federal government currently owns almost 30% of all land within the United States of America. That’s obscene.

Federal Lands

Look at how bad the situation is in the western states:

Who owns the West?

The only sure way to fix it is via an Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Here’s one that should do the trick:

AMENDMENT __

SECTION 1: With the exception of unincorporated Territories, Indian lands, and the District of Columbia, the United States shall not own any more than ten percent of the total land area of the United States, nor shall it own more than twenty percent of the total land area within any State or Territory. The United States shall designate lands that it owns beyond these limits as Excess Federal Lands.

SECTION 2: The United States shall begin selling all Excess Federal Lands by public auction no later than one year after the ratification date of this Amendment, and the United States shall divest itself of all Excess Federal Lands no later than ten years after the ratification date of this Amendment. The United States shall make a good faith effort to auction all Excess Federal Lands, and all such auctions shall be open to all individual citizens of the United States exclusively. The laws and regulations of the States and the Territories shall govern the conduct of auctions of Excess Federal Lands within their borders. During this auction period the United States shall not divest itself of Excess Federal Lands by any method other than by public auction. All Excess Federal Lands that remain unsold ten years after the ratification date of this Amendment shall become the property of their respective States or Territories.

SECTION 3: Any acquisition by the United States of new lands that would otherwise violate Section 1 of this Amendment shall first be offset by divesting an equal or greater amount of lands in accordance with the auction procedures in Section 2. If such auctions fail to sell enough land to comply with Section 1, the United States shall divest the remaining excess lands by transferring ownership to their respective States or Territories.

Have I left anything out?

Mozilla reaps the whirlwind?

After the new Mozilla CEO, Brendan Eich, was forced out last week over his $1000 donation in 2008 to a group protecting marriage agains erosion by same sex “marriage,” users of the Mozilla’s web browser Firefox reacted in outrage by removing it from their computers and web-enabled devices. The firestorm of anger at Mozilla that kicked off late last week kept burning through the weekend, according to the organization’s own stats. Here are the feedback trends for the last 90 days, with “sad” comments in red and “happy” comments in green:

Mozilla customer comments in the last 90 days

Here’s a closer look at the last seven days:

Mozilla customer comments in the last 7 days

If this user revolt maintains momentum through this week, Mozilla may face a serious drop in its share of the very competitive web browser and e-mail market. I truly hope the backlash against Soviet-like mob action continues long enough to permanently cripple Mozilla. Corporate boards need to learn that caving in to a virtual lynch mob carries too high a price to bear.

So far, Mozilla’s strategy seems to be to hunker down and hope the firestorm fizzles. Don’t let it happen. Uninstall Mozilla products and let them know why.

I did.

Thanksgiving: a holiday born out of an early American experiment with socialism

You’ve no doubt heard the well-known story of the first Thanksgiving in Plymouth, Massachusetts. But did you know that what you’ve heard is drastically inaccurate?

According to the writings of William Bradford, the colony’s first governor, the hardships and near-starvation of the entire population occurred because the colonists turned their backs on capitalism. They believed the old lie that an economy based on the concept of “from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs” can actually work. They instituted a socialist system, and found out that socialism causes disaster:

The harvest of 1623 was different. Suddenly, “instead of famine now God gave them plenty,” Bradford wrote, “and the face of things was changed, to the rejoicing of the hearts of many, for which they blessed God.” Thereafter, he wrote, “any general want or famine hath not been amongst them since to this day.” In fact, in 1624, so much food was produced that the colonists were able to begin exporting corn.

What happened?

After the poor harvest of 1622, writes Bradford, “they began to think how they might raise as much corn as they could, and obtain a better crop.” They began to question their form of economic organization.

This had required that “all profits & benefits that are got by trade, working, fishing, or any other means” were to be placed in the common stock of the colony, and that, “all such persons as are of this colony, are to have their meat, drink, apparel, and all provisions out of the common stock.” A person was to put into the common stock all he could, and take out only what he needed.

This “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need” was an early form of socialism, and it is why the Pilgrims were starving. Bradford writes that “young men that are most able and fit for labor and service” complained about being forced to “spend their time and strength to work for other men’s wives and children.” Also, “the strong, or man of parts, had no more in division of victuals and clothes, than he that was weak.” So the young and strong refused to work and the total amount of food produced was never adequate.

To rectify this situation, in 1623 Bradford abolished socialism. He gave each household a parcel of land and told them they could keep what they produced, or trade it away as they saw fit. In other words, he replaced socialism with a free market, and that was the end of famines.

For more on the lessons the pilgrims learned, see this piece by Rick Williams, Jr.

Then read about the tragedy of the commons, and consider how that knowledge applies to Obamacare.

Bust Ohio public employee unions in 2013

Governor Scott Walker’s resounding victory in Wisconsin yesterday speaks volumes. It was a battle with constitutional conservatism and fiscal sanity on one side, and parasitic government employee unions on the other. Given that Walker and company won in Wisconsin, the home of the modern progressive movement, we should try to do the same here in Ohio.

We lost the SB5 battle a few months back, but we haven’t lost the war. If our side tweaks the proposed legislation to exempt the union privileges of police, firefighters, and first responders, we’ll have many more supporters. We should make sure that the new law prohibits mandatory public union membership and mandatory dues collection. We should also remind people that we correctly predicted there would be widespread layoffs among teachers and other public employees if SB5 was repealed … and it’s still happening.

We probably can’t get everything we want in one fell swoop. We should achieve what we can next year, and when the voting public sees how the state budget and local budgets retreat from the brink, we can push for more — namely, evisceration of the unions for police, firefighters, and first responders.

If Ohio can try again in 2013, we’ll almost certainly benefit from economies of scale. Every conservative governor and legislature watched the fight in Wisconsin, and today they’re thinking “If Wisconsin can win against the public union thugs, why can’t we?” The full might and fury of the nationwide union machine rained down on Scott Walker and the Wisconsin legislature … and failed. Now imagine the union response when five, ten, or twenty states simultaneously apply the Wisconsin Strategy. The union thugs will be forced to divide their dwindling resources, and their natural constituency will be weaker here in middle-of-the-road Ohio than in über-liberal Wisconsin. What an opportunity to apply maximum force to the opponent’s weakest point!

One more optimistic factor: a 2013 special election will be dominated by activists. 2012 is a presidential election year, so we’ll see high turnout among low-information voters. Next year, grassroots conservative activists have a much better opportunity to push the electorate because we’ll be a larger percentage of the folks who actually show up to vote. The low-information voters will stay at home to watch American Idol and the Kardashians. Leftists will be listless and demoralized if Barack “I’m A Cool Celebrity” Obama suffers defeat, making them less likely to go to the polls.

It took decades for progressives to eat away at our constitutional republic. Restoring it will take decades too. We have been asleep too long, but it’s not too late to cure the cancer that ails America. Next year we can excise a big chunk of the malignant tumor known as the public employee unions.

Time to get back to work.

Finally, an app for Movable Type blogs (Updated)

Somebody went to the trouble of creating an iPhone app that allows you to add and edit posts on a blog running Movable Type. It’s called Movable Manager and I’m using it to type this post.
It looks extremely bare-bones basic at first blush, but I could be wrong. Frankly, finding it in the App Store was the only thing that stopped me from dumping Movable Type completely and switching over to WordPress.
MT has gotten more code-intensive since I started this blog in 2004, while WordPress has gotten more user-friendly. Since Six Apart sold the MT software rights to a Japanese company a year or so back, tech support for English-speaking users has gone downhill fast. Six Apart couldn’t be bothered to create a smart phone app for their software, but perhaps they were focusing their efforts on unloading the rights to MT and its shrinking market share before it became worthless. The new company hasn’t indicated any interest in an app for English-speaking smart phone users, so the “opportunity” fell to the free market.
That only one company made the effort (and that the app’s been in v1.0 since November 16th with minimal features) speaks volumes. Movable Manager gets one week to convince me that I’m mistaken.

Video: Russian ex-pat vs. Occupy Wall Street marxists

Here’s a case of bitter personal experience vs. naïve theoretical dreaming. These geniuses with the Workers World Party sure are confident, aren’t they?

North Korea is a glowing example of success at, uh, something. I suppose. Let’s check the NASA nighttime satellite imagery of Eastern Asia, shall we?
North Korea at night
Wait, I’ve got it. When the sun goes down in North Korea, every hour is Earth Hour. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

A simple question for progressives (#20)

According to the Obama Administration, this is how federal government spending works miracles (emphasis mine):

Keynesian economicsWell, obviously, it’s putting people to work. Which is why we’re going to have some interesting things in the course of the forum this morning. Later this morning, we’re going have a press conference with Secretary Mavis and Secretary Chu to announce something that’s never happened in this country — something that we think is exciting in terms of job growth. I should point out, when you talk about the SNAP program or the [food] stamp program, you have to recognize that it’s also an economic stimulus. Every dollar of SNAP benefits generates $1.84 in the economy in terms of economic activity. If people are able to buy a little more in the grocery store, someone has to stock it, package it, shelve it, process it, ship it. All of those are jobs. It’s the most direct stimulus you can get in the economy during these tough times.

If this is true, shouldn’t the federal government immediately hand out a trillion dollars’ worth of food stamps, thus generating 1.84 trillion dollars of economic activity? In fact, shouldn’t they hand out a billion trillion?

More on the S&P 500’s moving average (Updated)

Remember this chart from Monday? I updated it to show the farthest the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index dropped below its 365-day simple moving average during the two “close calls” marked by green arrows.
365-day moving average for S&P 500
On Monday the S&P 500 closed at 7.74% below its 365-day SMA. Yesterday it rebounded a bit, but still closed at 1172.53 — 3.37% below the Red Line of Doom™. As of right now, it’s down another 34.64 points.
Since 1995, whenever the index has closed at 4% or more below the 365-day SMA, it has experienced a major drop.
11:30 PM Update: Today’s close was 1120.76, which is almost exactly where we were after Monday’s slide. How does a nice, fat 7.64% under the SMA grab you? Unless something fundamental has changed since the 2008 crash, I think we’re going to see blood on the trading floor.
Thanks again, politicians!

Watch the S&P 500’s moving average

A moving average can tell you a lot.
Don’t just look at the Dow Jones Industrial Average. It’s the best-known financial statistic, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index tracks a much larger and much more diverse group of stocks than the DJIA’s mere 30 industrial companies. It’s regarded as a pretty good bellwether for the entire United States economy.
If you go to Yahoo! Finance and mess around a bit with the chart for the S&P 500 by adding a simple moving average for the last 365 days (the red line), here’s what you’ll see for the period from 1995 to now:
365-day moving average for S&P 500
The purple arrows that I Photoshopped into the chart mark the points when the S&P 500 dropped significantly below its 365-day SMA. The green arrows mark the points when the closing price only briefly dipped below it. As of today, the closing price is a little bit more than 1% under the Red Line of Doom™. Watch closely this week, because I think this chart’s going to get another purple arrow.
Way to go, Washington.

Raising taxes will do nothing good

Scrooge McDuckPeople respond to taxes.

That shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, but to hear the Left’s explanations, the federal government can extract more and more money from their preferred targets without any repercussions. In Progressive Fantasyland, rich fat cat CEOs who run oil companies, banks, and Fox News have a secret stash of unlimited money hidden somewhere in their corporate jets or on the grounds of their posh estates, from which they simply pull more money after Washington takes what it wants. The government spreads the wealth around, the members of the middle class find excellent green jobs with full dental benefits, the poor all move up to the middle class, everyone votes for progressives, conservatives crawl back into the bowels of Hell from whence they came, and unicorns poop skittles to feed the hungry.

In the real world the vast majority of American wealth belongs to the middle class, but facts never get in the way of a juicy class warfare talking point. Here in flyover country where common sense still exists, we know that taxes influence people’s behavior. If the government collected no taxes whatsoever, then its revenue would be zero. Likewise, if the government taxed away every last cent people earn, revenue would also drop to zero. Nobody would have any incentive to conduct any economic activity at all, so there would be no wealth to tax. Somewhere in between no taxation and total taxation, there’s a point where the government will collect the maximum possible revenue. The conclusion isn’t magical, farcical, or deserving of ridicule. It’s common sense. It’s logical. It reflects reality.

It also means everything to your way of life, so pay attention.

Well-known supply side economist Arthur Laffer sketched out this thought experiment decades ago — reportedly on a napkin over drinks with conservative political heavy hitters — and came up with the curve that soon bore his name. Here’s a very simplified version of the Laffer Curve:

Laffer Curve

Tech “support” from BrotherSoft

A couple of months back I tried to find an old favorite strategy game of mine called Empire Deluxe (currently distributed by Killer Bee Software), but to my knowledge it had never been available for the Mac. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that BrotherSoft.com offered exactly what I wanted.
My pleasure turned to confusion when I downloaded the file and fired it up. It wasn’t Empire Deluxe. It was an entirely different game, albeit from Killer Bee Software. Assuming the error was a simple case of a misdirected link, I submitted a help ticket through BrotherSoft’s site asking for clarification.
Hilarity ensued.